Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Jazz mix

I was recently challenged to revisit the subject of jazz being played only on Sundays. Well, there is a lot more to the problem than meets the eye. I honestly do not know how we ended up with the idea that jazz can only be played on Sundays. Actually, I think it is more of a perception than anything else. What irritates even more is the fact that most people seem to think that it is a golden rule written somewhere and can never be proven wrong.                                 

Whichever way one slices and dices the reason for this absurd behaviour, it just does not make sense. Let us revisit some of the reasons which were previously presumed to be valid. At the top of the list is the belief that most jazzophiles were supposedly only available on weekends. Well, technology has blown that belief out of the water because something as simple as a mobile phone allows one to take their jazz collection everywhere they go. The advancement in headphone design provides almost live-like listening conditions. I agree that from time to time people deserve the luxury of choice. Therefore, if one’s collection is limited there should be an alternative source from which they can play music. Well, technology has so far responded to choices with a myriad of solutions from streaming to posts on YouTube.

Facebook is not left behind but one has to be a member of an active jazz group to realise the full benefit of new songs or discovering old music. There are jazz communities that complained about the limited programming variety on radio stations. This is understandable and may be to a certain extent it is a genuine concern because most radio stations have rigid programme structures that do not necessarily meet the expectations of jazzophiles. Now that we have established a backdrop to this discussion, I would like to explore what is new in the jazz space and how technology is used to explore and exploit new opportunities.In the last 10 months I have been researching on online streaming of jazz in particular. The initial results were pointing at heavy usage of live streaming of DJ sets. The major disadvantage is that the majority of shows only lasted for the duration allocated to them. Only a few would remain online for about a day or two. But then, the streaming technology took the market by storm.

There are so many platforms competing in that space and it is just unbelievable. I was excited by the discovery of this new streaming technology. However, my excitement was short-lived because there is no simple way of knowing who is streaming what in which platform. The search engines do not quite exact refine searches to a manageable level. My first search felt like an attempt to drink out of a fire hydrant. Fortunately, the It Has To Be Jazz® project has a sizeable following of different DJ communities who have been kind enough to start sharing their work. My excitement was recently rekindled by Makgotso Nkosi who introduced me to her Jazz Mix streaming channel which can be reached from the link https://hearthis.at/makgotso-nkosi.

Suddenly, the search is simplified because all I do is follow her streaming followers. I have since discovered so much about these passionate young jazzophiles and what their community is up to. I cannot help but wonder what the implications of streaming are to the existing structures. One thing is certain; it has broken the stereotypes who think jazz sessions belong to Sunday.

Therefore, we really have no more excuses. The radio station monopoly and limited allocation of jazz airplay has also gone down the drain. Yes, the veteran radio jazz presenters may survive provided there is willingness on their part to enter the race and compete with streaming platforms. But there is a far greater benefit for jazz music composers and artists by a way of royalties and their music being well marketed. New releases are now easier to discover by comparison to just a little over a year ago and I am truly grateful for this ‘incidental’ marketing opportunity. Needless to say that with the influx of Jazz Mix masters the market is now spoilt for choice and only the best of the best will remain at the top; something listeners and followers really needed. So, why did this article make the It Has To be Jazz® project review? Time is long overdue for jazz to take its rightful place in the bigger scheme of things. I hope that once jazz streaming reaches the levels we anticipate, it will continue to expand its reach to all jazz communities. Who knows? Maybe even recruit new followers in the process. In the meantime, let us not be complacent and think that the arrival of the summer season means the end of COVID-19 pandemic. It is here to stay and therefore, we need to remain vigilant and practise good hygiene at all times. Besides, be considerate of others and wear a face mask.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.