Valovic on Virtualization

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The Best Jazz Is On...Cable?

If you’re at all into jazz, I hope you’ve read Keith’s posting on the subject. I’m also a fan as is colleague Ed Scannell, editor of Redmond magazine. Ed attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival back in May and has some interesting stories to tell about it as well as his experiences meeting some jazz luminaries over the years.

Jazz fans are a small but mildly fanatical contingent even though the genre has an audience share of something like a whopping 3 percent. If you peel away the Kenny G. and glorified elevator music stuff from that, the number drops even lower (so I guess we’ll have to keep Kenny in there to make the stats look good). But hey there’s something to be said for keeping a great tradition alive even if sometimes it feels like it’s on life support.

Some followers and semi-followers wonder where all the new and innovative artists are hiding out these days. For a while I was wondering too. Finding new artists, CDs, and venues takes some time and effort. Even in major cities like Boston (1105 Media has an office in Framingham, a Boston burb), it seems like new talent only trickles in to a small number of venues and keeping up is a challenge. Still I’ve found a great way to stay plugged in even if it’s a bit mundane: my local cable provider.

My provider is Charter Communications which offers a series of free music-only channels, something like 30 or 40. In fact, I didn’t even know they were there until I did some accidental channel surfing. The channels are outsourced from an outfit with the nondescript name of Music Choice but they do a good job.

And here’s the sweet part. The jazz channel is first rate because it consistently turns up a large number of new artists and CDs with the particulars of each song labeled. (Many of the excellent streaming stations out there still focus on the more classic stuff. ) All that’s missing (and this is the stuff of dreams or maybe just some new generation of IPTV): a button on the remote to click and purchase or redirect favorites to a folder somewhere in the cloud…ah well..)

It’s heartening to know that new CDs from new artists are coming out all the time and encouraging that really good jazz and creatively updated interpretations of the tradition are alive and well even if -- for me at least – the best way to stay updated is on cable.

Posted by Tom Valovic on 08/18/2008 at 12:49 PM


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