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The Music Scene Vol. 1 No. 1
Jazz: The Cyber Path

by Paul Serralheiro Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Music aficionados often have an unslakeable thirst for discussion, information, and discovery of anything musical. Therefore along with the satisfaction provided by concerts and recordings of our favorite performers and composers, we seek out periodicals, books, lectures, and conversations that bring us into contact with information and ideas touching on our obsession.

With the arrival of the internet, more material is now more readily available than ever before, making for a Himalayan mass from which to satisfy our desire for musical knowledge. But where to start a climb of such a scale?

For those who have already begun the task, part two of this article discusses specific sites of interest. For novices or those wishing to check their bearings, part one is an introduction to jazz on the internet, allowing a passage of sorts among the daunting mountains of jazz pages on the worldwide web.

Millions of sites

A simple prompt with the word "jazz" on any search engine yields an incredible amount of sources. For example, such a search on Google yielded 10,200,000 sites--that''s right: over 10 million web addresses dealing with jazz in one form or another! It would take a lifetime, it seems, to wade through them all. A smaller net can be thrown around the subject by limiting the search geographically. Narrowing the search to Canada yields a more modest 340,000 sites and to Quebec, 134 sites, a much more manageable though still imposing amount of information. More specific prompts, such as the name of a specific instrument or an artist, lead to equally manageable results.

Common sense and the purpose of your search dictate your strategy. If you are simply browsing, some general site like those of established publications (e.g. Down Beat or Jazz Times) or community-oriented sites like those of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) or Jazz Alliance International (JAI) are good places to start.

Analyzing the jazz infomart

But browsing through the many pages of search findings and clicking on those that stir your curiosity will lead you to the pleasures of serendipity as well as providing you with an overview. Based on a perusal of many of the available sites, I found that there are about five different kinds of web sources: (1) Commercial, (2) Community, (3) Artist-centered, (4) Fan-centered, and (5) Instrument-centered.

The first is the easiest to find. Commercial sites are full of advertising and prompts to click and purchase CDs, books, and jazz cruises, and they have easy, sometimes disguised links to other commercial sites. These sites--run by recording labels or retailing conglomerates, jazz festivals, clubs, and periodicals--have a primary goal of moving merchandise, but they can also provide useful information in the form of bios, discographies, interviews, and reviews. The down side is that only the site''s products are covered, so don''t expect impartial, encyclopedic data. These sites also provide state-of-the-art graphics and sound samples which can be taken advantage of if your processing hardware and software are also state-of-the-art, but these multimedia goodies could mean very slow going for those of us with more meager tools.

Official websites on jazz artists abound and, with their informative bios and discographies, are good starting points for research on individuals. Unofficial fan-based sites can also be quite informative on artists, festivals, and general discussion on jazz, although quality and factual accuracy vary.

Information on specific instruments in jazz is also plentiful, ranging from simple biographies and quotes to detailed descriptions of the approaches, practice routines, and philosophies of specific masters, past and present.

Most useful and reliable for research purposes are sites run by community-oriented, non-profit organizations such as the IAJE, JAI, and Europe Jazz Network (EJN).

Personal Picks

Here are some of the sites that I have found most useful and interesting.

Being a trumpet player, I find www.jazztrumpet.com is the jazz site I visit most often. Run by a trumpet player named Pete Estabrook, it contains information on major artists and their practice tips as well as links to other sites. One can also download exercises and solos and sign up for online trumpet lessons.

"Contemporary List of Jazz Links" at www.pk.edu.pl/~pmj/jazzlinks/ is an interesting and ambitious site built by a Polish jazz lover with a huge list of links, but direct connections are not always smoothly made, perhaps because the pages are not maintained. It is nonetheless an informative compendium of sites. Also in the category of community-oriented sites is that of the Jazz Alliance International at www.jazzai.org, a site that helps the organization fulfill its mandate of "expanding the audience and visibility of jazz." The site gives the web navigator a solid frame of reference. In this category we can also put www.jazz-network.com, a German site that serves as a "jazz community service" with news and links to professionals in the field, be they musicians, journalists, or photographers. Www.jazzbreak.com is also noteworthy because of its predigesting of jazz-on-the-web in an aficionado-biased and user-friendly fashion. A site with a strong Canadian slant is www.jazzcanadiana.on.ca with a wealth of links.

Commercial sites need careful navigation, since hasty clicking could draw you away to unwanted marketplaces and a big waste of time. They can, however, provide a good overview of what is out there. Jazz Online www.jazzonln.com and The Jazz Loft www.jazzloft.com in particular are two interesting commercial sites, the first conceived as a bulletin board system but now, with information on recording artists and links to e-businesses purveying jazz, fulfilling its self-assigned goal of "expanding jazz''s reach." The second site is dedicated to recorded jazz on smaller, independent labels. Any of the recording company sites can also be very useful in picking up information on their artists in the form of fact sheets, interviews, and reviews -- so in serving commercial goals, the sites also serve as worthwhile starting points for research.

Then, there is the ambitious Jazz World Database at www.jazzsociety.com which boasts that it is "the premier source of information for the jazz music industry" with profiles on "over 40,000 professionals and companies" and backs up this claim with an impressive amount of current information. Subscription rates apply, however.


There''s lots out there. If you have a question, you will find the answer or at least a link for further searching. The mountain may be big but it isn''t the mountain you''re conquering--it''s yourself.

Note: The website of La Scena Musicale www.scena.org is, of course, not one to neglect for articles and links related to Jazz. *

(c) La Scena Musicale