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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 8, No. 2

Jazz:The Cyber Path

by Paul Serralheiro / October 2, 2002

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Music aficionados often have an unquenchable thirst for discussion, information, and discovery of anything musical. Therefore, along with the satisfaction provided by concerts and recordings of their favourite performers and composers, they seek out periodicals, books, lectures and conversations that will bring them into contact with their obsession.

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

Millions of Sites

A simple prompt with the word "jazz" on any search engine will yield a huge number of sources. For example, such a search on Google yielded 9,970,000 sites. Narrowing the search to jazz in Canada turned up a more modest 340,000 sites, while Quebec, with 134 sites, was much more manageable, but still impressive.

Common sense and the purpose of your search will dictate strategies. If you're simply browsing, some general sites 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.

Based on a perusal of many available sites, I found about five different kinds of web sources: Commercial, Instrument-centred, Artist-centred, Fan-centred, Community.

Selling Jazz

Commercial sites are the most easily found, and are full of advertising and prompts to click and purchase CDs, books and jazz cruises. 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 the primary goal of moving merchandise, but can also provide useful information in bios, discographies, interviews and reviews. The down side is that only the site's products are covered, so do not expect impartial, encyclopedic data. These sites also provide state-of-the-art graphics, sound samples and live feeds which you can take advantage of depending on the quality of your hardware and software.

Commercial sites need careful navigation since hasty clicking could draw you away to unwanted marketplaces. Patiently scanned, however, they can 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, it fulfills its self-assigned goal of "expanding jazz's reach." The second site is dedicated to jazz recorded on smaller, independent labels. Any of the recording company sites can also be very useful in picking up information on its artists with 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 the claim with an impressive amount of available information. Subscription rates apply, however.

Sites about Sites

Since this first installment in the "Jazz: The Cyber Path" series is about seeing the lay of the land, what better way to finish than to present a list of sites that provide links to other sites?

For starters, "Contemporary List of Jazz Links" at www.pk.edu.pl  is an interesting and ambitious site with an extensive list of links, although direct connections are not always easy to make. Also in this category is 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 section we can also add www.jazz-network.com, a German site serving 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 it provides the jazz fan with reviews of and information on jazz-on-the-web itself in a highly user-friendly fashion. Finally, for a site with a wealth of links with a strong Canadian slant go to www.jazzcanadiana.on.ca.


There's lots out there. If you have questions, you will find answers 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 site of La Scena Musicale www.scena.org is, of course, not one to neglect for articles and links relating to jazz.

To Be Continued: The next issue will feature a discussion of sites related to specific instruments.

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