Friday, May 11, 2007

Edgier Stuff? -- Dennis

Here's a comment from a recent posting I made, which I would like to use to start a new conversation:

I would like to hear more CAM Jazz on the station, and ECM. I would like to have a formal mechanism for listeners to recommend discs that are not getting air time. Here's my first one: "What Now?", Kenny Wheeler, CAM Jazz. I would like to have a specific time slot every week for edgier material of all stripes: 60's and 70's dark fusion, noisy New York Zorn and Frisell type stuff, Threadgill and late Coltrane avant garde, wiggy ECM a la Garbarek, ethnic stuff like Anour Brahem and Rabih Abou-Kahlil, etc. Thanks.

This is a tough one. We all know that jazz is at its best when someone pushes the envelope. Miles Davis totally reinvented how we think about jazz, not once but several times.

But, we see an important aspect of our business as inviting new people to experience jazz and making the station as welcoming to untrained ears as well as people who have been listening to jazz all their lives.

It's a delicate balance to strike, and we know we can never please every one. Edgy jazz shows haven't really been too much on our radar because frankly, "regular" jazz is edgy enough for most people.

#1 complaint about jazz in general and one we hear about KCCK often? Something to the effect of.... "It's fine till those saxophones start to honk and there's no melody."

But, it's a big tent, and there are a lot of hours in a week.

So, what do you think? Would you tune in for a show that featured edgy jazz? What time do you think it should be on? Who should host?

We'll be interested to hear your thoughts.


Tim from Iowa City said...


What I appreciate about your station is its accessibility. Anytime of day I can turn on and hear safe comfortable jazz. Smooth jazz, jazz masters, etc.

But is that "All that Jazz"? Or all that is accessible?

There is so much jazz my friends turn me on to that I never hear on KCCK. I would term it progressive jazz, and not nessisarily just "honking saxophones."

I understand your need to be as accessible as possible for various reasons of listenership.

My suggestion would be to do what you do, but also provide something more for those jazz listeners that find Kind of Blue and Birdland old and tired.

Thanks for opening things up for suggestions.

What about peoples top jazz recordings of all time, similar to the kind your announcers do at the end of each year?

Thanks for being there!!!


Carey in Cedar Rapids said...

On the other hand, yesterday I was biking on some county roads enjoying the lush May green scenery and listening to KCCK for an hour of Scott Joplin, one of the edgier composers of the early 20th century. As an old New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble fan who once had a mad crush on Gunther Schuller, I knew every note, relished every riff, and tapped the handle bar in delighted syncopation touring the countryside. Thanks for a great hour KCCK, and for historical perspective on "edgy" music that undoubtedly once sounded much like early Miles Davis in those early ragtime dance halls.

Tiffin Jazz Fan said...

One wonders whether KCCK would have played Joplin in his heyday. My guess is they would have found it too edgy.

So will we have to wait 100 years to hear today's more challenging artists on the air?

There's no shortage of historical perspective on KCCK, and for the people who only want to hear the older safer stuff, I wish them all the best. But I agree with the other comments that the more progressive stuff is mostly being ignored, and I too think it's a shame. Just my 2 cents.


Steve G. said...

I think we all have our own opinion of what is indeed "edgy".

I would say that everything I hear on KCCK is accessible and "safe" and maybe less adventuresome.

I just don't like knowing I have to go to a web site or magazine to find out about new jazz I like that isn't "safe" enough for KCCK to play on the air.

Your station is great for being in Iowa and being an introduction to all types of jazz. But for a long time jazz fan that grew up on Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy, it seems like the whole history is not being represented except on birthdays.

I would hate to think of the jazz today that is going down in history to not be represented in at least some fashion with even a couple hours a week at night.

Anonymous said...

There is a need to progress the art and if we don't take some chances we're really failing our mission. How edgy did Bitches Brew sound to you the first time you heard it? How edgy does is sound to you now? Edgy is relative and should be judged by the listener.

I think KCCK should dedicate some time each week for a special program of envelope pushing music that could possibly include some music that was edgy in its day but is now considered mainstream.

It seems a shame that the first true jazz album, Ornette Coleman's Sound Grammer, won a pulitzer but may be considered too out-there for KCCK to play. Well, it probably won the Pulitzer for a reason and we should be finding out why.

The art won't progress if we don't move foward.

John said...

I love to hear the music that represents the next steps in the evolution of jazz, and I seem to hear a little more of it on KCCK than some others who've commented here. We can certainly debate the relative merits of the editorial choices of KCCK producers, or of a particular artist's efforts to stretch the definition of jazz. I'm just saying that I've heard quite a bit of music on KCCK that clearly isn't mainstream, smooth or historical.

Cutting-edge art of any kind has never had a mainstream media venue, and while I crave access as much as anyone, it's not KCCK's job to spoon-feed us fresh groundbreakers every day. Besides, "safeness" aside, you almost have to be a player to want to listen hard enough to appreciate the really good stuff. And face it, those of us who thrive on more progressive, challenging music are in the minority in this market. A discerning, forward-thinking, alert and worldly minority, but nonetheless a small, vocal faction.

I propose that the 10:00pm weekday Jazz Masters slot be wrenched from the keepers of the flame, and handed over to the firebrands, at least once or twice a week. It's late enough that the more straight-laced listeners should be in bed, but early enough that thrill-seekers wouldn't have to lose sleep to hear the fresh stuff.

Whether that happens or not, I'd urge all of us to make more requests for what we want. KCCK's programming is an ongoing response to the marketplace. Share your musical experience and expertise by enlightening the producers with your specific suggestions of artists and repertoire. They can't read your mind. Right now we're a few grumbling kibitzers, but if we quit kvetching and pitch in, it wouldn't be that hard to become a bona fide niche.

Anonymous said...

Honk away, oh sax warriors, honk away. My throat hurts. -- Leon Thomas