Billboard Magazine October 12th, 1963 carried a multi-page feature on the intersection of jazz and popular music. Since I touched on this in my article about Kai Winding’s “Mondo Cane #2” album. Here are a pair of articles from that issue that and are well worth the read. Both articles were written by Bill Coss.

Earlier in the same issue, an by Jack Maher entitled “Hot Singles Take On New Aspect In Jazz,” recognizes Creed Taylor as a leader in the field of A&R men who understand that jazz singles are crucial for breaking new artists in the high-pressure record business, not just for the sales of the singles themselves, but also for airplay for the album.

Maher goes on to say that Taylor believes that taking a track off an LP and issuing it in singles form (either shortened or intact) is not enough. Taylor says it’s the prime way to introduce a jazz artist to the pop public. The article continues to say that Taylor has done this with Stan Getz, Kai Winding, Bill Evans, Lalo Schifrin, Cal Tjader, and will shortly do it with Johnny Hodges.

What neither man knew at the time, and not mentioned in the issue, was the 1964 Astrud Gilberto version of “The Girl From Ipanema.” It would blow the walls off both the pop singles and the album charts. The single itself is exactly as described here: a heavily edited track essentially created by Creed Taylor and engineer Phil Ramone by cutting and splicing studio tapes.

The writer of these articles, Bill Coss, would go on to write a one-hour color prime time TV special starring Stan Getz “Getz: Ravel, Sauter, Wilder, Macero and All That Jazz”. Broadcast starting March 15th, 1969 across the US. Getz examines the relationship of jazz to classical music. Featured the Chamber Symphony conducted by Ansil Brusilow, Getz Quartet includes Getz; John Dentz, drummer; Chick Corea, pianist; and Walter Booker, bassist ((Sadly this program seems to have disappeared without a trace, as far as I can find there were no VHS, Laserdisc or DVD releases). The program was produced as a “Group W Special” by WBZ-TV Boston.

Since these articles are 100% text with no graphics, I’m also providing an audio version of both interviews in a single MP3. This was auto-recorded, and some words may be mispronounced. Please leave a comment and let me know if you find this useful or have any comments.

NEW YORK – How much jazz can a pop show take, and how do you decide what records to program? Billboard asked those and related questions of several leading pop jockeys in New York last week and heard a surprisingly similar set of answers.

With only one exception, the jockeys agreed they had more freedom in programming than ever before because the audience has become so much more sophisticated. As a consequence, there’s much more jazz played on basically non-jazz shows: there’s more variety in general. NBC’s Jim Lowe says, “There is much more acceptance for jazz than ever before, but what we really have is a’ conglomeration of music. Nowadays, who knows what is jazz, folk, pop or whatever? The lines overlap so much.”

“There are two main reasons for the change,” suggests WMCA’s B. Mitchell Reed, who was a jazz disk jockey sometime back. “People have become more sophisticated in their listening tastes is the first reason, and the evolution of recording sound is the second. It helped to cause the first.”

Lowe agrees with that: “The overall quality of the sound has made a tremendous difference. The performance quality has got to be good. After all, some 100 producers make all the records jazz, pop, folk, rock and sound has made all the records more acceptable.”

The word sound figured prominently in all the answers, but on closer questioning it appears to translate as something more than pure matter of fidelity. It begins with that, ranges through quality of performance and, apparently ends in some sort of mystique that dictates, “I know what my listeners want,” or admits, “I don’t know why I like it, but I do,”

WNEW’s Wally King chooses his jazz sides, “About the same way you would pick an up-tempo pop side by the sound. Normally, though, there has to be a strong identification. Normally, you’d be wise to choose a jazz name known to the audience, or at least a standard tune, if the jazz artist isn’t generally known. Most of the choices are made on that basis. Still, every now and then, something like `Desifinado’ appears and makes it strictly on the basis of sound.”

Ted Brown, also of WNEW, says he programs by his “personal taste.” On the afternoon he was interviewed he began his program with Oscar Peterson’s “C Jam Blues.” “That’s personal taste,” he pointed out. “Dorothy Donegan is another favorite of mine. I most often play my favorites. I know a lot more jazz is being played today, and the audience is getting used to it. I think one of the reasons is because the audience is more sophisticated, and two of the reasons for that are the hip commercials on radio and the excellent television backgrounds, both of them using a lot of jazz. I play about three jazz records per show, just kind of slip them in, and there are no complaints.”

Wally King believes that another factor enters in. “So many pop records,” he says, “now feature excellent jazz sidemen. So it’s natural enough that the audience has to become more sophisticated. It’s even more natural that there is gradually becoming a conglomeration of music, including pop, western, good rock and roll, jazz and gospel.”

Reed agreed on the subject of more sophisticated rock. That’s happening more and more. Sound helped, but so have so many other factors. I choose on personal’ taste, of course, but sometimes we’ll have a jazz album that’s in orbit, then well all pick the tracks we want to play. Still there’s personal. taste even there.”

Bill Randle, whose WCBS morning show is a case in point for “conglomeration” – folk, comedy, pop, jazz – also believes the general audience has grown hipper,. “especially the folk people,” he says. “People are more aware of their listening now, not necessarily informed; but much more aware. .And the commercials and television have helped this. Wait until you hear the background for TV’s “East Side, West Side.” It will be the biggest thing since Mancini.

“But,” he continues, “although I’ve always been for conglomeration, and I once was very close to jazz, my jazz choices are normally part of the format. As you know, we normally begin with an in-person recording, what we call ‘On Location’ As it turns out, a tremendous amount of jazz artists have recorded in clubs, especially jazz singers or others that you could consider near jazz. So the format calls for it, jazz or jazz-oriented records are natural for an opener, and the two often get together to begin my program with jazz.”

Jack Lacy of WINS, the one dissenter, doesn’t believe there’s been any major change either in the audience or in the programming. “I’ve been programming the same way for years, and I play what I think the people want. Sometimes I happen to like it. But I don’t think that jazz or gospel music has suddenly become more important. Many things are popular and over the years you’ll find that a record representing some kind of music will suddenly jump up. That’s not a trend.”

The majority opinion is perhaps most neatly summed up in a practical fashion by WNEW’s Bob Landers, who, too, looks with pleased favor on the change that has occurred.

“Of course you can play more jazz now,” he says. “But the choosing of records is still a reconciliation between personal taste and what you think you can communicate. If you play better music, you should look for the lyrical. Take Don Elliot’s new album. It’s nice by itself, to the untutored ear. The same thing with Dave Brubeck. With music like that you add another’ dimension to listening, something that ‘an audience can accept in the same way it does a pop tune, but in this case the record has more to offer musically.

“It’s a pleasant situation,” he concluded, .”the audience has become so much more surrounded by music, and has become so much more sophisticated, that for the first time the music wants of the audience is coming closer to the tastes of the programmers.” That relationship, of course, will provide the ultimate answer to how much jazz a pop show will take.

NEW YORK – How much pop jazz can a jazz show take? Are you concerned that so many labels seem to be concentrating on a popular approach to jazz? The Billboard asked some representative New York jazz jockeys those questions after learning that Cal Tjaders “Shades of Jade” album was receiving heavy play on pop as well as jazz shows.

The queried jockeys had all featured the album (they even had concentrated on some of the same tracks), and they all agreed that a popularization of jazz was relatively welcome, but one felt that danger was inherent in the trend-chasing that seems to determine the pop jazz field. WNEW’s Billy Taylor feels the title pop jazz’ is “misleading to everyone -the public, the artist and the A&R. man. There are a lot of A&R men who didn’t know what jazz is, and there are even some who don’t know what pop is.”

Since FM’ programming plays such an important part in jazz; over all, a number of jazz deejays from that area were quizzed. WNCN’s R. D. Harlan and WTFM’s Allen Grant are not concerned about the title, only about the, good they feel such records are doing for the field. (Both have leaned on the same three tracks – “Cherry Blossoms,” “Fakir” and “Tokyo Blues” – whereas Taylor plays “Tokyo Blues “. and “China Nights,” the latter because he has telephone requests from’ Korean War veterans apparently made nostalgic by melody.

For Allen Grant the emergence of pop jazz is a boon and he can’t imagine why anyone would think otherwise. “We must get to the younger audience,’ he says, “and to people who wouldn’t ordinarily listen to jazz. Actually, this kind of music fits in perfectly with my format. For the first hour of my show I play jazz that’s not to difficult to understand, trying to lead in the kids who don’t know what jazz is all about.”

R. D. Harlan puts it even more rhapsodically: “Anytime you can get a jazz record into the hands of someone in the Kansas City Kiwanis Club, you have accomplished something. Take a record like Wm Montgomery’s “Days of Wine and Roses.” Someone who’s never paid attention to jazz before will hear that and go out and buy more jazz.

“It’s a good situation all around. The people like it, and I play what they like in my taste. I’m sure the companies are happy. They’ve got to be tired of selling only 3,000 records. And, you know there’s another part of this. A Stan Getz becomes successful with some pop jazz track and all the companies that have other Getz albums reissue them and join in on the sales. So the other companies gain and so do the musicians. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger until. it eventually includes all musicians.”

But Billy Taylor has other reservations in addition to his concern about the title itself. “What you call pop jazz,” he says, “and I guess that really means jazz musicians who play music that is very much part of a trend, has worked to the detriment of many artists. I find myself playing their older records.

“Now obviously I’m not talking about. “Shades of Jade.” I don’t think. it fits the category. But it’s hard to fit the category with a definition. Everyone has always been, aware of sales. There’s nothing new in that. And one of the ways to ensure sales is to pick already established material. There’s nothing new in that either”.

“I’m not really concerned about whether it’s pure jazz, only if it’s good ,music, And. I don’t think you can overemphasize communications. What I am concerned about is that some musicians are being misdirected and that is not good for the music or for their artistry. Those, as I said, are records I do not play.”

The major point of agreement between these and other jazz jockeys was that the “pop” in “pop jazz” must not mean a lack of quality. That would determine the amount of pop-jazz a jazz show could take.

Agree, disagree ? Did you listen to the audio or read through? Let me know, leave a comment and “keep the groove going”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.