The Shape of Jazz to Come 

Where is Jazz going? Will it’s popularity increase in the coming years? What will the music sound like over the next decade and beyond? As a musician and a fan of the art form these are questions I’ve been asking myself, and while  I certainly don’t have the answers I’d like to share my thought on the possibilities for the genre moving forward.

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Jazz is going nowhere 

One thing jazz music has done better than other genres is adapt. As a whole the jazz community is very open to shifting in a different direction. We went from swing, to bebop, to fusion, to hip hop and I’ll think we’ll continue to do so. Other genres have changed but they feel more stuck in their ways. Rock comes to my mind as being a culprit of this. It feels like even when innovation is occurring it’s a smaller group and the majority of the group doesn’t embrace it. Yes Jazz has it’s cranky fans who just want to hear some Bird, but the majority are willing to branch out and that keeps Jazz alive and fresh.
Jazz will remain as “popular” as it is

Because Jazz music is being constantly innovated I think it will stay in its same “popularity” it has now. It will remain respected among musicians and have a hardcore audience that loves it. I like what I’m seeing from artists who are willing to collaborate with other more popular artists and genres. Like Robert Glasper playing with Common, Tony  Bennett with Gaga, and Esperanza Spalding playing music that’s closer to rock.  Universities also help. With Jazz music essentially being a requirement for most universities it fosters more artists and it kind of gives the genre more credibility. If it wasn’t for universities and high schools I think Big Band music would’ve died long ago.

Hip hop will take over

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I think jazz music will sound more and more like hip hop music in the coming years. Many jazz musicians worked on Common’s latest album, same with Kendrick Lamar’s Too Pimp A Butterfly and albums from Robert Glasper and Terrance Martin have so much hip hop music in them that you can even make an argument it’s an even split of jazz and hip hop. I believe the upcoming generation will do even more of this and you’ll be hearing this fusion of genres from the most popular jazz artists from now on.
What predictions do you have for jazz music? How popular will the genre be in the next ten years? What will it sound like? Let me know in the comments below and let’s continue the discussion.

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Favorite Record labels

I listen to a lot of jazz music. While doing so I’ve discovered that there are certain labels who have a style that I connect with/ intrigue me so I thought I’d share some of my favorite record labels releasing music today.

Okeh:

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I like Okeh because they are with Sony. Having an association with such a big company is good for jazz and ensures the economic stability for the label. Okeh definitely embraces streaming so all their music is accessible to virtually everyone. Their rosters is absolute stacked with acts such as Dee Dee Beidgewater, Theo Crocker, and Kurt Elling just to name a few. You’ve probably already been listening to some of the latest Okeh records already, but if you haven’t done so I highly recommend checking out their latest releases.

Ropeadope Records

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This is one of the most diverse and “out” labels in all of jazz. Lots of different styles of music are incorporated in virtually every  release of Ropeadope Records. Revolutionary acts such as Snarky Puppy, Terrance Martin, and Spare Parts all call Ropeadope Records home. Still skeptical? Check out their Spotify playlist which has some of their best music from 2016. https://open.spotify.com/user/ropeadope99/playlist/50xOg3jzDpXMnLz1BUuHh2?si=diV6p75Y
Blue Note

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Blue Note is iconic. Some of the most important releases in Jazz history have come from Blue Note and artists like Robert Glasper continue to carry on that tradition. If I had to ensure that one record label would be around forever this would have to be the one. Please keep supporting Blue Note Records and Blue Note artists.

 
ECM

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I like ECM and I also can’t stand them. They have some of the best releases in all of jazz, but they make it so hard to support and listen to them. The albums are all expensive with no online streaming presence. It’s so annoying and I think it handicaps the artists by not giving them maximum exposure. Still, there is something charming about resisting the digital age even if it means you are losing money.  I also like how each ECM record is numbered. So even though they can be completely different artists they are categorized and organized as part of the ECM vision. Another positive for ECM is their album covers. Every ECM album cover is a work of art and has a unique style to it. I can usually tell if an album is released by ECM just by looking at the cover. Support ECM as much as you can, but carefull. It can get pricey.

So there you have it! These are some of my favorite record labels around today. Do you have a favorite record label? Did I not mention it? Leave a comment below and let me know which record labels I should be checking out.

Best of July 

Here we go with the best albums from the Month of July.

Charles Lloyd New Quartet: Passin’ Thru 

My favorite album of the month. Amazing that this album consists of live recordings only. This is some top notch traditional jazz music. Only 7 tracks, but over an hour long this is sure to be an album I’ll be going back to throughput the year. 
John Pizzarelli: Sinatra and Jobim @ 50

Fantastic jazz album from the Guitarist and vocalist. You hear his authenticity and passion for this music on this record. I highly recommend this album for anyone who is even remotely interested in Sinatra or Jobim. I find his singing/ humming charming while he solos though I’m sure it will annoy others. Love the track “Agua de Beber”. 

Stanton Moore: With You In Mind

An all star cast joins Stanton Moore on this album. This album is a tribute to the late Allen Toussaint and I feel it’s a fitting one. It’s a fantastic mix of vocal and instrumental music. It perfectly captures the energy of a bumping jazz club and all that makes New Orleans great. 
The Best of the Rest:

Terrance Martin Presents: The Pollyseeds 
Benny Greb: Gregfruit2

5 Things I Think I Think

Just some random thoughts that I wanted to share with you for 2017 and beyond.

•Idk what the best album of the year is so far

Five months into the year and I feel that we have had a lot of high quality releases without many that stand out above the rest. I mean this in the best way possible. Plenty of really good albums out there but no clear cut favorite for me.

 

•Music has been good this year, but not as good as last year

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I’ve enjoyed this year’s releases very much, but I feel that last year was a bit stronger. The year is still young and I haven’t fully dived into my “Best of the year so far” blog so maybe after more research I will have a different perspective, but for now 206 is beating 2017.

 

•I’m going to go to more summer concerts

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Overall I always want to improve as a performer, writer, and a fan of music. That means going to more performances. I’m certain I will be attending more concerts this summer. Some local concerts I’m looking forward to are Grant Park Music Festival, Blues Fest, Jazz fest, and Ear Taxi to name a few. How about you?
•I’m going to see all Big 5 orchestras

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This is kind of a 2017/18 goal but I want to see all Big 5 orchestras CSO, Cleveland Institute, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra. Hopefully I can get started this fall and finish by next spring.
•The Jazz Loops Day are numbered

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I’ve loved writing for the Jazz Loop. It’s helped me so much as a writer, as a musician, and as a fan of jazz music. Now that my career is well underway I find myself spending all my time teaching, performing, and recording. This is all fantastic, but squeezing in time to write for The Jazz Loop is getting harder and harder and with my other website needing constant articles as well I think it’s time I fully focus on my career and let The Jazz Loop go. This saddens me a bit as a have so much fun doing this, but I think it’s time. Still, don’t worry I will keep blogging for the rest of 2017 and re-evaluate the situation going on to 2018. I will give all of you an update as soon as I’m certain.
That’s it for today’s blog. Any thoughts on your mind on the Jazz scene? Any concerts or events your looking forward to for 2017? Worried about The Jazz Loop ending? Let me know in the comments below.

Nine For Nine Project Explained

https://soundcloud.com/egarciajazz88/maiden-voyage

My latest project Nine For Nine has officially begun! I’m so excited to share all of this new music with you. To be brief, Nine For Nine is a project where I will be releasing a new track every 2nd Monday of the month from now until the end of the year. So by the end of 2017 there will be 9 tracks released in the last 9 months of the year, hence the name Nine for Nine. Today I officially launch the project with a solo piano performance of the jazz standard “Maiden Voyage”. Below I shared some of my thoughts about why I chose this tune and what it means to me.

Herbie Hancock’s influence on me has been tremendous. As a musician from Chicago he has constantly been a source of inspiration and motivation. The first album I ever heard Hancock on was The Best of Herbie Hancock: The Blue Note Years. Immediately songs like “Watermelon Man” and “Maiden Voyage” became the benchmark for what I was aiming to be. After that I purchased An Evening of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, that album was so good I almost quit playing the piano altogether. I remember thinking “They’ve done everything there is to do on the piano, I can never achieve that virtuosity so why keep playing?”

I kept playing. And the more I listened to Hancock the deeper my appreciation for him grew. Whether he was doing straight ahead jazz on albums such as Empyrean Isle, pushing the definition of jazz on Bitches Brew, or playing a pop record with Christian Aguilera. Hancock always made an impact and added his voice to a project. Now I’m channeling Hancock to add my voice and make an impact on this project.
So without further to do, here is my Maiden Voyage (horrible pun intended) the very first tune of the Nine For Nine project, “Maiden Voyage”. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this, and I hope you find as much inspiration from Herbie Hancock as I have.

Similarities between Jazz and Baseball

The baseball season is just underway and I’m so excited about watching my Chicago Cubs defend their World Series Title. As usual I try to relate everything to music, everything to jazz, and after thinking about it, I found quite a lot of similarities with Jazz and Baseball and I’d like to share some of them with you.

Pace of Action

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Many people who are not baseball fans argue the game is too slow, takes too long, and there is not enough action. Jazz has similar complaints. Some people feel they can’t connect with the music without a voice, ballads are slow and boring, and there isn’t as much energy in the music as there is in say a rock or hip hip concert. Of course fans of both will tell you there can be a learning curve, but if you stick it out the nuances of baseball and jazz become the most enjoyable parts of the experience. Also the beer is fantastic.

Use To Be National Pastime

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A not so positive similarity. Both baseball and jazz use to be the most dominant entertainment products this nation had. However, baseball fell behind basketball in the 90s and then Football in the early 00s. Jazz had an even briefer time at the top. As rock took over mainstream music in the 70s followed by hip hop in the 90s. While both baseball and jazz will probably never be as popular as they once were. The hardcore fanbases ensure us that they are here to stay.

 

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I’m more worried about the future of jazz then the future of baseball. Baseball has been able to get very lucrative local tv deals so while the sport may not be dominant on a national level it is extremely healthy on a local and financial level. Calling jazz healthy at any level is hard to do. I’m confident the music will continue to grow, evolve, and find a place in society as a respected art form, but without financially backing, ultimately musicians and the art they create suffers. Let’s hope jazz follows in baseballs footsteps and finds ways to have a nice local scene and a profitable business so we can enjoy the music for years to come.

Free Jazz Concerts in Chicago 

We have to support the arts if we want them to survive. I know a lot of college students and musicians who want to support the arts, but financially it can be expensive. So I’ve created a list of venues and dates where you can watch a show for little to no money. Hope this helps anyone who wants to support music, but has a tight budget. 

Jazz Showcase


I love the Jazz Showcase so much. So many great performances happen here from local legends to well known acts. If you just want to hear live music every month there are at least a couple of free performances which are usually sponsored by WDCB. Even when there is a cover charge it’s usually 5-15 dollars and even cheaper if you have a student ID. Check them out. 

Green Mill

The Green Mill is usually a little more expensive than the Jazz Showcase, but they also have more consistent free shows. On Thursday’s from 5:30-8:00pm you can check out Andy Brown’s Guitar Cocktail Hour Show, Friday’s feature “The Flipside Show” from 5:30-8:00 pm, and early Saturday morning (after 2am) the Sabertooth Organ Quartet is free. So the Green Mill offers perhaps the most diverse and consistent options for listening to live music for free. 

Other Options

Many other jazz venues have free to very affordable options that are also worth considering. The Whistler has a lot of shows that are free and many feature jazz fusion. Places like Emporium Arcade Bar and Winter’s Jazz Club also have free shows from time to time. They don’t have them as regularly as the other venues, but it’s definitely worth checking out the calendar.

There is no excuse to not listen to live music in Chicago. Even if your budget is tight, there are a multitude of options where you can support your favorite musicians for little to no money. While attending these performance I do advise you to at least buy a drink or two. If you didn’t spend any money getting in please consider buying AND TIPPING your waiter/ waitress. Having a good turnout and a happy staff is a major key for musicians. Even if the turnout is low having a lot of alcoholic beverages sold and a pleasant crowd means the band is more likely to get a call to come back again. If the audience is rowdy and cheap when the manager asks the staff how last night was they will be sure to tell them. So please support the arts, go to a live show, buy a beer, and tip your servers. 

Desert Island Albums 

Stranded on a desert island what five albums would you bring with you? I do a lot of listening to music and approach music from so many different angles, but the idea of what would make a good desert island album never crossed my mind. It would have to be an album that I could listen to forever without getting sick of, it would have to have a diverse set of tunes, and do something the other 4 selections don’t. I didn’t really put any restrictions on myself when thinking of a desert Island album other than no cheating with box sets and things of that nature. So without further ado here is my list of Desert Island Albums in no particular order

John Coltrane- Giant Steps 

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I knew Coltrane would be on this list I just wasn’t sure which album. I picked Giant Steps because it has so many classic tunes on it; the title track, “Naima”, “Countdown”, “Mr P.C” and one of my personal favorites, “Syeeda’s Song Flute”. Not even my favorite Coltrane album, but more on that later.

Charles Mingus – Ah Um 

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I chose this album primarily because of its variety of music. With tributes to Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington, ballads like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, and the soulful opener “Better Git In Your Soul”, this album is a brief history of Jazz music. On a desert island this album would feed that desire of hearing different types of jazz music while still being able to listen to a cohesive record.

 

John Coltrane- A Love Supreme 

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This album changed my life. I wouldn’t be a jazz musician if it wasn’t for this album. The minute I heard “Resolution” was the first time I heard real jazz. It left me speechless, and opened up a whole new world to me. On a desert island this seminal album would remind me of why I love jazz in the first place.

 

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue

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Another classic and one of the first jazz albums I loved. This album has been a constant in my life. I go through good stretches where I’m either listening to it on a daily basis or I end up having to play or teach tunes from this album. Can’t imagine not having this in my life or on an island.

 

Robert Glasper- In My Element 

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This isn’t even my favorite Glasper album, but I feel like I would need to have some Glasper in my life. I love the progress Glasper represents for Jazz and music in general. My favorite album from Glasper is either Black Radio 1 or 2, but I love his Trio work so I’d take In My Element on the desert island and be just fine.

What albums would you take with you on a desert island? Would love to hear which albums you’d take that I didn’t and why. Leave a comment below or message me your desert island albums.

Continue reading “Desert Island Albums “

Jazz Loop Update

The Jazz Loop officially turned 4 on Sunday and I’m so thrilled this blog has been running for so long. Writing these posts and interacting with all of you online and in person has truly been a joy. Now as we begin a new year on The Jazz Loop, I’ve made some adjustments to the site.

First is the look. I always make yearly changes to the aesthetics of the website and this year is no exception. Hopefully you find the new look clean and improved. All previous categories are staying and operating as they have in the past year. The only exception is First Listen which should be much more consistent as I will be live tweeting my First Listen of an album on the first Monday of each month. A blog post on the experience and my overall views of the album will be posted shortly after. Follow me on Twitter here to be part of the experience.

Things are always subject to change on the Jazz Loop. I might change the site if I find I find a better theme, a category might be redone if it proves ineffective, and new categories can be introduced. The adjustments made this year are minor, but will hopefully improve the site and improve your experience reading it. Can’t wait to see how this site will grow, and can’t wait to talk to all of you about all things Jazz in 2017.

100 blog posts. Thank you! 


Wow we have just broken past 100 blog posts for the Jazz Loop! Amazing that this milestone was reached just as 2016 drew to a close. When I started this site back in 2013 I really just wanted to reach out to my fellow jazz heads and discuss different topics in the genre and the music industry as a whole. It’s been an amazing 3 plus years and I’m just as dedicated as ever before to bringing you the best content I possibly can. I’ll have a thorough Jazz Loop update later in the month where the website will be revamped and I’ll go in depth on what I have planned for 2017. 
 I’m exited (musically) for this year. I feel I’m ready to bring you more posts than ever before, some of my personal artistic projects are going to be released this year, and being officially done with undergrad, I’m pumped to fully immerse myself in all my works. 

So for now I just want to say thank you. Thank you for those of you that supported this site from the beginning, and thank you to those of you who just began reading The Jazz Loop. Without your comments and views I’m just a madman yelling about jazz. So let’s kick off 2017 and post 101 with positive energy and optimism for the future!