The Bumble Bee's View of the Garden:
Opinions on Jazz and other topics
The Bumble Bee flies into his computer to check out a virtual garden to musical flowers

As regular readers of this column know, I have a Web-site and therefore pay at least some attention to the Internet. I do not have a lot of time to explore it but I would like to share with you what I do know about Jazz on the ‘Net. Lately most of my attention has gone to Mp3.com as I will explain, but along the way I have found several sites that offer information, music and even complete concert and interview videos, for those of you with broadband access.

Many of you will remember Mp3.com for the law suites it was a defendant in 1999-2000. Like Napster more recently, there was a song sharing scheme going on that made questionable claims on the ‘fair use' exemption of the copyright laws. Unlike Napster, however, Mp3.com was also interested in providing a forum for musicians who had produced their own music and wanted to do make it available to users of the Internet. It is this aspect of their operation that has saved them. My first real introduction to this service came at the 2000 IAJE (International Assn. of Jazz Educators) conference, where the CEO of Mp3.com took part in a couple of the panel discussions on Jazz recordings in the market place. Last summer my friend, bassist and promoter, Rick Maida helped me to set up a page at the site and I have found it to be an interesting adventure.

There is, of course, all kinds of music represented at Mp3.com, and the most activity is in the various mainstream pop genres, however the Jazz section of the site has music by many artists you would not be able to hear otherwise, unless you happened to live near them. Naturally, with such an open venue, not everyone represented is ready to take the world by storm, but a great deal of the music is first rate. Even the music that is not at a fully professional level testifies to the vitality of the Jazz idiom not only in America but all over the world. Lately I have been introduced to Jazz musicians in Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Peru, Germany and Italy.

Not only can musicians upload recordings they have made, but anyone can play at being a DJ by starting a "radio station". These are playlists of tracks available at Mp3.com which can be found and listened to like a radio show. These serve a forums for people to try to promote music that interests them and are very useful in the complex dance that goes on between the artists themselves in their effort to become more visible. There are all sorts of top forty lists for all the genres of music represented and, of course, those who are listed there get heard more often. Since royalties are paid for the plays there is also something of a commercial concern as well, although for most of the artists the amounts of money are small and serve more as a token of having reached a certain number of people.

The stations are a little tricky to find at first so I invite you to go to my page there and start by visiting the stations that play my music. Not all of them are Jazz stations and once you are in the stations area it is pretty easy to go exploring on your own. I will list all the URLs for the sites mentioned at the end of the article.

There are many sites on the Internet that present Jazz. Many of the radio stations around the country that have Jazz programs also stream on the Internet. There is a site called Jazz Plus that has all sorts of interviews with artists and regular Webcasts of concerts that are unavailable anywhere else. Jazz Plus provides a very good picture of the state of Jazz performance today. PBS has a site that compliments the Ken Burns Jazz series and, the misgivings I expressed in my last column aside, it is a decent introduction for someone just getting interested in the music, and includes a section addressed to children. The PBS site is also useful for finding many of the radio stations that feature Jazz around the country, since almost all of them are non-commercial and many are PBS affiliates. For instance, I am going to Tuscon, Arizona next week. I looked up Arizona on the "station finder" and quickly located the radio station in Tuscon and found that they do indeed play Jazz.

There are also sites that are basically on-line Jazz magazines. The most elaborate one I know of is All About Jazz, which has news, reviews, interviews and is easy to search for specific information. The major Jazz magazines, Jazz Times, Down Beat and Jazziz, have sites as well. Then there are sites of interest to hard core traditionalists like Mississippi Rag, or hard-core modernists like Bird Lives. From these one can find others. I would still prefer that there were more live music around, but that seems to be something that is beyond my control, and rather than hold our breath we will just have to work with what we have.

Here are the URLs for the sites mentioned (and one that I did not), remember to precede them with http://: mp3.com, and my page there, mp3.com/PaulCombs; jazzplus.com; pbs.org; allaboutjazz.com; jazztimes.com; downbeat.com; jazziz.com; jazzkc.org; mississippirag.com; birdlives.com.