I’m not sure how Pandora continues to exist. While a number of my friends swear by it, I have never been a fan of internet radio where you have minimal ability to pick the music that you want. That said, I have been getting into a lot of Spotify playlists, created by listeners and by Spotify, and these playlists have opened several musical doors for me recently. Who knew that there was a genre called “Swedish Jazz” or “Alaska Indie”? When I started listening to some of these lists, I was pleasantly surprised at the incredible music and artists that I had no idea existed.
Spotify has a playlist series called the Sound of Spotify, that publishes tons of playlists—“The Sound of _____”. The series includes such genres as Piano Jazz, Contemporary Post-Bop, Americana, Indie Garage Rock, musical roundups by Year, Regional Mexican, Swedish Folk…you name it, they might have it—the list goes on and on. The cool thing is they are dynamic, always being added to as new music or “new” old music is discovered. Throw one of these long sets on in your office or kitchen, and just let it run. You will find that you are opening entirely new musical avenues, and broadening your overall musical vocabulary. Here are some of my favorite playlists that I have running all the time in my office, both Spotify and Indie created.
The Sound of Contemporary Post-Bop— Post-Bop Jazz appeared in the mid-sixties, and it has been around ever since a broad genre that frames a more open, less structured range of music, from Miles Davis to Pat Metheny and Kenny Garrett to Wynton Marsalis, and many more. Post-Bop also led to new genres such as Fusion and World Music. The ECM label is a good Post-Bop brand. The playlist just added a bunch of new material, including some Clifford Jordan and Wayne Shorter tunes, recorded by the great engineer Rudy Van Gelder, some vintage McCoy Tyner, and some folky Jazz tunes from Guitarist Bill Frisell. One song is from 2019, the next from 1968, it is a deep blend that will keep you interested all day long.
The Sound of Jazz Fusion—Another great Spotify playlist features one of my favorite genres– Jazz-Rock Fusion. The first albums appeared around 1970- with the seminal works of Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, and Chick Corea. While most of the list is instrumental, there are some more popular tunes thrown in with vocals, like Donald Fagen’s awesome solo work and some stuff from Zappa’s Hot Rats era, to name only a few. This stuff is high energy and great to listen to.
Jazz Fusion, Progressive Rock & Jam Bands—The dynamic playlist is an indie one created by Spotify listener Marcus Morris, and it is spot on for me. I recently drove for seven hours and I played this list for most of the drive. This guy hit everything I like, including Weather Report, Brand X, Phish, Bruford, Holdsworth, and Umphrey’s McGee, but also introduced me to great artists I had never heard of like Franz Vollink, and Sebastiaan Cornelissen. Nothing to avant-garde here, all quite accessible. Search it out on Spotify. Marcus Morris updates it now and again.
The Sound of New Americana—This Spotify curated list features a lot of music I love to listen to, mostly more recent artists that are changing the face of the American Music scene. Bands like Mandolin Orange, Yonder Mountain String Band, Aoife O’Donovan, Tyler Childers, Dave Rawlins, Wild Rivers, and the Punch Brothers. This is the kind of list you put on Sunday morning in the kitchen to keep you in a good mood all day. Change things up by alternating your listening with the Spotify Playlist The Sound of Alternative Americana for a rawer feel from bands like Dirtwire, Sturgill Simpson, and Phosphorescent.
The Sound of Swedish Jazz—One of my go-to lists recently is the Swedish Jazz list. It is filled with amazing artists that you have never heard of, all influenced by decades of the American Jazz scene. The blind pianist Mats Oberg is an amazing virtuoso that plays jazz/classical melodies that remind me of Keith Jarrett; Terje Sundby plays his trumpet-like in a jazz trio that stretches your idea of jazz trumpet; and the Fredric Norend Band is a top rate jazz quintet that harkens to the great American Jazz quintets of the sixties, with a fresh feel. This one is well worth a try and will keep you listening.
I have been building a collaborative playlist for the last several months called My Giant Playlist, and it’s up to almost six hundred tunes and 64 hours of music. I simply throw tunes that I like into it, regardless of genre, so one tune might be from a 60s jazz group, the next a Canterbury Rock tune, then some Bill Monroe or Del McCoury. I have it in collaborative mode, so you can add tunes in it as well if you have something good. You can listen to it on Spotify at this link: https://spoti.fi/32gI5tM.
Steve Chase is listening to playlists in Unison.