Having all those choices can also be the worst thing about listening to music on the internet. Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours hopping from site to site, listening to weird experimental jazz from the Ukraine, while your kid sits at his daycare facility wondering why he’s not been picked up yet.
As a service to you, the jazz fan, as well as your abandoned child, here’s a short list of 6 Great Places to Hear Jazz Online.
Launched in 1999, Live365 is the Granddaddy of all internet radio hubs. In the jazz category, it has over 330 stations ranging from Acid Jazz to Fusion to Bebop (with more popping up, literally, every day).
Palm Springs-based "Forever Cool" is hip to Miles Davis, Vince Guaraldi and Bill Evans, while listener favorite "aTTeNTioN sPaN raDiO 1" offers jazz/rock fusion from artists like Jeff Beck and Stanton Moore.
Though it can become a bit mind-numbing for my tastes, those so inclined can listen to Pat Metheny ad nauseum via "Pat Metheny Radio."
One of the best designed sources for jazz listening online is JazzRadio.com.
All the music choices are centrally located on the home page, making it a breeze to find a genre, load the player and get down to listening. As well as dividing the music by style, the site also offers instrument categories like Trumpet Jazz as well as mixes like Paris Cafe and Gypsy Jazz (for those who can't get enough Django Reinhardt).
TuneIn is a 10-year old, California-based (and deep-pocketed) operation that claims to offer over 70,000 radio stations and has an archive of over 2 million podcasts, concerts and interviews. That’s good news and bad news at the same time.
A quick keyword search of "jazz" lists an excruciatingly large 1000 stations (and, strangely, some thumbnails of stations playing Ozzy Osbourne.) Even so, it doesn't take too many clicks to track down some adventurous outlets like La Grosse Tambouille, a French station that mixes Jaco Pastorius and Earl Klugh with Rufus Thomas, Sublime, Parliament and Elvis Costello. If the true spirit of jazz is eclecticism, then La Grosse Tambouille embodies jazz at its peak. And remarkably, it all fits together.
At the other end of the spectrum from the likes of TuneIn is Jazz24.org.
Operating out of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, Jazz24.org is as simple and straight-forward as TuneIn is expansive: there's one stream and that's that. But what comes out of that stream is terrifically varied and delightfully listenable, from new relative newcomers like Jacqui Naylor to vets like Harvey Mason to legends like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.
SurfMusic, which is based in Germany, is a bit deceiving. The name would indicate the music is all about Huarachi sandals and blondes with tans but, in fact, the “surf” part of the name refers to surfing the web for music.
In their jazz category, you’ll find a decidedly world music tilt on Freising, Germany’s “Jazz Loft” while “Fine Music” out of Cape Town, South Africa is particularly focused on indigenous sounds.
The old school music player doesn’t offer artist names or song titles, which is a bit of a drawback, but it’s fun to scroll down the page and listen to stations from such exotic places as Carouge, Kremenchuk and Fort Wayne.
Like SurfMusic, InternetRadio.com’s interface is pretty old school but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s pretty easy to navigate and offers a fairly broad range of choices.
There are plenty of fusion and smooth jazz stations in the mix as well as some out-of-the-ordinary streams like “Big Blue Swing,” which plays “music for Lindy Hop, Charleston and Balboa,” whatever that means.
There are some stations that stream at a pretty low bit rate but, in the case of those that play really old music, it doesn’t really detract from the experience. Are you a dedicated listener to jazz on the internet? Weigh in with your recommendation.