He's back this Saturday, December 7, at the Chicago Theatre.
Join us for the last Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch of the year from The Parrot Cage restaurant! It's the very popular Christmas Brunch on December 15, featuring the Chicago debut of the group Counterpoint as well as the City Colleges of Chicago Jazz Ensemble. For more information and reservations, click here or call (773) 363-1902.
The Dave Koz & Friends' Christmas (Keiko Matsui, Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler) at the Chicago Theatre - Saturday, December 7.
"Jazz on the Vine 2014" at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Friday-Saturday, May 9-10. With Darren Rahn, Maysa, RnR (Braun & Elliot), Urban Jazz Coalition, Steve Cole, Global Noize and Chieli Minucci and Special EFX.
*The Hotel Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare, home to the Montrose Room, is offering discounted room rates for those attending this show. Book a room, stay 'til the very last note of the final encore and don't worry about having to make the drive home! For information, click here.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Santa Koz delivers the holiday spirit as we get ready for his December 7 show at the Chicago Theatre.
Chris Botti has delivered many a magical performance in front of a Chicagoland audience over the years. This past Saturday at the Star Plaza Theatre was another one, according to one of our longtime loyal listeners:
I want to thank you one
more time for the tickets to the Chris Botti concert. It was incredible.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was the best concert I've
ever attended. From the first moment to the last, everything was
fabulous. This was my first time at the Star Plaza. The
theater was nice and there was plenty of free parking.
Chris Botti was such a warm and funny person. He was very engaging
and related well with the crowd. He even invited a couple of
enthusiastic fans in the mezzanine to come down to the main floor. Chris
is the type of talented person I enjoy seeing - someone who is so
secure in his ability to entertain the crowd that he freely shares the
stage with others equally as gifted as he is. His special guests were
fabulous. The violinist was top notch and made her instrument sing. The
female vocalist had a terrific voice and lit the stage with her
presence. The male vocalist had the unenviable task of singing parts in
"Italia" and "Time To Say Goodbye" made famous by Andrea Bocelli. He
did quite nicely.
The back-up band was out of this world. I hesitate to call them
back-up because they were outstanding in their own right. The pianist
was fabulous, the guitarist and bass player were electric, the
keyboardist was wonderful, and the drummer was dynamic. I could have
listened to them play all night.
After the concert ended, Chris stuck around to sign CDs. By the
time I got to the counter selling CDs, they were almost out. The line to
see him was so long that we didn't stick around. Maybe next time.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Chris' stunning interpretation of "Emmanuel," which was described by another listener who attended the show as "now my all-time favorite Chris Botti tune."
I'm looking forward to being back at the Parrot Cage Restaurant on Sunday, October 13, for the next Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch. Our special guest will be a rising star of Smooth Jazz from the Chicago area, keyboardist/composer Scott Allman.
Our Brunch will serve as the official CD release party for Scott's new project, Next Stop Home. You've probably heard his new track, "Lane's Cove," which we recently added to the SmoothJazzChicago.net playlist.
Scott will be performing two sets, one at each seating. We'll get to hear him playing tracks from his new CD as well as his 2011 debut, Generations.
There are just two Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunches left for 2013. We hope you'll join us in the one-of-a-kind setting of the Parrot Cage inside the historic South Shore Cultural Center for the next one. Seatings are at 11:00am and 1:30pm. To make a reservation, please call (773) 363-1902.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: The uplifting first single from Next Stop Home, "Lane's Cove," as heard on SmoothJazzChicago.net.
Peter White was part of the star-studded lineup at the 2001 Smooth Jazz Awards at the Chicago Theatre.
Here's Part II of YOU ASK, I ANSWER, featuring questions submitted by Kathleen Gregory of Lockport. (Part I is here.)
8. How do you know all the tidbits of
information (e.g., artist factoids) you share with us?
Just about everything I use
comes from sources everyone has access to--the internet, mainly. But I do the searching for you! Record
labels still send out one-sheets on the artists with most CDs, so I'll rely on those also.
9. How can you tell if a song is popular with
our listeners? Is that different from listeners around the country?
For thirty years I was
lucky enough to work for stations that prioritized music research. That
was an essential tool in the decision making process for choosing which titles to play. At WNUA we had test scores
for over a thousand smooth jazz titles going back to the late
'80s. Having been involved with music testing for many years, I can usually tell which tracks will work with our audience.
And, yes, Smooth Jazz listeners in Chicago do have different
preferences than, say, listeners in Los Angeles.
10. Is there a way you can tell how many
listeners the station has? In Chicago area? Around the country? I listen on my Kindle and not a computer--does that make a difference in tracking?
Yes, yes, yes and
no. Our stream provider, Triton Digital, gives us access to specific
audience metrics--every ten minutes of every day, in fact. But we are not able to separate out the different
devices where each individual stream request is coming from--not for now, anyway.
11. Is there a system that tracks popularity of
internet radio stations? If so, how do they compare with terrestrial stations?
How does our station compare with other internet stations?
Triton Digital also
provides monthly ratings, but they're national--not local--numbers. Since
most internet stations are national (and global) and terrestrial stations are
local, comparing Triton's numbers for the internet with Arbitron's numbers for local stations are apples-to-oranges.
SmoothJazzChicago.net is one of the few internet stations targeting one
specific geographic area, the Chicago metro area. Our numbers aren't close to what we had in the heyday of WNUA, but our
audience has grown every month since we launched. Give us time.
12. Do you plan to simulcast on television?
I'm assuming you're asking if we're going to be installing a webcam. Not anytime soon. Who'd want to watch someone who's basically just staring at a computer screen anyway?
13. I hear smooth jazz all over the place.
We even heard it on our cruise. Is there a way to find out if it is as
popular as ever with listeners.
That's difficult to
measure. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence around to say that, yes, it
is. Smooth Jazz-themed cruises, for instance, are big business today. Plenty of
new artists are coming down the pipeline. And here in Chicago, 2013 will
go down as a very strong year for Smooth Jazz concerts. Realistically
speaking, however, it's safe to say Smooth Jazz reached its peak of
popularity--at least on conventional radio--between 2000 and 2002. This is how a friend of mine who's a concert promoter put it: "Smooth Jazz is like [the pro sport of] ice hockey. It'll never be the number one spectator sport, but there will always be a significant number of people who like it."
14. Lisa McClowry has decided to go country. Is
this a sign of things to come? Are other smooth jazz artists choosing
other types of music? Are new artists coming to smooth jazz?
Lisa made an unusual
decision with her career. And it's easier to shift gears like that when
you're a singer. If you're an instrumental artist and want to cultivate a
solo career, your paths are limited--to pop, Smooth Jazz and traditional jazz,
mainly. I wish Lisa all the best with her new direction. She's always welcome to come back to our world. And, to answer the last question, we've had no shortage of new artists in 2013. I'd call that a positive sign for Smooth Jazz.
15.There are international smooth jazz awards.
Was smooth jazz as popular in other countries as it was in the U. S.? Are other
countries suffering from the same lack of terrestrial stations?
During the heyday of
Smooth Jazz, there were successful stations (or Smooth Jazz channels) in
Canada, Great Britain and Japan. I don't think there are many Smooth Jazz
outlets left on terrestrial radio anywhere in the world, sadly. The music is thriving on the internet, however.
16. Would you consider having the lunchtime
listener requests even when there is no prize? Personally, I would be happy
just to hear my selections and think others would feel the same.
I'd be happy to do a
request or dedication feature at lunchtime, but I think having a prize makes it
much more fun. I'd rather do it when we have something to give away. We try to have a prize every week.
17. I know with all the
songs that are made and become hits, there must be some that you like
more than others. Do you ever play songs you personally don't like?
Everyone who's ever been on the air will gladly tell you--off the air, of course--about the songs and artists they play but can't stand. Ramsey Lewis hated Paul Hardcastle. The late Yvonne Daniels would wince whenever she saw a Candy Dulfer tune on her playlist (and boy, would I get an earful during my brief stint as the producer of her morning show whenever she had to play "Lily Was Here"). As for me, there are some vocals we play that will never make my favorites list. There aren't many instrumental hits I have a problem with, though. I love instrumental music in general. And most people know I'm
partial to the piano, so any tune featuring a piano playing the melody
generally catches my ear right away.
18. On my Kindle, I notice that when I go to smoothjazzchicago.net,
other stations pop up as ones I might like. I was curious to see if your
station pops up when I listen to one of them. It doesn't. Is that
because our station is in my favorites? If not, is there a way to make
our station show up for people tuning into other stations? I'm sure
they would prefer ours.
Since I don't have a Kindle, I forwarded this question to our Tech Advisor, Danny Rigoni (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here is his answer:
I have played around with the Kindle, especially after all of the
questions we've had about listening to SmoothJazzChicago.net on the
device, but I do not have one personally. When reading Kathleen's
description, I think the related stations she is mentioning can be found
through two interfaces. The first would be if she is searching for the
station through Google or another search
engine. However, if she were to follow through to the link for
SmoothJazzChicago.net in the Kindle's browser, the only way she would be
able to listen to the station is through downloading the direct stream
each time. Considering that this is a rather complex process, my guess
is that she is using the TuneIn Radio app to listen to the station on
her Kindle. When listening to a station in TuneIn on my iPhone, if I
swipe to the right, the app recommends similar stations. Additionally,
TuneIn recently launched a new "Live" page that comes up when you launch
their app on any device, including an iPhone, Android, or Kindle. This
page has the intention of helping listeners discover new stations, and it
generates results based onf a listener's past selections and search
results. Furthermore, based on the results the app gives me on the "Live" page,
their algorithm for generating recommendations is not exactly unbiased
or entirely generated based off of a listener's
choices or habits. In reality, its results skew towards recommending
Sky.FM online stations or big radio owned terrestrial stations, which
makes me think that the "Live" page and recommended stations are controlled to a large extent by paid ads.
I want to thank Kathleen for some quality questions. Is there anything you would like to know? Drop me an email to the address below.
~Rick O'Dell (FmAm1@aol.com)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Lisa McClowry casts a spell with her video of the enchanting song "Come Dancing."
The saxophone is the premiere instrument of Smooth Jazz.
Recently, longtime Smooth Jazz fan Kathleen Gregory of Lockport sent over a formidable list of questions, so it gives us the perfect excuse to bring you the latest edition of YOU ASK, I ANSWER. Here's Part I.
1. How long do you give a new song to catch on
with listeners before deciding not to play it or add it to the rotation? Does
it make a difference if the new song is a vocal or instrumental? Does it matter
if the song is played by a new act? If a song doesn't quite catch on (for
example, Basia's "From Newport to London") will you play it from time to time, or is
it gone forever?
Here's how we've always approached
"adds" going back to the days of WNUA. Adds are what the industry likes to call new tracks that make the
playlist, by the way. First of all, we don't give new tracks a chance "to catch on with
listeners." When we add a new track to the playlist, we make a firm
commitment to it. We don't throw a new tune onto the playlist as an
audition with the chance that we might pull it off if it doesn't meet our expectations. That's why we like to take a good deal of time before
deciding whether a track merits airplay. We'll listen to a new tune
often eight, nine, ten times or more, and sometimes we'll even evaluate a new track by
committee. Several of us will lend our ears to it. Then, we'll arrive at a group decision on it. Vocal or instrumental, new or established artist,
it makes no difference. This is the process every new track has to go
through before we make a decision on it. I hope I've made it clear that new music is serious business to us.
Once we commit to adding
something, we break in the new track on the air slowly. It begins in a low
frequency rotation. As listeners become more comfortable with it, we bump
it up into a higher rotation. We'll give a new track anywhere between 100 and 300
total spins in current rotation, which take anywhere from five to six months on the air. That's
usually enough exposure for us to observe if our listeners have embraced
it. If we feel positive about it, we'll stay on it a little longer.
Then, we'll move it into a slower rotation by putting it into our permanent
active library. If we don't, it goes into an "icebox" category and might surface from time to time on a weekend program such as Dinner Party.
2. When you put together your show, do you have
a vocal to instrumental ratio per hour? Do you have a ratio for male to female
We have software that
schedules our music--after we program it to obey certain rules of
scheduling. As was the case on WNUA, we by and large have a 55-45 ratio
of instrumentals to vocals. There is no set ratio for male to female
vocalists. At the same time, we try and shoot for optimal variety in our mix of vocal tunes, alternating males and female voices, pop and R&B and so on.
3. Do you have a limit for certain instruments
like piano, bass, or saxophone?
The saxophone is the
signature instrument of Smooth Jazz. I'm sure you could have guessed that! As
such, we try and make sure there is at least one saxophone-based instrumental
every four tunes. It doesn't matter where or how often the other instruments play.
4. How do you put together a show? Do you have
Our weekend shows (e.g.,
Dinner Party and Sunday Brunch) lend themselves to themes and featured artists.
That's where we have the best opportunity to do special features.
Thematic shows can be polarizing (listeners can love or hate them),
however. That's why we rarely do them during the week, when we're trying
to build the largest listening audience we can.
5. How far in advance do you do it?
Personally, I like to
plan things at least one month out. But, if I've learned anything from 30
years in the business, it's that you always have to be ready for last-minute
6. How much time do you dedicate for
requests per day?
I'll generally leave
room for one or two requests each hour.
7. Do you use CDs?
Very few stations play
CDs anymore. Most music gets copied from CDs or downloaded song by song into a hard drive, as
audio files. Our music scheduling program then grabs them and puts them on the air at the proper times.
(We'll get to Part II of Kathleen's list in a few days.)
Got a question you'd like me to answer? Got a list of them I can start working on? Drop me a line anytime: FmAm1@aol.com
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Our newest "add" at SmoothJazzChicago.net, Paul Hardcastle and "Easy Street."
Smooth jazz, rough jazz, something in between. It’s summer in Chicago, which means you won’t
have to go far to hear your favorite style of jazz being played live under the
The big one for fans of traditional jazz is the City of
Chicago’s annual jazz festival. This
year’s event is the 35th, and for the first time ever will be held
in Millennium Park. As usual, the
headliners represent a solid core of area talent (including Willie Pickens, Henry
Johnson and Larry Gray) complemented by national acts such as Donald Harrison. The festival runs August 29 through September
1, and admission is free.
Sadly, the annual South Shore Jazz Festival ended a
remarkable run with the announcement that this year’s event was canceled. The news was better, however, for the Hyde
Park Jazz Festival which, for the sixth consecutive year, will boast a lineup
of some of Chicago’s most adventurous jazz musicians. Familiar names include Corey Wilkes, Dee
Alexander and the Willie Pickens Trio. They
will be performing at various south side venues on and around the University of
Chicago campus September 28 and 29.
Midweek after work sets have been a popular attraction for many
years at two non-traditional venues. The Shedd Aquarium presents live music in a
remarkable one-of-a-kind location. With the lake on
one side and the magnificent downtown skyline on the other, their patio is home
to “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” Wednesday evenings, 5:00 to 10:00pm. Admission is free to members, $18 for adults
and $16 for children. Certain aquarium
exhibits will be open extended hours on Wednesdays and included in the
admission charge. Get there early if you
want to beat the crowd.
At the same time, Chicago State University at King Drive and
95th hosts its own Wednesday night series, “Jazz in the Grazz” on
the city’s south side. Running through
September 4, free performances in their
open-air amphitheater include Chicago favorites Ray Silkman, Joan Collaso and
Terisa Griffin. There is a nominal
charge ($5) for parking.
Get on I-94 and travel north for ninety minutes, definitely
a doable drive on a summer afternoon, and you’ll reach the Racine Wisconsin Zoo. They’re the surprising locale for a couple of
notable shows next month. As part of
the Zoo's Wednesday night “Animals Crackers” series, Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb and
Everette Harp perform on Jazz-Funk-Soul night, August 7, and
saxophonist/flautist/world class whistler Nelson Rangell brings his
triple-threat talent to the Zoo August 21.
Admission is $25. And David
Benoit headlines at the annual HarborPark Jazz and Blues Festival in Kenosha
Saturday, August 17. Tickets start at
Finally, if you prefer your superheated jazz solos in air
conditioned comfort, the area’s most popular clubs—Andy’s, Pop’s for Champagne,
the Jazz Showcase, Close Up 2 and Katerina’s—will keep the music flowing with
no letup throughout the summer.
Sure, the days may be getting shorter and the dog days nearing
their halfway point, but there’s plenty of summer jazz left. Plan an evening out and enjoy some!
I'm about to introduce Jim Peterik and Chicago's own Lifeforce at our April brunch at the Parrot Cage. (Photo courtesy of Al Junco Photography.)
at the Parrot Cage Restaurant are preparing to roll out their red carpet to
Smooth Jazz listeners once again. They
invite you to join Bill Cochran and me June 23, the first official Sunday in
summer, for the next Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch.
Alaskan salmon with summer squash pearl couscous.
pasta with shrimp artichokes.
roasted pork shoulder with tomatillo and habanero sauce with pinto beans and
meatballs with marinara and capellini pasta.
barbecued braised brisket with sautéed Chinese nappa cabbage.
Sunday Brunch favorites such as fresh, made-to-order omelets and waffles, hash
browns, creamy bacon grits, turkey sausage, house made peach cobbler and mini
assorted desserts will complement Chef Angel’s summer specialties.
appearing at the Brunch will be Chicago singer Julia Huff. She will perform two sets, one at each seating (10:30am and 1:00pm).
Jazz Sunday Brunch always sells out, so make your reservation now. Call (773) 602-5333 or send an email to ParrotCageBrunch@ccc.edu.
Bill and I
will see you on the 23rd!
Video of the Day: Julia Huff, as
interviewed by ABC-7 News.
From the first
day I started dabbling in the streaming radio realm (back in '09 at
AccuRadio.com), I sensed a distinct divide between the worlds of
terrestrial and internet radio. With few exceptions, those employed on
the terrestrial side viewed internet radio as something of a poor
stepchild, as something less than "legitimate" radio. At the same time,
those whose careers began on the internet radio side perceived
terrestrial as outdated and representing obsolete notions and
practices. As someone who was fortunate enough to have had
opportunities on both sides, I saw how counterproductive this attitude
was for everyone involved. Those on the terrestrial side had gotten comfortable doing things the same way for so long that they were turning a deaf
ear to new ideas that could refresh and revitalize their medium.
Similarly, those on the internet side were too quick to dismiss and
devalue lessons and principles that the terrestrial side had learned
long ago, especially when it came to programming.
Therefore, I wanted to launch SmoothJazzChicago.net with an open mind. I wanted to try and combine the best
of both worlds, implementing the best practices from the
terrestrial side that I had absorbed in my thirty years of working in
over-the-air radio and supplementing them with features unique to the
streaming radio platform. That was my specific vision for
SmoothJazzChicago. Well, it seems that others on the internet side, at
least, are finally starting to catch on.
I came across this
article this morning in the industry press, and I had to chuckle. It seems pureplay internet broadcaster Slacker has decided there might
be some value after all to having--fanfare, please--hosts on some of their most popular channels. And they could be bringing back more than just announcers. According to the article, Slacker is intent on "integrating old school radio fundamentals
to make their service more than just a lifeless algorithm that
endlessly spits out music."
Imagine that. New technology admitting old technology might have gotten something right, starting
with actual people--warm, breathing human beings--who presence might
complement their music programming by enhancing the experience of those
who are listening. Wasn't that the idea behind disc jockeys in the
first place? But wait! Since there are technically no discs to jockey
anymore, they had to come up with a new name to go along with the
new/old job. This is the name they settled on: "human curation," which
to me is a mouthful. Like when stewardesses became flight attendants
and janitors became sanitation engineers.
I'm a proud old schooler who refuses to change my business card to read "Human Curator." But I
will admit I'm happy to see one branch of the broadcasting industry
come to its senses about something, because it's been awhile since that's happened. And it's something I've felt was important all along. Call 'em DJs or curators, the human touch is as vital as ever to the listening experience.
~Rick O'Dell (FmAm1@aol.com)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Who sends sweet salvation? Esperanza Spalding knows: a DJ, of course!
Everything you ever wanted--and then some--by Chicago's own Lifeforce is here! Available now through iTunes and Amazon.com, it's the remastered deluxe edition of Forces at Play by Jim Peterik's Lifeforce.
It's impossible to ignore the veritable Who's Who of Smooth Jazz that comprises Lifeforce's supporting cast on the CD. Take a look at the list above. And appearing on a special bonus track, "Vehicle," is the legendary Buddy Guy.
Disc One features the group's most memorable instrumentals, including their new Smooth Jazz hit, "Forces at Play," featuring Steve Cole and Chieli Minucci. Disc Two features their best vocals, including "'Sall Good" a WLFM 87.7 hit in 2011.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Jim Peterik captured live in Glen Ellyn in 2011.
The Solarium inside the South Shore Cultural Center, home of the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch
One thing you
can always count on with our Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch since 1992 is that you
will be dining in a one-of-a-kind setting.
From the spectacular open-air atrium at the Hyatt Regency to the magnificent
Normandie Lounge at the Hilton and Towers, where they furnished the room with
art deco treasures salvaged from the French ocean liner, the SS Normandie, to
the 43rd floor Edelweiss Penthouse at Swissotel, we’ve tried to make
our Brunch a feast for all the senses.
The South Shore Cultural Center
continues in 2013 at the Parrot Cage Restaurant. Located inside the South Shore Cultural
Center, our Brunch at the Parrot Cage offers diners a chance to stroll through
a historic Chicago landmark. Seating
takes place in the Solarium with its floor-to-ceiling windows providing views
of the lakeshore that have remained virtually unchanged and unspoiled since the
building opened in 1916.
As for the menu,
the Parrot Cage features a combination of tried and true Sunday morning favorites
such as waffles and omelets made to order and gourmet creations prepared and
served by students of the acclaimed Washburne Culinary Institute, one of the
City Colleges of Chicago. Their brunch
is consistently named one of the Top Brunches in Chicago by diners at
enhance your dining experience, the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch is proud to
feature live music. On most Sundays, the
talented student musicians of the Harold Washington College Jazz Ensemble will
be performing during the brunch. On
April 21, Chicago rock and now Smooth Jazz icon Jim Peterik will appear with
his band Lifeforce, playing selections from their newly remastered two disc
deluxe edition of Forces at Play, as
heard on SmoothJazzChicago.net.
And, if you’re
feeling lucky, you could be Rick O’Dell’s ongoing giveaways during each
Brunch. During each seating, Rick will
be holding a drawing for CDs, concert tickets and other fun prizes.
Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch at the Parrot Cage is April 21, 2013. Make your reservations soon, because most
brunches fill up quickly. Call (773)
602-5333, or send an email to ParrotCageBrunch@ccc.edu. Seatings are at 10:45 am and 12:00 pm.
I’ll see you
on the 21st at the Parrot Cage!
Video of the Day: Jim Peterik leads
Lifeforce on their new hit, “Forces at Play.”