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March 5, 2010

That was then, this is now

kjaztower

When I was kid, one of my earliest recollections of being turned onto jazz was through the radio. My father listened to KJAZ, the San Francisco Bay Area’s jazz station and I thought it was the greatest station of all time (and in looking back, it probably was). I am proud to say it was at the heart of my jazz education. I loved how they celebrated the artists and the music and that they weren’t afraid to push the boundaries beyond the stereotypical jazz radio format. For 35 years, KJAZ offered an eclectic menu of creative programs that covered all styles of jazz through passionate programming, in-studio artist interviews, transatlantic simulcasts and live performances, and no other station has come close since.

Armed with those impressions and just a few bucks, I headed down to the San Francisco Tower Records at Columbus and Bay and for me as a kid, that was my candy store. I spent endless hours searching the jazz bins and studying the liner notes and I gradually built my collection one record at a time. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Freddie Hubbard’s classic track First Light playing loudly through the store’s sound system and it sent me down a whole new path. Chasing those discoveries is what I lived for. It was an infinite pursuit and I couldn’t get enough of it. Both KJAZ and Tower have shaped who I am today and it is only fitting they would both later become Jazz Online’s first affiliates in our earliest days. A lot has changed since then but who would have ever imagined that both of those institutions would one day be gone. Though it saddens me, it is what continues to inspire me. Jazz Online has seen many incarnations over the years but this most recent version reminds me most of what I always loved about KJAZ and Tower. Jazz is for everyone. Jazz is cool. Jazz is alluring. Jazz is meant to be appreciated and shared, perhaps more now than ever. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you.

- Joseph Vella
The online jazz guy

Joseph Vella

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