Buy this track on iTunes ADD Add Favourite

Some people hate jazz. Not just “dislike” or “find irritating,” or even “don’t get.” No, they hate it. Some have even been known to say, “God, I really hate jazz!!!” Leaving the Lord out of it, this negativity makes jazz lovers wonder, “Why?"

If you look closely at people with jazz-hatred issues, you'll find five root causes of this sad disease, outlined below. However, there are possible cures. Today's jazz-hater may become tomorrow's jazz-tolerator.

1. Fear of the unknown

Symptom: Feeling, as fatmammycat does, that “there are two types of people in this world, people who like jazz and people who would rather perforate their ear drum with a rusty knitting needle than listen to it.”

Cure: Stay away from knitting needles. Also, consider this. Some jazz does not sit easily with the musical memory, thought to be a factor in whether or not most people are drawn to specific kinds of music. That's part of why jazz, at first listen, may seem unknowable. The cure? Make it knowable. Take one fun jazz tune; listen to it once a week until you realize you don't hate it.

Look for US3's "Cantaloop, Flip Fantasia," Vince Guaraldi's theme to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares For Me," for a start.

2. Fear of 'endless noodling'          

Symptom: Feeling, as trweiss does, while listening to John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” that you are listening to “endless noodling that never comes to any satisfactory conclusion.”

Cure: First, it must be noted that what might be deemed "endless noodling” is evident in various kinds of music (for example, live shows by the Dave Matthews Band or former members of the Grateful Dead). Regardless, there are two cures. One, listen to highly structured jazz with minimal soloing, a la Dave Brubeck, or the collected works of Michael Bublé. A second cure, specific to the “Giant Steps” complaint, is to watch this.

3. Fear of 'pretentious idiots'

Symptom: Feeling, as File Life does, “All such people [jazz musicians] I have EVER encountered have all turned out to be pretentious idiots, who seem to be living under the impression that they are God’s gift to music.” Or as Mitch of the United Kingdom puts it, “I feel inferior because often, the people talking about Jazz [sic] in such glowing terms, are intelligent and invariably posses some musical ability — both qualities that I don't have.” Clearly this root cause of jazz-hate is a belief that jazz is elitist, pretentious and otherwise a club to which you will not be extended a membership.

Cure: Go to a jazz club. Tell the person you sit next to you know nothing about jazz. That person, if a jazz fan or musician, will be so happy that you are there at all that you may even get a free drink out of it. (Also, remember there’s a difference between expertise and elitism. If someone with the former practises the latter, why, that’s just snobbishness, common to all kinds of music.)

4. Fear of many chord changes

Symptom: As part of musical memory (see number 1), the idea of so many damn chord changes can lead to jazz-hating. That's why this guy admitted, “... my dislike for [jazz] is enhanced by the attitudes of jazz musicians and zealots toward 3 chord wonders such as myself telling me what I do can't be good because it isn't difficult to play.” (See also number 3).

Cure: There are as many different colours of music in the jazz rainbow as there are colours in the rainbow rainbow. Pick a colour without many chord changes. Miles Davis in modal, Kind of Blue mood, for example. Or all those funky, souly, jazz 1960s Blue Note Records releases. How complicated is Lee Morgan’s "The Sidewinder," for example? Not very.

5. Fear of not knowing where to begin

Symptom: Failure to launch, and we’re not talking terrible Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker movies. But it's true there is a vast amount of jazz. And the sheer breadth of recordings by artists whose names may be unfamiliar has been known to cause this kind of jazz paralysis.

Cure: There are customized albums for this very purpose, and we list several to help any jazz-hater just get over it, already.

1. Beginner’s Guide to Jazz
2. Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of American Music
3. A Child's Introduction to Jazz, narrated by Cannonball Adderley
4. Let’s Get Acquainted With Jazz (For People Who Hate Jazz)

(Courtesy of Vsop Records)

Share this post

5 reasons people hate jazz, and 5 ways to cure them

Some people hate jazz. Not just “dislike” or “find irritating,” or even “don’t get.” No, they hate it…


display   Oldest First |  Newest First
Tim Tamashiro
#1 posted by
Tim Tamashiro
on Sep 19, 2013

There are only three kinds of jazz: thinky, slinky and drinky. Personally I sing drinky jazz but I enjoy all of the musics.

Andrew Waterloo
#2 posted by
Andrew Waterloo
on Sep 20, 2013

I often recommend Raymond Scott Quintette, Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way," and "Cannonball Adderley's "Something Else."  It really depends on the person. 

As for jazz fans being snobs. I'm not sure about that. I find rock fans tend to be the ones that get fanatically fickle about music. 



blue jay
#3 posted by
blue jay
on Sep 20, 2013

I am a confirmed jazz fan, but it wasn't always the case.  I was introduced to jazz in the early 90s through a friend at U of A that was into vocal jazz (PM Singers, the Manhattan Transfer, etc.)  From there I began to seek out the works of classic jazz vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan,  etc.  Around this time I also "discovered" Holly Cole, the Canadian queen of covers, and really enjoyed her vocal style.  I found that compilation albums such as Verve's "#1 Jazz Album", etc. are excellent places to start b/c they introduce you to a good cross section of jazz music and you can delve further into the discography of artists whose sound catches your ear. 

I borrowed the VHS tapes of the entire Ken Burn's series, "Jazz" from the local high school band director and, over time, watched it from beginning to end, making mental notes throughout about important names, dates, movements, seminal albums, etc.  I then made a point of seeking out and buying music by a variety of artists featured in the documentary:  Fats Waller, Lois Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Cassandra Wilson.  As an example, I bought Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" as a direct result of the Ken Burns series.  The influence of that series has continued over the years as I recently purchased John Coltrane's "Blue Train" (also highlighted in the series) from iTunes.

Again, when approaching an artist for the first time, a compilation album can be a great way to get a feel for the artist's body of work.  You can then pinpoint specific albums and acquire them as the budget allows.  I am still discovering the work of Miles Davis, for example.  Early in my jazz journey I picked up with the indispensable "Kind of Blue" but have since added, 'Round about Midnight, the Birth of the Cool, Sketches of Spain, Miles Ahead, ESP, In a Silent Way and several MD compilations to my jazz library.  I have to say that "In a Silent Way" is in the running with "Kind of Blue" for my favourite MD album to date, but I'm far from finished learning about the legacy this remarkable musician.   Miles Davis albums still on my wish list include, Milestones, Filles de Kilamanjaro, Miles Smiles, Bitches Brew, and Tribute to Jack Johnson, so this has very much been a voyage of discovery.

As a Canadian, I'm ashamed to say that I've only quite recently discovered Oscar Peterson - I highly recommend Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the Stratford Shakespearian festival and Night Train. 

I still love vocal jazz and have really enjoyed "discovering"  more contemporary singers as well as classic vocalists/vocal groups like Sophie Milman, Diana Panton, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Susie Arioli, the Four Freshmen, Voices Unlimited, etc.,

Finally, listening to stellar CBC Radio jazz programs past and present like the My Kind of Jazz, Jazz Beat, After Hours, and Tonic, or one of the internet streaming jazz channels as well as CKUA Radio Network programs like A Time for Jazz, Ballads and Blue notes has been an invaluable to my ongoing jazz education.

Take the plunge: go to one of the few remaining CD stores near you, pick out a couple of jazz compilation albums and begin your journey! 


#4 posted by
on Sep 20, 2013

I feel #3 is the closest to cure, seeing live music is always much better than listening to CD's as it sinks in deeper. I was introduced to punk music this way and still keep a stash aside for when the mood hits, I think jazz would go over this way as well. Go to a concert, listen, dig it and buy a CD, listening to the same music you heard live will help it sink in deeper and kindle the fire for more concerts and a deeper appreciation.

display   Oldest First |  Newest First
Some streams are not available outside of Canada. If you are located in Canada, please Contact us and we'll respond as quickly as we can.

Login required

Oops - you have to be logged in to add to My Saved Items.