My vision of Jazz Unlimited is that we sit at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee or other suitable beverage and relax and listen to some great music. I believe that the music speaks for itself. A good radio show has a beginning, a middle and an end. No piece of music should be on the show unless there is a reason for it to be there. All the music on the show is related to either a stated or an unstated theme. Even though some themes and all major jazz musicians are "recycled," all shows are unique, since I keep records of what I am doing. For example, since 1983, there have over 50 shows on some aspect of Duke Ellington's music. Each Ellington show is different.
I occasionally get letters from listeners that say I'm not playing the "true jazz." When their definitions of "true jazz" are given, there is usually a very narrow focus on a particular style or period. It is unfortunate that they are missing other great music from other styles and eras because of their narrow focus. This attitude seems like the attitude of some fans of what Miles Davis called formal (i.e., classical) music. The only thing that will do it for them is Bach or Beethoven or Debussy, for example. Formal music, just like jazz, is too broad to be defined in such a narrow way. Whether it is peaceful and quiet or wild and noisy, this music is supposed to grab you by your heart and take you to a different place.
I attempt to cover all aspects of this great music on Jazz Unlimited. There are some exceptions. The show is not for the purposes of nostalgia. Consequently, I do not play the pop music of the big band era. Lester Bowie once told me that his Brass Fantasy was for the purpose of redoing his teenage music. Lester was doing something with his teenage music in an original way that had nothing to do with nostalgia. "Lite jazz," "new age music" and most jazz-rock fusion are not played because these styles have not contributed to the forward momentum of the music. In addition, a situation has occurred in jazz since the early 1980's in which many new players have based their playing on repetitions of earlier styles. There has been little expansion of the jazz language in those styles by these players. Much of the music heard today is of the "jazz repertory" variety, even though that label is not stated as such. An uninformed public has been led to believe that what these players are playing is the latest innovation. I believe that the originals must be heard and learned from. Unfortunately, what is often heard is determined by how good an artist's publicist is. When the current players begin to gain an individual voice, they are heard on Jazz Unlimited.