Jazz on the Tube: An Archive of 2,000 Classic Jazz Videos (and Much More)

What is the cur­rent state of jazz, you ask? You might ask genre-bend­ing musician/producer/rapper Stephen Elli­son, aka Fly­ing Lotus, who also hap­pens to be the nephew of John and Alice Coltrane. In a recent inter­view, Elli­son lament­ed “it’s all gone quite stale over the past 20 years” and imag­ined that if Miles Davis “came back to Earth and heard a lot of these jazz cats, he’d be mad. He’d lit­er­al­ly be mad, and he’d just go back to where he was dead at.” Giv­en Miles’ infa­mous tem­per and dis­dain for the con­ven­tion­al, this isn’t hard to imag­ine at all. But whether you could call today’s jazz “ele­va­tor music” is a point I leave to oth­ers to debate.

Ah, but what is the state of dig­i­tal jazz preser­va­tion? Now, that is a ques­tion I can answer, at least in some small part, by point­ing you toward Jazz on the Tube. This online resource bills itself as three won­der­ful things in one: “a search­able data­base of thou­sands of care­ful­ly hand picked and anno­tat­ed jazz videos”; “free Video-of-the-Day ser­vice”; and “up-to-date direc­to­ry of jazz clubs, jazz fes­ti­vals, and jazz orga­ni­za­tions world-wide.” You’ll also find there pod­casts and world­wide list­ings of jazz radio sta­tions. But as its title implies, its most ful­some ser­vice offers a list of 2,000 videos from an A‑Z of sev­er­al hun­dred artistsAbbey Lin­coln to Zoot Sims.

Fan­cy some of that nev­er-com­pla­cent Miles Davis mag­ic? Check him out at the top doing “Sanctuary/Spanish Key” in 1970 at the Fill­more (open­ing for Santana—he also opened for Neil Young and the Grate­ful Dead that year). Dig some clas­sic hard bop? Check out the Thelo­nious Monk Quar­tet in Poland, 1966. Like that N’Orleans’ sound? Do not miss Bunk John­son below.

Whether it’s the avant-funk jazz stylings of con­tem­po­rary trio Medes­ki, Mar­tin & Wood or the trad big band swing of Cab Cal­loway you seek, at Jazz on the Tube, you will most sure­ly find them. The breadth of artists, styles, and peri­ods rep­re­sent­ed demon­strates the incred­i­ble range and adapt­abil­i­ty of jazz. If it’s tru­ly gone stale these days, I think we may antic­i­pate that jazz will even­tu­al­ly find new forms its wor­thy ances­tors approve of.

Per­haps you will fall in love with Jazz on the Tube. Per­haps you may find that it’s exact­ly what you need. If so, you should know that they also need you. Although their impres­sive archive of con­tent is “all free to you,” it is not free for them to pro­duce and main­tain. They are cur­rent­ly ask­ing help in the form of month­ly mem­ber­ships or one-time dona­tions. Giv­en the amount of cura­to­r­i­al work they’ve put into this dig­i­tal jazz data­base, and how much enjoy­ment it’s like­ly to bring you, it seems only fair to give back to what they proud­ly describe as a “labor of love.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Great­est Jazz Films Ever Fea­tures Clas­sic Per­for­mances by Miles, Dizzy, Bird, Bil­lie & More

The Cry of Jazz: 1958’s High­ly Con­tro­ver­sial Film on Jazz & Race in Amer­i­ca (With Music by Sun Ra)

1959: The Year that Changed Jazz

The Night When Miles Davis Opened for the Grate­ful Dead in 1970: Hear the Com­plete Record­ings

Jazz Leg­end Jaco Pas­to­rius Gives a 90 Minute Bass Les­son and Plays Live in Mon­tre­al (1982)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (7)
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  • Nick says:

    Great list. YouTube is such a fan­tas­tic repos­i­to­ry of amaz­ing jazz, espe­cial­ly from the time when jazz actu­al­ly had a bit of life to it (upto about the late 60s, imo).

    As an aside, it was a post on Open­Cul­ture from a few years ago fea­tur­ing a Bill Evans set on Jazz625 that basi­cal­ly sparked my inter­est in jazz. Up until then I had a fair amount of dis­dain for the genre, but there was some­thing about Evans’ tor­tured ele­gance that piqued my inter­est. Any­way, from there YouTube did the rest and now I’m hooked.


  • Eric Bogan says:

    Great news. The idea that jazz today is ‘stag­nent’ isn’t a view that I share and it reveals a fun­de­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing of the genre. The com­ment above shows it had not gone ‘stale’ for this gen­tle­man.

  • anon says:

    Hav­ing spent the bet­ter part of the last 25 years scour­ing the inter­net for all things “jazz video”, I can now say that we are in a bet­ter world because this free resource is avail­able. Back when I was a music stu­dent in the ear­ly to mid 80’s, you had to be lucky enough to live in a large city where jazz film fes­ti­vals, such one host­ed by David Char­tok in NYC would fea­ture many of the his­toric exam­ples we now take for grant­ed. Now that we live in a time where the music indus­try at large is in a state of flux in terms of it’s intrin­sic val­ue, it’s nice to know that these films will hope­ful­ly remain acces­si­ble to the gen­er­al pub­lic free of charge.

  • Melvin Williams says:

    No cost for mem­ber­ship was men­tioned in fhe arri­cle

  • Anthony says:

    Real­ly dig this web­site. A lot of great intel­lec­tu­al finds and the men­tion of Fly­ing Lotus puts it to the top the of list. New read­er here.

  • Rudy says:

    Hi There.I lis­ten to a lot of jazz.I grew up on it.Was close to it.Met a lot of artist through my late uncle Duke Pearson.Who was a Blue Note record­ing artist and a@r man.But why is it.I nev­er see any of his music on Jazz on the Tube.Everybody else pop up on the site.Why not him!


    Wow, Uncle Duke ! You must be very proud of him. The Phan­tom is one of my favourite albums.

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