An Unexpected Treat

I like it when jazz shows up in unexpected places. Jazz is no stranger to NPR, still I was peasantly surprised last week to hear Susan Stamberg use a clip from the new Roger Kellaway CD (Heroes, IPO Recordings) on her report about a Paris shop where art and history intersect — it’s the store where Cezanne and Picasso bought their art supplies. The Kellaway clip from the track titled “Nuages” begins about 6:15 minutes into the report and plays for 1 minute and 3 seconds. (With a release date of September 12 it’s not yet posted on IPO’s web site, but you can pre-order it at Amazon.)

I normally don’t expect to hear much jazz on television, but for a relative moment I seemed to be hearing a lot of it used in tv commercials, and I took note of it. The Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond recording of “Rondo a la Turk” was used in an ad for the Post Office. For a while Ella was everywhere: “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” on a Ralph Lauren “Style” perfume commercial, “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” for K-Mart, and I thought I heard her voice behind a Marshall’s ad as well. Sassy was selling cars singing “Key Largo” and the Dinah Washington & Brook Benton duet on “Baby You’ve Got What It Takes” was selling whatever it is they carry at Talbots.

And then there’s the “jazzy” music written for ads, most of which is horrible, but some is created by real jazz folks like Benny Golson who has composed national radio and television spots for for Borateem, Canada Dry, Carnation, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Clorox, Dodge, General Telephone, Gillette, Heinz Foods, Jack in The Box, Liquid Plum’r, MacDonald’s, Mattel Toys, Monsanto, Nissan, Ohrbachs, Ore-Ida Frozen Potatoes, Parliament Cigarettes, Pepsi Cola, and Texaco, to name more than a few.

John McDonough wrote an article about jazz and advertising for Down Beat (Jazz Sells), but that was back in 1991. A few years later, in one of his Downbeat editorials, John Ephland noted an increase in jazz visibility due to advertising. I wanted to write an updated piece but could not get anyone at any of the advertising agencies to talk to me about it. That was eighteen months ago.

I still take note, but the occasions are on the wane again. If you hear jazz in any unexpected places, please let me know.