Any real musician would have an idea more or less what jazz is about. At least they would know that there are shades to jazz music.
It’s not just one thing or the other.
It’s not very easy to know what people who are just average listeners think about it and how they see it, though.
An ordinary listener who is not really into jazz would imagine something quite soft, relaxing. That may be the result of the choices
most jazz radio stations often make, which is also understandable because they stay on air by selling ads and they would surely like
to pull as many listeners as possible instead of alienating masses by rough experimental tunes.
Even some jazz fans happen to prefer one genre to other so it’s impossible for a, say, pop listener to embrace all types of jazz.
I remember reading an interview with Al Di Meola whereby he protested that he doesn’t have to write relaxing tunes just to meet the expectancy of masses. Something in the lines of “I’m making jazz, not massage music”.
I also remember an incident from my life where the café I worked for decided to class up the joint by playing jazz music.
However, the management people were not really jazz enthusiasts per se. They didn’t have a clue what CDs to buy so they asked
the music store clerk who was the best jazz musician ever. The answer was Miles Davis. So, they bought a 15 cd Miles Davis box set.
They installed a system that kept on playing the CDs one after another whole day long. Some of the albums like
“Kind of Blue” were perfect but most of them were full of intense performances, some of them live, which had nothing to do with a peaceful café concept where a customer sips his/her coffee and enjoys a conversation with friends.
Some of the songs were as heavy as heavy metal in a way.
When I pointed out that maybe “Bitches Brew” wasn’t quite the album that went with double espresso latte the first sentence that I heard started with
“But the clerk said…”
I said no, no, no. I put my own “Afterglow” cd on by Sarah McLachlan and let the customers catch their breath.
If you are the owner of such a place, I think it is okay to play any sort of jazz in a jazz café or a jazz bar… but ONLY if you
let people know beforehand what they are to expect should they choose to hang out at your place. Because otherwise they are most
likely to be expecting that good ol’ “massage music”.