I was sceptical at first, but I am still listening to and adding to my list of artists on Pandora. I listen to and actively seek Jazz resources and Pandora, in my short experience really delivers. They say they focus on the long tail, so I have been a little disappointed that they don't have some of the more esoteric artists that I like. However, I wrote to their support desk and got a great response. I learned this from Tim Wetergren, the founder of Pandora when I asked him about the jazz catalogue:
We take the same approach to the jazz catalogue that we do to all other genres. We make sure that we have all the seminal recordings and hits going all the way back (only limited by what's in print), then build a big catalogue of lesser known, indie catalogue around that. Our music covers the entire jazz spectrum, from hard bop to west coast smooth jazz so it's not a narrow catalogue that's affecting the quality of recommendations.
One additional point is that we work really hard to find what we like to call the 'great long tail' - all the best music, regardless of popularity.
Personally, I think we still have a ways to go, but that's part of what makes this so much fun.
Any suggestions for artists we're missing?
I suggested a number of artists and labels I could not find: Carla Bley, Lew Tabackin, and Toshiko Akiyoshi and a small label About Time.
This time Michael Zapruder, a songwriter on the West Coast, wrote me back:
"Looks interesting. Me, I scour the weekly Forced Exposure, Aquarius and Downtown Music Gallery Mailorder emails for our avant-jazz fix. They have amazing records, usually with very accurate and enticing descriptions. I'll look these folks up right away. Keep 'em coming"
What a great response, someone who has as much fun with this stuff as I do. Zapruder is an interesting guy and it is worth looking his music up on iTunes, his most recent album is "This is a Beautiful Town".