“What is ruining jazz radio today?” This was a recent topic of discussion between an acquaintance and me. He said jazz radio was suffering a worrisome onslaught of CDs from white guitar players with moustaches. For my part, I said that I was most afraid of what I call “The Dentist’s Wife Syndrome” in jazz.
The Dentist’s Wife Syndrome is basically this: A late-middle-aged, prosperous male (such as, well, a dentist) finds himself a younger trophy wife with deep cleavage and the even deeper delusion that she’s a jazz singer. To keep her happy and occupied while he’s out there in the workaday world bringing home the prosciutto, he finances some recording dates for her. They then send the results of this vanity project to jazz radio stations all over the country, to the horror and dismay of most music directors and programmers. I say “most” programmers. Some will actually play this stuff on the radio and therein lies the danger because, as a general rule, Dentist’s Wives are very bad singers. I guarantee you that when a Dentist’s Wife goes on the air, listeners go somewhere else.