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Audio Files: Amazon & the Art of Voice Command

Amazon’s new wireless speakers access a world of jazz using nothing but your voice

Amazon's Tap speaker

What jazz fan hasn’t thought, “I’d love to hear Sonny Rollins right now,” but was too wrapped up in work or chores to spend time flipping through records and CDs, browsing iTunes or a streaming service, and turning on the stereo? Wouldn’t it be great to simply summon Sonny right out of midair with little to no effort? I can-and I can conjure up pretty much any other jazz artist I want, too.

When I woke up this morning, I wanted to hear some jazz but didn’t have anything particular in mind, so I tapped a button on my new wireless speaker and said, “Play KNTU” (the radio station from the University of North Texas). About 20 minutes in I noticed a cool Hammond organ solo and wanted more. I tapped the button and said, “Play Larry Young station from Pandora,” and seconds later “If,” from Young’s Unity album, began playing. This recording gave me the urge to hear more Joe Henderson, so I tapped again and said, “Play album In ‘N Out,” which cued up the title track. But I really wanted something a little slower, so I tapped and said, “Next track.” I couldn’t remember the name of the tune, so I tapped and asked, “What is the name of this tune?” and heard the reply: “This is ‘Punjab’ on In ‘N Out, the Rudy Van Gelder edition, by Joe Henderson.”

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