To my amazement, my kids seem to like jazz. By “like”, I mean don’t seem to mind, which I will consider a win. They don’t mind when I play John Coltrane (who is one of my favorite jazz musicians) on the kitchen smart speaker. They don’t blink an eye when albums like Jazz at the Pawnshop or Kind of Blue are playing. Today, I put on a Louis Armstrong playlist during breakfast, told my kids about him while I was playing, and my daughter expressed actually excitement about it. She told us that had learned a little bit about Louis Armstrong in school.

Playing jazz at some of our family mealtimes started accidentally. One evening I was too tired to think of anything to listen to while cooking dinner, so I told our Amazon Echo speaker to play “cool music”. I thought it would return a playlist of avant-garde pop music or underground dance- or world-music artists I haven’t heard off. Instead, to my surprise, Alexa cooly replied, “Now playing cool jazz on Apple Music.” I thought that was hilarious. I grew up thinking that cool jazz music was terrible, hopelessly lame easy-listening crap, which is the furthest thing from “cool” you could imagine. It turned out that my wife and I kind of liked the cool jazz playlist; it made for pleasant background music. More importantly, the kids didn’t ask for it to be turned off immediately.

Since that accidental discovery, the breadth of jazz that I put on for them has increased dramatically. I think this is a great development because I grew up in a house without music, and had to learn about all the different genres on my own. I am still trying to work on introducing my kids to classical music, but that has been a much harder sell.