DJ Jazzy Jeff Knows How to Read the Room
A record producer, DJ, actor and comedian, the Philadelphia native has had a long history in music. Whether it was appearing in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or his Grammy nominated hits, Jazz remains today as a pillar in the world of djing.
Born Jeffrey Allen Townes, he knew at 10-years-old he wanted to become a DJ after attending a summertime block party. Rather than dancing, he became fascinated with the DJ after “watching how happy he made people.” After pursuing his own career as a DJ, he linked up with Will Smith by chance after running into him at a house party. The two’s instant chemistry would later lead to the iconic duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and later Jeff’s role as the comical Jazz in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
After a number of gold and platinum-selling albums later with singles like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Summertime” the duo parted ways and Jeff went on to be a prominent R&B, soul and neo soul record producer. He created his own production company called A Touch of Jazz, working with artists like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, the Roots and more. With decades of experience under his belt, the expert musician tells us the importance of the tone that music sets. He reminds us that his expertise in djing comes from his ability to read the room.
“I don’t think it’s just how deep your crates are. I think it’s playing the right thing at the right time. It comes from studying the energy in the room. Sometimes you start playing, and you realize from the first record on you got ‘em.”
Having experienced the transition of physical to digital records, Jeff informs us how technology nowadays has changed the landscape of music. He no longer has to carry suitcases filled with records and instead has access to thousands of songs at the tips of his fingers. His collaboration with McCormick indicates such change. Called the Sumr Hits 5000, the machine allows for six-burner grill with a built-in turntable. An avid barbecuer, he grills four-times a week and tells us that “music is just important as the food.”