DJ Jazzy Jeff is still busy making fresh music
by SCOTT C
Even if you've never heard any of the hits that DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince pumped out during the '80s, you've probably seen the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It was on this show that Philly-born Will Smith and his buddy Jazz (aka Jeffrey Allen Townes) worked their way into ultra-mainstream America, paving the road for Smith's Hollywood A-list inauguration and Jazzy Jeff's further pursuit of musical creativity. In 2001, Jeffrey Townes is still making moves that will lead to bigger things, as the founder and head of Philadelphia's A Touch of Jazz studios.
Mirror: How long ago did Touch of Jazz get off the ground?
Jazzy Jeff: I founded TOJ 12 years ago, but with any business it takes a minute for it to get off the ground. I mean, everybody in the world is trying to do the same thing, and I'm just trying to do something a little different.
M: I don't think a lot of people know that you were the executive producer on Jill Scott's record.
JJ: From the heart, I'm not into titles at all. I'm more excited that people like the music. Right now we live in a producer-driven society. You get records where, on the cover, the producer's name is almost bigger that the artist's.
M: Sometimes that'll make the difference of people picking it up or not.
JJ: Exactly. What we wanted to do was make a record that wasn't based on hot singles, producers or featured guests, but just something that you could play from beginning to end.
M: Looks like things worked out well. Do you believe the "Philly sound" that was instantly recognizable in the '70s is on the rise again?
JJ: Absolutely, absolutely. There's something going on here. From the Five Spot where you'll find Jill, Musiq, the Roots--I mean, there's a collection of artists that will get on stage every week and perform. It's a practice ground so that when they hit the road they're already up to speed.
M: How far back do you and King Britt go?
JJ: Aw, man! Me and King go back to when I was DJing at Central High School and he used to come and see me play there. I helped him out on the first Sylk 130 album, and just did a song with De La Soul for his new album. It's a Philly thang.
M: How do you do all of this and still find time to DJ?
JJ: That's my heart. If it wasn't for me DJing, I wouldn't be doing any of this stuff right now. It's more a therapy for me than anything. Playing music that I like and hoping the crowd will feel it--I'll make time for that.