[JPL] NYTimes.com: Rhythm, Among Other Things, Is Their Business

Larry Appelbaum jumpmonk at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 28 00:38:21 EST 2005


>Mmm-hmmm - oh-kay, but did he LIKE Mr.Meldau's trio?   ..... it's hard to 
>tell in this kind of veiled review.   Does this kind of article leave you 
>wondering what really happened, and/or is the writer not really sure?  
>Which brings us to the musical question, should reviewers be reviewed,  
>occasionally?
>I'm just positing the question for the purpose of discussion, here.  What 
>do you think?

Jim,

Interesting questions. What exactly is the role or responsibility of the 
critic or the reviewer? Is it to report on what happened at a performance? 
Make value judgements? Provide context for analysis? Articulate an opinion? 
Promote an agenda? Simply saying whether you like something or not, and why, 
can be very useful in a crude thumbs up, thumbs down kind of way. It 
certainly helps some people make decisions about whether to buy a recording 
or attend a show and that alone is enough for most publications. I happen to 
like Ben Ratliff's writing, not just because he expresses himself well, but 
because he likes a lot of different kinds of music and he isn't just 
reinforcing the gospel of the jazz nerd (and I say that speaking as 
something of a nerd myself). The best writing about music or art (or 
architecture for that matter) enables us to see, hear or experience 
something in a new way.

As for your other question about whether reviewers should be reviewed, you 
might want to take a look at Bill Shoemaker's website 
http://pointofdeparture.org. He's one of the only people trying to do that. 
Of course, this sort of thing can easily become an exercise in ax-grinding 
or settling old scores, but it can also help shed some light. Better 
newspapers have an omsbudsman. Maybe the jazz press needs something similar?

Larry Appelbaum




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