[JPL] Response to posting of blog about jazz magazines

Jae Sinnett jaejazz at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 28 14:56:09 EDT 2008

Lee...a couple of things. Firstly, no need to defend the magazine here because most on the list I'm sure recognize the profound impact JT has on jazz...in the positive. Secondly, the blog to me reflects a sickening layer of cynicism that is so pervasive in the industry. 

Outside of the music itself much of the peripheral elements of jazz actually hurt the music. Look at the fallout from the Burns doc..."Jazz." There was downright hatred coming from people. With the circles as small as they are the good and the not so resonates more loudly and these expressions transcend this small circle of jazz. Those on the outside hear and at times read these things. Considering most of us here would like to see a bigger support system for the music these kind of dark and unecessarily cynical splats...that offer no positive and constructive alternatives to the gripe...keeps those on the fence reluctant of jumping into that jazz circle. It's just amazing to me how often
 those that do have an appreciation...albeit narrow...continue to shoot jazz in the foot. 

A closing suggestion...I think the magazine should offer a couple times per year a talent deserving wider recognition cover. There are many and I don't think it would affect negatively your sales, concept or perception...only enhance. My two cents. 

Jae Sinnett   

--- On Tue, 10/28/08, Lee Mergner <lmergner at jazztimes.com> wrote:

> From: Lee Mergner <lmergner at jazztimes.com>
> Subject: [JPL] Response to posting of blog about jazz magazines
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 2:16 PM
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> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> I'm not sure how to respond to such a vitriolic and
> inaccurate blog,
> replete with typos, posted on this listserve.  I wasn't
> sure that I
> should even respond at all to a random bashing like this. 
> But how the
> members of this listserve perceive us matters greatly to
> me.  I will say
> it's the very first time I've been called a
> corporate suit.  I'm sort of
> excited by that since, as most of you know, I'm neither
> a suit wearer
> nor a corporate guy.  I'm hoping this appellation means
> a corresponding
> increase in my salary.  
> Objectively, I believe he's overreacted to our cover
> choices, including
> most recently Return to Forever, Esperanza Spalding,
> Freddie Hubbard and
> David Sanborn.  I'm not sure why he dropped the cover
> artist Rahsaan
> Roland Kirk; I suppose it didn't fit his argument. 
> Apparently, picking
> what we deem as the most commercial and accessible story
> for the cover
> makes me a corporate suit and the magazine a tool of
> publicity flacks.
> Besides the fact that these cover subjects are pretty damn
> worthy as
> artists, if you look at the depth and breadth of coverage
> in those
> issues, you see that we are serving the music and our
> readership quite
> well.  Clearly, he doesn't dig Sanborn and his
> heartfelt tribute to Hank
> Crawford and David Fathead Newman, but in that same issue
> were features
> or stories on Ari Hoenig, Bill Stewart, Corey Wilkes, Billy
> Cobham,
> Alvin Queen, Tim Warfield, John McLaughlin & Chick
> Corea.  The issue had
> a drum theme, as you might guess from that list, but in any
> case, that
> list is a nice representative sampling of the music - past,
> present and
> future.  Also, if he had spoken directly with the jazz
> publicity folks,
> he'd find that their suggestions and pitches are
> rejected at an
> uncomfortably high rate, for various reasons including
> space and
> relevance.  For the record, we solicited the cover stories
> on each of
> those artists.  And in fact the piece on Spalding was about
> the
> machinery of hype.  Finally, if we did these covers for
> advertising, as
> is commonly charged, then we really messed up because you
> won't see many
> ads for releases from those artists.  
> For the record, I believe firmly that JazzTimes and
> Downbeat are much
> better magazines than most people in the jazz community
> realize.  Are
> there comparably strong publications in other roots music
> niches, such
> as blues, bluegrass, reggae, Latin and world music?  I
> don't think so.
> And that nostalgia for the magazines of the past is
> something I've
> experienced myself, but then I went through the archives of
> Metronome
> and old issues of Downbeat, Musician and other publications
> and realized
> that the level of professionalism in contemporary magazines
> like
> JazzTimes and Downbeat is so much higher today in every
> aspect.  I miss
> my old baseball glove, but my catcher's mitt back then
> was more like a
> stiff throw pillow, hardly comparable to the flexible and
> durable gloves
> of today.  
> And calling our writers mediocre seems nearly insane.  I
> would not use
> that word to describe Gary Giddins, Nat Hentoff, Nate
> Chinen, Don
> Heckman, David R. Adler, Geoffrey Himes, Larry Appelbaum,
> George Varga,
> Marc Hopkins, Ashley Kahn, Mike Joyce, Josef Woodard,
> Laurel Gross,
> Steve Greenlee, Rebeca Mauleon and many other regular
> contributors.  If
> anything, we have benefited from the unfortunate purging of
> daily and
> weekly newspapers' newsrooms.  Our next issue features
> a great column by
> K. Leander Williams, a longtime weekly vet.  Hardly
> mediocre stuff.  
> Regarding his valuation of the editors, I'm cool with
> being called
> "mediocre," or to paraphrase Stanley Crouch,
> "a minor man," but our
> managing editor Evan Haga and associate editor Jeff
> Tamarkin are
> first-class editors and I feel lucky to be able to work
> with them.
> Mediocre they're not.   I can't speak for Jason at
> Downbeat, but I'd
> have to think he feels the same way about his editors. It
> looked to me
> like the blogger could have used a bit of editing, mediocre
> or
> otherwise.
> With the major newspapers cutting back on arts and jazz
> coverage, we all
> should appreciate any print media outlets paying close
> attention to this
> music, much less the ones who are doing it very well.
> Honestly, I can take criticism pretty well, but what stung
> the most is
> the blogger's thesis that we're bad for jazz and
> that we don't care
> about the music.  As my teenaged daughter would say,
> "whatever."  Or, as
> stated in a quote often attributed to LBJ, "Any
> jackass can burn down a
> barn, but it takes a hellluva carpenter to build one."
> Thanks for listening.
> ________________________________
> Lee Mergner 
> Editor-in-Chief
> JazzTimes
> 8737 Colesville Road, Ninth Floor
> Silver Spring, MD 20910
> www.jazztimes.com <http://www.jazztimes.com/> 
> (301) 588-4114, ext. 513
> Fax: (301) 588-5531
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