[JPL] Response to posting of blog about jazz magazines

Jackson, Bobby Bobby.Jackson at ideastream.org
Tue Oct 28 16:48:41 EDT 2008


Aloha JPLers,

Jazz Times, Downbeat and Jazziz are three primary sources that I've
looked to FOREVER, to let me know what's happening in our industry.  I
read these trades before I became a professional broadcaster and I still
look to them for information, for insights and for ideas for programming
radio as well as television.  I've used many of the writers on my radio
shows because they are intelligent, thoughtful and passionate about what
they do.  For their coverage of recordings, movies, books, television,
club scenes worldwide, festivals, personalities, social issues, arts
news etc., much respect to you all. 

I think the blogger actually did us all a favor.  His peculiar rant gave
many of us pause to take the time to reflect what these print trades
mean to our industry, especially in a time where so many print
organizations are beginning to feel the pinch provided by an economy in
peril and the internet.  Many of these writer's interests go beyond the
jazz industry.  I recently read the article written by Nate Chinen as he
tackled the pitfalls of a critic interfacing with the ubiquitous
Facebook.  I found it interesting how he was able to tie this phenomenon
back to the subtler ramifications of its potential to breach a firewall
between him and the people he covers in a critical and professional way.
That, in my opinion is thought provoking journalism at its best!

I have Downbeat magazines from the late sixties and seventies and I
agree with Lee's assertion that today's writing is crisper and the list
of contributors is more formidable that at any other time period.  Nat
Hentoff writes about more than just music.  He is a respected journalist
across the board, period!

Years ago I co-founded a magazine called "Strictly Jazz" with Jacques
Williams in Atlanta, GA.  It was exciting but it ultimately failed after
I left Atlanta to pursue my current position at WCPN and Jacques became
very ill.  We never recovered but that experience gave me a glimpse of
the world of print magazines from the inside out.  It is no picnic....
I tip my hat to Jason Koransky, Michael and Lori Fagien, Lee Mergner and
others who over the years have been able to weather the ever changing
winds of commerce and steer their businesses with a cool and steady
hand, while maintaining excellence in reporting about the industry that
we love and participate in. 

I do miss the extensive liner notes on recordings that would accompany
most new product.  It's how I learned a lot about what I was listening
to as a young jazz fan.  Certainly the written reviews found in these
trades have helped a great deal in this day and age in light of that
circumstance.  

Like Bobby Byrd once said on a record, "Keep on doin' what you're doin'
Lee!" No need to get huffy.  Hip people know.........BTW, thanks Dr.
Jazz for bringing it to light, and......

The Light Is ON!

Bobby Jackson
WCPN-FM/WVIZ-TV 
Cleveland, ON

-----Original Message-----
From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
[mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Jae Sinnett
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 2:56 PM
To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
Subject: Re: [JPL] Response to posting of blog about jazz magazines

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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
> This week's sponsor:  MACK AVENUE
> 
> Throughout his illustrious career,
> saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Kenny Garrett has
> accumulated multiple Grammy(R) nominations, countless
> collaborations, and a long list of accolades from his peers.
> With SKETCHES OF MD, Garrett adds several historic firsts to
> his resume:  the first live recording of the Kenny
> Garrett/Pharoah Sanders pairing, Garrett's first
> recorded set at New York City's famed Iridium Jazz Club,
> and his first release on Mack Avenue. In addition to
> Sanders, Garrett is joined on stage by Nat Reeves on bass,
> Benito Gonzalez on keys and Jamire Williams on drums.
> 
> http://www.mackavenue.com/mediaserve/ecards/kennygarrett/
> 
> Mack Avenue is also proud to announce the signing of
> Grammy(R) Award-winning acoustic and electric bassist
> Christian McBride.  McBride, who will celebrate his 20th
> year in the industry in 2009, has several projects in the
> works for the Detroit based label, which will be unveiled in
> the upcoming year.
> 
> For more information, please contact GROOV Marketing and
> Consulting
> 
> 877-476-6832
> 
> Mark Rini x 1
> 
> mark at groovmarketing.com
> 
> Josh Ellman x 2
> 
> josh at groovmarketing.com
> 
> http://www.groovmarketing.com
> 
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> 
> 
> 
> 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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