Monday, December 19. 2011
Instead of Jazz Prospecting, I'm posting my Jazz Consumer Guide: number 27 in a mostly quarterly series since 2004. The previous one appeared in the Village Voice on May 10. This was was finished and handed in about August 1. The column was started after Gary Giddins was fired by the Voice in 2004. Chuck Eddy was music section editor, but Robert Christgau was the one directly handling the jazz pieces -- a legacy of having edited Giddins for thirty-some years. Those were big shoes -- ones which had long established the Village Voice as one of the world's foremost review of all things jazz -- so Christgau decided on a team approach: Francis Davis would write a monthly feature piece, I would crank out a quarterly Jazz Consumer Guide, and Nate Chinen would write occasional pieces on live performances. After Eddy and Christgau were fired, Rob Harvilla took over and continued the basic idea -- although Davis took leave to work on a book, and Chinen moved on to the New York Times.
Harvilla was replaced by Maura Johnston this spring. My May column came out a few weeks into her regime, and I submitted this column on August 1, expecting the same. Instead, she sat on it, and after much prodding decided it was too dated. Indeed, lateness and lack of space have been chronic problems from the beginning: after the first year it was clear that there would be enough quality material to run every two (as opposed to three) months, but I never pushed it hard enough, and they never found the space. Instead, I found myself writing more cryptically to squeeze more records into less space. Meanwhile, the Voice keeps losing space, tightening money, and shedding its legacy: the days when a business could provide something useful and hope to make some profit along the way have given way to the predatory ideal of sucking every value dry in the name of profit, and the Voice has given up on even trying to be an exception.
When my column was killed, Johnston proposed that I write a weekly blog entry for the Voice, covering 8-12 records. I accepted and asked some questions, but never heard from her again, so it's not clear whether this will or will not happen. Jazz Consumer Guide winds up covering about 200 records per year, so that works out to about four per week. Jazz Prospecting, on the other hand, averages 10-15 per week, so most likely what I would do would be to try to raise Jazz Prospecting to Jazz CG standards, which would entail not writing on everything that comes my way, and hopefully writing better about what I do try to cover. At first glance, I would be able to broaden my HMs down to B+(**), although I could also start writing about reissues and maybe even some non-jazz that strikes my fancy. Such a blog would be more timely -- this column, even had it come out on schedule, has a fairly large number of 2010 releases -- and I'd have space to write more expansively.
Whether it would be worth the effort is hard to say. Seven years of writing this column has been fun, interesting, and ultimately a huge amount of miserably compensated work. My house has been overrun by CDs I'm unlikely to ever play again -- good ones I'm proud to own and would be happy to play, and less good ones I haven't figured out how to get rid of. But I also wind up spending so much time working on them that I have precious little time for doing other things, including writing about things I feel a good deal more competent at than music. I don't know how I'm going to sort this out -- although I must admit that the most likely course is inertia.
I have a lot to do in the next week or two: a year-end jazz piece for Rhapsody, a system to present the individual ballots in Francis Davis's Jazz Critics Poll, a Pazz & Jop ballot, a framework for a couple of websites. Plus more personal stuff, likely to trump everything else. So I'm unsure how to wrap this up. My initial plan was to hold back Jazz Prospecting this week and run it next, as a capstone on the Jazz CG (28) cycle. Then I'll suspend Jazz Prospecting until making a decision sometime in January. In the meantime, I may (or may not) post a Jazz Consumer Guide (28). I never bothered to try wrapping it up because there was never a chance of getting it published, but I have approximately enough written to fill one out. Depends on how much I want to save for use in a blog, although we could do both, or I could wind up not doing the blog.
The Jazz Prospecting for this Jazz Consumer Guide ran from April 11 to August 1, 2011. The collected Jazz Prospecting notes are here. During this time, I made a number of decisions to not cover various records. Those were listed in my surplus file. This file includes fourteen short "consolation prize" reviews, which I've (almost certainly) posted on the blog here some time ago. The A- records extend down into the Honorable Mentions through Conference Call -- one of my space-saving tricks.
I'm very sorry, especially to the kind publicists who gave me the opportunity to hear so much wonderful music, that the exposure here is likely to be far short of what the Village Voice promised. I worked very hard to make this happen, and I'm deeply disappointd that it's come to this. On the other hand, if you're fortunate enough to find this page, you're in for some real treats -- all the way down to the tiptoes of the Honorable Mentions.
Dan Raphael/Rich Halley/Carson Halley:
Children of the Blue Supermarket
David S. Ware:
Muhal Richard Abrams:
Searching for Adam
Ellery Eskelin/Gerry Hemingway:
Avram Fefer/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor:
Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya:
Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite:
The End of Fear
Eero Koivistoinen & Co.:
David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali:
Honey Ear Trio:
What About . . . . ?
Mostly Other People Do the Killing:
The Coimbra Concert
Art of the Improviser
Rituals in the Marrow
Rakalam Bob Moses/Greg Burk:
Sonic Liberation Front: Meets Sunny Murray (High Two) Bata beats and avant-sax, joined by Kevin Diehl's mentor but a bit out of sorts.
Mike Reed's People, Places & Things:
Stories and Negotiations
Ken Filiano & Quantum Entanglements:
Dreams From a Clown Car
Stephen Gauci/Kris Davis/Michael Bisio:
Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem:
Assim Falava Jazzatustra
The Ullmann/Swell 4:
News? No News!
Decoy & Joe McPhee:
Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore:
Three Kinds of Happiness
Andrew Lamb Trio:
New Orleans Suite
The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band:
Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One
Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord:
Two Nights in April
The Men I Love
François Carrier/Alexey Lapin/Michel Lambert:
The Jazz Passengers:
For the Love of Ornette
Ka Da Ver
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