09/02/13 By Evan Haga
JT Notes: Editor Evan Haga Introduces the September 2013 Issue
We’re going to ask a favor of you, dear steely-eyed JazzTimes reader: Would you mind letting us have our cake and eat it too—just for this issue? What I mean is, can you look past the political and social implications of a “Women in Jazz” special edition, even though the decision to publish such an edition might seem inherently political? Our hope is that you approach this particular JT like you would any other: as a collection of smartly crafted articles on deserving artists. This issue is not a treatise or a definitive survey of the current state of women in jazz, and it has no bearing on our scheduled coverage of female artists throughout the remainder of the year. The designation isn’t arbitrary—gender inequality is certainly a continuing reality in most realms, not only jazz—but it isn’t all that pointed, either. We’re not trying to prove anything; mostly this theme is another strategy for organizing our vast pool of potential subject matter into a coherent product—not unlike last month’s guitar-themed issue or next month’s brass-focused book.
The reason for this request—honest—has less to do with keeping feminist critics at bay and more to do with not undermining our chosen artists’ contributions. To put it another way, no provisions are necessary for these players and singers to attract attention from serious jazz observers and the media. In fact, any of our three feature artists could make the cover of a major jazz publication. Just 21, Grace Kelly has used her bop learning, love of pop music and careerist ambition to gain a headliner’s profile. Nicole Mitchell has developed into one of the avant-garde’s most important composer-musicians—as well as one of its most prolific, with more continuing projects to her credit than many name jazz musicians have albums. And Geri Allen, as trenchant a piano stylist as any in jazz today, is featured here in a conversation with the equally accomplished Renee Rosnes—to say nothing of Ingrid Laubrock, Helen Sung, Myra Melford, Alicia Hall Moran and the other worthy women covered in our departments and short pieces. Their music transcends politics, and magazines, and magazine politics.
Originally published in September 2013