Where Did They Go?

One of the most frequent questions asked of us is, “Whatever happened to [fill in name of critically acclaimed musician here]?”

One of the ways we’ve tried to address this question in the magazine is the Overdue Ovation series (which is, ironically, missing this month due to space constraints). By focusing on someone who has had a long and distinguished career but has been mostly out of the national spotlight, we are able to break away from market-driven stories and inform new or younger readers about someone who is worthy of notice for their art alone.

But Overdue Ovation generally deals with musicians who are older than 50—not as a rule, but that’s the way it usually works out. So how do we cover the people who once had buzz-generating critical acclaim—and then all but disappeared from the press while still in their 20s, 30s and 40s?

I dunno.

We try, but there’s just no way to keep up.

Due to fluctuations in the jazz business and the never-ending supply of new players and CDs, some musicians just get pushed to the side.

Sometimes their recording careers are resurrected—such as those of our cover tars, Geri Allen and Wallace Roney—and sometimes the musicians just go low-profile as sidemen. For instance, whatever happened to up-and-comer Teodross Avery? I know he’s out there, I know he’s playing around, I know he released an obscure CD in 2001, but is the saxophonist ever going to record a major release again as a leader? Trumpeter Ryan Kisor was a Next Big Thing about 10 years ago, and he’s cut several excellent independent label albums since leaving Columbia, but you almost never hear about him anymore.

Jazz artists come and go as quickly as pop stars. But unlike the pop world—where you wouldn’t expect, say, Rolling Stone to do a big article on what a thenimportant, now-forgotten 1950s rockabilly star is doing—jazz is a genre where the continuum is covered. So next to 1940s swing musicians we have modern-day jazztronica artists, and next to 1960s avant-gardists we have today’s smooth jazzers.

All that means, however, is that there is a smaller piece of the press pie for everybody.

I’m pleased, however, that Telarc has found room for Geri Allen and HighNote has made space for Wallace Roney—and that we did, too.

Originally published in September 2004

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