January/February 2011 By Lee Mergner
Passing on the “Pow!”
JT's Editor-in-Chief previews Jan/Feb 2011 issue
I think Dizzy Gillespie would be proud. JazzTimes’ first subscriber famously stated that a jazz musician should have one foot in the past and the other in the future; the same could be said about a jazz magazine. This year, our annual recap comes to you from both sides of the JT brand: in print and online. Included here are results from our annual Critics’ Poll, where our scribes choose the 50 best releases of 2010, and our Readers’ Poll, in which you, the JT devotee, get to sound off on your personal favorites. Those lists are complemented by our roundup of the year’s top audio products and by Nate Chinen’s picks for best live shows in The Gig. On our website, JazzTimes.com, you’ll find an expanded version of what was previously called Highs & Lows in the magazine: our sometimes reverential, other times irreverent take on the best, worst and weirdest of the past 12 months.
Dizzy was also an architect and lifelong champion of Latin jazz, and would have been pleased to see our coverage of pianists and composers Danilo Pérez and Chucho Valdés. (If you’re reading this as part of our digital edition, be sure and check out the bonus feature, an excerpt from Randy Weston’s new autobiography; Dizzy dug Weston’s African explorations as well.) The trumpeter believed that jazz was something to be shared with people in every corner of the globe, and thought it should likewise absorb the indigenous music of those international cultures.
Both Pérez and Valdés had direct ties to Dizzy. Pérez performed with his United Nation Orchestra, and Valdés first encountered the trumpeter when Dizzy visited Cuba in 1977, as part of the famous trip that also included Stan Getz and Earl Hines. Dizzy sat in with Valdés’ Irakere, and became a mentor to band members Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera. Both pianists have taken a page or two from Dizzy’s book, in the way they’ve become mentors to musicians in their respective homelands and ambassadors throughout the world.
Dizzy would also be happy that his old friend and fellow jazz advocate, Nat Hentoff, has returned to our fold. Nat took a two-issue hiatus over a minor dispute with yours truly. And even though Nat has every reason to bask in nostalgia, he too finds it necessary to keep his eyes and ears on the future. His “comeback” column in the next issue will profile Luis Bonilla, a young trombonist whom Nat says gives him that “Pow!” feeling. As it was for Dizzy, passing on that “Pow!” feeling is what Nat does. We hope we can do it too.
Originally published in January/February 2011