11/20/12 By Evan Haga
Editor Evan Haga Introduces the November Issue
Speak up! JazzTimes wants to hear from you.
A while back we discontinued running a Letters section in the magazine, for the simple reason that we weren’t receiving enough good ones to sustain the page. When I signed on with JT in the spring of 2006, the stream of snail-mail feedback was reasonably steady and entertainingly unpredictable. As the years passed, it became sparser and seemed to generate from a certain aging demographic that is currently keeping the U.S. Postal Service alive. (There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and we appreciate all feedback, but it doesn’t make for an accurate profile of our total readership.) We hoped e-mails would pick up the slack, but they’ve largely been infrequent, or too haphazard for print consideration, or written by the same customers month to month. If we reinstated Letters, it’d have to flow with the rest of our book in terms of substance. A decade ago, it definitely did; today, I’m not so sure. Which puts us staffers at a loss. What do you like about the mag? What do you hate? Who are you listening to? Where are you going to hear them? We could use the perspective.
At the beginning of the summer I moved to New York, the unofficial Jazz Capital of the Universe, which was surprisingly both a blessing and a curse with regards to deciding JT’s editorial direction. Yes, one night of live jazz programming in The City might equal another town’s schedule for an entire year, so being able to separate the wheat from the chaff is more convenient than ever. But there’s so much on offer in New York that it’s easy to home in on specific scenes, venues and aesthetics, and developing blind spots is dangerous when your publication’s tagline reads “America’s Jazz Magazine.” (I can already feel myself slipping with this drum-themed issue’s obvious predilection for the avant-garde.)
Living between Baltimore and D.C., where JT’s main editorial office is still located, afforded me objectivity in an age when album “distribution” is a horizontal glut. It gave me a better sense of what musicians are making the rounds at concert halls, university auditoriums and local performance spaces outside of Jazzland proper, trying to win over some bigger tract of the listenership. I garnered similar insight at September’s Monterey Jazz Festival, where I worked the JT vendor booth and talked to readers (and potential readers). I learned a lot, including how laidback Northern Californians can be even more particular than New York clubgoers. (Not even saintly Bill Frisell was saved.) I hope to learn more.
JT editor Evan Haga can be contacted at [email protected].
Originally published in November 2012