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JT Notes: An Odd Artist of the Year Overdue Ovation Trend

For the second consecutive year, something unusual happened with our Readers' Poll results

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Charles McPherson (photo: Antonio Porcar)
Charles McPherson (photo: Antonio Porcar)

If an unusual thing happens once, most journalists will find it noteworthy. If that unusual thing happens twice, they’ll say it’s a trend. This may not be the most praiseworthy trait of a modern-day journalist, but it’s easily understandable—and the final results of the 2021 JazzTimes Readers’ Poll—are making me yield to the same temptation.

Regular readers of this magazine may recall that the 2020 Readers’ Poll, in our March 2021 issue, named alto saxophonist Charles McPherson as Artist of the Year. They may also have noticed that a single flip of the page backward from the poll results took them to that issue’s Overdue Ovation feature. Its subject: alto saxophonist Charles McPherson.

An odd coincidence indeed, and certainly not one that was predicted by any member of our staff. Yet odder still is that the same thing has occurred this year. Back in the late summer of 2021, I assigned Mike Shanley to write an Overdue Ovation piece on another alto saxophonist (among many, many other things), Allen Lowe. For various reasons, the publication of that piece was delayed several months. Finally, we settled on a print date of March 2022. The same issue that contains the year-end Readers’ Poll results.

Well, that poll just closed an hour ago as I write, and I don’t think I’m being much of a spoiler at this point when I say that the voters chose as their Artist of the Year … Allen Lowe.

That result has been responsible for equal measures of pleasure and puzzlement around these parts. Pleasure because it would seem our editorial judgment is right in tune with the tastes of at least some members of our readership. Puzzlement because, well, how can it possibly be that in tune? A timeless line from Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest comes to mind. I’ll paraphrase for our purposes: To give one Artist of the Year an Overdue Ovation may be regarded as good fortune; to give two Artists of the Year Overdue Ovations looks like carelessness.

Some among us—and I do not exclude myself from that number—are always a tad suspicious of hanky-panky in the Readers’ Poll. Further investigation of this frankly bizarre two-time occurrence may lead us to revise certain polling rules and/or practices. Then again, it may not. Today, in its immediate aftermath, I’m choosing to give the whole thing a positive spin: Here at JazzTimes, we really give the people what they want.

Mac Randall

Mac Randall

Mac Randall has been the editor of JazzTimes since May 2018. Prior to that, he wrote regularly for the magazine. He has written about numerous genres of music for a wide variety of publications over the past 30 years, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, Mojo, and Guitar Aficionado, and he has worked on the editorial staffs of Musician, LAUNCH (now Yahoo! Music), Guitar One, Teaching Music, Music Alive!, and In Tune Monthly. He is the author of two books, Exit Music: The Radiohead Story and 101 Great Playlists. He lives in New York City.