For each issue of JazzTimes in 2020—our 50th-anniversary year—we’ll be publishing a JT 50 column, which takes a quick look back at a significant issue in our history. This month, we picked September 2000, the issue that celebrated our 30th anniversary.
In 2000, our computer systems and infrastructure did not simultaneously crash and cause a Y2K-induced apocalypse. JazzTimes turned 30 that year, and to recognize that marker of youth gone by, we put together an anniversary issue that ended up being both timely and timeless, and for the first time featured no image on the cover, just text—appropriately for the content inside.
The September 2000 issue was anchored by long-form essays on the three preceding decades in jazz—Chip Stern on the ’70s, Bob Blumenthal on the ’80s, and Peter Watrous on the ’90s—as well as eight shorter pieces on various genres of jazz, such as mainstream, avant-garde, fusion, Latin jazz, smooth jazz and more, from contributors like Stanley Crouch, Bill Shoemaker, and Bill Milkowski. A serious jazz fan could well guess who did what. The writing throughout was both incisive and colorful, and it well reflected what was going on as JazzTimes grew into a mature publication. It wasn’t all black ink either, as we commissioned several accomplished visual artists to provide vivid images for the Anniversary section.
Also inside the September 2000 issue was a riveting excerpt from a book by Ashley Kahn on Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue. Ashley would go on to preview more of his work in JazzTimes, including a 10,000-word piece on Impulse! Records that later turned into the book The House That Trane Built. Dan Morgenstern chronicled the founding and evolution of the magazine in a piece that captured the particular charm of its founder, the swinging Ira Sabin. I compiled a quirky Best of Leonard Feather’s Before & After column, showing the entertaining results when Leonard would throw his curveball of playing a Sun Ra or avant-garde cut for mainstream artists such as Stan Getz, Artie Shaw, Joe Pass, and others. The issue ends with Nat Hentoff’s Final Chorus column, featuring his typically frank assessment of the legacy of jazz journalism.
With its September 2000 edition, JazzTimes had not only come of age but had also produced a literary tribute to the music, the artists, and itself.