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JT Editor Evan Haga Introduces the May 2015 Issue

Julian Lage: Keeping it simple

Music, especially jazz, influencing writing doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record: To start, it’s responsible for an endless, indiscriminate sea of overwrought poetry, much of which I’ve received for publishing consideration over the years, despite the fact that I don’t recall JazzTimes ever featuring poetry. But in researching and writing this month’s cover story on guitarist Julian Lage, I heard a lot of music and took part in a good deal of conversation that define the aesthetic principles I value most in music journalism.

Those criteria boil down to simplicity and efficiency and a lack of ego. Whether laying down words or notes, a writer should be an intelligent conduit for a strong narrative or concept or theme. Complex feelings and ideas are made accessible in great art; in the other kind, things that everyone already knows are shrouded in florid language-or, if you like, overcooked harmonies and head-scratching rhythms. Sure, there’s always a place for virtuosity and density. But a little goes a long way.

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