I wrote my last editor’s note just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to make serious inroads in the United States. Right now I’m thinking that my words were too optimistic. “We are printing our annual Festival Guide in this issue as we do every May,” I wrote, “knowing that much of it may become inaccurate, but also confident that much of it will not, and that sometime soon we will all gather again, socially distanced no longer …”
From where I sit today, looking out at a deserted midtown Manhattan avenue, I find it hard to imagine any festival listing for 2020 will be accurate. This we already know: There was no festival this spring at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. There will be none this June in Montreal, or this July by Lake Geneva’s shores, or this August at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, or this September in Monterey. The list goes on.
Will we all gather again for celebration, as I predicted? Probably, but when we do, many won’t be present. More than 85,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as I write, and jazz has been hit hard. Between the closing of our May and June issues, we learned of the passing of 24 notable members of the jazz community; the coronavirus played a role for more than half. Twenty-two of them are in our necessarily expanded Farewells section. The other two, Wallace Roney and Lee Konitz, receive separate tributes. As with our annual In Memoriam issue in March, death has burst the bounds we originally set for it. But that issue was meant to cover a whole year. This one covers just a month and a half.
It’s tough to be upbeat at such a time, but there are grounds for positivity: in the music still being made, in the efforts of individuals and organizations to help those in need, and in the explosion of online events that, born out of necessity but developed with great imagination, are aiming to assuage the fears of both performers and fans during quarantine.
To stay abreast of all this—the music, the helpers, the webcasts, and yes, the deaths—visit JazzTimes.com regularly. Our blog, our events calendar, and our new “Jazz in the Age of COVID” page are all being regularly updated to reflect what’s going on in a world that’s almost unimaginably sad but also full of possibilities.
The pandemic has changed our operations too: Amid concerns about social distancing (including mail delivery) and possible printing disruptions, we’re moving JazzTimes to a digital format, to be delivered to your email inbox, for the duration of this crisis. We’ve invested in a state-of-the-art technology platform that will make this digital experience compelling—including highest-quality images, the ability to “turn” pages, and a mobile-optimized edition designed for comfortable reading when viewed on phones. We are confident you’ll enjoy it.
Thank you, as always, for your support of JazzTimes. We count on you, as you do on us.