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JT Notes: April ’12

JT's editor introduces our bass-themed spring issue

Charles Mingus, 1964
Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius

It might seem ironic that this April issue’s bass theme dovetails so neatly with another concept that winds through nearly all of these features and columns, an idea of creative independence. Bass players are foundational, right? They’re felt but not heard, positioned squarely in a shadow near a back corner of the bandstand. In reality, many of jazz’s most significant figures have been bassists: They include our most brilliant composers and bandleaders (Mingus); greatest virtuosos (Jaco); and now, with our cover subject Esperanza Spalding, jazz’s most commercially viable entities.

A discussion of star-making machinery has followed Spalding for as long as I can remember hearing about her-it was, in fact, the angle of the first cover story we published on her in 2008. After her shocking Grammy win for Best New Artist in 2011, the thought of Spalding abandoning her jazz pursuits and chasing down pop fame took on a very real level of possibility. But as our Giovanni Russonello found out, the truth is much more complex, and Spalding’s story is less about crossing over than it is furthering a personal identity that continues to reveal fresh angles.

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