You may notice a few changes in this issue of JazzTimes. Our design team has been hard at work again, coming up with a revised look for our department pages. The alterations are probably most obvious in the Reviews section, which is now rooted in a six-column grid format that goes at least a little way toward remedying a longstanding problem around these parts: too many albums to review and not enough space.
The changes aren’t only visual; there have been a few tweaks on the content side too. One important development actually happened last issue, but I’ll belatedly mention it now. Veteran arts journalist Mark Stryker has taken over the Chronology column from its founder and sole author for the past two-plus years, Ethan Iverson. Mark is the author of Jazz from Detroit, which was voted Book of the Year in our 2019 Critics’ Poll. Inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 2020, he covered jazz, classical music, and visual arts for the Detroit Free Press from 1995 to 2016. He also grew up working as a jazz alto saxophonist. All of this makes him an excellent choice for continuing what Ethan started: casting light every issue on less celebrated (but no less worthy) corners of jazz history.
One more significant change is on our back page. For years, the Artist’s Choice department has had a consistent formula; a given artist will take another artist, an era, an instrument, or any other overall theme and construct a playlist around it with commentary. Excellent brief, but we thought we’d try expanding it. As of this issue, the department will no longer be solely about music. The artist can choose anything that has a special appeal for him or her: books, films, places, gadgets, and so on. This month the choice is culinary, as Gregory Porter—who established a deep background as a chef before making it as a singer/songwriter—offers one of his favorite recipes. More “traditional” music-based Artist’s Choices certainly won’t disappear (in fact, one is scheduled for our next issue), but we hope that opening the section up in this way will give readers a better sense of the fascinating personalities that abound in today’s jazz world.
We also hope, of course, that you’ll enjoy these and other changes to the magazine. Whether you do or you don’t, feel free—as always—to let me know by dropping me a line at [email protected]. Like jazz itself, JazzTimes is a continual work in progress; we’re never going to get it exactly “right” (whatever that means), but with your support and a little luck, we’ll keep getting closer.