As our friend in jazz Bill Cosby once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” I know, I know: It’s an age-old sentiment, reiterated in more ways than even the Internet can keep tabs on. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, though. Making decisions that affect others is difficult, but it’s what defines authority; the only inevitable outcome is at least some dissatisfaction among the ranks.
As usual, the issue you’re reading now is the product of hundreds of decisions, some big and some small, some easy and some very, very difficult. Our annual Personal Farewells section always falls into that last category, with a surplus of late jazz greats for our limited editorial space. Certain artists—James Moody, Hank Jones, Abbey Lincoln, photographer Herman Leonard—simply demand inclusion. Soon enough, however, we begin debating the importance of tremendous players and people who may not figure prominently into the larger jazz canon.