On JazzTimes’ editorial calendar, September is denoted as our “Legends” issue, and you’ll find quite a few in our September 2019 edition. Some are no longer with us: Mary Lou Williams, Gene Krupa, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Art Pepper. Two others are, we’re grateful to say, very much of the living variety: newly named NEA Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim and Nile Rodgers (and if you think the latter doesn’t belong in this magazine, please go directly to Ashley Kahn’s interview and see what you think after reading it).
Ibrahim is 84. Rodgers is 66. Although the process of becoming a legend doesn’t necessarily require that you stick around awhile, longevity is a factor without doubt. And yet the longer you last, the more your final legacy is threatened by the many indignities of life. The creative spark of the divine that you, at your best, access through your instrument can be dampened or snuffed out by infirmity, declining faculties, and frailties that are all too human.