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So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

JT editor Chris Porter bids adieu

What a long, strange trip it’s been. OK, it’s not been that strange. And six years is nothing, really. And I hate the Grateful Dead, so I don’t know where that reference came from.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that after being at the helm for 62 issues of JazzTimes (plus six editions of the Jazz Education Guide), I’m stepping down as editor. Taking my place is publisher Lee Mergner, who will hand his title back to CEO Glenn Sabin. Next month Rhonda Stewart will join the magazine as assistant editor, and I’ll still be hanging around as a contributing editor and writer.

When I started at JazzTimes in 1999, I was 30 years old. Now, at the age of 89—editing a jazz mag will age you—I can look back on my 30s and say, “Man, I got a lot of bad CDs.” It’s something, folks, it’s something.

But I also acquired a lot of incredible CDs, and I heard a lot of fantastic music. And as trite as it is to say, that’s why I got into this business in the first place: Because I love music. Through all the battles, through all the headaches, through all the overtime, the one thing that kept me going at JazzTimes was great music—and a deep desire to tell people about it. That desire is still there, burning like a tire fire. Sure, it’s a bit smoky, and smelly, and perhaps even a bit poisonous, but my passion for music and journalism continues unabated. Cough, cough.

In 1999, the Internet still felt fairly new, and dial-up connections were the norm—and painfully slow. Magazine journalism was still the best way to reach a wide audience, and JazzTimes gave me an invaluable opportunity to reach a large international readership, month after month. That sort of access wasn’t something I necessarily thought about as I sat at my desk and pounded away at the keyboard, past deadline, trying to stave off the darkness just long enough to finish editing copy. But now, looking back at all the angry letters, I see that there are a whole lot of you out there. Thank you for reading, and correcting.

The biggest fan of my JazzTimes editorship was my Uncle Stu, the man who first taught me about jazz, meaning he played a huge role in my eventually finding my way to this magazine. He was JazzTimes‘ closest reader and its best fact-checker—and he certainly had no problems telling me where we messed up. I mentioned Uncle Stu in my first “JT Notes” in March 2000 and again in January/February 2005, when I wrote of his passing. I’m happy that I got to mention him in my last column as editor, too.

Originally Published