How many jazz critics does it take to form a consensus? One. Any more than that and you’re asking for trouble. As JazzTimes editor, I’m keenly aware of how seldom reviewers agree with each other. If one argues the world is round, you can rest assured another will proclaim it to be as flat as last year’s record sales. It’s the sport of contrarians.
Of course, the views expressed in the music press don’t always reflect that fact. For one reason or another—timidity? insecurity? the desire for an uninterrupted flow of free recordings? dare we mention good manners?—critics often temper their appraisals in print, leaving you to read between the lines.