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September 2020

You can purchase the issue digitally here.


He was an improvisational genius and a trailblazer for the rights of artists. Musicians loved him, but the media—at least white-owned media—weren’t sure what to think. Now that a year-long reissue program of all 12 albums from Garner’s Octave period has reached its close, Ted Panken re-examines the great pianist’s music and legacy. Read the story here.


On November 26, 1945, at WOR Studios in New York, Charlie Parker led what is arguably the most monumental recording session in the history of American music. In a salute to Bird’s centennial, Colin Fleming digs deep into the events of that day, pores over the priceless artifacts it produced, and ponders their lasting significance.


In the 1960s, Bernard Stollman’s ESP-Disk’ label released a series of free-jazz touchstones. In the ’70s, it faded away amid claims of raw dealing. Then, in 2005, it reappeared, retaining its old artistic ideals but “with better royalty payments.” And despite the loss of its founder in 2013, the company is still keeping the avant-garde flame alight, as Mike Shanley discovers. Read the story here.


From the stage at Carnegie Hall in 1912 to the streets of Minneapolis in 2020, jazz has always played an important role in the fight against racial injustice. Melvin Gibbs explores how that role has evolved over the decades, and how the music and its players have moved from asking for change to demanding it. Read the story here.

Opening Chorus: Of John Coltrane and George Floyd; Billy Childs; Tropos; Lee Mergner recalls JT’s sex issue; Endless Field; and farewells to Christopher Loudon, Lennie Niehaus, Brother Ah, Keith Tippett, Freddy Cole, Khari Parker, and Johnny Mandel
Chronology: Ethan Iverson on Old and New Dreams
Artist’s Choice: Georgia Anne Muldrow compiles an Eddie Harris playlist
Gearhead: The Grafton saxophone

Before & After: Sullivan Fortner
Overdue Ovation: Kenny Washington
Audio Files: Brent Butterworth on soundbars
Chops: Telematics with Mark Dresser and Michael Dessen

Album Reviews: New music from a gallery of greats, including Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, and Jimmy Heath

Cover image of Erroll Garner and Fats Heard courtesy of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project