Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 1

My contemporary jazz journey began 20 years ago, in college. In 1989, I was dating a girl who listened to contemporary jazz. She had cassettes of Spyro Gyra’s Point of View and David Sanborn’s A Change of Heart in her blue Honda. I was a bit familiar with modern jazz (a high school classmate had Light Years by the Chick Corea Elektric Band) but not knowledgeable. She and her mother and me took me to an Earl Klugh concert in St. Louis (he was touring behind his Solo Guitar recording). I was completely infatuated with this girl and I wanted to experience everything she enjoyed. When the relationship fell apart, I took an even stronger interest in the music because I didn’t want that part to end. I started buying Jazziz magazine. Based on the issue I bought (the one spotlighting the Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! compilation), I bought cassettes of the latest from Grover Washington, Jr. and Fattburger. I’d listen to these on my Walkman while serving as a student worker at the student loans department. Little did I know of the life-changing event coming soon.

JazzTimes Stops Publishing

In unsurprising but still disheartening news, JazzTimes has stopped publishing. According to the web site, print publishing will resume when a sale is closed. In today’s economy and with information being instantly available online, I don’t know how any niche magazines or newspapers are able to keep going. I’m especially baffled by Jazziz, whose high price is for a sampler CD? Who is paying for a sampler CD when you can sample full-length tracks on sites like Lala? Oops – just read that Jazziz is now quarterly. Their web site has its subscription link disabled. Will the venerable Down Beat (celebrating 75 years of publication!) be the last magazine standing?

Sadly, JazzTimes has stiffed some contributors. Howard Mandel wrote about this today. Here’s hoping those writers and photographers will be able to get their pay.

I started a discussion on jazz magazines last October. Feel free to drop by The Forum and share your thoughts.