From time to time, I’ve found album art, ads, posters and movies as captivating as the music they intermittently expose. On rare occasions, album covers have actually inspired me to listen to the music therein. And while it’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, in my book (pun intended) the determined combination of text, imagery and music adds up to more than the sum of the parts. It’s like a dance, in step with the music.
My earliest recollection of this spectacle took place while sitting in a movie theater in the early ’70s, waiting for the opening of the James Bond film Live and Let Die. As images and text began rolling across the screen, Paul McCartney’s theme song began: “When you were young and your heart was an open book …” It was magical, inspirational and an epiphany. Even as a teenager, I hoped to someday contribute that kind of vision to the music world.
In high school and college, I read magazines like Musician and Rolling Stone. On the one hand, I was simply trying to escape the monotony of the classroom. On the other hand, I was fascinated by how those magazines embodied —in words and imagery — the musicians they covered. For better or worse and without apology or patronization, they ran graphic designs befitting the artists they featured. During the past three decades, I’ve tried to cover jazz musicians in similar fashion.
On the surface, I publish a jazz magazine, plain and simple. But in doing so, I’ve always tried to create a medium where great music and great design comingle. In other words, I’ve remained committed to creating a publication that’sas artistically viable as the music we cover. During the magazine’s early years,an industry publication caught our drift and remarked that “JAZZIZ is part of a new jazz culture, a culture it helped create.” At the time, I didn’t dwell on that comment. But now, decades later, it’s clear that there is a new culture of fans, musicians and industry folks that grew up with JAZZIZ. For them, our dance is their waltz.
I was reminded of this recently when a veteran publicist who mostly champions eclectic jazz confessed to my editor Bob Weinberg (who also champions eclectic jazz) that he used to hang out at a bookstore “reading and re-reading” the magazine. Likewise, trumpeter Cindy Bradley recently told me that, asa young student, she would pour over our designs, dreaming that somedayshe’d get that kind of treatment in JAZZIZ. Over the years, I’ve also received alot of letters and emails from readers who’ve explained the various ways that this magazine has nurtured their appreciation and understanding of jazz, andinspired them to listen to the music we include with each issue.
In the end, that’s why we’re here — to help people explore jazz more fully. Take Sara Serpa, for instance, the young singer who appears on this issue’s cover. You may not have encountered her before and it may be that her music doesn’t suit your particular taste. But now that you’ve seen the cover, and after you’ve read Bob Weinberg’s illuminating profile, we think you’ll be glad you met her.
—Michael Fagien (Founder, Editor and Publisher of JAZZIZ)