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The phrase “I’m here for you” can sound a bit patronizing. But one of the things that I love most about regularly communicating with subscribers via email is that it allows me to do just that — to be here for you. Though a lot of digital technology goes into creating the analog print magazines we publish, there’s an unmistakable connectivity and immediacy that we enjoy when we extend our reach beyond print. Sure, even back in the old days, when we’d receive correspondence by way of the postal service, we'd get our fair share of criticism and praise for stories that appeared in the magazine, but they were fewer and usually arrived weeks or months after publication. These days most of the emails we get are constructive critiques written, sent and received in real-time, which in turn allows us to respond quickly. It also encourages our readers to share ideas and inspires the kind relationships that help good companies become great ones.
Immediately after receiving our Winter 2020 quarterly print issue, Harry McCullagh, of Brisbane, Australia, sent me to the following note (to which I responded immediately):
Michael,Just loving the content balance of JAZZIZ these days. As a longtime hard bop/avant fan, I had fallen into the trap of being dismissive of some fine players for being too ‘smooth.’ As a consequence of interviews and reviews [I’ve read in JAZZIZ], I have had to re-examine many fine artists.Congratulations on the last few issues. The London issue is fantastic.
As a publication that covers every kind of jazz, we've always been cognizant that hard-bop fans might cringe when they'd see a cover or major feature on, for instance, a smooth-jazz musician, or, conversely, how a smooth-jazz fan might wince when encountering stories about more eclectic artists. But, as Harry suggests in the email he sent, such encounters can cause people to examine their own preconceived notions, to expand their horizons and leave the door open for further exploration and discovery.
I remember a pleasant dinner back in the 1980s with guitarist Charlie Hunter, during which he asked me why we would cover artists as disparate as John Zorn and the Rippingtons in JAZZIZ — indeed, within the same issue of JAZZIZ. I explained to him that while it’s true that each of those acts typically attract different fans, each was equally passionate about their art. Furthermore, smooth jazz was all the rage at the time (and selling more product and getting more airplay than any other style of jazz). As a magazine, we’ve always done our best to cover the jazz scene without bias. Back in the ’80s, while we embraced smooth jazz, most other jazz magazines steered clear of it. When it comes to covering popular artists, no matter the style of jazz they play, we’ve always maintained a “rising tide raises all boats” mentality. Today, most jazz magazines do likewise.
For us, it’s always been about listening to our readers, and we do that better now than ever. With that in mind — and if you’ll excuse my patronizing — I invite you all to email me about what you like or don’t like in the magazine, or what you care to see more or less of. Whatever’s on your mind, I’m here for you, just an email away. —Michael Fagien