Congratulations to both Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records) and the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity) on being voted one of JazzTimes‘ Top 50 New Releases of 2009, as compiled from year-end lists submitted by the magazine’s contributing writers and editors.
The December issue of JazzTimes arrived this weekend and with it reviews of three of our clients’ most recent releases, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings’ Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity) and Jessica Pavone’s Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik).
Michael J. West called Madeleine Dreams‘ title track “a six-movement suite that intriguingly blends chamber classical, beatnik jazz, indie-rock and free improvisation, dominated by violin (Jason Kao Hwang), viola (Jessica Pavone), cello (Tomas Ulrich) and stately, evocative moods. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura recited magical-realism vignettes, based on an acclaimed novel by Bynum’s sister, that blur the line between reality and the world of dreams…it’s a fun listen.”
“Jones, 31, is a hotshot we should keep our eyes and ears on,” declared Steve Greenlee. “He’s got a raw but disciplined sound, a head full of ideas and a heart full of talent. On his debut album, he plays sweetly, melodically, plaintively, raucously and discordantly. He plays outside and in. He goes from blues to swing to free and back again. He never wastes a note or a breath.”
“Jessica Pavone has begun making a name for herself in the world of modern improvised music,” wrote Mike Shanley, “but those words only go so far when trying to describe her work. Performed by members of the Toomai String Quintet (Pavone doesn’t appear on the disc), the music doesn’t reside in the frenetic free zone where the composer sometimes dwells. Each track averages about four minutes in length, with many going through a few different sections, yet the whole work flows together like a complete, compelling composition.”
“Infernal Machines is the future of the big band,” declares Michael J. West, “with leader Darcy James Argue presenting seven fiercely original and exciting compositions and arrangements for his 18-piece ensemble. His music is ambitious, experimental and complex, but in a sense far closer to indie rock with its immediacy and wide-ranging palette. With their haunting compositions and imaginative experiments, Argue’s Secret Society might do for jazz what Radiohead did for rock—and poach some of its audience, too.”
In his review of Wildlife, Mike Shanley writes, “Before too long, Joe Morris’ work as a bassist is going to eclipse his work as a guitarist—not that there’s anything wrong with that. Morris’ approach to the bull fiddle offers a solid focus to free-improvisation sessions, with some solos that take on percussive qualities when he really cuts loose. This album sounds loose but each track has a different mood that keeps things compelling for 56 minutes.”
The resurgent JazzTimes shows two of our guitarists, Garrison Fewell and Michael Musillami, some love in the newly arrived August/September issue, making its return to active publishing status that much sweeter.
“Variable Density Sound Orchestra should be on jazz education syllabi worldwide,” declares Michael J. West in his review of Fewell’s latest release on Boston’s Creative Nation Music. “It demonstrates how even free improvisation depends on musicians listening closely to each other. Guitarist Garrison Fewell’s septet uses some compositional structures, but the real backbone comes from developing and responding to each other’s spontaneous ideas. The products of that chemistry are gorgeous.”
In his review of the Michael Musillami Trio +3’s From Seeds (Playscape Recordings), Chris Kelsey writes, “Vibist Matt Moran, alto saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller join guitarist Musillami in performing his creative, forward-thinking compositions. The music is exceptional in all respects, from the fiery but respectful readings of Musillami’s tortuous compositions to the inspired solo work by one and all…Musillami is at his best when exploiting his nuanced quasi-acoustic sound, as he lays down long, unpredicatable freeboppish lines. Alessi and Moran are excellent, and Ehrlich is brilliant—his playing here is fresh and impassioned.”
Today we explore the results from the second of five sections of our recent survey of 50 prominent jazz writers and editors.
This section, called Web and print habits, asked about the jazz-related publications, blogs and Web sites these professionals are reading, how they access them, and if what they read there impacts their own work.
As shown in the chart above, we first asked respondents to indicate which of the eight major jazz magazines they read on a regular basis. The list, which featured English-language publications only, included AllAboutJazz-New York, Cadence, DownBeat, Jazz Improv, Jazziz, JazzTimes, Signal To Noise and The Wire. We also made it possible for people to write-in any other publications as well.
The clear winner was AllAboutJazz-New York with 54.5%. The runner-up was Signal to Noise with 51.5%, followed by DownBeat and JazzTimes, which each scored 48.5%. The Wire (39.4%) and Cadence (18.2%) were next, while Jazziz and Jazz Improv each scored less than 10%.
We then asked if the coverage in these publications influenced the respondent’s own work (i.e. discovering new releases, coloring their judgement of artists/releases, etc.).
The results (above) were clear as 85.3% answered in the affirmative.
Next we asked which jazz-related Web sites respondents visit on a regular basis, again spotlighting eight popular choices and giving people the chance to write-in any others they prefer.
AllAboutJazz.com was the clear favorite with 77.4%, with AllMusic.com finishing a close second with 61.3%. Next came Bagatellen with 32.3%, followed by Jazz.com and NPR Music, which each earned 29%. Avant Music News (16.1%), Jazz Corner (12.9%) and PopMatters (6.5%) also got multiple votes.
A significant number of write-in votes were cast for blogs, which we tackle in the next question, but Point of Departure was a popular choice (an admitted oversight on our part), as were Pitchfork and Dusted.
Again, the majority (82.4%) indicated that the content of these sites influence their own work.
When tackling the subject of blogs, we asked respondents to list five of their favorites. Oddly enough, more than half skipped this question completely, and only 37.5% filled in all five slots. Some even dedicated one or more of the slots to expressing their dislike for reading and/or discussing blogs at all.
But this time, when we asked if what they read on these blogs influenced their own work, only 44.4% said yes.
When it comes to accessing the blogs they read, the Web is by far the most popular way with 94.1% giving that answer. Using a built-in blog reader in one’s browser and using a stand-alone RSS feed reader represented the rest of the vote with 8.8% each.
Finally, we asked if any of the respondents have a Twitter account.
Unlike with the blogs, everyone who took the survey answered this question, but only 35.3% said yes.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the third section of our survey, Personal Listening Habits, which features questions about writers’ interaction with jazz radio, their preferences for format (CD, MP3 and vinyl) when purchasing music for personal use, and the amount of music they purchase in a given year.
Please stay tuned!
Ratliff, who interviewed the magazine’s editor, Lee Mergner, earlier today, also writes the publication plans to retain Managing Editor Evan Haga and that “arrangements are being made to pay contributors what they are owed.”
UPDATE 7/13: Howard Mandel confirms the sale in an interview with Madover Media‘s company director, Joan Lynch, who explains, “we believe in print, in the web, and in delivering the best product we can, hoping to keep Jazz Times the publication aficionados want.”
Newly liberated from its physical form in the pages of JazzTimes, Nate Chinen’s once-monthly column The Gig is reborn as a blog.
We’d like to officially welcome Nate to the ‘sphere as we look forward to many insightful and unfurloughed posts to come.