Confessions of a Mad Journalist
As the headline above this essay mentions "confessions," I have one to make: although I have loved music, and especially jazz, all my life, I am not a musician. Never have been, never will be. So how do I manage to write about music? Your guess is as good as mine. I simply face a blank sheet of paper (or computer screen) and the words seem to flow (not always easily, but eventually). Truth is, I've always been able to write fairly well. It's a giftand thank goodness for that, as I can't honestly say I've ever worked hard at it. Like most people, I have opinions, even about things I don't really understand; unlike many others, however, I am somehow able to express my thoughts in writing in a way that leads at least some readers to believe that I know what I'm talking about. The recipe has worked pretty well so far, and I intend to keep on winging it until the phrases no longer flow. And if you were expecting timeless words of wisdom about how to become a "jazz writer / reviewer," I'm sorry that I haven't any to offer. In this instance, it was nothing more than bad luck followed by good . . .
Speaking of Cadence magazine . . .
After 36 years, Cadence, which shrank from monthly to quarterly a couple of years ago, is ceasing publication at the end of this year (2011), yet another victim of our precarious economy. Unlike some other magazines, Cadence has always been fiercely independent, accepting no paid advertising and relying mainly on subscription revenue and record sales to keep it afloat. With the economy in the toilet and many people scrambling to make ends meet, that was no longer enough. I've always been grateful to Bob Rusch for having given me the chance to start reviewing, and wish him and the "Cadence crew" the best in whatever they may choose to do. Many of them, as it turns out, won't be going anywhere. Rusch says other facets of the Cadence / North Country business will remain intact including sales of LPs, CDs and books through Cadence Music Sales (and online at a new web site, www.klompfoot.com). Cadence Jazz Records, CIMP and CIMPoL will remain active labels. What this means is that many Crew members with whom you are used to talking and dealing will be on hand to help with orders. As Cadence rides into the sunset, that's at least something for which we can be thankful.
Out and About
Trumpeter Bobby Shew returned Thursday, April 14, to The Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque, leading a sextet whose other front-liners were saxophonist Glenn Kostur and trombonist Ben Finberg. While Shew was his usual eloquent self on trumpet and flugel, a highlight of the extended one-set performance came on Swedish pianist Bengt Hallberg's lively original, "Bi-Lingual," on which he unsheathed the double-belled Shew horn, an instrument Shew said he hadn't played for more than 15 years. He played with the top bell open, the bottom muted, trading lightning-quick four- and two-bar ad libs with himself and showing he hadn't lost a step since setting the horn aside. Shew and his teammates (the first-class rhythm section was comprised of pianist Stu MacAskie, bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Cal Haines) were strong and steady throughout a program that opened with the standard "You and the Night and the Music" and included three numbers by pianist Bill Mays alongside a couple by Shew ("The Red Snapper," "Blue"), another ("Olveira Street") by Gordon Brisker, a "Surprise Samba" and the engaging closer, "K's Abyss" (I'm not sure about the name of that one, but it's somewhere close to that; it was named for Shew's daughter, Kelly). In sum, another masterful performance by Albuquerque's resident legend, the peerless Bobby Shew.