New Feature at Guest Artist Dozens

      Randy Brecker
    By Jos L. Knaepen launches a new feature today with its publication of trumpeter Randy Brecker’s selection of twelve outstanding Freddie Hubbard performances. Brecker offers up a valuable survey, encompassing the full range of Hubbard's artistry, from his Blakey and Blue Notes days, through his CTI and Columbia work, and beyond, and includes both timeless classics and neglected gems.

The Dozens column, as regular site visitors know, is our way of celebrating the jazz heritage by focusing on twelve great tracks built around a theme. In the past we have relied on jazz writers to make the selections and offer up their reviews. But our new “Guest Artist Dozens” will add a new twist – we will now also go to the musicians themselves for their picks and opinions.

True, this is a dangerous concept. If you start asking the musicians for their opinions, what happens to the jazz critics? They might need to start writing restaurant reviews or gossip columns. But we are willing to take that chance. Part of the vision for is to develop its potential as a place where musicians can speak their mind, and share their views -- not just on their own work, but on the music's rich heritage and current state of health. The Dozens is an ideal setting to facilitate this expanded dialogue. (And, yes, we plan to continue publishing Dozens by our stalwart crew of critics. So they don't get to run off to the smorgasbord quite yet.)

Who better than Grammy award winner Randy Brecker to guide us through the illustrious career of Freddie Hubbard? Like Hubbard, Brecker has spent decades blowing his horn in the most high profile settings, from his early days with Horace Silver and Art Blakey, through his Brecker Brothers’ work and many classic leader dates and sideman sessions.

This feature also marks the first appearance of contributor Ted Panken on Panken, who serves as editor for our “Guest Artist Dozens,” is a top notch jazz writer and first rate interviewer. His work has graced the pages of Down Beat and Jazziz, and he is also well known for his popular broadcasts on WKCR-FM. A few months ago, Panken was honored with a much deserved ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his journalism. (For a more complete list of contributors, click here.)

Our “Guest Artist Dozens” complements our other recent addition to the site, “Desert Island Dozens,” which allows noteworthy individuals in the world of jazz to offer their ideal playlist for a tropical getaway. We recently initiated “Desert Island Dozens” by sharing the selections of drummer Peter Erskine.

Stay tuned. More Dozens – of all shapes and flavors – are in the works. For a full list of all our Dozens to date, click here.

This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia

April 13, 2008 · 0 comments


Something Old, Something New

One of the challenges in covering the jazz world – by blog or review, or with a comprehensive web site – is balancing the space devoted to new music and historical material. I did a quick survey of the most recent jazz magazine to arrive in my mailbox, and found that eight of the nine stories featured on its cover dealt with the a current artist or release. This is fairly typical, I suspect, of the jazz media today. But is it the right balance?

Of course, jazz periodicals have always devoted the vast majority of their pages to what is currently happening on the scene. But this made much more sense back in 1970, when Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and so many other legendary figures were still recording and performing. Back then, a fan could gain a complete understanding of the history of the music simply by visiting the leading jazz clubs on a regular basis. The whole spectrum of the music was available to be experienced first hand. But today, all of the pioneers of the jazz art form are gone, and even most of the masters of post-war jazz are departing from our midst – only a few days ago, we lost Oscar Peterson. In this environment, an approach to covering jazz that focuses solely or primarily on what is happening this week or this month misses much of what is most valuable in the jazz heritage.

In planning, our goal has been for a more even balance between covering the best of today and celebrating the legacy of the past. If a typical jazz magazine still puts the mix at 80% (current) and 20% (historical), is aiming for something approaching a 50-50 balance. I believe that most media outlets covering jazz will gradually move in a similar direction, realizing that their audience often gets as much enjoyment from Miles as from, say, Chris Botti, or that a good guide to hard bop masterpieces or Kansas City jazz is as valuable as reviews of the best new CDs released this week.

Two daily features at attempt to balance these conflicting demands. Five days a week, we pick a “Song of the Day” – highlighting an outstanding new or recent release that deserves to be more widely heard. (A list of our picks for “Song of the Day” since our site opened its doors on December 10 can be found here.) But right next to the “Song of the Day” on our homepage, we celebrate a great historical performance, under the title “A Classic Revisited.” (A list of our choices for “A Classic Revisited” can be found here.) Check these out daily on our home page, immediately below our recent articles, and send us an email with any comments or suggestions for songs you would like to see featured in these slots.

The “Song of the Day” for today is Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away” from her recent Abbey Sings Abbey release on Verve. Today's selection for “A Classic Revisited” is Stan Getz’s “I’m Late, I’m Late” from the tenorist's great 1961 Focus session, also on the Verve label.

This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia

December 27, 2007 · 0 comments


Introducing the 'Dozens'

In the coming days, I will introduce you to some of the more interesting features on our brand new site. One of my favorites is our on-going series known as The Dozens. Some of you may be familiar with ‘playing the dozens’ – an African-American tradition based on informal, taunting exchanges. Our approach to the ‘dozens’ is a bit different. We select twelve exemplary jazz recordings based on a theme, and submit them for your enjoyment and debate. We have already published a number of these celebrations of the jazz art form (see complete list here). Some are straightforward (Steve Greenlee selects twelve essential John Coltrane performances), while others are whimsical and fun (Alan Kurtz’s celebration of the masterpieces of crime jazz). But they are always prepared with fastidious care, and the deep expertise that our writers draw from a lifetime of jazz listening. You will see more of the ‘dozens’ in the future, and from time to time I will draw attention to them in our blog.

For a description of other features, go here.

This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia

December 12, 2007 · 0 comments


Welcome to

We are proudly opening our doors after almost two years of behind-the-scenes efforts to create a useful and exciting center of jazz activity on the web. We are launching with almost three thousand pages of unique content – including features, reviews and interviews contributed by many of the finest writers in the jazz world.

Our music review section offers an unmatched guide to the greatest jazz tracks, encompassing both timeless classics and the most provocative contemporary performances. Unlike other guides to recordings, which typically review entire CDs, highlights the best individual tracks --- an invaluable guide in this day of downloading and iPod-ing. is also delighted to announce that we are the new home to Lewis Porter’s unique Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians, an unsurpassed source of information on currently active performers. Also make sure to visit our Visual Jazz galleries where we feature the best in jazz photography and painting. We also invite site visitors to participate in our discussion boards, list their goods and services in the directory, or create their own web page. Check back here in the coming days, as we share more of highlights of

This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia

December 01, 2007 · 0 comments


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