JazzTimes – April 2023
English | 62 pages | pdf | 24.88 MB

Jazz is a living, breathing, ever-evolving art form—and so, as it turns out, is JazzTimes Magazine. Mac Randall stepped down from his role as editor-in-chief with the coming of the new year. We are sad to lose his deft helmsmanship of this magazine and wish him well in future endeavors.
As reviews editor, I was in the most viable position to step in and shepherd JT through this transitional period. (I’m only here for the interim, so let’s none of us get too comfortable with me in this chair.)
It’s a challenging task, and there’s a lot of improvisation involved—hey, it’s jazz! I’m very proud of the results. However, sharp-eyed readers will notice that the bass theme that has traditionally defined our April issues is a far lower presence than usual. Instead, this month’s theme is a bit of a mash-up, with bass as one of the threads, but festivals, those annual gatherings in celebration of this music, being the dominant one.
Which leads us to the indisputable good news of this issue: Our annual festival guide, included herein, is longer and more robust than it has been in several years. Many of the festivals that COVID-19 had forced into hiatuses or virtual-only programs are coming back in full force for 2023. In fact, even some of the fests that were previously declared dead have re-emerged like the proverbial phoenix.
As this issue’s cover star, Sonny Rollins, is fond of saying, “Jazz is a spirit. You can’t kill a spirit.” So it seems. Part and parcel of that good news is that Umbria Jazz, the Italian summer festival that is one of the most acclaimed (which— take my word, folks—it merits) and influential in the world—has not only survived the pandemic, but every other obstacle that’s come its way for the last half century.
Ashley Kahn, a frequent presence at that festival in a variety of different roles, marks its 50th anniversary herein by way of a conversation with its founder and longtime artistic director Carlo Pagnotta.
It’s a piece that’s less focused on the music itself and more on the nuts and bolts that make large-scale events like festivals happen. But those are important details, and they’re details that audiences are often curious about and should be more aware of. A lot of work goes into those free concerts you see in city squares (or, in this case, piazzas), and Kahn gets to the bottom of it.
Of course, there are those other threads that are worthy of your time, too. Bass is still a strong one, and such figures as Israel Crosby, Linda Oh, and Joelle Leandre make their presence known in these pages. So do a pair of midwestern legends: Indianapolis’s Wes Montgomery and Detroit’s Tribe, both of whose legacies are examined.
Still, we must come back to Umbria Jazz and note how it’s weathered the challenges of many decades in its 50-year history. JazzTimes Magazine, you’ll recall, recently celebrated its own 50th birthday. We’ve weathered the challenges, too—and we plan to keep doing so.

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