Monday, February 8, 2016

Not Dead But Less Frequent

Other than a promise of a post yet to appear, this blog has been fairly barren the last several weeks. This blog is not dead, but it has become a less frequent endeavor. Fact is, taking over Jam magazine has monopolized more time than I expected. As soon as an issue is done, I’ve discovered, planning for the next one needs to begin. And that takes most of my meager thoughts on Kansas City and jazz.

While I’m striving to bring a new voice to Jam, there will still be ideas and photos which do not find a home there. Jam is not a place for the blunt snarkiness I often delight in here. On the other hand, I don't want this blog to become all snark with the pleasant observations residing only in Jam. I’m still winding my way through the appropriate approach for each forum.

When I was turning out a blog post nearly every week, and occasionally finding them linked to NPR or other well-known media (some weeks making my head grow insufferably big), I was overwhelmed with the opportunities of the internet. The internet was the future, the press for everyone who couldn’t afford a press. Print was passé, so twentieth century, a grandpa medium.

Editing Jam has led me to understand otherwise. There is still something unique and important to many people, maybe most people, to the permanence of print. People still like holding and fondling a photo. It is a different and more highly regarded experience to many to read words on paper versus a screen. That also means the words committed to that paper need to be more carefully considered because, I have discovered and I really didn’t expect this, they are more precious to many readers than thoughts thrown into the internet ether.

I also didn’t take over Jam fully recognizing the significance of its legacy. The magazine’s June/July issue will mark Jam’s thirtieth anniversary. With a print run of 12,000 copies per issue, Jam has become its own Kansas City jazz tradition. I neither understood nor appreciated its importance to many in the KC jazz community until now, with four issues under my sizable belt. I thought I’d assumed editorship of a quaint KC relic. I realize now that I assumed editorship of a publication that matters.

Here’s what I mean. I signed a release last week for the last issue of Jam to be used in an upcoming movie. A feature film is being made which, quoting from the release, “follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.” One character is in Kansas City. The filmmakers were looking for set pieces that identified the location as KC. They thought of Jam because it’s been around for three decades. They saw the issue with Eboni Fondren on the cover and their reaction was wow, an image with jazz, the Royals, the Negro much more Kansas City can you get?

Most importantly, they knew Jam. They looked for Jam, these movie makers in Universal City, California.

I’d better start taking that magazine seriously.

This blog isn’t going away. It isn’t going on hiatus. This is a forum to lay out photos and thoughts that don’t fit print, and that’s a forum I intend to maintain. But this blog has become less frequent. I’m no longer pressing to turn out a noteworthy post every week. Rather, when I think I just might have something noteworthy or fun (or, better yet, both), there will be a post.

I’ve retired from booking the Prairie Village Jazz Festival after four years. Between editing Jam and a bit of scribbling for The Pitch, I’d taken on more than my limited skills could juggle. It was time to pull back. With this blog, I’m now pulling back a bit more.

But that means more time will be devoted to continuing to develop the voice of Jam. More effort goes there because it’s more important than I understood.

Oh, and do me a favor? Don’t tell any of the Jazz Ambassadors I thought I was taking over a quaint relic, okay?