Letters to the Editor, July 2022

Congratulations!

To the Editor:
Congratulations on your Jazz Hero award, well-deserved. Keep up the good work and keep swinging.

Nancy Wyndham
Mendenhall PA

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To the Editor:
In its brief life, “the jazz world” has always been riven by divisiveness and jostling for place. Odd, because one would hope that its advocates would band together, recognizing their often fragile place in the larger worlds of art and commerce. But friendly unanimity has rarely been the rule. Much of the divisiveness has come from “jazz journalism,” which lives to sell advertising. Good news, brother-and-sisterhood, doesn’t make as good copy as do rivalries.

Andy Senior and Russ Tarby
Andy Senior (left) was presented his JJA Jazz Hero Award by Russ Tarby (right) at the monthly meeting of the Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse (JASS)

So there was Authentic pitted against Commercial, the Truth and the Fake, Old School and New Thing, Moldy Fig and Be-Bopper. There are, as I write this, people arguing on Facebook whether X or Y is “the G.O.A.T.,” a deplorable phrase. Let them have at it.

And in a world where “new and improved” sells more dog food and toothpaste than “fulfilling, established, and valid,” what some call Traditional Jazz (I prefer “Hot Music,” thank you) has steadily been marginalized.

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You can blame our collective amnesia; you can blame Jazz Studies programs that give fifteen minutes to Louis, Duke, a half hour to Bird, and then move to Coltrane. You can blame an economy where gigs aren’t easy to find, where musicians’ salaries are what they were in 1974, where there are few “record companies,” where music is expected to be available for free.

All of this bad news is, however, preface to some remarkable news: our own Andy Senior, who is—at the very least—a steadfast beacon in the darkness of arts reportage, was acclaimed a “JAZZ HERO” by the Jazz Journalists’ Association.

May this news buoy him in those moments where he asks himself, “Why am I still at my computer when the rest of the world is taking it easy?”

Andy, we admire you, thank you, and salute you. It’s one thing to have a passion for this music and play it in the car. It’s quite another to devote your energies, as you do, to the quest for keeping it going, for finding new listeners, for making sure the glories of the past aren’t forgotten, for making sure that current and future glories aren’t ignored.

Know that your labors are deeply appreciated.

Michael Steinman / JAZZ LIVES
Great Neck NY

To the Editor:
Any club that would have Andy as a member, is a club I want to be a member of! Sorry, Groucho.

I first started to listen to RADIOLA in 2008-9. Internet radio was just starting, and Andy’s playlist of everything jazz was just what was needed.

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I’ve never met Andy, but he’s the reason I FINALLY subscribed after 40+ years of knowing of this “paper.” He loves Jazz. He loves people who love jazz.

Congrats, Andy!

Paul Gronemeier
Albuquerque NM

To the Editor:
Many felicitations on your JJA Heroes Award!! What thrills me especially is that our particular “cause”—jazz beginnings—is typically back-shelved in music schools. So I am pleased they have shone the spotlight on a worthy man. I can only imagine the work you put into this.

I do presentations in jazz history around Massachusetts, and I come with a motto: “If the roots die, so does the tree.” I believe this with all my heart. Otherwise how will we get cake!

Congrats again, and let’s keep it going.

Peter Gerler
JJA active member
Newton MA

To the Editor:
Jazz fans and the entire jazz community owe Andy Senior a huge debt of gratitude for not only saving from extinction the last surviving, nationally-circulated, print newspaper devoted to the promotion and perpetuation of traditional classic jazz, ragtime and swing, but in being able to remake it into a much more meaningful and readable publication. His commitment over the past five-plus years was akin to Phoenix rising from the ashes. What makes this honor even more impressive is the fact that he took on this assignment without any prior journalistic experience, and that during the pandemic, was able to keep the paper afloat when advertising revenue hit bottom.

Lew Shaw
Scottsdale AZ

To the Editor:
Firstly I’d like to congratulate you for receiving the JJA jazz hero award. It was very well deserved in my opinion. For several years I wrote reviews and the occasional article for The Mississippi Rag. Although it was a good publication, it had its limitations, mainly being too tightly focused on its trad jazz subject matter to the exclusion of all else, thus limiting its appeal to those many music fans for whom “trad” might be okay but not the end-all. The Syncopated Times not only covers “trad” but also many mainstream artists and events, features articles written for adults with a sense of humor (for instance, most Adrian Cunningham entries) plus interesting historical articles about musical figures active before jazz or even ragtime existed. In addition, there are your well written editorials. I find myself reading The Syncopated Times cover to cover, anticipating its arrival in my mailbox each month. It is indeed better than the good Mississippi Rag and far, far better than The American Rag, which I felt was only good for telling festivalgoers where to park their trailers. May The Syncopated Times long continue!

Ted des Plantes
West Chester OH

To the Editor:
So pleased to return from New Orleans and find you on the front page of The Syncopated Times! A super congratulations to you for all your efforts and successes!

Shelly Gallichio
Tucson AZ

To the Editor:
Congratulations, Andy, on your well-deserved accolade from the Jazz Journalists Association. Too often in this world ink-stained wretches receive no recognition for their labors in the wilds of the fourth estate. Well done!

Bert Thompson
Orinda CA

A Word on Linotype Machines

To the Editor:
Stumbled across your magazine, and so glad I did. Thank you for it. Just a small correction on the article: “Keep Your Pretty Head Low,” by Andy Senior (TST May 2022) re: Linotype machines: “—and no one is left who knows how to repair them.” Well, at 73, I am still around, and in my younger years stripped down and rebuilt a number of these classics!!! Go well, and thanks for all the great jazz news/info.

Mr Emile Kritzinger
Johannesburg, South Africa

The “J” Word

To the Editor:
Liked your bit about jazz. Ralph Grugel called traditional jazz “Authentic Early American Music.” So we could say it is “AEAM.” Should that be pronounced Ahem, or A-ee–aa- em? or Eeem? or Aim?

Dean Norman
Cleveland OH

Not Going by the Book

To the Editor:
Much as I appreciate having my latest book Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist reviewed in The Syncopated Times, F. Norman Vickers’ short summary has three major errors that I should point out.

1) “Yanow tells about his early years in California and playing music with some amateur high school groups…” I didn’t play any music in high school or with any amateur high school groups and did not acquire my first saxophone until I was in college.

2) “For those desiring additional information, Yanow has a couple of YouTube videos which cover some of the material in his self-published book.” I have no YouTube videos having anything to do with the book.

3) “Yanow, as a policy, does not review any musicians’ first recording…” Huh? I regularly review musicians’ debut recordings and love to discover new and upcoming talents. I could compile an interesting list of musicians for whom I wrote the first serious review, including Veronica Swift. I always try to encourage musicians at the beginning of their careers when they need it most.

Scott Yanow
Lake Hughes CA

A Little Help

To the Editor
In one of your recent columns you mentioned needing a “little help,” and although you phrased it somewhat obliquely, I took it to mean that the paper’s financials are not exactly making you a rich man.

For my part I’ll say that the subscription fee is very reasonable and I’d be happy to tolerate an increase. Or, perhaps an option to voluntarily pay a little more during renewal in order to support the well being of the paper.

Another option you may have considered is a recurring donation system as is possible via Patreon and similar websites. I support a few folks this way—musicians, podcasters, forum managers, etc. I enjoy seeing the bill each month because it reminds me that I’m contributing in a real and recognizable way to the continued creation of things I support and enjoy.

The paper (and I mean the online and physical versions, but particularly the physical) is very important to me. As someone who is constantly in search of more information regarding early 20th century music and culture, I always find great value in the contributions you showcase. The longer deep-dives by Hal and Jeff have been particularly illuminating lately!

All this to say, keep up the good work and let me know if I can help the paper survive and thrive in any way. Nothing like it exists, and it must continue to do so for a long time to come. And finally, congratulations on your recent award. It’s very well deserved.

Luke Holladay
Arabi LA

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