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The recent topic here “DownBeat on archive.org” prompted me to think about the archives of the British publication “Jazz Monthly” (50s-70s), that included such contributors as Max Harrison, Michael James, Alun Morgan, Mark Gardener etc. Would anyone know the fate of these?

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It would be interesting to find out. I have quite a batch from the mid-50s to the early 60s but not a full run. At one point I stopped perusing ebay.co.uk for them due to skyrocketing shipping costs but in the end of course on online source just for reading woud do fine.
BTW, while we're at it, anyone know of an online source for old volumes of "Jazz Journal"?

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I’ve got a bound full run of Jazz Monthly from 1961 through to 1970. A useful resource.

Not sure exactly when Jazz Monthly stopped but by 1974 when I started listening to jazz only Jazz Journal seemed to be being published. Had to put a special order in with my newsagent to subscribe. I’m not aware of any online resource for JJ but the current online-only site does publish some items from its archive.

Edited by sidewinder
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Yes, I used to read Jazz Monthly from the late 50s and into the 60s. One writer who hasn't been mentioned is Liverpool jazz humorist (yes, there was such a thing!) Steve Voce ("Is Jutta really hip?") Another, eminently more serious, British critic from that era was Raymond Horricks.

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49 minutes ago, BillF said:

Yes, I used to read Jazz Monthly from the late 50s and into the 60s. One writer who hasn't been mentioned is Liverpool jazz humorist (yes, there was such a thing!) Steve Voce ("Is Jutta really hip?") Another, eminently more serious, British critic from that era was Raymond Horricks.

Yes, Ray was also a producer for Decca and Major-Minor. As well as covering jazz, he also produced for Anthony Newley. I have several LPs from his collection.

Steve Voce still writes for the on-line Jazz Journal. I remember him getting into a bit of a spat about banjos in that publication several decades back !

Edited by sidewinder
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15 hours ago, sidewinder said:

Yes, Ray was also a producer for Decca and Major-Minor. As well as covering jazz, he also produced for Anthony Newley. I have several LPs from his collection.

Steve Voce still writes for the on-line Jazz Journal. I remember him getting into a bit of a spat about banjos in that publication several decades back !

The latter is one name that can easily be confused with another one among scribes from that era: Steve Race. From what I have seen by and particularly about him and regardless of what he apprently did himself later from the 60s onwards, he was a consistent pain in the butt for many on the trad/skiffle/rock side of the British music business once R'n'R started to gain a foothold there in the 50s.

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There were some very contrary views expressed  in Jazz Monthly. I miss that. Current jazz journalism is pretty dull and mostly hagiographic. For example, has Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise (I have a subscription) ever disliked or even critiqued anything he reviewed? I miss Max Harrison.  His death a few years back garnered zero coverage.
Voce is a homophobe, big Mark Murphy fan for years until he discovered Mark was gay.
 

Anthony

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Personally, I miss the old print edition Jazz Journal with the decent covering of more mainstream styles and less pandering to the ‘latest and greatest’. Sadly, that critical contingent (Alun Morgan, Max Harrison, Barry Macrae et al) has mostly left us now and those days won’t be back.

’Jazzwise’ does have some decent articles by the likes of Stuart Nicholson but it is very much padded out with advertising, I find.

33 minutes ago, adh1907 said:

Voce is a homophobe, big Mark Murphy fan for years until he discovered Mark was gay.
 

Anthony

I recall him reviewing one of Chris Albertson’s ‘Gay Jazz’ compilation releases back in the 70s (not sure of the label, Stash maybe) and it kicked off one heck of a rumpus in the letter column for the next few months. Graham Collier wrote in with a cutting letter of objection.

I have those issues in a bound folder - will have to check them out. 

Edited by sidewinder
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On 5.8.2022 at 10:51 PM, adh1907 said:

 Current jazz journalism is pretty dull and mostly hagiographic. For example, has Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise (I have a subscription) ever disliked or even critiqued anything he reviewed?

 

Strangely enough, this seems to be true for other areas of specialist music journalism too today. I've noticed this in certain rock and Metal magazines (that I once or twice glanced at in my son's room). And a friend of mine runs a very "home-made" fanzine for today's rockabilly (and closely related musical styles) subculture, and although far from all is gold that glitters in record releases even within this subculture I found that he seems to shy away from voicing his dislikes in print. I know him well emough to know he has strong opinions (that usually do have a valid point), but his record revies are nowhere near this level. I once asked him and to my surprise he was sort of evasive, stating that he simply does not review what he doesn't like. So I guess his reviews to the tune of "not really my cuppa but to each his own" must be considered a one-star tear-up and write-down. And this although his fanzine does not have commercial considerations with powerful advertisers. But loyalty with anyone who gets something going within the subculture (even in the case of those of their items that  - fairly objectively speaking - are turds) seems to be the thing to do throughout. Pity ...

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This sort of record reviewing , where you only review the recordings you like , has been around for a long time.

At another jazz periodical a number of years ago, there was a discussion of this approach. The argument in support of that position was that the number of jazz albums out there was so huge, that it would be silly to waste limited magazine space on them. It seemed more appropriate to bring reviews of the "good music" to the attention of the readers.

Though I understood that argument, I never agreed with it. 

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I'm more familiar with classical publications than jazz, and don't pay much attention to print reviews any more (rely more on discussion forums and selected blogs).

But I've always suspected a bias / "conflict of interest" in publications reviewing releases on labels for whom they run advertising. For instance the classicstoday web page. Would they trash recordings from big advertisers like Naxos and Hyperion? I seriously doubt it.

Don't know whether this is an issue with jazz publications, but it could contribute to the "only review recordings you like" syndrome.

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I wrote a fair number of negative reviews for the local paper in my early years, but when you only get to write 2 of 3 reviews in a monthly print publication, do you really want to waste one on a negative review? Likewise, I wrote some negative reviews for allmusic.com, but the percentage was very low among the 1000-2000 or so I contributed over 14 years. Once I wrote a negative review, I generally avoided reviewing the artist’s future releases. Allmusic editors would manipulate star ratings sometimes without explanation. I trashed the flushable Classics In The Key Of G, but some editor subbed a glowing review, even though I was paid. That was likely a case of not wanting to offend an advertiser.

It is always fair game to mention poor sound, an out of tune piano, hard to read graphics due to tiny fonts and poor color contrast, mislabeled songs, misspelled credits, etc., even in a positive review. But I can’t imagine that many writers enjoy writing negative reviews, given how many great releases are available.

One of my favorite goofs was by Raymond Horricks in his book Jazz Profiles. He threw in some trivia about Creed Taylor in the chapter on Clef/Verve: “...born in Lynchburg, Virginia, otherwise famous as the home of Jack Daniels bourbon.” The less obvious error is in his description of the liquor, which is properly classified as Tennessee Whiskey, not bourbon, as the additional step of seeping the distilled liquor through sour mash makes it distinctive different from bourbon. 

Edited by Ken Dryden
Typo fix
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12 hours ago, Peter Friedman said:

At another jazz periodical a number of years ago, there was a discussion of this approach. The argument in support of that position was that the number of jazz albums out there was so huge, that it would be silly to waste limited magazine space on them. It seemed more appropriate to bring reviews of the "good music" to the attention of the readers.

Though I understood that argument, I never agreed with it. 

I can understand that too but IMO there remains a huge problem because 1) far from all "good music" gets reviewed so nobody knows for sure what kind of indicator a non-review actually is, and 2) if only treacherously good or near-good reviews are published this in the long run is likely to reek of "do not offend the advertisers and/or freebie CD providers" courtesy reviews at least to part of the readership. Which might backfire against those who publish them (at least with some readers) ...

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Entering this discussion late, but my view is that the responsibility of reviewers/would-be critics is 1) to accurately reflect , as they see it, what is going on in the music in general, as well as to 2) be reliable consumer guides. If the recording under review seems to exemplify a less than positive trend/development, one must say so.

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