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Jazzy Michael Jackson, a long-awaited reunion, and a gallery party: weekend jazz picks

When the news broke in June that JazzTimes magazine had “temporarily suspended” publication, furloughed its staff and put its brand and assets up for sale, a lot of jazz fans were bummed. (As were a lot of freelance writers and photographers, who were informed that “payments for previous assignments remain in limbo.”)

The 39-year-old award-winning monthly was one of only two major American jazz magazines; its demise left DownBeat on the mountain without a climbing partner.

A little over a month later, on July 10, JazzTimes was acquired by Madavor Media, a Boston-based company that also publishes International Figure Skating, four golf magazines, and Teddy Bear and Friends. The company’s press release asserted, “With the mainstream media swamped with stories of print magazines folding, the story of the re-launch of JazzTimes magazine under new ownership by Madavor Media is a positive tale of determination and vision.”

The current editor-in-chief and managing editor will remain in place. The magazine will resume publishing 10 issues a year, starting in August. (Subscriptions will be extended to make up for the missed issues.) Writers and photographers owed money will be paid — not in full, but something.

All good news for jazz. Or is it? Given the current publishing climate, is this a relaunch or a reanimation? JazzTimes recently redid its website. Why not put the magazine there? Charge for subscriptions. Pay the writers, pay the photographers. Stop paying printers and postage. Publish jazz news as it happens, not a month or two months later, and invite readers to comment.

Boston blogger Chris Rich, never one to mince words, put it this way: “What were they thinking? They retreated to the illusory safety of old media checkers when they could be playing web2 chess…. They had a chance to leave the pulp mills and delivery mail and all that cumbersome stuff forever behind to master the far more amazing ultra fluid world of pixels with all its potential.”

Something to ponder during breaks at this weekend’s live jazz shows.

Frankhouse. As Dan Frankowski notes, “Hey, we were playing Michael Jackson before he died, OK?” Their jazz arrangement of “Beat It” is unbeatable. Following a fun CD release at the Artists’ Quarter in June, the jazz-pop-funk quintet heads to the Black Dog for an evening of originals, covers and surprises. Frankowski on trumpet and flugelhorn, Dave Stanoch on drums, Shilad Sen on saxophone, Karl Koopmann on guitar, Graydon Peterson on bass. Here’s a track from their debut recording. Friday, July 24, 8 p.m., Black Dog in St. Paul’s Lowertown. Free.

Illicit Sextet Reunion. Born in 1987, the Illicit Sextet released its first and only CD, “Chapter One,” in 1993 to raves (writing for the Twin Cities Reader, Tom Surowicz called it “arguably the best homegrown jazz product of 1993”). Critic Jim Meyer dubbed the group “the Cadillac of local jazz.” Since then, the members have gone in different directions but will reunite for a weekend of who knows what. Call it the next chapter. Steve Kenny on trumpet, Paul Harper on sax, David Roos on guitar, Chris Lomheim on piano, Tom Pieper on bass, Nathan Norman on drums. Friday and Saturday, July 24-25, 8 p.m. Artists’ Quarter ($12).

Jam N’ Jazz Party at Gallery 13. I just learned about this and love the idea. Gallery 13 in downtown Minneapolis is an exhibition space that also hosts events — like this night of live music featuring the Nick Haas Trio (NH3) and the Zacc Harris Quartet. They’ll trade sets on the hour and welcome guests and cameos. NH3 is Haas on guitar, Peter Susag on bass, and Eron Woods on percussion. The Zacc Harris Quartet is Harris on guitar, Chris Bates on bass, JT Bates on percussion, and Bryan Nichols on keys. It’s the night of the Aquatennial fireworks so you’ll be downtown anyway, right? Saturday, July 25, 8 p.m. (doors; music starts at 9), Gallery 13, 811 LaSalle Ave. ($10).

Pamela Espeland keeps a Twin Cities live jazz calendar and blogs about jazz at Bebopified.  She tweets about jazz on Twitter.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Don Berryman on 07/24/2009 - 06:04 pm.

    DownBeat was not quite alone – Jazz Improv Magazine, while note quite as glossy and polished – still provides a lot of solid jazz coverage in it’s fat quarterly publication.

    Don B

  2. Submitted by Pamela Espeland on 07/25/2009 - 06:36 pm.

    Thanks, Don. You’re right, as always. 🙂

    Another correction: Frankhouse doesn’t play “Beat It.” They play “Billie Jean.” Sorry ’bout that. Thanks for setting me straight, Dan.

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