As a subscriber to Jazz Journal it was sadness that I read that the December, 2018 edition of the magazine was to be the last it would seen in its printed format. I looked forward to receiving my copy each month through the post and reading what editor Mark Gilbert had decided was important enough in the world of jazz to be published.
I always started my monthly read with “From the editor”, an often acerbic comment on the latest jazz related musings, before moving on to “One sweet letter”. This section was where the readers of Jazz Journal got to have their say about the current state of jazz; errors made regarding the name of the second trombonist in a big band event in Aberystwyth in 1962; or whether or not the star rating system is/is not fit for purpose.
In the February, 2019 edition of Jazzwise magazine the following was written in a piece about the closure of the Jazz Journal print edition:
Arguably at its peak from the late 1950s until the 1970s, Jazz Journal increasingly appealed to to the older, more mainstream jazz fan with writing and design aimed clearly at that market.Jazzwise magazine, February 2019, p10
This may well be true and, in part, a contributory factor in the decision to move from print to online presence, but it is also interesting just how many times both Jazzwise and Jazz Journal covered the same artists, well established or new and upcoming, in articles about the musicians who form the jazz scene.
One area where the two magazines varied significantly was in that of album reviews. Jazz Journal is more “mainstream” in this regard, and that is not a bad thing, while Jazzwise would focus more on newer names to the scene. Both magazines published a critics poll at the end of the year but only one would separate out reissues from new, a bone of contention for many a reader of Jazz Journal.
I will miss the print edition Jazz Journal but welcome the fact that it will still be available as an online publication. I have had a look at https://jazzjournal.co.uk and like what I see. I do find it a lot easier to read than Jazzwise’s online version of their print copy and am very much looking forward to being able to access Jazz Journal’s archive when it is made available.
So which of these two monthly editions will I subscribe to in the the future? Well the answer is very simple, both. The two publications are different and each brings something of interest to what is available to fans of jazz music. I like to read about artists from the past, and their music, because they are often referenced to by the artists of today. Jazz Journal does write about “mainstream” jazz and I hope it continues to do so because it still has a relevance today and should be reflected in print, online or otherwise.