Tag Archives: rave reviews

RAVE REVIEWS and MEANINGFUL SILENCES

JAZZ LIVES’ readers may have noted that I am enthusiastic about the music and I write about the art I love in the most glowing terms.  But I thought I should explain some things about the ways in which my enthusiasm is shared.

First, a true story — with true identities changed or blurred as much as possible.

A musician I know — I am calling him M — plays the marimba, most expertly.  M is a poet of the wooden bars and I admire M’s work greatly.  I wrote enthusiastically about M’s new CD because it gave me great pleasure.  M was very happy; so was I.  M told M’s partner, N, about this — N is somewhat sharp of tongue although we get along well on our infrequent encounters — and N’s response was a derisive nasal explosion of air, then, “Well, Michael only writes good reviews!”  I heard this story from M, and it pained me greatly.  It has stuck in my memory for months now, and not only because I feel very sorry for M.

Another true story, with no need to change identities.

I began this blog in 2008 at the urging of the Beloved, who is very wise.  But before I took the first step, I said, “What do I do if I go to hear a performance and I don’t like it, or someone sends me a CD that seems imperfect to me?  Do I say so in print and make enemies?  I don’t want to give stars to music or musicians.”

She said, “For years, GOURMET Magazine sent its reviewers to various restaurants.  If the place was wonderful, it got written up in print.  If it wasn’t, they said nothing.”

This made sense, because silence is very powerful.  You will note, for instance, that when you email someone with a request and they do not wish to do it, some people write back and say, “No,” or they explain . . . others keep still and you get the point.

So when I write that I feel so fortunate to have heard A sing or B play or the LMNOPQ Stompers swing out, I really mean it.  And when I think to myself, “I could have died and never heard this subtle pinnacle of music,” it is coming from my heart.

I really mean that I really mean it!  The jazz world is so small and I am already so fortunate in being allowed in to it, that there would be little visible benefit in currying favor by writing falsely good reviews.  And what I think of as my credibility would erode rapidly if I praised someone really splendid and then turned around with similar adjectives to apply to a much less creative performer.

When a publicist writes me and asks me to preview a new CD for JAZZ LIVES, more often than not I listen and then write back — politely — and explain why it isn’t for me.  Some people are gracious; some say nothing; very rarely do I get a response that suggests I have hurt someone’s feelings.  I solicit very few CDs — from publicists or the artists themselves — and they are only ones I know will have some aspect that interests me.  I do not want to end up with piles of CDs I do not end up praising, and I know that artists are — for the most part — not wealthy individuals who can afford to waste money.

Speaking of money . . . . but that is another blogpost entirely.  Let me just say that if JAZZ LIVES were a corporation, it would have been bankrupt about ten blogposts after its chartering.  Enough said for the moment.

So I do not “monetize,” nor do I use JAZZ LIVES as a place to undermine anyone’s art, even if it doesn’t appeal to me.  I think we should be celebrating the Beauties we have or we recall, and that keeps me — and I hope my readers — both happy and busy.

May your happiness increase!