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Sitting vs. Standing

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop[dot]com / @retronius

I've done it! Our problems are solved. Yes, good folks, you've read it here first. I have figured out the one thing that will save the image of jazz music and bring folks running back to this genre. All too often, we hear the complaints about jazz. It's dead. It's sleepy. It all sounds the same. Too artsy. It's boring. Well, I've figured out how to change our image forever. Well, really Jason Moran did, but I'm stealing credit (Good writers borrow; great writers steal). From now on, all jazz shows will eliminate chairs.

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Jazz Hipsters

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop[dot]com / @retronius

One of my best friends and I often have arguments about hipsterism. We both share many of the attributes of hipsters but while I in some ways embrace parts of the culture, she tries to distance herself from it all. Compile this with the fact that we’re both black and that the original idea of hipsterism is a white appropriation of black culture and things get muddied between she and I on the subject. Yet, the fact of the matter is that she follows the credo of Groucho Marx that she wouldn’t want to be part of a club that would accept her as a member. This, of course, makes sense because there aren’t that many folks out there who others can identify as part of a group but most of those same members would cast off that label. If there’s anything that hipsters hate, it’s other hipsters. If there’s anything that hipsters hate even more, it’s being called a hipster. I bring all this up to say that the jazz fan fits quite squarely in this category, because I can’t think of anything else that celebrates elitist, obscure art more than jazz.

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On Validating Vocalists

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop[dot]com / @retronius

One of my sharpest memories is of my mother, sister, and I in the driveway, sitting in our old Volvo when I couldn’t have been any older than eight years old. We had arrived from Lord knows where but the moment we got to our little ramshackle home on the East Side of San Antonio, Anita Baker’s “Angel” was playing. We didn’t get out of that car until we had finished singing the whole thing. My parents have two songs that are “their” song: Rachelle Ferrell and Will Downing’s “Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This” which they danced to at their wedding and The Winans’ “When You Cry”, which has always been a sort of anthem for them. But I’d have to say for the four of us, Anita Baker’s “Angel” is the Harris family’s song. Despite my father’s tone deafness (Not to disparage him, though; he’s a spectacular drummer. Actually, maybe he just doesn’t have great vocal control when it comes to singing.), singing has always been important to us. This is why it has been somewhat jarring for me in the last couple of years working in the jazz scene and seeing such an aversion to vocalists.

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Good, Pure, and Cheap: The Jazz Festivals' Dilemma

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop[dot]com / @retronius

In the world of business and engineering, there exists a model used to show valuation of certain attributes that can be attained—the project triangle. The point of this triangle is to show that a project can only have two out of three of the attributes: good, fast, and cheap. If one were to want a project to be good and fast, it can’t be cheap. If one wanted it good and cheap, it won’t be fast. If one wanted it fast and cheap, it wouldn’t be good. This, with a slight tweaking, seems to be the perfect framework to figure out how to move forward with jazz festivals.

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Filling the Noticeable Absence

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris[at]nextbop[dot]com / @retronius

Much of the skills I bring to editing this website come from my experience working on my alma mater's school newspaper, The Maroon Tiger. Quite often, our respectable but still quite ramshackle operation would have sections late or shortages of stories and still need to print. At times like these, our layout editor would place some graphic or advertisement in an oddly distorted size to fill in the blank space. Whether or not I was in the room to witness this occur, I knew what was up. There's probably some official industry term for this that I don't know; I always called it "noticeable absence".