A few days ago I got some unpleasant news that I knew was coming but was still dreading. Cadence, the jazz and improvised music magazine I've been writing for almost 20 years, has announced it will cease publication at the end of this year.
The reasons why are obvious. The last few years have been a tough time for all printed publications with increasing hordes of people deserting them to read things online. A small, independent magazine about an increasingly marginalized music genre would find it tougher going than most. The fact that one of their major newsstand venues, Tower Records, went out of business didn't help matters either. In 2008 the magazine tried to save itself by changing format from a fat little monthly to a quarterly publication the size of an oversized paperback book. I talked to Bob Rusch, the magazine's publisher, at a concert a few months ago and he reiterated what he had been saying in his editorialsfor a while, that times were tough and he didn't know how long they could continue. Now the closing date has been set.
I'm really bummed about this. Cadence is a unique publication, low on trendy graphics but full of information. Its long interviews with various musicians are more like oral histories with the subjects discussing their careers, experiences and philosophies in unexpurgated fashion. As for reviews they covers a vast sweep of music, from blues and trad jazz to the farthest out there improv. I know I got to review a great variety of work, a lot of it by people I had never heard of before. The reviewers could be insightful or argumentative but usually they had interesting opinions. I don't know of another magazine around that covers the territory they do, the closest probably being Signal To Noise, but Cadence's demise is going to leave a hole in the musical conversation even if most people don't realize it.
I'm still trying to figure out what this means for me personally. Writing reviews for Cadence has come to take up much of my spare time over the years. It's really what I structure my evenings and weekends around. I guess I'll look around for another magazine or website to write for but I don't know how many options there are that way. I should have more time to devote to this blog and do other things like go out to concerts and performances but we'll see if that happens. I don't know how many more CDs I'll be sent for review past what I'm now working on, if any. After that I'm going to have a bunch of extra time on my hands. I'm just grateful right now I still have a regular day job to keep a roof over my head.