By Don Heckman
A number of jazz fans who wrote to the Los Angeles Times complaining about the reduction in jazz coverage over the past four months have just received an email response from Times Editor Russ Stanton. The message includes the following information: “I am pleased to announce that Times Staff Writer Chris Barton is taking over the jazz beat at the Los Angeles Times. He reviewed the Marsalis/McCoy Turner/Mehldau show at the Greek Theatre on Sunday night.”
Stanton’s statement apparently means that I will no longer be functioning as the de facto jazz critic of the Times, as I have done over the 14 years since Leonard Feather’s death.
But what matters most, of course, is that jazz coverage of some sort will continue at the Los Angeles Times. Barton has begun his take over of the “jazz beat” with a story in Calendar today about Medeski, Martin and Wood’s first album release on their new, self-owned label. One can only hope that future coverage of jazz will emphasize creativity and content, rather than sales, ratings and popularity. And that Barton will continue to allocate to the Southland’s world class, resident jazz players the much-merited attention they have received in the past.