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A noble end came last week to Jazz Information, the stout little periodical which for two years championed jazz music seriously and articulately against the superficial blandishments of its commercial by-product. With an elaborate 100-page issue, replete with the discriminating record reviews, glorifications of underrated musicians, and other features which set it apart from the slick, snappy trade papers like Downbeat and Metronome, Jazz Information bowed out in the grand manner. And Gene Williams, who had run the magazine single-handed through most of its career, settled back to repair his broken health and hope some other fanatic would start another paper to play the same part.
For only a fanatic would have undergone the adversities Williams did until stopped only by physical collapse. His editorial in the final number tells how he and a Columbia classmate raised their brainchild from a simple mimeographed sheet to a trim, well-written magazine, complete with cover, photographs, and a few advertisements. But when his associate dropped out there was no one willing to replace him, even though the project was expanding, and demanding an increasing amount of attention. Williams found himself putting out each issue alone. There were plenty of jazz fans cager to chip in with feature articles or scraps of news, but none to help with the actual publication.
Williams became his own publisher, editor, record reviewer, news hawk, copy boy, and business manager, except for casual assistance here and there. Jazz Information was not making money; indeed, Williams didn't expect that it would, believing that his paper could never remain true to the standards he set for it and be commercially successful as well. But his constitution gave way before his bank account did.
One wonders if there are any others willing to make the same venture, even with the benefit of learning from Williams's experience. That Williams had to carry on alone would indicate that few indeed are prepared to give their whole time to a magazine catering to such a small, if devoted, following, and offering no hope of financial return.
Probably Jazz Information's standards were too high for its own material good. It refusal to compromise with what it called "quasi-jazz," its strict adherence to the New Orleans-Louis Armstrong line, may have scared off many who needed to be educated gradually to an appreciation of the vital spark of the great jazz improvisers. It appealed, therefore, almost exclusively to confirmed addicts, and for them it performed a great service with its thoughtful criticisms and biographies of well-known jazzmen. To the ex-jitterbug who has tired of jive, however, its almost esoteric articles and dogmatic policy seemed too great a change from his usual musical fare. But in what it tried to do, Jazz Information succeeded, perhaps, too well for its own survival.
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