Meet Carl L. Hager
What do you like most about All About Jazz? The wide range of material. It feels more like entertainment than some other publications. I don't know any other magazines that publish humor, for example, which was part of the tradition in the beginning at publications like Esquire and Playboy, bastions of jazz writing back in the day. Jazz is serious enough. Reading about it shouldn't feel like a homework assignment.
What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz? As an editor, I've enjoyed supporting the open-door approach to publishing a large range of writers, and as a writer I've enjoyed being supported. For me as a reader, AAJ has meant exposure to music I never would have heard before. Invariably I find myself reading coverage of up-and-comers in a small festival around New York, or a CD by soon-to-be-legendary improvisational luthiers recorded in a Finnish train station. Working with AAJ has some nice perks, toointroducing yourself to a musician as a contributing writer or editor for AAJ will often get you backstage where you can talk some real music and learn something. More and more record labels send me CD promo copies as they get to know me, which I appreciate, and press credentials are nice for getting ticket comps if I need them. But probably the biggest positive is that I'm starting to really learn how to effectively support the music I love. It is a very competitive arena. Due to the relative ease nowadays of digital recording, the sheer numbers of people involved have increased dramatically. So the music industry has become more and more dependent on writers, publicists, web designers, media consultants, etc. for the exposure they need in order to compete for attention in the marketplace. Musicians all want 5-star reviews, certainly, but sometimes a critical review from someone who knows what he's talking about is more valuableto both the musician and readers alikethan a complimentary review from someone who doesn't. Like the saying goes about opinions and alimentary orifices, everybody has at least one. Realizing this, the musicians I know don't concern themselves very much with a writer's piece, one way or the other, unless it contains some insight and strikes a chord. I'm learning to concentrate more on researching the music, and less on finding the perfect adjective or synonym to describe it. A writer needs to first have something useful to say.
Carl Hager at All About Jazz.
(with Lenny White) Mike Rubio/Bluebird Imaging