December 2006

Michael Ricci By

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Dear fellow AAJ contributors,

It's that time of year again, when we look back upon what we've heard, take stock of what we've done, and make plans for the months ahead. Please read this special year-end announcement...

  1. 2006 Top Ten Lists: Your Vote Counts!
  2. A Big Round of Applause For...
  3. New Faces at AAJ
  4. This Year's Developments
  5. The Year Ahead...

2006 Top Ten Lists: Your Vote Counts!

As veteran AAJers know, we have a longstanding tradition of polling contributors to determine the collective top ten discs of the year. Since we're quickly approaching the end of the year, we'd like you to look over the music you've heard in 2006 and see which discs strike you as the most outstanding new releases (and reissues).

If you want to cast your vote now, you can submit your picks through our handy online form. We've been tallying results since 2001; here they are...

2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

If you're a veteran writer and would like to submit your own personal top ten list as an article, select "Editor's Choice" as the article type. Collective lists are great, but individual lists are fun too.

A big round of applause for...

It's a long list, but we like to thank many fellow AAJers for their dedication, their words, and their friendship.

For editing a monster load of CD reviews (2,500 in 2006), managing the CD Review Center, and working your magic behind the scenes, thank you Nils Jacobson!

For making the MY AAJ and the regional calendar of events a reality, and for helping me sling thousands of lines of new code, thank you Mike Lorenz!

For CD Reviews, thank you John Kelman, C. Michael Bailey, Doug Collette, Jim Santella, Michael P. Gladstone, Jack Bowers, Chris May, Budd Kopman, Nic Jones, Troy Collins, Chris Slawecki, Dan McClenaghan, Jerry D'Souza, Glenn Astarita, Mark F. Turner, David Rickert, Jeff Dayton-Johnson, Samuel Chell, Eyal Hareuveni, John Eyles, and Paul Olson.

For interviews, thank you John Kelman for guiding the process from assignment to publication and helping out at every step in between. Thank you to the other key interviewers: Paul Olson, R.J. DeLuke, Vic Schermer, Clifford Allen, and Rex Butters!

For live concert and festival reviews, thank you Sandy Ingham, Ian Patterson, Eyal Hareuveni, Franz Matzner, John Sharpe, Erik Quick, Patricia Myers, and C. Andrew Hovan!

We'd also like to thank Jeff Fitzgerald for keeping us in stitches, Nic Jones, John Eyles, and Chris May for covering jazz in the UK, Ian Patterson, Nenad Georgievski, Mark Sabbatini, Eyal Hareuveni, and SM Hawkins for covering international jazz elsewhere, and Ian Dunnigan for keeping a watchful eye on the bulletin board.

For some of the new faces that made significant contributions in 2006, see our next section.

New Faces at AAJ

Several newbies made their mark on the site this year and we'd like to bring their names to your attention. Troy Collins, Ken Kase, Victor Verney, Jeff Dayton-Johnson, Brad Glanden, Leone Evangelista and Ian Patterson provided sharp and insightful reviews. Dale Cruse helped shape the Musician Center and adds new profiles daily. Jake Hanlon presents a new video at the Video Center, while Chris May and Samuel Chell have stepped in and provided editorial assistance. Ed Zucker, who has helped build an AAJ following in Philadelphia, is also chipping in with reviews, and the talented Jason Crane is submitting reviews, conducting interviews and producing podcasts. Speaking of podcasts, look for a steady flow of audio commentary from Jason, Dirk Sutro, and Mike McCaw in 2007.

This Year's Developments

2006 could very well be our best year yet in terms of new developments. The MY AAJ and regional calendar of events were launched and we've been building MY memberships and spreading the word about the calendar ever since. Ramp up and acceptance has been steady.

  • The Download Center, which launched in late 2005, established traction with readers in 2006 and is quickly approaching the million download mark.
  • The Upcoming Releases Center became the go-to source for new and future jazz releases.
  • We added over 10,000 musician records to the Musician Center. The current number of profiles tops 13,000.
  • We further refined the look and feel of the website and bulletin board.
  • We added thousands of new directory entries, mostly new venues, new record labels, jazz podcasts, and jazz blogs.
  • We further refined and improved our in-house publishing system to help contributors and editors.
  • We drastically improved the CD request and fulfillment process. Woohoo!
  • We created several new internal reports to determine things like the number of readers in each metropolitan area, the number of dates added to the calendar (daily), the most popular article types, and the most popular musician profiles. You can never have too much information when running a site like AAJ.

It may not seem like a lot, but not a day went by this year where someone wasn't slinging code and developing something new. If 2007 is anything like 2006, we're in for another banner year. Speaking of next year...

The Year Ahead...

With the launching of MY AAJ and the regional calendar, we can now focus on projects that will help AAJ transition from the red zone to the black.

All About Jazz has partnered with two European companies to build and launch the AAJ (DRM-free) Download Store. In addition to the traditional storefront, we plan to incorporate track purchase and listening options into our content (from an interview, from an event detail page, from a CD review, etc.). AAJ has an opportunity to become a major player in the online retail jazz music distribution market and we plan to leverage our eleven years of hard work and dedication.

We're talking to a ticket retailer about ticketing events through our calendar and we're developing a service for musicians and presenters; they enter their dates at AAJ and we push that info back to their website—think AAJ Live Content.

We're meeting with an organization in early January that has expressed an interest in licensing our content (single CD reviews mostly). We don't want to get our hopes up, but it could provide a windfall for many that have contributed reviews over the years. We'll have news about this exciting development when the deal is finalized.

Other projects include a Jazz Teacher Finder, a Jazz Musician Finder, and "Mobile AAJ" (pushing calendar info to cell phones). 2007 is sure to be a busy one, but we'll continue to break new ground and hopefully keep pace with technical advancements.

As always, we welcome your ideas and input. Thank you, one and all, for another outstanding year. From all counts, we are making a difference.

Best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season!

Michael Ricci

P.S. Missed our previous contributor announcements? Click here to read them.


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