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Terri Hinte: Co-Creating the Image of Jazz

Victor L. Schermer By

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AAJ: As a reviewer and a journalist, I want to give an accurate and sincere critique of a performance. But I certainly don't want to adversely affect any musician. How can I criticize a musician's performance or approach without unduly hurting the musician or his image?

TH: If a reviewer has an understanding and appreciation of an artist and his or her work, that reviewer should be able to write an honest, respectful account of, say, a performance that may have been less than optimal in the context of the entire career or body of work. I've spoken with artists who may have had an off night and, upon reading the review, might even agree with the writer's assessment.

As an extreme example, I was at a concert last year at which a major musician was being honored, and he also performed. Something seemed terribly wrong with him that night. He seemed like a shadow of his former self. A reviewer sitting next to me who had an assignment to review the show declined to write about it at all, out of respect. He knew he couldn't give a fair shake to the musician under those conditions.

If a reviewer disagrees with a musician's approach or direction on a recording, let's say, it's more complicated. But sometimes things boil down to taste. I don't see the value of using a review for axe-grinding.

Hinte's Interest in "Metaphysics"

AAJ: Surprisingly, in your bio, you mention "metaphysics" as one of your interests. Can you tell us a bit about that?

TH: Coming of age in the '60s, a time when metaphysics was quite the subject and object of countercultural attention, I found that I was drawn to it very naturally and very strongly. I studied astrology in depth and also read extensively on tarot and numerology. I incorporated the I Ching into my daily life as a touchstone and a tool for meditation. Over the last 15 years or so, I've added feng shui practices to my arsenal.

Bottom line, I'm interested in energy—its movement, its characteristics, how it affects our environment, the impact it has on our bodies, minds, souls, emotions. I'm interested in unseen forces, mysteries, what's behind the curtain. Who can entirely explain the effects that music has on us?

Studying astrological transits offers a valuable perspective, I have found, on the inevitable up and down cycles in everyone's lives—including, for example, a musician's career in the public eye. There are times when a person seems to be operating in obscurity or struggle, and times when everything is flowing. Going with the wave is usually the correct course of action.

AAJ: Do you apply your understanding of metaphysics in your PR work?

TH: Yes, and I apply whatever my understanding might be to walking the dog, gardening, and discussing politics as well. I apply it to just about everything!

Supporting the Music Today

AAJ: What changes would you like to see in the jazz business?

TH: I'd like to see women musicians continue to take their place at the table and on the stage, and I'd like to see girls encouraged—by these role models—to do the same. I was really struck by an observation from the pianist Peggy Stern, who booked women-led bands at her Wall Street Jazz Festival for 12 years and just started a similar new festival in Austin. She noticed that, on average, women-led bands resulted in an equal number of men and women in the ensembles. It wasn't planned that way; it just happened. That seems revolutionary to me.

Also, this streaming business, this Spotify creature: can it continue? Royalty checks in the amount of pennies are just wrong. What are we going to do about this? How is it acceptable that people feel they're entitled to the fruits of musicians' creative labors without any compensation? This has to be addressed and fixed.

AAJ: Yet Spotify, YouTube, ITunes, and other web resources do increase listening and exposure. And they're not going to go away. Do you have any thoughts about how they can be made to work to the musicians' advantage financially and otherwise? Is there a way that we can have all this music so readily available to everyone while stimulating financial gain for the players and composers, perhaps in other venues?

TH: I don't have the answers. Someone is making money off these so-called resources. The revenues have to be shared with the creators, period.

AAJ: Based upon your love of jazz and your extensive interactions, what message would you like to convey to our readers about what could enhance the future of jazz?

TH We have to support the music and all its ancillary offshoots with our time and money. That means buying CDs (or downloads); attending shows; contributing to GoFundMe campaigns; subscribing to publications that cover the music; doing everything possible insofar as we're able. If not us, who?

Photo Credit: Clifton Anderson

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