One of the greatest pleasures in journalism is creating opportunities for others, and here is a selection of things that have given me delight because I have been able to watch those involved soar, away from me and my support, to their own paths. Three examples follow, but these are just some of the jazz people whose journeys in jazz have become intertwined with my own.
Fiona Ross was introduced to me by a musician nicknamed Wise Owl when I was organising a small jazz festival. He told me he felt sure this singer would bring people with her to enjoy the performance by Ross and the other 14 acts already booked. On the hottest day of 2017, the London Jazz Platform, sponsored by US radio station Jazz Bites Radio, took place, and Ross performed and proved an enthusiastic audience member too.
Shortly after that, and after a free jazz gig together, we were dining in Kings' Cross when Ross told me she would do anything to become a known journalist in jazz. I reminded her that few columns pay anything, if at all, and asked if she would like me to introduce her to a medium-sized European-based column where perhaps she could try her hand as I was off to discover music and teach in Ecuador for a year. Ross agreed, and I put her in contact with the editor. Soon she was writing for the site and became a senior writer. She also undertook some similar ideas I had and established a women in jazz group. As a journalist, it is always a good thing when we can help others to find their niche in the jazz world.
Here is the first article I wrote on Ross - a review for Something Else Reviews of her 2nd or 3rd album
Fiona Ross - 'Black, White and a Little Bit of Grey' (2017) (somethingelsereviews.com)
Wendy Kirkland is an engineer turned musician, and prior to lockdown and the pandemic, I was present at a gig in Grantham, Lincs, where Wendy and her band played to a tiny but enthusiastic audience - advertising in the local paper had gone awry, apparently. One man had come from 50 miles away to see the band. Kirkland had, as part of her band, a local drummer who my sister knew, so she and he started up a conversation before I met Kirkland for the first time briefly. Since then, Kirkland has performed to a sold-out house in Ronnie'( Scott's) Upstairs and has produced a series of Latin-infused numbers.
I also helped Kirkland establish a relationship with Pianist Magazine through this article and wrote about her determination to continue performing through lockdown - via her Latin lowdown gigs online. Here is the piece I wrote for Pianist magazine on Kirkland. Enjoy.
Wendy Kirkland: Pianista, Diva - Pianist (pianistmagazine.com)
In another direction, about three years ago, I was approached by an American editor, Debbie Burke. She ran a jazz column, and she reviewed one of my books on it. Burke asked if we might collaborate on a book, and I suggested a book on gender. She felt this was a positive idea, and I did the research and writing, and she edited. The book proved a success and is now on the curriculum of several colleges. Debbie wanted to work with me and also start her own editing service. She commented that working with me raised her profile on social media etc. She now runs her own editing company with some success.
These are just three stories of how journalism can be a very positive tool in bringing people who work in jazz to the attention of more people and how a writer - even a relatively unknown one - can help them in their own journeys. I have enjoyed working to bring jazz music to more people in one way or another. I am currently curating works and writing a jazz course for an academy so the journey continues and who knows what the future will bring?