Music publication’s vision inspires a new point of view while exploring tradition and legacy
Finding a secure place to discover and equally express ideas and opinions is as easy as opening Jazz Quarterly Magazine. With storytelling as a forte, Jazz Quarterly presents a safe space where enthusiasts can feel valued and diversity thrives. Presenting a distinctive voice, typically supporting varied perspectives, the staff suggests a sense of community and belonging with jazz playing a pivotal role.
An award-winning vocalist, a pianist, composer, producer and journalist, Fiona Ross is the current guest Editor-In-Chief for the new edition of Jazz Quarterly. Popular on Instagram and other social media platforms, for Ross and Jazz Quarterly, the focus is all about others.
An interview with Jazz Quarterly’s guest Editor-In-Chief, Fiona Ross
Musicinterviewmagazine.com: What is the vision of Jazz Quarterly Magazine?
Fiona Ross: Our slogan is “Jazz from a new point of view,” which is all about removing stigmas and limitations, being open and honest and celebrating the legacy, but truly welcoming the new. Jazz is an ever-evolving art form which touches so many in a variety of ways and the aim is to showcase and highlight these fluctuations. It’s a diverse genre that was created from and during times of intense suffering yet brings so much joy and beauty and knowledge. It’s an important genre, especially now.
How is Jazz Quarterly a safe space where music enthusiasts can feel inspired?
I interviewed the incredible artist Camille Thurman a few months ago and we spoke about her educational experience. She told me that she didn’t have a ‘safe space to learn’ until she was 22. I found those words painful. For me, it is a place where you can be whatever and whoever you are. A place where you are respected and valued. A place where you can ask questions without fear of repercussions. A place where you are not the only one with black or brown skin, not the only woman, or one of only a small few and never feel you are a minority. A place to explore ideas and thoughts, to be inspired and inspire others. Jazz Quarterly is a safe space. A place to discover new music. A place where the legacy of jazz is explored and respected, whilst the new is joyfully welcomed and explored. A place where you don’t have to fight to be heard and where barriers and challenges are discussed bravely and with honesty. A place where diversity is real from every angle, in front of the microphone and camera and equally behind the scenes and where everybody’s voice is valued. A place to be inspired and where you can see possibilities.
Would you say the publication is a place where traditional and contemporary music ideas are welcomed? How so?
Yes. Without a doubt. Jazz comes in so many different shapes and sizes and people identify with the term jazz in many ways. I have been witness to many conversations where people debate whether something can be classified as jazz not, especially over the past few years with many artists bringing in elements of hip hop as one example. But those conversations are also part of the history. When Charlie Parker came along, his ideas were faced with the same criticisms and now of course he is recognised as a legend. I think one of the fundamental concepts of jazz is the freedom to explore. Jazz is an ever changing and ever flowing genre and this needs to encouraged and supported. One of the artists I chose for this edition, Joseph Lawrence and the Garden, is a perfect example. Some people will listen to their music and immediately say it is not jazz. But by discussing this with the artist and exploring how they see jazz playing a role in their music, this allows us to explore this and what jazz means to them. But also, does it really matter which category something sits in? if it’s good music, it’s good music. I think we often spend too much time debating where something sits instead of just enjoying it and understanding what it means to the creators.
What is the importance of preserving the legacy of jazz?
It is essential. The battles that were fought and barriers that were faced must be explored, understood and respected and never underestimated or forgotten. It is the ultimate place of freedom and community. The place for individuality and togetherness. A place to explore and understand your place in society.
While bringing a new point of view to the music, how significant is maintaining diversity regarding artists and styles?
This is an area I am especially passionate about, but I’ll try and keep my answer short, otherwise I will go on for ages. There is a huge imbalance in the jazz industry both in front and behind the scenes and it’s all connected. I dream of a world where I look at a publication and I don’t question the diversity. Where women are promoted and celebrated equally, where one skin colour doesn’t dominate over another. It’s time. When people read through this first edition, I hope they will see that.
What role does storytelling have at Jazz Quarterly?
It’s everything. In this edition, we have Camille Thurman telling us her experience of developing into a musician and how she has used the positives and negatives to create something incredible to support other musicians. Ola Onabule talks about social injustice and how he uses his music to communicate his emotion. Celine Peterson discusses the shocking revenue issues for musicians on streaming sites and asks us to consider how we support the music we love to listen to and so much more. Stories excite us, motivate us. They help us question and reflect on our own role and the role of music and help us see that we are all in this together.
Paul Wolfle, the publisher of musicinterviewmagazine.com, is a web-based journalist who has written for several popular sites. Paul has a passion for connecting with a diversity of musicians who are looking to grow a positive presence on the World Wide Web.