Don Heckman has been the unofficial jazz critic of the Los Angeles Times since hall of famer Leonard Feather died in 1994. But Heckman blogs today that he thinks he has been replaced — not that he's heard anything one way or another from his newspaper.
A number of jazz fans who wrote to the Los Angeles Times complaining about the reduction in jazz coverage over the past four months have just received the same email response from Times Editor Russ Stanton. The message includes the following information: “I am pleased to announce that Times Staff Writer Chris Barton is taking over the jazz beat at the Los Angeles Times. He reviewed the Marsalis/McCoy Turner/Mehldau show at the Greek Theatre on Sunday night.” (Stanton was presumably referring to McCoy Tyner.)
Stanton’s statement apparently means that I will no longer be functioning as the de facto jazz critic of the Times, as I have done over the 14 years since Leonard Feather’s death. I say “apparently” because I have had no message from anyone at the paper, one way or the other.
But what matters, of course, is that jazz coverage of some sort will continue at the Los Angeles Times.
Heckman posts at The International Review of Music, an ambitious name for what is essentially a blog with reviews by Heckman and former Times staffer Casey Dolan of CDs and local live performances. Dolan has also been posting a series of long entries detailing his experiences at the Times and his take on decisions made by Calendar section editors.