Sunday, July 05, 2009

Opinions are free

There's a lot of well-deserved brouhaha over this "review" of Maria Schneider on the Gazette blog. When I first read it, like many, I thought it was a joke. I've read bad reviews, I've even written a couple, but I never imagined there was any way a review could be entirely wrong. This is the textbook example of how not to review -- at no point whatsoever does Heinrich talk about the music. I'd have even accepted complete and utter misrepresentations of Maria's music, her musicians, and their instruments, over what wound up being published.

I disagreed with many of Mr. Heinrich's reviews of last year's festival, and I assumed that he was brought in to fill the space of the then-ailing Juan Rodriguez. Juan's better this year and is his usual bright spark around the press room, so why they still sent Heinrich to cover anything is beyond me. I don't recall having read his political or "diversity" writings, so I'll withhold further judgement.

This should not reflect on the rest of the Gazette's music and Jazz Fest team. Juan Rodriguez is one of the best music writers around with his wide range of expertise; Bernard Perusse and Irwin Block produce some great work throughout the year, and are fantastic people to trade concert impressions with; Adam Kinner is a buddy from my McGill days, a killing saxophonist, and an insightful writer; and Natasha Hall is a burst of energy in the press room, seemingly going to every show and dutifully reporting on them. I haven't yet met Jordan Zivitz or T'cha Dunlevy but I admire their work as well. Whether I agree or disagree with their reviews (and I tend to agree with most of them, most of the time) is beside the point -- all of them consistently back up their arguments and word them well. How Heinrich's piece slipped through the cracks is an egregious aberration that I sincerely hope the Gazette will not repeat again.

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