The latest issue of the bimonthly arts magazine Stop Smiling, dedicated entirely to jazz, is a veritable odyssey through space and time, bringing the reader from New York City’s 52nd Street to Storyville, New Orleans; cruising through the Roaring ’20s to the New Millennium; each leg of the journey accompanied by Nina Simone’s volatile tenor and the wailing trumpet of Miles Davis.
The magazine exhorts us to “start appreciating America’s greatest art form.” And it’s hard not to when grazing through the sections dedicated to classic jazz cover art, a famous 60-year-old vibraphonist with a death-defying passion for speedboats, and the top five jazz discs worth pilfering from author John Corbett’s album collection. The issue can be nostalgia-inducing, even to the casual fan. There are interviews with jazz luminaries from bygone eras–Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis–and a section dedicated to Eric Dolphy where musicians and historians pay homage to the extraordinary reedman. But more than anything, the issue is a testament to jazz’s place not only as an influential historical artifact, but as a still-thriving form of music in its own right.