I think it’s about time to put to rest the matter of New York Times critic Ben Ratliff’s predicting the quality of a concert that hadn’t happened (Rifftides, June 15.) But not quite. The Portland, Oregon, writer Jack Berry offered us this thought:
The Ratliff flap is sad. But it’s not so much the need to be “edgy,” which some observers suggest is the Times‘ new obsession. Pop culture is all about the next thing. If it’s been done, it’s done. Jazz is classical music (for better and worse). Writers about classical music are supposed to check in and see what the primary performers are doing. And, in doing that, you can be “edgy.” It’s appropriate to drop music that has no shelf life and that’s where Ratliff should be working. Ah, when Mozart was pop, when jazz was pop….
Berry is writing a biography of the tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper.