In the Fall 2014 issue of Jazziz I came across this piece on saxophonist Mindi Abair:
“Sax Education.” Ugh, as a saxophonist I’ve been hearing the sex/sax pun since I was about 10 years old. And let me tell you, it never gets old. Wait, that’s not true, it got old about 10th grade. Unless you are a 12 year old boy this is not funny. And it’s not clever – far from it in fact. Pretty lazy and unimaginative stuff indeed. Musicians and their audiences deserve better than this.
And then there’s the picture. I’m not going to dwell on this too much because I hit the topic of the sexualization of female jazz musicians somewhat regularly. But, please allow a quick take. I can imagine the photo shoot went something like this: “Now Mindi, we think it would be great if you stripped down to what you wear to bed. . . . Ok, great. Now see those stacks of records in the floor? Go lie down, rest your head on one of them, and look longingly into some record. It doesn’t matter which one. Awesome, love it, perfect.”
First, I don’t know anybody who cares about their records who would have them thrown around all over the floor. It’s hard to see in my photo, but there are 45s and LPs out of their sleeves, lying on the floor or mixed in one of the stacks, overlapping each other. They are just begging to get scratched. There better not have been any good records in there. (The only one I can identify is Cannonball’s Live in New York, which is burning, btw.) And anybody who has seen High Fidelity will know that you don’t stack your records, unless you want to warp them. What crap.
Second, it looks like Abair is in her underwear. And with the lights down low it’s as if the photographer is inviting the reader into her bedroom. That’s all.
It seems as if some of the editors and/or writers of Jazziz have the maturity of a middle school boy, think their readers do, or both, which is unfortunate. Now, please don’t take my comments to mean I dismiss everything in the magazine. And even though I’m not the magazine’s target audience (my taste rarely lines up with the music they cover), there is quality writing by some of the best jazz journalists around – Shaun Brady immediately comes to mind. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t the occasional troubling or annoying moments.
I will now leave you with a picture of the headline of short piece on Sergio Mendes from the same issue, which I think drives home some of my points. Really?