And All That Jazz

Jazz aficionados in Baltimore, both budding and experienced, would do well to visit the website of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance from time to time, where a calendar of shows in the city and county is regularly updated. Also on the BJA site is their archive of monthly newsletters, each rife with Baltimore jazz goings-on, CD reviews, and reviews of live shows.

Mark Osteen, a professor of English at Loyola University, was one of the founding members of the BJA. From time to time, I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by him to write some live show reviews. (I wrote about native Baltimorean Antonio Hart in the Alliance’s May 2010 newsletter.) Most recently, for the December newsletter, I wrote about Naima Shamborguer, a jazz vocalist from Detroit whose latest album, ‘Round Midnight, was described by Mark Styker of the Detroit Free Press as “a magical collection of ballads.”

Shamborguer performed at the Eubie Blake Center on Howard Street earlier this month. If you’re so musically inclined, I urge you to pick up a copy of her latest album, in addition to reading the show review in the next BJA newsletter. Until that newsletter publishes–at which point I’ll link to the article in full–I’ve provided a short excerpt from my show review below:

Being a relative novice to the jazz world, I couldn’t identify many of the songs sung, though the selection was a mix of covers and Shamborguer originals played in a variety of styles: some Latin, some Samba, some straight-ahead swing, slowed down just enough so as to not overpower Shamborguer’s voice, as well as a few ballads sprinkled in. However, not knowing the tunes was a small handicap, as the real entertainment was being wrapped up in Shamborguer’s stage presence.

She possesses a warm and womanly voice, which holds a tinge of raspiness and is able to arrest listeners the instant it comes over the speakers. While sometimes pure singers can appear nervous or fidgety when the lyrics are done or during music breaks between verses and choruses, Shamborguer owned the stage, moving her body and bobbing her head in time with the rhythm section. A rendition of Phyllis Molinary’s “Here’s to Life” was particularly powerful, as Shamborguer was accompanied only by Willis’ piano strokes; her crooning, dark vocals carried the ballad along effortlessly, bringing to the song a feeling of hopeful melancholy that gave, quite literally, wonderful voice to Molinary’s lyrics.

Twitter Me This

The AP’s new Twitter “retweeting” policy gets one thing right and one thing wrong.

The new policy updates the guidelines set by AP in July, which said that reporters could retweet material from “AP-branded accounts.” Now, reporters retweeting material without making it abundantly clear that they’re not in agreement with the original tweet—especially if that tweet offers some sort of opinion—will presumably get in some sort of trouble. (For examples of how to retweet under the new AP policy, head to Mallory Jean Tenore’s post over at Poynter.) The one new element of this that everyone (read: people in comments boards) seems to be railing against is the placement of the “RT” in any retweet. (The AP suggests placing it before a staffer’s written material, and not before the “@[TwitterName].”) This is what’s wrong with the new policy—but insofar as shuffling the placement of the RT is anything wrong, it’s a minor gripe.

But what is revolutionary about the policy, in a weird, kowtowing to traditional authority type of way, is the fact that the AP is attempting to impose some type of editorial judgment—albeit self-judgment—on the content its reporters choose to retweet. And while there is an argument to be made for such a policy stifling the flow of information or preventing staffers from tweeting pertinent information effortlessly, I think those arguments are mostly theoretical attempts at finding some avenue through which a criticism of the AP’s new policy is valid. By asking its reporting staff on Twitter to make it plainly evident when they are retweeting someone else’s opinion as opposed to someone else’s news isn’t some sign of journalistic muzzling/bucking tweeting conventions/apocalyptic downfall of the Interwebs.* (And it sure as hell isn’t the AP saying that its reporters aren’t allowed to have opinions, as some have suggested.)

If anything, it’s simply pointing out to staff members that their actions as AP reporters have ramifications that reflect both upon themselves and the organization, which is trying to be a credible news organization each day. Approaching social media with a level of decorum, both in speech and how you’re disseminating information, is a logical extension of that.

*I’m well aware that my own Twitter page says that retweets are not endorsements, with a “Duh” appended. (These damn kids!) There’s an entire argument to be had about whether retweets on Twitter constitute endorsements (some would say no, which would make any disclaimer such as my own completely pointless; but some journalists seem to think that retweets do constitute endorsements.) The argument here is whether the AP’s new policy is really stifling its reporters. I’m sure no AP staffers will get in trouble for retweeting that the Eagles are the best team in the NFL, for instance.