Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nat Hentoff is Not Happy

Norman Lear, noted underwriter of People for the American Way and other extreme liberal groups, is the owner of Concord Records. According to his column in the Nov. Jazz Times, upon Concord’s purchase of Fantasy Records Nat Hentoff called Lear to make two points: “to urge Lear to keep the Fantasy catalog intact” and “to make sure that Terri Hinte—not only the publicist but also the very soul of Fantasy—be retained.”

I have never dealt with Hinte, but she is clearly well respected through out the industry, recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association with their “A Team Award.” Hentoff reports: “Terri had told executives at Concord of her selection for the A Team and on the eve of the awards ceremony, Terri Hinte was fired by Concord Records.” I have enormous respect for both music and book publicists. (Several have been very helpful to this site.) They truly have a difficult, often thankless job. It is a shame that such a passionate advocate for jazz was let go.

I also respect many of Concord’s releases, like the newly discovered Willie Bobo music they released as Lost and Found, which I reviewed thanks to their current publicity department. However, it does seem like the Fantasy reissue program has dramatically slowed since Concord’s acquisition, which is a shame. There is still much classic music in the Fantasy vaults, yet to have a digital life. So far, Lear’s reign over Fantasy has yielded decidedly mixed results.