- Sun-Times Media
- Neil Tesser in 1985
When I read online that jazz critic Neil Tesser had just received a lifetime achievement award I posted the comment that he’s young enough to win it again if he keeps busy. Then I thought twice and asked Tesser his age: 63, he said—so maybe not. (Time flies.) “These days, I suppose a lifetime in journalism (let alone JAZZ journalism) is an achievement by itself,” Tesser e-mailed me when I asked him to comment. “And yes, there is something to the word ‘lifetime’ that sort of changes the conversation. But considering the fact that I’m still breathing, still listening, and still have some thoughts I think worth sharing, I think I’ll soldier on.”
The honor comes from the Jazz Journalists Association, on whose board Tesser sits, and is not the first major kudo to rain down on him in his dotage: last year he won a Grammy for his liner notes to the expanded reissue of the late John Coltrane’s Afro Blue Impressions.
Tesser’s award puts him in interesting company—Nat Hentoff and Amira Baraka are among the 16 writers whose achievements were feted before his own—and a lot of the criticism that earned it for him appeared originally in the Reader. His non-Reader work includes The Playboy Guide to Jazz.