Editor’s Note: Jazzing It Up

Craig OuthierSeptember 1, 2023
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One of my favorite nuggets of figurative language is the phrase “playing jazz.” I say it all the time – to tremendously tiresome effect, I’m sure my friends and colleagues would agree. It means to improvise or brainstorm, but in an artful and directed way, and you can use it in a variety of scenarios.

Maybe you see a friend whipping up a complicated, multi-ingredient dish without a cookbook. Random dashes of cumin and so forth.

“Hey, Jack, what are you cooking there?”

“Oh, nothing, Jill. Just playing jazz.”

Where your September/October issue of PHOENIX is concerned, we definitely played a little jazz. And least with the cover.

Since the issue includes our second annual Top Lawyers list, we originally conceived a cover story with a true-crime angle. That story turned out to be Dawson Fearnow’s Incognito, Inc. history feature about the federal witness protection program in Arizona, and it’s terrific.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

“Just for kicks, we asked art director Mirelle Inglefield to rustle up a few cover-worthy images as she shot and designed it, so we could pit the two stories… against each other.”

At the same time, it had been a few cycles since we did a nice, fat food package, so managing editor Leah LeMoine embarked on Foodie Bucket List, a roundup of remote, expensive or otherwise singular Arizona dining experiences to try, as they say, before you die. Just for kicks, we asked art director Mirelle Inglefield to rustle up a few cover-worthy images as she shot and designed it, so we could pit the two stories – turncoat gangsters and prix fixe cuisine – against each other.

We even considered the remote possibility of using one of the images from our late-summer/early-fall travel feature on the cover. Just to play the jazz even harder, you might say.

In the end, when we stepped back and took in all the prospective covers on the wall, it wasn’t much of a contest. When will Sammy the Bull ever make a more appealing image than a morsel of perfectly lit haute cuisine shot on designer china? Not in this case, certainly. Which is why you’ll find chef Christopher Gross’ bewitching foie in wild mushroom soup from Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion gracing the cover, and not an exploding truck.

Jazz isn’t always worth preserving for posterity, but sometimes.

– Craig Outhier