I have recently acquired two vintage issues of Down Beat magazine from August 13 and October 8, 1964. The ads, the fonts, the jargon... lovely stuff.
Reading through these issues I got a sense of the sign of the times back in the early 60's. Avant-garde and free jazz were taking swift advances at "old" jazz, and there was a folk / blues revival going on.
Jazz (and to a lesser extent, blues) criticism was also just as harsh as today (see my article Blues Purism vs. Evolution on one angle of it). There's also some great commentary, especially if you compare it to the present time.
I tried to get approval to transcribe a full article for you but with no reply. So for this, I'm going to post some of the things I have seen in these magazines that sort of give you the impressions that still resonate with jazz and blues today. Remember, this is stuff written 50 years ago!
"Who could be surprised that Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie beat all other trumpeters by a wide margin? Polls simply give established names a recognition they do not need."
"Most people haven't the faintest idea of the talent in their own towns. Why aren't they being covered?"
"It is foolish to call music you cannot understand "garbage" as it is to call it "genius". Jazz has evolved with one essential objective- to make clearer and more musically accessible the individualism of the performer."
"If the 'new thing' (ed: Free/Avant-Garde Jazz) musicians have really succeeded in blowing their own problems out of life, then they have every artistic reason to exist."
"There is a definite increase in interest of jazz records. We expect huge increase in sales going forward. People are more and more turning to jazz."
"Actually, I haven't seen anything spectacular yet. The coming year's jazz picture looks pretty dismal, as it's been for the last three or four years".
"It's people like John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor and others that jazz clubs are closing all over the country!"
"Is it good for the blues to change like this? I don't think so. Back in the day, that was the real blues. Everything now seems commercial."
"I think the blues, the old country-style blues, will die with the original players."