It's list-making season up north, too.
It's list-making season up north, too.
So the whole top 10 albums of the year exercise is fun and all. But you can only absorb so many of those lists before you start to crave more substantive, big-picture analysis of the year in music at large. You know, the kind of intelligent writing which starts from trenchant observations of trends, then expands and unpacks them for their greater meaning in society at large.
This is not that posting.
This is, however, a list of lists recapping some of the things that did happen in the jazz world in 2010, from sublime to superficial. (Here's the 2009 edition for reference.) For those who prefer that their raw data be in list form, and probably incomplete, and not necessarily true, have I got the thing for you:
I'm quite familiar with the part of Wisconsin where Ethan Iverson is from, and it's practically Canada
What, is there nothing better to do up there in the winters?
Top Press Blast E-Mails From John McNeil (excerpts)
For Jan. 20: "Wednesday, January 20th, marks the first anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration. To celebrate, every time a tune is called, the lone conservative band member will insist that the rest of the band debate the tune's merits and vote on whether to play it or not. If the answer is yes, that same member will then threaten to play scales up and down continuously unless the key of the tune is changed to B-flat. With any luck, at least one tune per set will actually get played."
For Feb. 3: "Wednesday, February 3rd, is the birthday of Dr. Henry Heimlich, the physician who discovered the Heimlich Maneuver. If not for this man, the walls of American restaurants would be bereft of entertaining, vaguely homoerotic illustrations. To celebrate Dr. Henry's work, one member of the John McNeil Quartet will periodically stop playing creatively and begin spewing clichés and data. Another band member will then wrap his arms around the offending player and drive a fist into his abdomen until he once again starts playing some ideas."
For March 10: "This Wednesday is also the 134th anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell's first successful telephone call. The guy that answered told Bell that they weren't booking for July yet, and he should just send a MySpace link."
For June 5: "This Saturday, as the McNeil/McHenry band is playing Cornelia Street, they will be saying goodbye to Poul Weis, the longtime booker of the club and the person most responsible for the consistent music policy there. Poul is returning to Denmark very soon, perhaps to draw cartoons of you-know-who, perhaps not. Maybe he'll just play his trumpet as the lord Odin intended. At any rate, he will be missed by the musicians. For one thing, he's one of those people that is always calm, no matter what. In fact, John & Bill once set him on fire just to see what would happen. Sure enough, he methodically extinguished himself and called an ambulance ... some screaming, sure, but not so much as you'd think."
For Aug. 25: "August 25th is an auspicious day, especially in the area of philosophy. On this day, the Scottish philosopher David Hume passed away, but since no one actually witnessed his death, there's no proof that it happened. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche also died on the 25th, just days before having his name officially changed to KAL-EL."
For Oct. 28: "October 28th is Bill Gates' birthday. To pay tribute to this giant of the tech industry, the band will periodically stop playing in the middle of a tune for no apparent reason, and then will have trouble starting the next tune. The audience will also be prevented from going to any other jazz clubs or listening to any other music whatsoever."
For Dec. 23 (Holiday tunes): "An entirely new concept — playing jazz versions of, like, Xmas carols or seasonal tunes. Since it's never been done before — by anyone — this could be an historic event. You can tell your grandchildren, 'I was there when they first played 'We Three Kings' as a modal jazz waltz.' They probably won't believe it and will just say, 'Sure, Grandpa — that's great,' as they reach over and wipe the oatmeal off your chin, but yule know (sorry)."
The Year In Solo Piano Recordings, In No Particular Order (what else am I missing?)
The Year In Other Solo Recordings (again, do inform if there are more)
Charlie Hunter, guitar
Eric Hofbauer, guitar
Marc Ribot, guitar
Boris Kozlov, bass
Jason Roebke, bass
Sam Newsome, soprano sax
Jason Robinson, saxophones
Jason Stein, bass clarinet
Theo Bleckmann, voice and toys
Newman Taylor Baker, drums
Dave King, drums and piano
The Year In Esperanza Spalding
Pay tribute to Prince on BET, then open for his tour
Release third album
Tour with string ensemble and theatrical stage show
Sept. 19 (Regarding a post on Gerald Wilson): "Thank you! Thank you! You finally brought a true Jazz giant ... That is Jazz and not some pale plagiarism wanting to glorify itself with the mantle of the great American classical music called Jazz. Thank you again."
Aug. 15 (Regarding Esperanza Spalding): "You are pushing again this pretty face Esperanza again as a Jazz singer. Maybe she can do it but what she sing ain't Jazz. Someone is probably paying you under the table to pus her as a Jazz singer. Do you mind telling us who it is? Why are you bent on destroying the classical music of America with watered-down something else?"
Aug. 11 (Regarding Amina Figarova and all of the Newport Jazz Festival recordings): "Well I listened to all of them. I don't think you want to read what I have to say but anyway, here it is. All of them have the technic if by chance sometimes in the future they decide to play Jazz. As it is the test is simple. I do not fell the uncontrollable need to buy any of this so called Jazz."
July 31: "You have lost already because for example some Yahoo in NPR is the guru of what is Jazz and includes all kind of noise as Jazz. We all let define Jazz down diluting a very precious art form into a Russian salad into nothing. It is sickening!"
June 20: "Who is making those selections for Jazz notes [the Jazz Notes newsletter] that should really be renamed Jazz not!"
May 30: "My first Miles album was Sketches of Spain. This is the album that made me a Jazz fanatic. My last album was Witches Brew where Miles abandoned Jazz and went into kids noise. I was longing to see Miles live. For a long time he did not perform because of health. He finally came to L.A to play at The Roxy when his The Man with the Golden horn came out. I non-longer wanted to see him live as a rock star dress like a carnival clown. Instead I put on the turn table Sketches of Spain and then Circle in the Round to calm me down. Miles had gone all the way following Donald Bird's definition of good music: Music that sell is good music. I still mourn the pure Miles Davis to this day."
Three Terrific Trios Turn Ten
The Bad Plus
Jason Moran and the Bandwagon
Lionel Loueke Trio aka Gilfema
Brothers/Sisters From Other Mothers
The Bad Plus, a power-jazz piano trio with a song called "The Radio Tower Has A Beating Heart," and The Neil Cowley Trio, a power-jazz piano trio with a song (and album) called "Radio Silence"
Ben Williams, bassist who seems to be playing with everybody who people talk about; and Jamire Williams, drummer who also seems to be playing with everybody who people talk about (both are also in Jacky Terrasson's new trio, and recorded debut albums this year)
Vocalists Christine Correa and Sara Serpa, separate from each other in age by decades, but united by both releasing spare, weird-in-a-good-way duet albums with pianist Ran Blake a la his record with Jeanne Lee
Steve Lehman and Bunky Green, inside-out alto saxophonists who have both co-led quintet records with fellow altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa which include Damion Reid on drums
Jazz On Television Or Film
Treme, even though it wasn't nearly all jazz
Everything else combined
Local Delicacies Sampled In And Around New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Fest
Soft shell crab po-boy
Cochon de lait po-boy
Vietnamese spring rolls
Fried oyster and fried shrimp po-boy
Red beans and rice
Barq's root beer (glass bottle)
Mandarin orange iced tea
Zapp's potato chips (Cajun crawtator)
Hubig's pie (apple)
Absolute Jazz Legends I Saw At Bohemian Caverns, A Club Of Around 100 Seats And Washington, D.C.'s Best, This Year
Jazz/Improv Tiny Desk Concerts This Year (chronologically)