main: December 2009 Archives
Chicago Trib cultural critic Julia Keller decries year-end "best of" lists for their "chilly, retrospective nature,"for their by-definition 12-month perspectives trumping spontaneous enthusiasm, and for their reinforcement of consensus. Nonsense. Here are three opportunities to see what jazz critics are recommending as 2009's hot recordings, and there's some consistency, but most of the choices are highly individualistic and certainly reflect musical currents of right now --
Mossa Bildner, an indefatigable vocalist and performance artist, is the subject of today's "The Neediest Cases" column in the New York Times, because having suffered as a freelancer from the economic downturn, she's been facing eviction. "This could happen to anybody," she told the newspaper, and though asking for help "was a strange position to find myself in . . I didn't feel ashamed."
At age 50, Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue has been officially and unanimously hailed by the US House of Representatives. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) sponsored H.Res 894, which on Tuesday passed 409 to 0, recognizing the "unique contribution" of the 37-minutes of modal improvisation trumpeter Davis and his stellar sextet recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959. The honor is richly deserved, and if you have to ask why, spend some quality time with the music. To learn more about it, I recommend Ashley Kahn's well-researched book of "the making of Miles Davis' masterpiece."
Larry Ochs' Sax & Drumming Core may not be al gusto for everyone, but should Spain's Civil Guard decide whether it plays "jazz"? At the Sigüenza Jazz Festival a disgruntled purist demanded his ticket money back claiming he was subjected to "contemporary music" rather than jazz fitting his definition; pistol-packing cops backed him up (which makes me wonder what they thought of last week's concert by Digital Primitives). Read the Guardian account here.
Eric Dolphy solos beautifully then uses his bass clarinet for the ensemble line of bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus "Meditations on Integration" in this 1964 clip, which warms my dank, chill afternoon in Brooklyn.