2011 just blew by. For TBP, it was the year of the collaboration: we worked with Aaron Greenwald, Cristina Guadalupe, and Noah Hutton for On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at Duke University; Jim McNeely and the hr-Bigband for an evening of TBP rep in Germany; Joshua Redman was our star saxophonist on stage at the Blue Note and at Saalfelden; “The Badwagon” with Jason Moran, Tarus Mateen and Nasheet Waits sent out a message of anarchic beauty from the main stage at Celebrate Brooklyn. MMDG’s Violet Cavern came back, better than ever, for a run in Seattle.
There’s also a TBP album of new originals in the can: It’s definitely one of our best records, coming out fall 2012. And the Billy Hart quartet with Mark Turner, Ben Street and me recorded an album for ECM, All Our Reasons, due out early 2012.
In full research mode, I talked Buster Williams and Ben Riley into playing a couple of nights (boy, I sweated that one) and also tried out a little east coast tour with Corcoran Holt and Steve Williams. There were also delightful hits with the quartets of Sam Newsome and John McNeil. More from all of these new(ish) relationships in the future (I hope).
I was surprised when two virtuoso classical pianists, Anthony DeMare and Jenny Lin, simultaneously asked for arrangements of Sondheim (“Send In the Clowns”) and Bernstein (“Tonight"). Both rude deconstructions have been premiered and are scheduled to be recorded.
The three best original DTM posts were on Igor Stravinsky, Bud Powell, and Paul Motian, although perhaps I’m even more proud of the straightforward Mickey Rokey interview. Appearances by Lawrence Block and Branford Marsalis were also satisfying.
I turned “pro” by writing liner notes for the Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier, Jorge Rossy box and a Thelonious Monk solo DVD, These were important assignments I took seriously. With the trio I tried to bring Larry and Jorge to the fore; with Monk I watched over and over, more astonished each time.
You can hear some Monk in that version of “It’s Easy to Remember” with Larry and Paul I bootlegged for the Motian post. Astonishingly, Guillaume Hazebrouck of Frasques transcribed the piano part. His sardonic comment was, “Next time avoid playing sextuplets or quintuplets in low register.” Guillaume must have very good ears indeed.
There’s also some Monk in last year’s “Xmas Card,” a fragment I still like quite a bit. What can I say? Monk is my main man.
Speaking of burying music on blogs, both Kyle Gann and Matthew Guerrieri recently put up jazz-influenced bon-bons, a movement of Every Something Is an Echo of Nothing and "Overchoice Rag." The future awaits!
One of the best things about the blogosphere is how we can honor our fallen. When someone like Bob Brookmeyer died in the past, there was one or two short obits in major publications and that was it. Now, anyone knowledgeable has a platform to weigh in. I’ve seen several nice things about Brookmeyer so far and expect to see more. Jim McNeely will be the guest soloist on DTM at the top of 2012.
As we all know, jazz blogs (and jazz Twitter and jazz Facebook) enjoyed a fair amount of controversy this past year. Fortunately, only light jabs were landed. After all, no one wants to take it into the ring for real. Sarah Deming's Joe Frazier memorial suggests what that is actually like.
Added to the blogroll: Nicholas Payton and Angelika Beener. Early on at the old address I complained about the lack of black jazz bloggers. That hasn’t been true for several years now, thank god. As Stanley Crouch always says, Victory Is Assured.
And Willard Jenkins keeps holding it down at The Independent Ear. If you like DTM, make sure you broaden your horizons by going over there and checking it all out. The Walter Bishop Jr. poetry is just too much: I bow before it, simultaneously laughing and crying. Try No. 5, "Owed to Bird." Hell yeah.
Presumably this is old news to DTM readers, but just in case: I think that jazz needs to think about race. As cool as we all are in our postmodern society, there still is room to grow. A painless yet perspective-giving elixir is AFRICAN RHYTHMS - The Autobiography of Randy Weston; Composed by Randy Weston, Arranged by Willard Jenkins. If you still need a stocking stuffer for your jazz fan, get this book. (More accolades here.)
As for my own stocking, forget it. I have enough books and records for a lifetime already.
However, if you insist...I admit I'm patiently waiting for tapes of Weston and Ed Blackwell performing together in Africa to become commercially available.
Um, Willard? Can you expedite this, please?
Martin Porter is also added to the roll. He reviewed the recent Chick Corea/Herbie Hancock duo gig from a musician’s perspective. This is most helpful: now I have a pretty good idea of what went down. Sounds like it was better than that boring double LP from back in the day. (I’ve looked in vain for some blog review of the previous night of Chick Corea and Marcus Roberts, which a qualified authority told me was incredible.)
All this internet activity is great, but iMac is already our Big Brother. Let’s at least give it the silent treatment once in a while. Jeremy Denk offers some relevant thoughts.
My own little protest against every kind of entertainment becoming digital was shamelessly displayed in my Chicago hotel room.
I encourage everyone to have the same New Year’s resolutions that I always do: turn off the computer, go to more live shows.
See you in 2012.