End of the year, end of the decade Musical Notes
As one decade tips into another it was irresistible to indulge in a favorite past-time: making lists. Here are a few relating to music:
My 10 Favorite Musical Moments of 2009
Emceeing at the Detroit Jazzfest – Meeting Jesse Palter was a pleasure, introducing Geri Allen was a thrill, but the funniest moment was bringing on a high school band at the festival. I called them “Up and comers…” only to hear a Beavis/Butthead voice somewhere behind me chuckle, “He said come…”; really, it was all I could do to keep a straight face.
Wayne Shorter Quartet wows an enormous crowd with 90 minutes of uninterrupted improv at the Detroit Jazzfest
Rodney Whitaker’s many roles at the Detroit Jazz Festival, from leading the MSU Big Band in accompanying Dee Dee Bridgewater to presenting an homage to Donald Byrd’s New Perspectives to playing with Christian McBride and John Clayton’s “Bottoms Up” bass spectacular to his own collaboration with Carl Allen and their hot CD “Work To Do”, Rodney was everywhere doing everything. Are we sure there’s only one of him?
The Roots & Parliament Funkadelic at Common Ground – probably the most jaw dropping fun I’ve ever had at a concert event. Sun Ra meets James Brown. Unbelievable.
organissimo battles Linda Dachtyl during an organ throw down at the Lansing Jazzfest.
Professors of Jazz play the Creole. Can we wish for this to continue to be an annual event? Is that possible?
Larry Cosentino on The Vinyl Side of Midnight. Going through our ‘best of’ lists. Great fun.
Hank Jones/Chick Corea opening night at the Detroit Jazzfest. Pianistic elegance and virtuosity side by side.
Pete Siers Quartet CD release party at Kerrytown Concert House – Pete brings in Pat Labarbera as a sax ringer to join the saxy front line + organ in an homage to the great Blue Note sound of the 60s.
Sophie Milman plays Wharton Center and Diego Rivera surprises as the Lester Young to her Billie Holiday. Music magic follows and the duo tour Russia.
My 5 Favorite Jazz Trends of the Aughts
The Creole Gallery – Robert Busby and Meegan Holland were the dynamic duo of the decade, making the Creole Gallery THE musical destination for jazz, folk, blues, etc. A perfect example of syngergy, they gave a gift of love to the community and presented Lansing with the coolest thing I’ve ever seen here. Wynton Marsalis, MSU Professors of Jazz, Cyrus Chestnut, organissimo, Mose Allison and many others carved out a chunk of wonder in night after night of fun and music.
Jazz Festivals Galore – Where did jazz go in the aughts? To the streets. Not just the Old Town Jazzfest but East Lansing’s Summer Solstice created a jazz bracket to the summer. Oh, and did I mention the Detroit Jazz Fest, rising from the ashes with the help of Gretchen Valades and wunderkind director Terri Pontremoli? The hottest festival in the world right now, trust me.
MSU – Rodney Whitaker sat across from me during his first appearance on The Vinyl Side of Midnight and said, “I want East Lansing to become a jazz mecca.” We may not be downtown New York, but for a midwestern city we have become a destination. Whitaker created a place that not just welcomed jazz stars like Derrick Gardner, Wycliffe Gordon and Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson to teach and play, but also saw the development of great jazz talent ala Diego Rivera (who became a Professor himself), Kris Johnson, Lynne Grunwald, Mike Sailor, Curtis Taylor and Ben Williams (who just won this year’s prestigious Thelonious Monk award!)
The Rise of the Independents – Just as the publishing and movie companies constricted access to the magic making machinery, so did the big recording companies nearly kill the goose. But, like movies, jazz players went indie, and then with the rise of smaller labels (that are quickly becoming big labels, like Origin, AUM, Mack Avenue and OA2 for instance) the tunes are bubbling forth like never before.
The Vinyl Side of Midnight – How could I not pick my own show as one of my favorite trends of the decade? I don’t know how long this show can last as WLNZ has switched to LCC Radio and a triple A format, but what a great decade this has been for jazz on the radio in Lansing!
My 10 Favorite CDs of the Aughts (not jazz!)
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black; Retro yet modern, Winehouse shakes out the ghosts of the Shirelles and Motown while crafting her own tragically sultry style. Let’s hope she pulls herself together for a long career, but it’s doubtful she’ll ever top this masterpiece.
Robert Plant & Alison Krause – Raising Sand; A little bit country, a little bit rock, mostly subdued and haunting. Who’d have guessed this pairing would work so well? T-Bone Burnett, for one.
M.I.A. – Arular – Imagine a cheerleader who leans towards revolution and is a beat maestro. Weird and very catchy.
LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soudsystem; Daft Punk IS playing at my house.
Justin Timberlake – Future/Sex/Lovesounds; Ready for the funk, mouseketeers?
Bjork – Medulla – All vocals. All sweet ear candy.
Toumani Diabate – Boulevard De L’Independance – The Sergeant Pepper’s of African music.
Hamsa Lila – Eh Mustapha; A nostalgic nugget for a very special night at the Creole Gallery.
Tribalistas – Tribalistas; The CS&N of Brazillian music. Heavy rotation in the car.
Wilco – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel; The country-alt band crafts The Great American Album.
(Honorable mentions: No Doubt – Rock Steady; Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise; The Neptunes – Present…Clones; Nelly – Nellyville; Missy Elliott – So Addictive; Outkast – Speakerboxxx)