Friday, December 12, 2008

Jazz 08 Part Two: Superlatives!

Chances are you read my end-of-the-year essay on the state of jazz (I pronounced it alive and well, albeit in a sub-cultural way) and said to yourselves, "damn, what insight," but I'm glad to see that someone disagrees with me on Sonny Rollins. I have heard from numerous (occasionally reliable, but mostly drunken) sources that Sonny is as great as ever live. I heard his new record (review forthcoming), and I suppose it's good; there just isn't anything new or ground-breaking about it, especially in a year in which Marian McPartland plays free jazz and Lee Konitz releases albums with teenage wunderkinds. I also saw him live a year or so ago at Lincoln Center and was dully unimpressed; granted, word on the street is that Sonny has on nights and off nights going back to the fifties. Either way, the point of this post is not to argue about Sonny Rollins' relevance to the jazz world right now, but to name some superlatives as a companion piece to my top ten, which will make it to this site in the near future.

Biggest Upset: Jon Irabagon's surprising (yet well deserved) win at this year's Monk Competition

Craziest Saxophone Solo: Greg Tardy's absurdly funky, out choruses on Bill Frisell's version of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."

Most Likely to Cut An Idol: Rudresh Mahanthappa; just check out the fours he trades with Kadri Gopalnath on the title track of "Kinsmen."

Best Straight Bluegrass Record from A Jazz Musician: Charlie Haden's "Rambling Boy"

Most Meteoric Rise: This one's a tie. Esperanza Spalding, who was pretty much unknown outside of dorky jazz circles last year, released a hit record and was named Rising Star Bassist of the Year in Downbeat. Mathias Eick, who has played on every Norwegian record with a trumpet in the past few years, gained international acclaim at the final IAJE Conferencer ever and released one of the best albums of the year with "The Door."

Hippest Singer You've Probably Never Heard of: Becca Stevens

Jazz' Most Beloved Indie Pop Duo: The Bird and the Bee

Jazz' Most Beloved Bluegrass Duo: Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer

Movement to Gain Most Steam: Rural Jazz

Least Likely to Release an Album for Another Ten Years: Brian Blade

Most Predictable Yearly Downbeat Poll: This is a tough one. Most years this category would wind up being a tie between Downbeat's annual Critic's Poll and Downbeat's annual Readers' Poll, but I suppose the edge this year goes to the readers, who were so predictable that I wish I had done a "guess the Readers' Poll" feature.

No comments: