Wednesday January 02, 2013
Jazz 2012: A Year in Review
By: Dan Lothringer
Best Touring Performance: Joan Jonas and Jason Moran
One of the most exciting performance all year hands-down was “The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things,” a collaboration between venerable performance artist Joan Jonas and talented young jazz pianist Jason Moran. You can read more about it here, but suffice it to say that the 90-minute piece proved that jazz is still a vibrant part of our artistic landscape in 2012.
Best New Release: Made Possible by the Bad Plus
This year didn’t have too many high-profile releases, but that’s not to say there was a shortage of great jazz. Established stars like Ravi Coltrane, Kenny Garrett, Jeremy Pelt, and Esperanza Spalding all released albums in 2012, but one of the most exciting new record had to be Made Possible by piano-bass-drums trio the Bad Plus. Building on the lyricism they’d established with their previous album Never Stop, pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King expand their palette to include electronic drum beats and synthesized sounds – which, combined with their leaderless, free-flowing improvisational style, makes for pretty bracing stuff. Anyone who thinks jazz is a museum piece should pick up a copy – as should everyone who already knows better.
Honorable Mention: Tenor saxophonist Houston Person has never been an innovator in the mold of a Rollins or a Coltrane, but the former bandleader for icons like Etta James and Lena Horne has aged gracefully and now serves as an elder statesman for an elegant, sophisticated style of swing jazz that doesn’t really go out of style. His latest release, Naturally, features an all-star lineup in Cedar Walton, Ray Drummond, and Lewis Nash (as well as the hand of legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder), and is well worth the listen.
To read more, click here.