So it’s that season when all the ‘Best of the Year’ lists come out, which to me might as well be titled “Look at all the awesome things you didn’t see this year, how did you miss this?” lists. I feel like I’ll begin 2015 with a lot of things to catch up on…but I did enjoy enough to share some highlights with you. Without further ado, a smattering of my favorite things heard and seen in 2014 that I think you might enjoy:
New Album: Rene Marie, “I Wanna Be Evil”
There are occasionally records that are so good, they almost make me despair. She’s an incredible singer of power, soul and intelligence, and KILLS the songbook of Eartha Kitt like you’ve never heard before. The arrangements are so exciting and the band is beyond swinging….forget about it, I can’t even.
(Old) Album: Buika “Mi Niña Lola”
I was totally unaware of this singer before Alan Silverman, the man who mastered my soon-to-be-released album, introduced me to her work (he also mastered many of her albums). She’s an international star and her sound is absolutely unforgettable (here’s one of my favorite tracks from this album). I’ve been absorbing this music ever since first listen.
Club (new): Mezzrow NYC
Spike Wilner’s second club (first being Smalls) is even more intimate and cozy than his first. He features duo groups, usually bass and piano – the sound is great, the atmosphere feels like a perfect hideaway, the artists are always top-notch, service excellent and their wine selection lovely – if there’s anything else that makes a perfect club I can’t think of it.
Book(s): “‘Round About Midnight”, “Ascension” Eric Nisenson
These aren’t new books this year, but they were new to me – Eric Nisenson writes about two jazz greats in these books (Coltrane and Davis, respectively) in a way that’s engaging, personal, and not a slave to the conventions of biography. If you’re interested in the journey these men made as artists (and not just an exhaustive catalog of record dates and minutia) I can’t recommend these books enough.
NPR’s Jazz Night in America:
This concert series streamed to the web is bringing live jazz to people who may not be able to otherwise experience it (be it because they live in Tulsa or just don’t want to leave their apartment), and shares the magic that is live improvisation in a way records never can. Tune in on a Wednesday night from wherever you are and watch music as it happens.
I liked this one so much I blogged about it – this film was a ride of inspiration and psychological terror, all set to viscerally played and shot big band jazz. Whew! (It’s still in theaters.)
And I’ll stop there, though of course the list could go on… What’s a favorite thing from your year, new or old? I’d love to know anything you’d like to share as a highlight: be it literary, musical, theatrical or beyond….let us know what to add to our catch-up lists!