Jan 1 2014
So, here we are. End of another year, and this site’s second full year of operation. I opened the doors in December of 2011, just in time to put together some hastily constructed Best of 2011 synopses while trying to get a handle on what I was doing. Having just completed the 2013 rendition of that process, I’m getting better at it, but still trying to get a handle on what the hell I’m doing.
So, what’s been going on for the last year?
As I tell you about it, here’s some music to listen to.
Yes, yes, yes, I had many plans for 2013, many which never came to fruition. That was to be expected, as my time and energy are scarce, and my dreams and goals are vast and unending. I had intended to do more interview-type stuff, but have come to the conclusion that, one, I’m not very good at it, and two, they are seriously time-intensive. I have a new-found respect for people who conduct interviews, and I can understand why one-person operations like mine who focus on interviews, that’s pretty much all they do.
I’ve kind of given up on having different review themes. Things like Something Different and Beyond Jazz and The Safety Net and Know Your Sideman (etc etc etc) are all good ideas, and I’ll still throw those out there from time to time, but mostly, I’m going to be scrapping those sub-series and just write what I want to write. If I want to do an older album, you’ll know it from my lead paragraph. If it’s really not a jazz album (or Something Different), the review will make that apparent. If I write a column that covers a majority of an artist’s output, well, that’s kind of an Artist Overview, isn’t it? I guess the themes aren’t going away so much as I’m not going to use them in the column titles. I think. (At this point, you’re remembering, quite vividly, how rambling these annual columns are).
Now, that said, I do plan on having some wildcard columns. There’s an upcoming column that just has examples of modern jazz covers of Radiohead and Bjork tunes. No real reason that I’m doing it; just seemed fun at the time. I’m going to do some quick hits on certain labels, highlight some of their recent releases, especially if I’m filled with regret that they didn’t get more coverage on my site (Constellation Records, I’m looking at you). I think I would like to start offering a monthly free track sampler. If you have an album track from a recent release that you’re already giving away as a promotional device, shoot me an email and we can talk about what’s involved.
The whole Tiny Reviews thing pretty much dropped off the map the second half of 2013. I feel like that was a trademark of my site, and I do still like the idea of publishing a Tiny Reviews column every Saturday… the first three editions having about 5-6 tiny reviews, and then the fourth edition of each month having one featured tiny review and then a long list of very tiny reviews… just a sentence, a mini-album cover image, and maybe one or two links. The problem with all of that is the amount of time those things take.
Back when I first started out, they were pretty sparse in terms of links, text, personnel, etc, but as I try to offer more with each, the whole process has become a bit cumbersome. This is probably the change that would personally bother me the most, just because I attach my site’s identity to the Tiny Reviews series sufficiently that I get all wrapped up in nostalgia about it. Thinking I might just return to my old standard of just copying exactly what I wrote for my eMusic synopsis and not much else. We’ll see. I want very badly to get the spotlight on as much deserving music as I possibly can, and those Tiny Reviews columns give me the opportunity to do that, just a little bit, for albums I wouldn’t otherwise have the time to touch upon.
What else, what else, what else? I am intending (yet again) to attempt to begin throwing jazz shows, here, in my new hometown of Frankfort, KY. I think I’ve got a good plan in place on how to go about it; don’t know if that plan will ever get any legs under it, but we’ll see.
What’s kinds of things should you expect to see on Bird is the Worm in 2014?
I want to illustrate the connectivity of the music I feature here. If you’re a frequent reader of this site, you’ve been given list after list of quality albums and musicians. That won’t change. But I plan to provide more context for you now, too. You’ve already begun seeing some of that at the bottom of reviews, with a Other Things You Should Know sub-section. I also have pubbed a couple Two-Fer articles (ie Two (albums) for a Rainy Day, that kind of thing). I want to trace some lines, whenever possible, from the album you just read about to other albums and musicians and projects out there… those you’ve read about previously and those of which you may be unaware, so that you can see how all this music ties in together.
The internet has provided more artists more avenues to get their music out there. Traditional methods of discovering music have fallen to the side of the road. How everything fits together has become more difficult to ascertain. I want to provide some of that guidance. Patterns are there, just not immediately visible. If I review an obscure album, I’m going to show why it isn’t all alone on an island, and how to get to other, similar albums.
There will be more Things You Should Think About Doing articles (or whatever the hell I’m calling those advice columns). There’s one coming up very soon, in fact, which will focus upon the relevant topic of digital promos and pitching reviews.
I think 2013 was a very strong year of releases. I feel like I’m seeing a bunch of comments out there on social media and forums stating that it was a down year for Jazz. I don’t think that true, and I’m not sure if those same comments were being made at the end of 2012 (and at the end of every year). The Best of 2013 has a different persona than that of 2012’s. The transitory nature of collective creativity, the way various scenes play out both collaboratively and in isolation, yes, there’s going to be general differences that reveal themselves as loose trends.
The Best of 2012 was a collective of approachable melodies, some having defined shapes, others more ephemeral but easily distinguished for their melodic beauty. The Best of 2013 seemed to represent a year of textured percussion as the ground upon which songs set their feet, the building blocks of the albums, and the melodies simply organisms that lived within its confines. Perhaps no better example of this generalization than the #9 album of 2013… John Zorn’s The Mysteries. I believe I described the rhythmic approach as the sea in which the darting shapes of melody flash by, drawing the eye momentarily, before disappearing beneath the surface.
2013 may seem like a down year only because the music was more difficult to catch up to, slipping away out of reach, until, years from now, our pursuit ends and we occupy the same spot as the music itself. 2013: The Year of the Glimpsed Melody. That might not be true, but if it is, you know who coined it first.
It was no less fun, nor any less difficult, picking out the Top 30 of 2013 than it was previous years. There’s an amazing array of quality music being released these days, and I’m happy to help draw attention to it.
Okay, I think that’s all I got. Scarily, I think I’m forgetting several topics I meant to touch upon here, but I believe holiday fatigue has finally crushed me, and my recall, shaky under the best of conditions, is not up to snuff.
I want to thank everyone who stops by, who reads and listens and goes out and purchases all of the great music that gets featured here. Thanks to all of the musicians for all the wonderful music you gift to the world. Thanks to all my fellow reviewers and site operators and promoters and labels and label reps and everyone who helps keep the operation running and the lines of communication open. Thanks to eMusic, and my editor J. Edward Keyes for the eMusic gig. Thanks to my wife, Katie, who is a big help and a caring person and a huge supporter of my writing endeavors.
I hope everyone has a great end to 2013, and I hope all you have a great start to the new year.