Jan 2 2015
I always forget what a massive effort it is to compile these Best Of lists. I go into them thinking, hey, this’ll be fun, talking about the best of the best music, and since I’m just writing up opinion-y synopses for each, it’ll be simple. I can just coast through December. And then by the end of December, I’m lucky to have the will to string together more than a couple sentences. I love doing the whole Best Of thing, but I’m also glad when it’s over.
I forget stuff. Like last year, I forgot to schedule my Label of the Year, Best of Reissues/Archival, my Favorite Non-Jazz by Jazz Artists column, and my Best of Previous Years Revisited. I meant all of those to precede my Best of 2014 reveals, but, yet again, forgot. I’ll be posting them sometime in January. The drafts are pretty well done, but I’m going to take some time to finish putting them together. Don’t be surprised if you see a bunch of These Are Videos That I Like posts over the next week or two.
I was caught off guard by how many albums appearing on my Best of 2014 list hadn’t been written up on my site by the end of November. It’s not unusual for there to be a couple. I believe I had about three each in 2012 and 2013, maybe four each. This year, I was lucky to have enough open slots to finish writing everything up before the Best of 2014 reveals began. And even then, I still have two that had to fall into January 2015 (Diego Barber and The Westerlies). On some of the boards I frequent, there’s been talk of 2014 being a down-year in Jazz. I no longer think that’s the case. What I think typifies 2014 in Jazz is that the best music of the year is some of the more complicated albums… and not just in terms of their technical complexity, but also by their way of challenging what we consider Jazz.
One of the challenges I have as a writer about this music is providing some sort of context. It doesn’t have to be much, but I think it helps to provide a sort of positioning reference, like a genre-GPS, of how a particular album fits in the overall landscape. That’s difficult to do when there’s a massive sea between that landscape and the album I’m writing about. That means I need to spend more time listening to the album and that writing about it will be that much more difficult. I believe it’s why I had to race to get as many write-ups completed in December, and I believe it’s the quality that most signifies the best jazz in 2014… The Year in Challenging Music.
So, some of 2014 will bleed into 2015…
Coming up in January are lengthy write-ups of albums by The Westerlies and Diego Barber. The Barber one is almost finished, though I need to email him some interview questions. I’ve received answers to my Westerlies questions, but I still (still) haven’t yet figured out how to present everything I’ve written. But they will be going up in January. That’s for sure.
I’ll also be putting up columns of Label of the Year, Best Reissues/Archival, my Favorite Non-Jazz albums by Jazz Artists, and a Best of 2013 (revisited) column. The rest of the January slots will be taken up by albums that I never got around to writing about from earlier in 2014 (like Jason Moran’s Fats Waller project), and also some albums that popped up at the end of 2014.
I’m not sure when I’ll begin the weekly recommendations column again. In previous years, it would start showing up on eMusic/Wondering Sound around mid-January. I’m tentatively planning on starting back up on January 14th, but I’m giving myself the out of doing an abbreviated one that week and starting back in for real on the 21st. No news yet on a permanent home for the weekly recommendations column or whether I’ll go to a subscription service. The next couple of weeks will see me formulating plans and approaches for that. But for the time being, it’ll be hosted here on this site.
What’s ahead for 2015…
Diverging dramatically from past year predictions, I don’t have any real big plans for 2015. I plan to write short-and-sweet recommendations of albums. In some instances, I intend to take advantage of my brevity to include past albums from the same artist who has a new release out. I have a few long form pieces that I’m working on, but there’s no ETA on those. Other than that, mostly what you saw in October & November of 2014 is what you’ll see going forward.
I think “steady as she goes” will be my watchword(s) for the first half of 2015. After that, well, we’ll pretty much just have to see how everything shakes out.
I’d like to end by expressing, again, how much I appreciate each of you for stopping by and checking out the site. I really hope you’re all finding cool new music and having fun doing it.
Let’s end with a video for the Bird is the Worm 2014 Album of the Year, Fire! Orchestra. It begins with an interview of Mats Gustafsson and then leads into a live performance of Part I of the album, Enter.
Here’s hoping for a very happy 2015 for all of us.