Friday, January 3, 2014

Ring in the new year with the best jazz of last year!

Happy New Year! We at AccuJazz genuinely hope your 2013 was a good one, and that you're optimistic for an even better 2014. No matter what you did to ring in the new year (your AccuJazz program director/occasional blogger celebrated by playing a gig with these guys, opening for this guy -- it was fun), we suggest starting off 2014 on the right foot by listening back to the best jazz of 2013. We at AccuJazz are here to help, with our Best Jazz of 2013 channel. The channel's programming is based on the results of Francis Davis' definitive jazz critics poll, which was hosted this year by NPR Music.

This annual poll, which used to be hosted by the Village Voice, tends to be topped either by elder statesmen or Vijay Iyer. Going along with that tradition, greatest-living-jazz-composer Wayne Shorter won this year's honors with Without a Net, a live document of his long-running quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist Jon Pattitucci and drummer Brian Blade. You could call them an "event band": any time they get together to play a concert, headline a jazz festival, or, ever-so-rarely, put out a recording, it's an event, and every ear in the jazz world turns to listen. Without a Net seems to have lived up to the hype for most jazz critics, though many, including Davis, weren't quite won over.

Besides Shorter, many other critics' favorites are present, Craig Taborn, Steve Coleman, Tim Berne and Dave Douglas among them. Newer names also made impressive showings: young singer Cecile McLorin Salvant came in at #4 with her disciplined-but-thrilling WomanChild, and drummer Jaimeo Brown's debut album, Transcendence, won the 27th spot. You can check out the complete results of the poll here and read Davis' analysis here. The AccuJazz channel is playing most of the albums on the list, with programming determined by placement on the list -- i.e., you are more likely to hear Shorter than Mostly Other People Do the Killing, whose loud and fun Slippery Rock! placed 46th.

Happy listening, and watch out for my own list and channel soon. I like to be fashionably late to these things.