[This was apparently for the LA Weekly--hence the royal we, which was a Brick's Picks schtick--for an end of year issue. Seems I never submitted it, however. I never did like retrospectives. Stubborn.]
Listening to Trane‘s My Favorite Things, and figured it was time to come up with a favorite things list ourselves. So here’s a bunch of things we really dug, jazz-wise (more or less) in 2010. In no particular order…we always hated ten best things lists, like why ten? Why is everyone so stuck on tens of things? Did Babylonians write their six favorite things? Do the Piraha* have no favorite things at all? When it come to favorite things why can’t we like nine or eleven or two hundred and seventeen? What if you like everything? Or nothing?
We liked things, though. Lots of things. Here goes, in anarchic order:
We liked Cecelia Noel at some bar in Santa Monica. Damn we liked this one. The music was wild and tight. She was wild and loose. The players were so good. The dancers were so good. The crowd was enraptured, ladies dancing, men afraid to move. The place was dank and dark and sweaty and real. We liked that. And we liked being kissed by Cecelia Noel, too, long and full on the lips and utterly by surprise, the whole room wondering who the hell I was.
We liked Dwight Trible anywhere we saw Dwight Trible. We liked Dwight Trible dueting with John Beasley, and we liked Dwight Trible with his quartet, and with a mess of players, especially screaming saxmen like Charles Owens.
And we sure liked Charles Owens, too. We love his Luckman Jazz Orchestra doing Freddie Hubbard tunes, and Duke Ellington tunes. One of our favorite big bands, the LJO.
And we liked that John Beasley was nominated for a Grammy. We didn’t like that Joey DeFrancesco, who we really like, was nominated for doing a Michael Jackson tribute albums. We don’t like Michael Jackson tribute albums. At all. But we’re only talking about likes here.
We liked that Bill Cunliffe got a Grammy. We liked that Bill Cunliffe was crazy enough to start a big band. We loved that band. We liked sitting right next to the saxophone section, inches from Rob Lockhart, that cool dude and great player, and seeing from behind the music stand what a big band looks like when it’s playing. Hearing the chatter. Seeing the cues. Literally feeling the music. We like that kind of stuff. The tear downs. The warm ups. The nervousness and relief. The faint grins after they blow one helluva solo and the crowd cheers loud. They like that.
We liked being totally surprised at how freaking great the John Altman Big Band was at LACMA.
We liked the Playboy Jazz Festival. Liked it a lot. Both days. We liked being snug in the press box surrounded by rich people, and we liked being way back in the crowd, surrounded by noisy people. We liked all the hipsters, and cool folks, and leggy dames, and other writers, and we liked the people passing food and bottles and other things. We liked the gorgeous singer who told us not to smoke all of her shit, and the upper rows where what happens there stays there. We liked the press room, and we liked Roy Haynes hell raising interview and Esperanza Spalding’s angelic one. We like her hair, too. We liked that we no one was blocking our way to get out of the parking lot (and that we were blocking everyone else….)
We like getting cds in the mail unexpectedly. We get a lot bad vocalist cds, which we don’t really like, and even some smooth jazz cds, which we sorta kinda hate, but we like things like Organ Monk by Greg Lewis, which is all Monk tunes on a Hammond B-3 which grooves with a hard Monkish kick from beginning to end.
We liked Tigran Hamasayan at the Foundry. He was nuts. Intense and brilliant and virtuosic and fearlessly blending bop and Russian composers, Monk and rock and lots of Armenian elements, gorgeous balladry devolving into fierce pounding repetitive figures that shifted every so slightly, things he could hear and neither we nor the drummer and bass player could hear quite all the way. He’s so tiny and it was so scary. We liked that.
And we liked talking with Tigran Hamasyan between sets about the Bad Brains.
We liked LeRoy Downs on KKJZ on Saturdays, playing what he wants. And we like that it bugs people.
We liked the Atomic Sherpas, and Mecolodiacs, and Amadans, and Saccharine Trust and Fatso Jetson at various shows at Taix throughout the year.
We liked Caetano Veloso at the Greek. We bought his Zii e Zie at the show even, and listened to it over and over and over. Then we left it in a rental car.
We liked the Playboy Jazz Festival Press Conference. It was at the Playboy mansion. We liked that. We’d been laid off, which we didn’t like, said our goodbyes and an hour later were strolling the grounds of the mansion, wondering where all the chicks were, which we would have liked. There were none. But there was a fabulous private zoo and famous people and an open bar. We liked that.
We liked taking three weeks to drive halfway across the country and back on backroads, dirt roads, and they call this a road? We liked all the zoos and bars and museums and truck stops and national parks and strange little towns. We liked not seeing another set of California plates for days at a time, and we liked fireworks, and parades and dinosaurs and the jazz bars in Chicago. We liked crossing a little bridge across the Missouri River with the sun setting and bluegrass blaring on the radio. We liked being lost. And getting ourselves unlost. We liked local radio stations.
We liked having a big birthday party full of musicians and boho freaks. And we liked having a thirtieth wedding anniversary. Liked it a lot.
Aw, hell, we liked all kinds of stuff. Happy New Year, people.
* an incredibly obscure linguistics reference that would assuredly have been dropped in a second draft.