Best of Best of 2009

I’ve already said my piece on the best of 2009, but here is an opportunity to present the opinions of others. Over the last month or so, I’ve collected some of the more interesting and relevant “best of” lists, that focus on music likely to be within the AMN scope.

So, welcome to the best of the best of 2009.

The Village Voice
Howard Mandel
NPR’s Take Five.
Jason Crane
Music and More
Stuart Broomer
Susanna Bolle
Laurence Donohue-Greene
Derek Taylor
Adam Strohm
Nate Chinen
Ben Ratliff
Francios Couture
Destination Out
Jim Macnie
Brett Saunders

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The Claudia Quintet will play at REDCAT in LA on October 28. Darius Jones will play at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Oct. 19. Nicole Mitchell has been profiled by NPR. Tom Heasley has a new CD out on his Full Bleed label, featuring Stuart Dempster and Eric Glick Rieman. Neom is a new band in the Zeuhl style.

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Led Bib And How The British Got Something Right

From NPR’s A Blog Supreme:

The group is called Led Bib, and the song they played live, “Yes, Again,” is even more frenetic. (You can watch the performance itself on the BBC Web site — the video is for whatever reason not embeddable.) It was part of the ceremony for the Mercury Prize, an award given every year for the best album from the British Isles. Led Bib didn’t win; the award went to Speech Debelle, a South London rapper with a proclivity for jazz-influenced production. (Dig the backing roles for reedmen Shabaka Hutchings [clarinet] and Soweto Kinch [alto sax] at the live performance.) Even so, the fact that a jazz act, and especially one so outre, made it to the national spotlight at all should cause a double take.

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September at the IBeam

From Brooklyn’s IBeam:

September Music Listings 2009
168 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Sept 4th
9 pm – $10 Suggested Donation
Franck Vigroux (electronics)
Michel Blanc (drums, electronics )
Ben Miller (voice)
Elliott Sharp (reeds, guitar) + guests
Franck VIGROUX, Composer, guitarist, turntablist, videoartist and producer, Franck Vigroux works in various media electronic music, new media, composition and improvisation. He leads many bands and projects featuring musicians such as Bruno Chevillon, Elliott Sharp, Marc Ducret, Hélène Breschand, Joey Baron, Michel Blanc, Stéphane Payen, Matthew Bourne, Kenji Siratori , Mariano Equizzi, Scorpene Horrible.

Sept. 5th
9pm (Two Sets) $15 donation
Roberta Piket – “Improvised Chamber Music”
Perry Robinson – clarinet
Roberta Piket – piano
Lisle Ellis – bass
Peter Nilson – drums

Roberta Piket has played professionally as a sidewoman with David Liebman, Rufus Reid, Benny Golson, Michael Formanek, Lionel Hampton and the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra and has twice been a featured guest on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, on National Public Radio.

September 11th
9pm – $10 Suggested Donation
The Landon Knoblock/Phil Doyle Duo
Landon Knoblock – Piano
Phil Doyle – Saxophone

The Stacken/Knuffke Duo
Jesse Stacken – Piano
Kirk Knuffke – Trumpet

Phil Doyle and Landon Knoblock began their collaboration at the University of Miami, 9 years ago.Their focus has always been on improvisation, and playing in the moment. “The pianist Landon Knoblock, from Miami by way of Brooklyn, has quietly been making waves for his reflective and lyrical style.” (NY Times)

Sept 12th and 13th
8pm – $10 Suggested Donation
The Nightingale and the Rose
A new opera by Benjamin Scheuer

Sept 18
$10 Donation
8pm Russ Lossing Trio
Russ Lossing – Piano
Masa Kamaguchi- bass
Billy Mintz- drums
9:30 The Two Bass Band
featuring Rock Ciccerone ( bn), Bryan Drye (bn), Clay Jenkins (tpt), Dave Scott (tpt), John O’Gallerger (alto sx), Loren Stillman (alto sx), Adam Kohker (tn sx), Masa Kamaguchi (bs), Johannes Weidenmueller (bs), Billy Mintz (drms)

Telluric Currents, Series 2
Curated by Jeremiah Cymerman
Featuring some of the very best young talents working within the realms of compositional & improvised music in Brooklyn, NY, the Telluric Currents series features 3 sets per night.

Friday, September 25th – $10 Donation
8p Jessica Pavone Solo
9p Anthony Coleman/Jeremiah Cymerman/Christopher Hoffman
10p Matthew Welch’s “Looking at Mondrian” performed by Shawn Onsgard
Saturday September 26th – $10 Donation
8p Mario Diaz de Leon/Doron Sadja
9p Ches Smith Solo
10p Jon Irabagon/Mike Pride Duo

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Dave Douglas: ‘High Speed And Broadband Ready’

Dave Douglas 3
Image by volume12 via Flickr

Dave Douglas writes a particularly enlightened post on NPR’s jazz blog. In particular, he sees digital recording and distribution for what it is – a new way for musicians to reach audiences, and one that is best unencumbered.

As a side note, he discusses recent real-time distributed improvisation, where he played via the Internet with other musicians. This approach, while not replacing live bands per se, has the potential to get around some of the costs associated with touring as well as the basic fact that each city a group tours to might only have 20-50 fans to show up at gigs. Here, with no touring expense, and the potential to reach those 20-50 fans in each city at the same time, the economics might just work out.

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Artist Profile

Take Five With Steve Lehman

Steve Lehman profiled:

Named a Rising Star on the alto saxophone in 2006, 2007, and 2008 by the Down Beat Magazine International Critics Poll, Steve Lehman is a saxophonist and composer whose work resides on the frontier of contemporary music. He has been recognized as one of today’s truly original creative voices by The Wire, The New York Times, and Down Beat Magazine, as well as by National Public Radio and the BBC. A former student of both Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, he has performed and recorded throughout the United States and Europe with his own ensembles, and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Dave Burrell, Meshell Ndgeocello, Mark Dresser, Vijay Iyer, Oliver Lake, and High Priest of Anti-Pop Consortium.

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Frank Zappa: A ‘Lumpy’ Legacy

Frank Zappa rehearsing with Ensemble Modern, F...
Image via Wikipedia

NPR Music discusses the latest Zappa release.

Frank Zappa was called many things during his life, but lazy wasn’t one of them. He put out more than 60 records, and unreleased music is still trickling out more than 15 years after his death. It’s part of an effort by his widow, Gail, to keep Zappa’s legacy alive.

The most recent effort from the Zappa Family Trust is a three-disc set titled Lumpy Money. It combines music — released and unreleased — that Frank Zappa recorded in 1967. One session produced the Mothers of Invention album We’re Only in It for the Money, the group’s third release. The other was a surprise.

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Artist Profile Performances

Events At An die Musik LIVE

Tim Berne
Image via Wikipedia

From Philadelphia’s An die Musik LIVE:

@ AN DIE MUSIK LIVE, 409 N.Charles St, Baltimore MD Tel 410 385 2638



$13/10 seniors & students

Named a Rising Star on the alto saxophone in 2006, 2007, and 2008 by the Downbeat Magazine International Critics Poll, STEVE LEHMAN is a saxophonist and composer whose work resides on the frontiers of contemporary music. He has been recognized as one of today’s truly original creative voices by The Wire, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Downbeat Magazine, as well as by National Public Radio.

A former student of both Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, he has performed and recorded throughout the United States and Europe with his own ensembles, and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Dave Burrell, Mark Dresser, Vijay Iyer, Oliver Lake, and Meshell Ndegeocello.

An award-winning composer, Lehman’s pieces for large orchestra and chamber ensembles have been performed by the Janacek Philharmonic, members of The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Ensemble 21 and Ensemble Sospeso, and by the pianist Marilyn Nonken. His music has received performances at the MusikTriennale Festival in Koln, the Ostrava New Music Days, The Kaleidophon Festival in Ulrichsberg, the Festival International de Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville, Dance Theater Workshop and the Interpretations Series at Merkin Hall, both in New York City.


Michiel Braam – piano
Wilbert DeJoode – double bass
Michael Vatcher – drums

Dave Ballou – trumpet
John Dierker – reeds
Marc Miller – guitar
Michael Formanek – double bass
Will Redman – drums
with special guest
Tim Berne – alto saxophone

$20/18 seniors and students w.ID

A mindblowing double bill. Who knows, maybe by the end of the evening it will have morphed into a supergroup!

Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher comprises three of the Dutch jazz scene’s most idiosyncratic musicians, for whom freedom and adventure are essential values. They all play an absolutely equal role in the music, which can go in any which way, depending on decisions made on the spot. The long musical friendship (since 1989) results in intuitive playing of the highest order. Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher shines in short powerful pieces, honoring the jazz tradition by pushing it ahead with consummate, dazzling skill. The trio combines a playful incorporation and expansion of older forms with a great adventurousness. Partnered by powerhouse bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer extraordinaire Michael Vatcher, Braam delivers some of the most confident and enjoyable piano work I’ve heard in recent years.” (Dan Warburton)

This is truly a meeting of minds (the state of those minds is yet to be determined). These superb Baltimore improvisers (and a lone New Yorker) bring the honk, squeal, and bash, and yes, the quiet and lovely too. The pedigree here ranges from Michael Formanek’s work with Uri Caine, Tim Berne, and other modern jazz luminaries; to Dave Ballou’s associations with Andrew Hill, Dave Leibman, et al; to John Dierker’s collaborations with Lafayette Gilchrist, Jason Willett, Quartet Offensive, and basically anyone doing anything in the avant garde vein in Baltimore; to Marc Miller’s wildly and widely appreciated work with seminal Baltimore math rock band Oxes; to Dr. Will Redman’s compositions studies with the legendary composer Michael Finnissy and Baltimore’s own Stuart S. Smith, as well as co-leading Microkingdom with Marc. This combo plays both kinds of music: free and jazz and sometimes freejazz! Oh yeah, and did we mention that some guy named Tim Berne will be sitting in too!!

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Dissonance Is The New Harmony in Atlanta

NPR News logo
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NPR Music covers the burgeoning “noise” scene in Atlanta.

Jangling collages of sound, atonal melodies and jumbled percussion, avant-garde music has gone through a lot of bizarre phases. And now, “noise music” has become accepted in indie-rock circles through easy digital access.

In the birthplace of R.E.M., dissonance is the new harmony. Members of the underground scene of Athens, Ga., push the boundaries of sound.

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