I've been writing about music since my Freshman year in college, nearly 5 decades. Starting with reviews of live performances and moving on to Lps, then to cassettes, the CDs and now mp3s, digital downloads or a combination of list, save for cassettes, music has been a major part of my existence. My first date with the young lady who became my wife was a show that featured the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on tour supporting the release of "The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw", a band that featured guitarist Elvin Bishop, drummer Phil Wilson and alto saxophonist David Sanborn. We ended up back in Middletown, CT (our hometown) and a great place to be if one was interested in expanding his musical vocabulary. Over the decades, Wesleyan University has had a strong music department, especially in African American music and ethnomusicology. People such as Bill Barron, Bill Lowe, Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard, Alvin Lucier, Ron Kuivila, and Ed Blackwell have taught students such as Royal Hartigan, David Bindman, Taylor Ho Bynum, Chris Dingman, Matt Bauder, Mike Hefley, Mary Halvorson, Tyshawn Sorey, and Carl Testa, all of whom I got to see and hear perform.
I have had the privilege to write for The New Haven Advocate, CADENCE Magazine, and The Hartford Courant and have had the opportunity to vote in the Downbeat Critics Poll and the yearly Jazz & Pop Poll. I have met so many fine people, musicians such as Noah Baerman, Jaki Byard, Kevin O'Neil, Henry Lugo, Professor Neely Bruce, Anna Barron, Joe Fonda, Michael Pestel, Mario Pavone, Thomas Chapin, Ben Allison, Ron Horton, Frank Kimbrough as well as music supporters Chuck Obuchowski, Jason Crane (on-line, at least), Ed Krech, Robert & Susan Rusch, Ann Braithwaite, Maurice Robertson, Joe Rybczyk and so many more. I owe them all great thanks.
I'm usually not so nostalgic at the end of the year (no, only every day) but 2013 has had numerous challenges, triumphs and sadness. Through it all, music played in the foreground, in the background and running through my sub-conscious.
Loyal readers know that there is no such thing as the Step Tempest Top 10 or, even, 15. This year, I'm breaking my favorite recordings into 5 categories e.g., vocalists, large ensembles, solo, trios-quartets-quintets, and modern classical. Your feedback is always welcome.
This was not the only release from Ms. Feather in 2013. She partnered with pianist Stephanie Trick to create the duo "Nouveau Stride" and the CD titled "Fourteen" (Relarion Records). Rags and stride tunes, most blessed with Ms. Feather's fun and insightful lyrics, that should be heard.
Other strong releases include "Liquid Soul", Gregory Porter's Blue Note debut, "Winter Morning Walks" (Artist Share), the glorious orchestral music Maria Schneider composed for vocalist Dawn Upshaw and the soulful swing yet very adult subject matter of "What I See" (Jazzed Media), the latest release from Judy Wexler. All are worth your time and attention.
More to follow.