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One of the December rituals in the jazz writing community is for each individual writer to produce a list of “Top 10 CDs of the Year.” Although I find this process to be terribly self-indulgent, ascribing import to the writer that he or she may or may not deserve, I have also found the process of thinking back on the year through the lens of the musical soundtrack that accompanied it quite enjoyable.

So I give you, o faithful readers, the Official Lubricity First Annual List of Arbitrary Length Detailing a Number Of Excellent Jazz Musical Products To Which I Have Enjoyed Listening During The Past Year:

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As I mentioned below, on Friday I reviewed a Kenny G concert at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. If you missed it, read the review here.

Believe it or not, I actually pitched this assignment to the Star-Ledger, because after years of uncritically accepting the rampant smooth jazz bashing of my peers in the jazz community, I thought I should at least take a listen for myself and see if the unrestrained anger directed at this man is justified.

My brief impression of the show was that Kenny G is a shameless but devastatingly effective self-promoter, a decent technician on his instrument, harmonically and melodically limited to pre-bebop diatonicism and blues riffs, and an amazing onstage communicator.

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I’m finally starting to recover from my weekend of extreme jazz consumption at the 2010 NYC Winter JazzFest.  For some initial thoughts and a recap of my Day One experience on Friday, click here.  For some other excellent Winter JazzFest recaps, check out Ben Ratliff, Nate Chinen, Ben Allison, Jacob Teichroew and Hank Shteamer.

Having attended Winter JazzFest last year, Friday had pretty much been in line with my expectations.  Great music, solid crowds, high energy, good times.  But I also knew that this was the first year that the festival had expanded to a second day, and was going to feature five venues rather than Friday’s three.  It was clear that they were upping the ante — especially with such top-notch groups as Ben Allison, The Claudia Quintet, Gretchen Parlato and Vijay Iyer in the lineup.

Still, I had no idea what I was in for.  The NYC Jazz Scene flat-out kicked ass on Saturday, and everyone — promoters, musicians, arts presenters, and especially jazz fans — played a part in making it happen.  Congratulations to everyone for making it go over as well as it did!

Click through for the play-by-play of my Saturday night at NYC Winter JazzFest: Read the rest of this entry »

New York City’s only jazz festival has come and gone, and I was there.  So were a LOT of other people.  My one-word impression: wow.

For a comprehensive and well-written account of the two-night jazz extravaganza, check out Ben Ratliff’s review for the New York Times.  Nate Chinen, Ben Allison, Jacob Teichroew and Hank Shteamer also have some spot-on reflections.

The general theme of those reviews is that the festival was a huge success, attracting not only brilliant music but amazingly enthusiastic audiences.  I couldn’t agree more — Saturday’s crowd was especially mind-blowing.  The combination left me with more moments of jaw-dropping jazz-fan euphoria than any event that I have attended in a long time.  To borrow a phrase from Vijay Iyer, tossed out at the end of his set at Le Poisson Rouge that featured one of the liveliest audiences of the evening: “And they told me jazz is dead…”

Yeah, not so much.

Click through for the play-by-play of my Friday night: Read the rest of this entry »

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