Youthfulness is pretty easily recognizable in work. Sometimes it comes through in a roughness. Sometimes, it comes through in an antsiness, as if the boundless energy that comes with youth just can't be contained. Sometimes, it comes through in a need to impress. This young person has ideas that he or she has learned recently and this young person wants to make sure we're getting all the references. These qualities often shine through in debut releases, particularly from trained jazz musicians. A polish is present only because there's so much newness, there isn't much grit to polish away. These attributes can be seen as flaws just as much as they can be seen as strengths, the early promising notes of talent and training that only wait for time. To some degree, it's still the marvel to witness. One can hear this all over guitarist Aleif Hamdan's debut album, Emblem.
The last show of the year is always a weird one for me. The Season of Lists is already passed. There's still some year left and the ongoing job of finding new music for the week is still a thing, though it feels more like a carryover show with some extra lag time than a restart of the new year. Still, the last Line-Up of the year is still a new Line-Up and that still something.
The Line-Up for 30 December 2016
I didn't quite know what to do in the lag from the conclusion of the Season of Lists and I didn't want to play Christmas music (especially since the stream would exist throughout this week and why play Christmas music in the week after Christmas?) so I went through my personal list of favorite jazz albums and put this show together in a jiffy. This does sort of make yet another batch of blurbs a bit difficult since how much more can I really say that I haven't said already in the lists? (So I didn't.) However, it continued the holiday cheer.
The Line-Up for 23 December 2016
The Curtis Brothers Quartet's new album, Syzygy is dropping in mid-December where it will be (very) unfortunately overlooked as critics and listeners turn our collective attention to 'best of 2016' lists (nextbop included, of course). Don't make that mistake.
A quick pre-amble: jazz is so diverse that it’s near-impossible to compare and rank the "best" albums of the year (Editor's note: which is why Nextbop refers to these lists as our "favorites" as opposed to "the best", because words are important). How does one rank Julian Lage, Darcy James Argue, Takuya Kuroda, and Brad Mehldau against each other? The answer of course is that one doesn’t - you listen to what moves you, when it moves you. The broadness of the jazz genre also brings up the interesting question of what to even include in these comparisons, particularly for things that are maybe on the edge of "jazz." What makes a jazz album jazz? Solos? Extended harmony? Inclusion of a jazz standard? (What’s a jazz standard in 2016? "Teen Spirit?")
So ok, these lists are, at least at some level, irrelevant. That said, 2016 has been a bounty of music, both jazz and otherwise. There are a bunch of things that have really impressed this year and why not take the opportunity to celebrate them?