What music, books, movies, or other creative works made the biggest impact on you this year?
A sleeper but very truthful and insightful was the FX series Reservation Dogs. Featuring young fresh native talent with recognizable veteran Indigenous actors. Kudos to Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi for enlightening us about the culture. I catch myself using the catch phrases "skoden" and "stoodis".
Musically, I'm constantly blown away by the four fantastic ladies of saje. Amazing singers and composers all putting a new slant on vocal jazz. Another shout out to singer/composer Michael Mayo.
‘Barbenheimer’ comes to the forefront in my mind!
The (re) release of ‘Stop Making Sense’ was well worth the wait. The film has been masterfully redone.
New to me but probably well known to others here: podcast A History of Rock in 500 Songs by Andrew Hickey is an amazingly deep and fascinating dive. A must listen/read for anyone interested in the subject. Don't balk: give one episode a listen and you might get hooked.
South Park Panderverse
Nile Rodgers and Chic hit the Tiny Desk a month ago. Maximum Funkocity!
The most recent volume of Joni Mitchell's Archives series, covering 1972 to 1975, was stupendous. Ever better than could have been imagined in any fan's wildest dreams. I would also cite the 'Barbenheimer' phenomenon as a major event of the year - the triumph of audiences feeling the necessity to flock to the movies to see them and make up their mind about them themselves.
Book: 28 Questions by Indyana Schneider
Music: Javelin by Sufjan Stevens
Just finished The Fall of the House Usher. Absolutely top tier writing and storytelling. The visuals and atmosphere are amazing. The actors are all great and Mike Flanagan manages to hold back a little on the speeches he likes to write for his characters. I loved it and will watch it again soon. And it made me want to revisit Edgar Allen Poe too.
The Netflix documentary series "Life on Planet Earth" just debuted and honestly it's the best thing I've seen all year.
“Stillpoint,” featuring the pianist Awadagin Pratt, the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, and the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, is solidly in Album of the Year territory for me. The opening track--“Rounds,” by Jessie Montgomery--feels like an instant classic, but the whole album is astonishing. I also love the Tyshawn Sorey composition for Pratt and Teeth.
It is an incredible time for classical music. People don’t realize! The rediscovery of Florence Price. The voice of Sondra Radzimosky in Turandot. The recordings of John Wilson eg that amazing Oklahoma! Or Fatma Said. Or so many more. Michael Spyres.
The local venues and bands in my area (greater Boston). Several of the bands just keep putting on tremendous shows year in and year out without any prospect of making it big and, frankly, that's just as important to vibrant culture as anything on the national scene, if not more so. Special mention to Dub Apocalypse as well as all the various other bands and projects the members are a part of.
This year was no doubt one of the best years in video games. We had the release of:
-Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
-Baldur's Gate III
-Insomniac's Spider-Man 2
-Super Mario Wonder
-Alan Wake 2
-Resident Evil 4 Remake
-Street Fighter 6
-Mortal Kombat 1
-Fire Emblem Engage
-Dead Space Remake
and many, many other games from across multiple genres, multiple systems, from the AAA-sphere to the indie circuit, and anywhere in-between. This might be one of the best years we've had when it came to video games.
"Now and Then" which I haven't listened to yet because I can't bear the heartache of it on multiple levels, even though I know it's gorgeous. even if it weren't, it speaks to the world-changing influence the Beatles had and still have. We are all living in the world they created and thus anything they do continues to be a major touchstone.
As a huge fan of the music of Charles Mingus, it’s been an absolute joy to see the Mingus Big Band perform this year. I’ve seen them about a dozen times, and every time it’s an absolute treat. The band is a repertory company of different musicians, who all treasure the music of Charles Mingus. I’ve had an opportunity to chat with some of the fabulous musicians and they really enjoy how much pleasure the audiences get from the music. The band performs every Monday night in New York, the tickets are inexpensive $35, it’s a small, intimate, jazz club and it’s a must see for anybody in New York that enjoys live music or jazz.
And, thank you, Ted, for all your smart and interesting writing this year. Always makes me think and reconsider my assumptions.