Sunday, December 18, 2022

BEST OF 2022


THE MUSIC has experienced an expanse over recent years, particularly with spoken word and the other arts moving into a rediscovered place up front. As a poet and organizer, this aspect carries great personal weight. I feel this advancement--seen earlier in NYC strongholds of modernism, The Masses, dada, Mabel Dodge’s salon, the Harlem Renaissance, The New Masses, the Beat Generation, the Black Arts Movement, the New York School, renegade theatre, the cinema of transgression, punk, post-modernism, Art Against AIDS, the hip hop movement and the obvious strength of a united arts front--captures the very best in new music, free jazz, latter-day composition and a bold, Left outspokenness.

2022 produced new artists of a decidedly radical nature and only confirmed our veteran creatives’ stance at the “downtown” vertex. A wide array of ages, cultures, races and gender identities have happily claimed their rightful space on stage and are increasingly seen within the audiences of the hippest venues in this hippest of cities. To that end, we’ve seen a rise in cultural workers organizing, here and across the country, driving campaigns in theatres, colleges, museums and the press. These actions of arts and entertainment unions are occurring as a new generation of rad arts workers recognize the inherent power of collectivism and join within a labor movement that is experiencing an inspiring level of activism, much grown directly from the fight-back of the women’s marches, the BLM movement, and the protests on behalf of trans lives and the fight directly opposing the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade and the ongoing conservative banning of books. But we need to do even more to create the necessary balance for independent, daring arts to thrive. It requires a knowledge of where we came from as well as the fearless, fully inclusive push forward. It has always been about the advance, the struggle forward within a unified voice. John Reed, for one, called it well over a century ago:

 Muse, you have got a job before you,--

Come, buckle to it, I implore you.

I would embalm in deathless rhyme

The great souls of our little time:

Inglorious Miltons by the score,--

Mute Wagners,--Rembrandts, ten or more,--

And Rodins, one to every floor.

In short, those unknown men of genius

Who dwell in the third-floor gangrenous,

Reft of their rightful heritage

By a commercial, soulless age,

Unwept, I might add—and unsung,

Insolent, but entirely young.

Yet we are free who live in Washington Square,

We dare to think as Uptown wouldn't dare,

Blazing our nights with arguments uproarious;

What care we for a dull old world censorious

When each is sure he'll fashion something glorious?

Blessed art thou, Anarchic Liberty

Who asketh nought but joy of such as we!

-John Reed, “The Day in Bohemia”, 1913

ON, THEN, to my picks for the Best of 2022....

CRITICS POLL 2022: New Music/Jazz/Indie

 John Pietaro



                     Lifetime achievement: Amina Claudine Myers 

 Violin: Gwen Laster

Viola: Melanie Dyer

Cello: Lester St. Louis

Harp: Zeena Parkins


Flute: Nicole Mitchell

Clarinet: Ned Rothenberg

Bassoon: Claire de Brunner


Trumpet: Mac Gollehon

French Horn: Vincent Chancey

Trombone: Steve Swell

Tuba: Joe Daley


Soprano saxophone: Sam Newsome

Alto saxophone: Darius Jones

Tenor saxophone: James Brandon Lewis

Baritone saxophone: Claire Daly


Electric guitar: Chris Cochrane

Acoustic guitar: Marco Cappelli

Various fretted instrument: Cynthia Sayer (plectrum banjo)


Upright bass: Ken Filiano

Electric bass: Jamaaladeen Tacuma


Piano: Mara Rosenbloom


Drumset: Michael Wimberly

Percussion: Warren Smith

Vibraphone: Patricia Brennan


Multi-instrumentalist: Scott Robinson


Vocals: Fay Victor (female), Eric Mingus (male)

Spoken Word: Tracie Morris (female),                                                                           George Wallace (male)


DUO: MorriSharp (Elliott Sharp and Tracie Morris) 


SMALL GROUP: Ceramic Dog (Marc Ribot, Shazad Ismally, Ches Smith)


MID-SIZED BAND: Gene Pritsker’s Sonic Liberation


LARGE ENSEMBLE: Ed Palermo Big Band 



1)    John Zorn’s New Masada Quartet, 6/11, the Sultan Room, Brooklyn NY

2)    Elliott Sharp & Eric Mingus with Steve Swell and Andrea Centazzo, 10/10/22, White Box Gallery, NYC 

3)    Catalytic Sound Festival (Zeena Parkins, Ned Rothenberg, Chris Corsano, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Brandon Lopez, Sylvie Courvoisier, Ceceila Lopez, David Watson, Lotte Anker), 12/10/22, Shift 411, Brooklyn NY

4)    Ictus Festival (Andrea Centazzo, Chris Cochrane, Sam Newsome, Michael Foster, Jessica Pavone, Dafna Nephtali, Stephan Haynes, Jeff Schwartz, Wendy Eisenberg, Shazad Ismally), 10/6/22, Shift 411, Brooklyn NY

5)    Christian Mc Bride Three with Greg Tardy and Jonathon Blake, 8/11/22, Village Vanguard


          VENUES: Café Bohemia (Manhattan), Shift 411 (Brooklyn)




 New Releases

1)    Sun Ra Arkestra, Living Sky (Omni Sound) 

2)    Ches Smith, Interpret It Well (Pyroclastic)

3)    Elliott Sharp and Eric Mingus, Songs From the Rogue State (Zoar)

4)    We Free Strings, Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage (ESP-Disk)

5)    Bi Ba Doom, Graceful Collision (Astral Spirits)

6)    Mac Gollehon, The End is the Beginning (Nefarious Industries)

7)    Heroes Are Gangleaders, LeAutoRoiOgraphy (577)

8)    Gene Pritsker’s Sound Liberation, Let’s Save the World Suite (Composers Concordance)

9)    John Zorn, Meditations on the Tarot (Tzadik)

10)Cint Bahr, Puzzle Box (MoonJune)


        Historical albums:

1)    No Safety, Spill (Cuneiform) 

2)    Cecil Taylor, The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert (Oblivion)

3)    Blondie: Against the Odds, 1974-1982 (Capitol)

4)    Nikki Giovanni, The Way I Feel (Modern Harmonic)

5)    The Dance, Doo Dah Dah (Modern Harmonic)

6)    Jill Kroesen, I Really Want to Bomb You (Modern Harmonic)

Vocal album: Elliott Sharp and Eric Mingus, Songs from the Rogue State (Zoar)


Debut album: Bi Ba Doom, Graceful Collision (Astral Spirits)


Live album: No Safety, Live at the Knitting Factory (Cuneiform)

 Solo album: Ava Mendoza, New Spells (Relative Pitch)

Large ensemble album: Sun Ra Arkestra, Living Sky (Omni Sound)


Record labels of the year:

1)    Cuneiform

2)    577

3)    Shimmy-Disc

4)    ESP-Disk

5)    Modern Harmonic

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