JT Notes: Editor Evan Haga Introduces the Jan./Feb. 2014 Issue

I’ll Remember April, and May and June…

I once heard the guitar-maker Paul Reed Smith describe music writers as soothsayers. He was responding to one eager reporter’s inquiries about an upcoming instrument launch, but I thought about that sentiment again as I was assembling this Year in Review issue—a sort of history-book-to-be. Here, we aren’t predicting the future so much as providing a version of how you’ll imagine the past. Welcome to your future recollections, the “Oh, yeah, remember that?” moments you’ll experience years or decades down the line.

I’ll remember the year’s Readers’ and Critics’ Poll victor, Wayne Shorter, in the midst of melodic flight at New Orleans Jazz Fest (a good performance for a distracted crowd) and New York’s Town Hall (near-transcendent). I’ll recall staring agape as vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, a surprising but deserving silver medalist in this year’s Critics’ Poll, played Pied Piper to a packed amphitheater at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. (Keith Jarrett couldn’t have gotten this general summertime crowd—which paid no admission—to focus so deeply.)

I’ll think about stopping by the Blue Note recording sessions for Gregory Porter’s very fine Liquid Spirit, the Readers’ Poll pick for Best Vocal Release and our critics’ No. 7 album pick. I’ll look back on nights uptown at Jazz at Lincoln Center, watching that institution’s orchestra (Best Big Band) navigate through masterworks by Wynton Marsalis (Best Trumpeter, Best Arranger), like Abyssinian and the revival of Blood on the Fields.

And I’ll think about the late guitar totem Jim Hall at the readers’ second-favorite festival, Newport Jazz, in a quartet featuring their second-favorite New Artist, guitarist Julian Lage. Then as always, Hall played with impeccable taste and projected the sort of kindness you can’t fake. I won’t need a magazine to jog my memory on that one.

Originally published in January/February 2014

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