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Nate Chinen on the Year in Gigs, 2015

DeJohnette, Salvant, Lloyd, Schneider and D'Angelo among the year's best

Jon Irabagon
Jon Irabagon, Newport Jazz Festival 2014
Marquis Hill
Made in Chicago at Newport Jazz Festival, Aug. 2015. Clockwise from drums: Jack DeJohnette, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams and Larry Gray

One of the best shows I saw this past year was by an artist no one would file under “jazz.” That in itself isn’t unusual, or in any way unexpected: Like many a jazz critic, and I daresay most jazz musicians, my interests sprawlwell beyond the purview of this magazine. But something struck me about this show, a mid-March tour date by the reemergent R&B star D’Angelo, at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. For lack of a better way of putting it, it had some killer Jazz Adjacency-that elusive combination of formal elasticity, in-the-moment spontaneity and cohesive intuition that we think of as jazz attributes, unless they coalesce in another area.

D’Angelo’s music firmly belongs to the lineage of funk and soul, even though his ace band, the Vanguard, includes jazz-trained musicians like drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave. I’m not going to strain here to claim D’Angelo as a jazz musician, but I can attest that as I took in his show, some of the same neurons were firing, and some of the same emotions stirring, as when I experience a jazz gig of the highest order.

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