I appreciate that I'm not getting any younger and that much new rock and rap music doesn't speak to me by virtue of differences in life experience. That hardly disqualifies it from excellence, but it does disqualify me from grasping it well enough to give it either a thumbs up or a thumbs down. That being said, I'm nonetheless struck by the exceptionally high quality of music released in 2008 by older artists, even if I am predisposed to appreciate it.
Seven of the performers on the following list are over 60, and three of them are over 70. Other older artists who released outstanding music in 2008 include Jackson Browne, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, Richie Havens, and Andre Williams. This year, I saw outstanding performances from Joan Baez (67), Kevin Burke (58), Dick Gaughan (60), Charles Lloyd (70), Robert Plant (60) (with Alison Krauss), Bruce Springsteen (59), James Blood Ulmer (66), and Johnny Winter (64). 74-year old Leonard Cohen toured Europe and received scintillating reviews. If I had to pick, the best live performance I saw last year was by the 70-year old Lloyd. It's enough to make me believe that my most creative days lie ahead.
Anyway, here's some counsel on how to use some of those gift cards you got for Christmas. I reviewed each album on Citizen K.; click on the link for my original review.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
This collection of demos, alternate versions, old folk songs, live cuts, and previously unreleased songs coheres unexpectedly into a sweeping statement of Dylan's world view as he heads toward old age. He has become the master curator of his own work. Brilliant.
These albums had the heaviest rotation on the Citizen K. sound system.
Con El Permiso De Bola, Francisco Cespedes with Gonzalo Rubalcabal
Black Ice and Propane, Erik Friedlander
Traveling, Steve Poltz
Hernando, The North Mississippi All Stars
Just A Little Lovin', Shelby Lynne
Rabo de Nube, Charles Lloyd Quartet
Lumiere Dans le Noir, Zachary Richard
Exit to Mystery St., Paul Sanchez
Good Neighbor, John Boutte
Peace, Love, & Understanding, Big Sam's Funky Nation
Gaughan Live! At The Trades Club, Dick Gaughan
Note: The link is to a review of a Dick Gaughan concert.
The Cole Porter Mix, Patricia Barber
About Time, Paul Bley
Day After Tomorrow, Joan Baez
South Pacific, New Broadway Cast
The Unreleased Recordings, Hank Williams
Shake Away/Ojo De Culbra, Lila Downs
Simply Grand, Irma Thomas
Liejacker, Thea Gilmore
Gracias, Omara Portuondo
WWOZ anticipates a tough 2009. "If a jazz station in New Orleans can't survive, what chance has jazz to survive?" Good question. I'll be sending in my contribution. How about joining me?...
The Charles Lloyd Quartet shows its stuff in a montage of their performance at Antwerp's Jazz Middleheim 2008: