Thursday, January 05, 2012

Best of 2011? I forget

Before we get too involved in 2012, I want to weigh in on the subject of "Best of 2011" lists. And I have a feeling that this commentary will be very similar to what I wrote about a year ago on the subject.

I was asked to participate not only in the JazzTimes Best Of tabulations but also the Jazz List for what used to run in conjunction with the Village Voice, but this year will be posted on next week. This year, I felt like I was a lot more familiar with more albums and would have a more vast opinion on the subject. Compared to last year, when I bought two of the Top 10 albums after reading about the list (Jason Moran's Ten and Paul Motian's Lost in a Dream, which both deserved their accolades, by the way). But I did a lot of hemming and hawing anyway: "Yeah, I heard that and it's good, but, ah........ I don't know if it'd go in my Top 10. What about this? I'm not sure about that either."

Much to my surprise, when I looked at downbeat's round-up of all the albums that received five-, four-and-a-half and four-star reviews, I didn't even know the albums that got five. Maybe I shouldn't confess all this in a public forum, because it might lead my editors to question my opinion on the subject. Or maybe it indicates that it's good to have a guy like me, whose tastes don't always cater to the status quo, adding some extra titles to the fray.

Here's the JazzTimes list. It doesn't surprise me that Sonny Rollins made #1. It shouldn't surprise you that I plan on buying that album today after work. The first album on this list that appeared on my list is #4. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that my personal #1 actually made the cut as #36 all around. (By the way, I realize I always unapologetically say, "Buy JazzTimes," to help keep print media going, and this is no exception. However the other good reason to do it is because the current issue has a great article on Vijay Iyer.)

I inadvertently blew off writing a Best Of list for Blurt in part because I didn't pay attention to when we were supposed to submit one. Besides, I feel like my rock list is full of even more holes than my jazz list. And when I saw their tabulations........woah, I really felt out of touch. Every year around this time, I tell myself, "This is why you shouldn't feel inhibited about asking for promos of stuff that you might not review anywhere: Because those labels should realize this one extra copy might actually get them into a Best Of list at the end of the year." Or I might just blog about them.

These end of the year lists are really for readers. People love checking them out. I know I do. I just don't like compiling them. They're also for the p.r. brass. I'm sure Sonny Rollins doesn't care, although I'm sure he'd express some appreciation.

Now before I make breakfast, I'm going to fire off an email to a friend of mine who usually sends an email out to me and some other friends of his, which triggers a discussion of releases from the year. That made contradict everything I concluded a moment ago, but I'm doing it more as a way to keep in touch with these guys.

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