1 Tamar - My little locked groove contains all the music I'll ever need.
2 Getachew Merkurya & The Ex, Alemayehu Eshete and Mahmoud Ahmed with Either/Orchestra, Extra Golden - Damrosch Park August 20 - Great music, great crowd, great day, great weather, great energy, great caesar's ghost!, great job, Brian, Liz, Scott, Irene, Diane, Tony, Ken and everybody who made it work so well.
3 Et Cetera Et Cetera (Long Hair)/Joakim Skogsberg Jola Rota (Tiliqua)/Ishikawa Akira & Count Buffalo Uganda – Afurikan Rokku no Yoake (Tiliqua) - Three amazing records take their great leap forward
and land gracefully.
4 Cecil Taylor/Tony Oxley - Village Vanguard July 17 - If No. 2 had not occured, this would have been the best performance I saw this year. In my mind second is often an honor.
5 Haris Eisenstadt Guewel (Clean Feed), Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Curt Newton Betwixt (Hatology), Mary Halvorson Dragon's Head (Firehouse 12) - Yes, I am cheating a little here but these three are difficult to separate in my mind, since I like each one more each time I listen. There is some very tasty jazz being released currently.
6 HexLove / Faulouah Free Jazz From Slavery LP (Weird Forest) - "fun lil' mindfook, innit?"
7 A Power Greater Than Itself - George Lewis - This book offers tips on how an organization, in this case the AACM, can retain its dignity and its purpose from conception through the succession measured in various increments known as people, time, community. If both people and time meet the organization's definition of “good” then the combination should beget successful relationships/community. Success being a term best measured on an evolutionary scale; toss the "are" in revolution and live the "will be". Relationship/community provides the key to “will be”; success suffers the loss of "will".
8 ICP Orchestra - Abrons Art Center September 6 - Go see them. Their new CD Live at the Bimhuis on the ICP label also belongs on this list.
9 Huutajat - PS 1 September 14 - There are several current performers/groups I do not think I will get the chance to see live for any number of reasons but on Sunday, September 14, 2008, my favorite large chorus of shouting men took over the courtyard at PS 1, thereby eliminating one from the list I'd most like to see dwindle to nothing (hint to booking agents: Pascal Comelade would eliminate another). If I was a church, they would be my choir.
10 What It Is - Lynda Barry (Drawn and Quarterly) - Possession of creativity with intent to distribute: an oblique strategy of encouragement and therapy.
11 Ron Geesin Biting The Hand: BBC Radio broadcasts (Hux) - Because sometimes I feel the need to induce a furrowed brow.
12 Alexander Tucker Portal (ATP) - My favorite dosed troubadour continues to swim upstream.
13 Jerry Springer The Opera (Richard Thomas composer) - Carnegie Hall January 29 - My favorite English opera. Too bad I can't play anything from it on the air.
14 Montreal - Afrodisiaque Cocoa and Vanilla Stout (Dieu Du Ciel brewpub); Insectarium; sitting in a bar surrounded by ostrich heads; the ecstatic flossing of the scarlet psolus at the Biodome (from their website "The tentacles secrete mucus that helps the animal trap its food, which adheres to the mucus. It then brings its tentacles to its mouth, one at a time." I can only describe it as graceful and soft; soft as in gelatinous solid.); good B&Bs.
15 Old Chatham Sheepherding Company yogurt, camembert, bleu cheese - Pull up to their sheep farm walk over to the refrigerator unit deposit exact change have a ginger yogurt before leaving and take home some really great cheese and yogurt.
The following were considered for the list and are worth your time:
Ordinary Victories: What is Precious - Manu Larcenet (NBM); Inkweed - Chris Wright (Spark Plug); Ganges 2 - Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics); Little Nothings - Lewis Trondheim (NBM); All Star Superman - Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely (DC); Baobab 3 - Igort (Fantagraphics); The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard - Eddie Campbell (First Second); Krazy Kat - George Herrimann (Fantagraphics): and a great publishing venture comes to a close; Popeye Vol. 3 - E.C. Segar (Fantagraphics): while another continues; Ojingogo - Matthew Forsythe (Drawn & Quarterly); Fun Home - Alison Bechdel (2007 release but read this year)
Books (read this year and made me look forward to the commute which is a pretty good standard; not necessarily new releases):
Bass Cathedral - Nathaniel Mackey; A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrman - Steven C. Smith; I Am A Strange Loop - Douglas Hofstadter; The Book of Music & Nature - David Rothenberg & Martha Ulvaeus, editors; Ringolevio - Emmit Grogan; Karmic Traces - Eliot Weinberger; The Emigrants - W.G. Sebald; The Ant King and Other Stories - Benjamin Rosenbaum.
Film (seen this year on a large screen; not necessarily new releases):
Taking Off - Milos Forman: my favorite movie I saw this year, a comedy from 1971 and unfortunately unavailable on DVD; Encounters at the End of the World - Werner Herzog: good documentary but other than the suicidal penguin the only thing I really remember is that Henry Kaiser is now a world class diver; The President's Analyst - Theodore J. Flicker: an all-time favorite dusted off for a Film Forum run. This is
the movie that exposes the ugly truth that we all know but fear to utter.; Opera Jawa - Garin Nugroho: best musical of the year; My Winnipeg - Guy Maddin: best use of horse head(s) since The Godfather; Happy Go Lucky - Mike Leigh: very nice character study.
Min / Xu / Wu & Carl Stone - Flushing Library - March 29; Alarm Will Sound - The Kitchen March 21 (Revolution 9 performed live); Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman - The Stone February 8; Clocked Out Duo - Roulette November 15; Miguel Frasconi - The Stone May 23; Sonic Youth/The Feelies - Battery Park July 4; Cyro Baptista's Beat The Donkey - Damrosch Park August 9; Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby - Southpaw
Cooper-Moore - The Cedar Box Recordings (AUM Fidelity); Juana Molina - Un Dia (Domino); Bernard Bonnier - Casse-Tete (Oral); Andrew McGraw - Kolaborasi (Porter), William Parker - Moon Over Neptune (AUM Fidelity), Isengrind, Twinsistermoon, Natural Snow Buildings - The Snowbringer Cult (Students of Decay); The Reveries - Matchmakers Vol. 1: The Music of Willie Nelson (Rat-Drifting); Doppelmoppel - Outside This Area (Intakt); Tommy Jay - Tall Tales of Trauma (Columbus Discount); Anton Bruhin - Vom Goldabfischer (Alga Marghen); Steinski - What Does It All Mean?: 1983-2006 Retrospective (Illegal Art), Matmos - Supreme Balloon (Matador - LP version with extra tracks); Wolter Wierbos - 3 trombone solos (DolFijn); Teiji Ito - The Shamanic Principles (Tzadik).
This was a great year for music. There are several pieces I haven't had the chance to spend much time with that could also be here very easily such as El-G Tout Ploie (Kraak); Sparks Exotic Creatures Of The Deep
(Gut); Yoshi Wada Off The Wall (Em) not to mention those Blue Notes and Jewelled Antler boxes that recently came out. Oh well. May our ears never tire.
Click here for more WFMU Top 10 lists for 2008.