BEST OF 2014: Richard Brody’s Top 11 Concerts
By Richard Brody
Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk
1. HIROMI: THE TRIO PROJECT @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany, 11/14/14 – A great show percolating with energy, humor and incredible playing that included her solo rendition of “Green Tea” that was dedicated to her mentor Ahmad Jamal, who was in attendance.
2. WOOD BROTHERS @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany, 2/23/14 – My first Wood Brothers show, and it was fabulous. The songs from The Muse, the use of “Big Mic” to recreate an old-time feel, fine playing by Chris, Oliver and Jano, and who will forget Chris’s dance moves to Michael Jackson’s “PYT.”
3. KING CRIMSON @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany, 9/9/14 – An unforgettable trip to Planet Crimson – don’t know if I’d want to live there, but a visit is always great. And for me “21st Century Schizoid Man” was last heard live on 7/5/69 in Hyde Park, London.
4. RICHARD THOMPSON @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany, 10/11/14 – Another fine performance by RT at what has become an annual fall visit (keep them coming) highlighted by many of his classics. On this evening his rendition of “Pharoah” was chilling, and a new song “Fergus Lang” about an opportunistic land developer who has a “full head of hair when the wind is blowing in the right directions” was as hilarious as the absurdities that come from The Donald.
5. ERIC HARLAND’S VOYAGER @ Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center, Saratoga Springs, 9/27/14 – From the opening selection of the evening “Relax” to the encore of “Maiden Voyage,” Harland and his sensational band were absolutely mesmerizing.
6. LYLE LOVETT & HIS ACOUSTIC GROUP @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany, 11/6/14 – With a songbook that is deep and rich, a band of fabulous musicians, Lyle and company provided us with another night to remember that included the humor of “Penguins,” the darkness of “LA County” and the heartfelt longing of “Front Porch Song.”
7. CHICK COREA @ the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, Albany, 4/11/14 – A wide reaching song selection from Stevie Wonder to Jobim to Monk to Chopin, but highlighted by the improvised compositions for audience members.
8. THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany, 8/8/14 – A great show highlighted by “A Remark You Made” from one of his favorite bluegrass bands – Weather Report.
9. NICK LOWE/LOS STRAITJACKETS @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany, 12/19/14 – Crooner, rocker, entertainer – Nick Lowe gave us all sides during his Xmas revue that was highlighted by “Christmas at the Airport,” “Cruel to be Kind” and Louie Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” backed by Los Straitjackets who also offered a number of selections including “Itchykoo Park,” their homage to the late Ian McLagan.
10. RUTHIE FOSTER/ERIC BIBB @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany, 2/9/14 – Even though it was Bibb who technically headlined the show, it was Foster who brought the deeper emotional connection to the blues, soul, and gospel renderings of her songs. From her own “Harder Than the Fall” to her reworking of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” she was captivating. And since we were both celebrating our birthdays, I got a big birthday hug from Ruthie.
11. FREIHOFER’S SARATOGA JAZZ FESTIVAL @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, 6/28&29/14 – So much music and so much fun – Ronnie Earl, Terrence Blanchard, Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence, Dave Holland’s Prism and Trombone Shorty for starters.
THE EVERYWHERE I GO, THERE HE IS AWARD: Julian Lage. Okay, I’m starting with the fall of 2013 when he appeared (twice) with the Gary Burton Quartet, and then with Chris Eldridge at Saratoga Arts on April 22, followed by his playing with Eric Harland’s Voyager at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center on September 27 and concluding with his duo concert with Nels Cline at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre on November 20. Different types of music played on different guitars with the common denominator being his great playing coupled with the ever-present smile.
READ OTHER “BEST OF 2014” LISTS:
Michael Eck’s Top 10 Albums
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 21 Live Music Events
Albert Brooks’ Top 11 Albums
Gene Sennes’ Top Concerts & Albums
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part II
The Capital Land Crate Digger’s Cultural Top 10
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part I
Stanley Johnson’s Favorite Things
Rudy Lu’s Top 10 Concerts
J Hunter’s Top 10 Concerts (And More)
Tim Livingston’s Top 10 Albums