BEST OF 2018: Rudy Lu’s Top 12 Concerts, Honorable Mentions Plus Two More

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Willie Nile
Willie Nile returned to The Linda.

By Rudy Lu
Photographs by Rudy Lu

Nippertown has a huge choice of live musical choices almost daily. I am more frequently having harder choices to make. I generally do not attend the larger shows; I prefer smaller venues. There is no ranking as to quality of the listed shows as the variety I attended this year as in years past has been huge.

In chronological order:

Joe Locke & Jim Ridl @ the Senate Garage, Kingston, April 21
The dynamic duo of virtuosic piano and vibes performed as part of the Jazzstock Series curated by Teri Roiger and John Menegon.

Willie Nile @ The Linda, Albany, May 26
Willie Nile stops by Nippertown on an at least annual basis, but this was my first time seeing him. His high energy rock and roll made me a dedicated fan. I will see him again next year.

Iberi Choir @ Music Haven Schenectady, July 24
A cappella men’s choir from the Republic of Georgia. World music at its finest. Their polyphonic harmonies mesmerized the audience.

“Shadows & Light: A Jazz Tribute to Joni Mitchell” @ Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, August 11
Curated by Michael Eck. Nippertown’s jazz community paid tribute to the great Joni Mitchell, who turned 75 this year, and the interpretations had as much variety as her music.

Skerryvore @ Music Haven, Schenectady, August 12
Celtic rock with two bagpipes. Had the audience boogying in front of the stage for most of their performance.

Jazzmeia Horn @ A Place for Jazz, Schenectady, October 19
The Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist delivered a strong performance in the intimate concert setting of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady’s Whisperdome.

Anat Cohen Quartet @ A Place for Jazz, Schenectady, November 2
Jazz clarinetist extraordinaire!

Chris Pasin’s Ornettiquette @ the Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy, November 10
CD release party for trumpeter Chris Pasin and his band, who paid tribute to and interpreted the works of avant garde musicians and composers Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry.

John Medeski’s Mad Skillet @ Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes, November 14
This project came about during a late night in NOLA in 2015. John Medeski teamed up with guitarist Will Bernard, sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and drummer Terrence Higgins for two sets of funky jazz NOLA jamming on their inaugural nationwide tour to support their CD release.

Marcus King Band @ Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes, November 24
The hard traveling band featuring guitarist /vocalist extraordinaire 22-year-old leader made three stops in Greater Nippertown this year. This was the third, but the first as a headliner. Branding themselves as soul influenced psychedelic rock, IMHO this band is the future of rock.

Scott Petito & Friends Play The White Album @ Bearsville Theater, Woodstock, December 1
Hudson Valley’s finest play The Beatles’ White Album in its entirety. Not a note for note recreation, but a performance that tried to capture the spirit of the late ’60s. Musicians who lived through the era as well as those who had yet to be born played alongside each other.

Ras Moshe & the Music Now! Unit @ Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy, December 8
The debut of the free jazz piece, “Peace Be with You.” Musical interpretations of Ras’ father’s letters to his grandparents while he was stationed in Vietnam. A powerful antiwar statement very relevant to our times.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Jason Miles @ Jazz at the Lake, Shepard Park, Lake George, September 15
As the evening closer for the first day, Jason and his band played the music of Weather Report. Violinist Karen Briggs flew in just for this gig. Percussionist Mino Cinelu, who was a member Weather Report in its later configurations, turned in a strong performance.

Sharel Cassity & Elektra @ Jazz at the Lake, Shepard Park, Lake George, September 16
Cassity made her second area appearance in nine days. The first was with a traditional jazz quartet. This one with Elektra shattered the musical boundaries of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, electronica, rock and gospel. Tear down the walls!

MOST EXPERIMENTAL
Billy Martin’s Stridulations for the Good Luck Feast @ the Falcon, Marlboro, September 2
Billy Martin (of Martin, Medeski & Wood) conducted an orchestra of electric guitars and basses that played to the rhythms of the waterfall roaring behind them. The composition was based on and inspired by the sound of crickets in the field. His performance then moved inside the club itself, with music created both solo and with other performers on guitar, drums, hand percussion, electronics and piano.

BEST OUT OF TOWN CONCERT
Charles Lloyd & the Marvels featuring Lucinda Willliams @ Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, New York City, December 14
The 80-year-old master saxophonist has never stopped exploring and experimenting. His genre-bending band featured Bill Frisell (guitar) and Greg Leisz (pedal steel) along with longtime rhythm section of Bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. The beautiful harmonics of Leisz’ pedal steel added fullness to the band’s sound. Lucinda Williams sang a moving version of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”and her own “We’ve Come Too Far” before closing with a strong cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.”

MORE BEST OF THE YEAR LISTS
J Hunter’s Top Women in Jazz Albums
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 21 Concerts
J Hunter’s Jazz2K Awards
Ed Conway’s Top Concerts
Stanley A. Johnson’s Top 10 Concerts (And More)
Michael Eck’s Eastern Liberal Elite Best of the Year
J Hunter’s Top 10 Jazz2K Discs
Mike Stampalia’s Top 10 Concerts

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