On the Nature of Rabbit Holes

/
Wondering whatever happened to a favorite jazz indie label from years gone by prompts a web search that yields unanticipated discoveries: excellent new music representing a vital young scene.

Playlist.

/
Jaap van Zweden, Skylark Quartet, Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra, Karel Husa, Rudy Royston Trio, and other stirring sounds playing lately at Night After Night HQ.

Best of 2016: Noteworthy Recordings

/
Trying to tally the year's "best" recordings is a thankless task, not least because there's no realistic chance anyone has heard everything.… every listener's taste is individual, and focus can be contingent upon situation. All of which said, the following lists comprise the new recordings and archival projects that impressed and moved me most in 2016, with an appendix of still more albums that brightened this year.

Best of 2016: 10 Memorable Musical Events

/
For anyone expecting a painstakingly winnowed-down, tightly focused tabulation of the most significant events to take place in the musical world circa 2016: I apologize, but you'll have to look elsewhere. Even so, it's not at all difficult to name 10 meaningful and affecting musical performances I witnessed this year.

Best of 2016: In Praise of National Sawdust

/
For all the manifold benefits that come with being a music journalist and critic embedded at a performing-arts incubator and presenter – and they are substantial – one meaningful constraint is that it feels inappropriate now to include my employer's projects and products among my year-end best-of listings. What follows is a concise tally of NS-related events and releases that under other circumstances absolutely would have figured into my own personal summaries of the year's most vital art.

Early Audition: Vicky Chow, AORTA

/
Most likely you know the dynamic pianist Vicky Chow best for her most visible job: as keyboardist in the versatile, eclectic, and always expressive Bang on a Can All-Stars. A O R T A, her second solo album, arrives on Nov. 18, but you can hear the entire album here, now.

Playlist.

/
Chöying Drolma & Steve Tibbetts, Mayhem, Laraaji, Ken Thomson, Mary Halvorson Octet, and other select sounds playing lately at Night After Night HQ.

Early Audition: Qasim Naqvi, Chronology

/
Composer and Dawn of Midi drummer Qasim Naqvi is set to release a new album of moody, compelling synthesizer music on Nov. 4, but we're going to let you hear it right now.

Playlist.

/
Michael Pisaro, Meshuggah, Graham Lambkin, Carl Stone, Ghédalia Tazartès, and other select sounds playing lately at Night After Night HQ.

Early Audition: The Living Earth Show, Dance Music

/
The Living Earth Show, the explosive Bay Area new-music duo of electric guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson, is set to unleash its sophomore full-length album, Dance Music, via New Amsterdam Records on Oct. 28, and will celebrate at National Sawdust on Oct. 21. And to get you in the mood to celebrate, we're going to let you hear the whole thing ahead of time, exclusively.