Crowd Interview: 2010 in Music

The results are in. I’m very glad so many friends, new and old, answered the survey. There is a great variety of answers here, and its been lots of fun to read them all, I hope you’ll agree.

As for me, the first thing that comes to mind in my musical life is that after many years of imagining it, and few months of very serious thought, I moved to New York. It has been very exciting, very difficult, and endlessly fascinating. So far I’ve met some great new friends who I’m sure will become important partners in the future. I’ve also been able to reconnect with several old friends who have been important in my life at various times before, and they have become so again. The process of meeting new people here reminds me of just how important it is for musicians to cooperate with each other and with our audience to help make things happen for each other.

As I was growing up studying music, and becoming more and more interested in creating music at a professional level, I thought that the music world must be very competitive. I’ve found that, in fact, its actually very cooperative, and the personal connections that we build along the way are the most important part of the equation. So, I’m looking forward to another year of heading down this path and continuing to see what’s in store. I see music as a calling that demands that I put in the effort to get to know the world as well as I can, and so to make music that can communicate new things about the world and about our place in it. This is an idea that keeps me moving through all the challenges that have come. 2011 promises to bring more surprises, good and bad, and I’ll try to meet all of them with open eyes and ears.

The release of “Rivers Music”, the second album by my chamber-jazz quintet AnyWhen Ensemble, is technically happening in 2011, but since the bulk of the work happened last year, I’d have to count it as a big highlight of 2010. The cover art by Origin’s John Bishop is at the top of this page. Thanks so much to Hashem, Shirley, Steve, Ryan and Lance for all their great work on the album. I’ll keep you posted on the details of the release.

Without further ado, here are the responses from everyone who contributed. This is something I hope to do again, so if you wanted to contribute but wasn’t able to, you’ll have another opportunity. I hope to hear from you next time!

I encourage you to google any of the names of the interviewees. Most of these responses come from great artists whose work is posted somewhere on the web. There were just too many to link to all of them. All responses are presented in alphabetical order and, as much as possible, just as I received them with as little editing as possible.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

-Douglas Detrick


2010 was a great musical year for me. Some of my highlights included playing several gigs with my group and pick up bands up and down the west coast from Oakland to Vancouver B.C.. I also recorded a new CD with my good friend Doug Detrick and his Anywhen Ensemble, to be released mid January.

I had the opportunity to play two special shows with my group featuring the extraordinary trumpeter, Ron Miles. And most recently I moved to NYC where I’ve met several wonderful new friends, reconnected with old ones including Rich Perry, and have found new inspiration at every turn!

-Hashem Assadullahi is a saxophonist who enjoys performing and teaching.

I played some Tommy Dorsey for a mobster documentary due to come out next year.

-Derek Bondy is a trombonist newly transplanted to Chicago, Il from Portland, OR.

My favorite album was spacemen 3’s playing with fire. My year as a performer went very well. I met many amazing people and saw many places on the road. These days it feels as though the business side of music is changing at a fast rate.

-Kenny Feinstein is a guitarist who has a fun time with music.

I began 2010 reading about the death of singer Lhasa de Sela, whom I did not know but a friend who is a most wonderful musician, Jim Santi Owen, posted something about her death on Facebook, and I took notice. I found her music on line and was truly moved by her voice and lyrics and that I never knew her before she passed away. She died on January 1, 2010 of breast cancer. Her music, and she through it, continues to haunt me and reach and teach me about the lessons of humanity and how music knows more then we even know as we make it.

On the last evening of 2010 I was audience to Marc Ribot, John Zorn, Chad Taylor and Henry Grime’s playing Albert Ayler’s Bells at The Stone in New York City. We all raised our glasses of champagne that were given to us at 11:45 p.m. at midnight as they kept playing this amazing piece of music. Marc Ribot spoke about the spirit of Ayler helping us to transition to this new year, and it was truly spiritual to be there.

On the first day of this year (2011) I rediscovered Max Roach’s Ghost Dance CD and played it as we baked. I love this CD and feel that it signified an end and a beginning at the same time – again the year in transition. The song is not unlike that too.

As far as my own personal life making music, as a dance artist, I only continue to realize that I am music at the base of all I do.

-K.J. Holmes is a dance artist in New York, NY.

I saw well over 150 sets of live music, all avant/jazz/improv. The year was bookended by my favorite working trio of Tom Rainey, Ingrid Laubrock and Mary Halvorson who played Korzo on January 12th and closed out my year at Cornelia Street Cafe on December 30th. In between there were too many great shows to name though Cecil Taylor solo at the French Embassy, Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Evan Parker, Wally Shoup, Peter Brotzmann, Paul Flaherty, PFL Traject, Konk Pack, the Jooklo Duo and Phillip Greenlief were all highlights. Steve Baczkowski and Ravi Padmanabha played at the Stone on March 31st, at one point Steve was playing baritone with his right hand and swinging a bell with his left arm, it was unforgettable.

-Kevin Reilly is a serious music listener. He lives in New Jersey, near New York City.

Highlights for pfMENTUM records this year…. Skaller/Holt Duo: “Music of Mark Dresser,” Jim Connolly with The Gove County String Quartet and Anna Abbey: “It’s Only Gravity that makes Wearing a Crown Painful,” Michael Vlatkovich and Dottie Grossman: “Call & Response & Friends,” David Borgo/Paul Pellegrin: “Kronomorfic,” and my duo with David Borgo called KaiBorg: “Harvesting Metadata.”

Personal musical highlights include my residency at STEIM in Amsterdam, a month in Berlin and my continued sojourn as a PhD student in Music at UC San Diego.

-Jeff Kaiser, who owns and operates pfMENTUM and Angry Vegan Records, is an audio-centric multi-disciplinary artist and plays trumpet and laptop.

For a lot of reasons, 2010 was one of the most panicked years of my musical life. And, in spite of an even weirder looking schedule for 2011, I’ve decided to get back to my practice in all the ways I have available to me.

-Brian McWhorter is musically involved.

I spent the entirety of 2010 planning and saving up to move out to Los Angeles, to try and capture new experiences to write about. I moved in September, and have spent every day since pining for Chicago.

It’s been draining – the pressure relieved only by Kurt Cobain, whom I find incredibly comforting, Third Eye Blind and Eve 6, who always feel more like old friends than bands I listen to, by Paolo Nutini’s “Jenny Don’t Be Hasty,” which never fails to lift my spirits.

Finally, by two albums: Spilt Milk by The Jellyfish and “Birds Flying Away” by Mason Jennings – the two albums I will never stop trying to wrap myself in, entirely.

-Abigail Uselding is a poet in Los Angeles, CA.

There’s a tremendous amount of infectious energy in Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society. It’s good to hear her once again channeling the spirits that gave her that first CD, Junjo. Good to see the Heads Up contract hasn’t turned her to the pop side of the force.

-John Spragens is a photographer and writer in Eugene, OR.

This year was the first that performed on all five of the instruments i’ve been practicing: tenor, alto, flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet. After a year of playing shows, weddings, Puerto Rican festivals, and Bushwick basement parties, and listening to a lot of great music by Iyer, Hollenbeck, Cannonball, Getz, Puccini, and Brahms, I realized that I don’t have to sound like anything in particular.

-Jacob Teichroew is woodwind player and music writer in New York, NY.

We carry your CDs in our van and listen to them when we want fresh, vibrant music. We’re looking forward to being able to attend a live performance of your group’s music.

-Dean and Wendy Weidner are my cousins. They live in Mechanicsburg, PA. I didn’t put them up to this!

2010 was a challenging and exciting year in music for me. I was able to branch out and work on a variety projects, most outside of the typical jazz approach, and I feel I’m beginning to get a foothold on developing my career in NYC as an occupational musician as well as an artist. I’ve realized that to function in society, one must embrace and strive to integrate playing for money vs. playing for satisfaction, at least initially for financial reasons. I’m thrilled to be teaching more as well.

I also listened to a lot of great hip hop last year, really loving very modern rappers like Aesop Rock, Doom, Mr. Lif etc. who are formidable poets and use great economy of language. In 2011 I’d like to be more involved in the hip-hop world as that has been perhaps the latest trend in art and culture, and many loose parallels can be drawn to the past development of jazz and the current development of hip-hop.

-Jon Wert plays the drums in New York, NY.

2010 ~ whoa, buddy! my favorite album was (still is) the natural sound*scape(s) of my western wooded maine mystery-nook ~ the weird twang of folks’ accents, flowers poking up, leaves crunching, creeks trickling, snow melting, gravel roads under tires ~ love it ~ <<< all cycles of sounds, yes. ... i tied up two performance art projects this year, totaling 19 movements ~ i also launched an 11 movement sound project, which was a rad experiment. and now, in 2011, i am dedicated to writing my first full-out book of experimental poems ~ 11 of them will be transformed into song for live performance and recording purposes ~ (the fall/winter of 2010 was my research-gathering-time for this project) ... lastly, in 2010, i connected with a great buddhist community (my sangha) as well as folks practicing native american traditions. i attended my first sweat*lodge on new year's eve ~ really profound. -kelly shaw willman, sound*sister, is an experimental poet, performance and multimedia artist.