One of the highlights of 2022 was a full-scale return to seeing live music. I didn't fully appreciate how much I'd missed that element in my life until I recently reflected on a few moments of musical magic from the past year. Those moments included seeing John Scofield at the Blue Note, Glen Hansard in Washington DC, and the amazing Django-influenced guitarist Stephane Wrembel at a free concert in Red Bank. What memorable shows did you see in 2022?
And now Branford Marsalis so thoroughly transported me earlier this month I'm having trouble imagining I'll see a better show over the remaining eleven months of 2023. For almost two hours, Marsalis and the piano trio supporting him played at a nearly super-human intensity. Mixing originals with material by Duke, Monk, & Irving Berlin - interspersed with a few nods to traditional New Orleans jazz - these four exemplary musicians personified what it means to be at the top of your game. Their interplay, creativity, and fire never let up. In addition, because I was seated near the front, it was easy to see how much fun all four of them were having as each prodded the other to take another leap into the musical unknown. It was exhilarating to be close to excellence of this caliber.
What shows are you looking forward to in 2023? In my case, I'm a little worried Branford and his band set the bar so high that disappointment could be difficult to avoid. I desperately hope I'm wrong; seeing live music is too important to me.