Do the shuffle

Okay, first - I don't mean do the creep. That's something different:

I'm slowly making my way through submissions to this year's festival. Of the 600 or so CDs and EPKs sent our way, I identified about 300 which were "of interest". (It's a bit of a brutalist approach, but it's what works at the moment - it still gives me lots of choice when it's time to book, and allows me to quickly parse out those bands which, for reasons of budget, venue or geography would not likely be booked regardless of their quality.) And, of those 300 or so, I've listened to 190 so far.

While spending just a few minutes listening to each submission allows me to evaluate whether or not each might be a fit for the festival, it is ultimately not a particularly satisfying listening experience. So I'm thankful for some recent musical outings which have somewhat re-calibrated my ears. In the past week I saw Matt Wilson's Quartet and Atomic, both at The Rex; Martin Loomer and his Orange Devils at the Monarch Tavern; and, last night, the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at a sold-out Massey Hall. Four very different shows, certainly. Each was excellent, and it was nice to listen to a complete set of music from each artist - not just snippets.

I was expecting today to be a busy day - I had three tentative meetings set up. When suddenly none of the meetings were actually happening, I had a free day ahead of me. I've been able to catch up on a few things…and I made the decision not to listen to submissions today. But then came the difficult choice of what to put on the stereo. Finding it difficult to choose, I ultimately decided to dig into my iTunes collection - and press shuffle.

Now, the amount of music in my catalogue is a frequent source of self-doubt. Many people have far more - and a much more encyclopedic knowledge of - music than I do. But, at nearly 2900 tracks, my collection represents an interesting variety of music. And it's been fascinating to go on the journey. Currently I'm listening to the Mel Lewis Orchestra play Bob Brookmeyer's Hello and Goodbye; here's a list of some of the artists emanating from the speakers today:

A Tribe Called Red
Afro Cuban All Stars
Ambrose Akinmusire
Clifford Brown (with strings)
Ana Tijoux
Esperanza Spalding
Thom Yorke
Tiger & Woods
Donny McCaslin
Wynton Marsalis
Betty Wright
Dream Koala
Christine Jensen
Buddy Rich
Bela Fleck
Stile Antico
Metric (that one's for Jesse Markowitz)
Melissa Aldana
Angelique Kidjo
Anne Murray


It's been kinda awesome. Some of these tracks I haven't listened to for a while, so I've sort of had one big long blindfold test all day. My ears feel refreshed, my spirits uplifted. With so much good music to hear, I've enjoyed taking the time today to explore.

So - what are you listening to?


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