2018 Favorites I

I Loved These Shows:

Sona Jobarteh at Chicago's World Music Festival. The only Gambian woman touring professionally on kora, Sona's instrumental virtuosity, vocal and physical beauty, and band leading fire wowed me from first note to last. Tried my best to get an interview. Alas...

Dayme Arocena at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Cuba is African as exemplied by Dayme and her conservatory bandmates. Their interpretations of traditional folksongs through a jazz lens was breathtaking.

Sisterfire at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, especially Toshi Reagon's Big Lovely, Holly Near and Ysaye Barnwell. Curated by Toshi, the workshops and concerts brought together several generations of performers and attendees. She brought her mother out of retirement for the Bernice Johnson Reagon Songbook set and communal singing was the order of the weekend. But, for an event that focused on women of color, where were the black people of Chocolate City? Why doesn't Women's Music reach more people, especially the jazz women in town?

Nicole Mitchell, Gregory Porter and Cory Henry at the Newport Jazz Festival. An abundance of musical riches and extreme weather in an idyllic setting. Christian McBride produced an amazing variety of events, with lots of women featured throughout the festival. And though I was seeking out the women, I had a great time with the brothers too.

Holly Near at the Old Town School. After seeing Holly in DC, I couldn't pass up a chance to see her at home. She and her accompanists were fabulous.

Shana Tucker at the Chicago Jazz String Summit. Shana's Chamber Soul, with her cello and vocal jams, was a delightful surprise. Pianist Amy Bormet and bassist Emma Dayhuff provided a solid foundation for the cellist's creativity.

Sweet Honey in the Rock's Art Talk at the U of Chicago's Logan Center. Moderated by activist scholar Barbara Ransby, current members reflected on the group's work over more than forty years. When audience members began to speak, there was an outpouring of love, gratitude, and respect for the significance of the group and its music in so many women's lives. It was wonderfully apparent that Sweet Honey is a Being far greater than the twenty-eight individuals that have contributed to it.