Let's work! What jazz will be in this - we hope a favorable new year - we will find out only by living. What jazz was, however, last year will be the subject of a series of posts that you will be able to read in the coming days. We will take stock of the record, examining the records that, by critics around the world, have been considered the best released in 2021 - all accompanied by a Spotify playlist, of course.
We will tell the life and works of some formidable young musicians who have come to light in recent months. One above all: Jon Batiste, the phenomenal Neworleansian pianist who will present himself with eleven nominations at the delivery of the next Grammy Awards (if it is not a record, we are close to it). In short, we will spend the past year under the microscope, trying to read, as if they were coffee grounds, signals to understand what the future holds.
Instead, we must necessarily report two exceptional events that marked the last months of the year just ended. Jazz, that is, has gone to work, thanks to two works that debuted in November 2021. The first, Fire Shut Up In My Bones, written by trumpeter Terence Blanchard; The second one, Iphigenia, composed by Wayne Shorter and esperanza spalding (this is not a typo: the talented musician has preferred to eliminate capital letters in her name for a while).
Fire Shut Up In My Bones it is the first work by an African American composer ever performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (MET, for friends), or the American temple of opera. Blanchard had already staged it in 2019, in Saint Louis, but the MET strongly wanted it even to open the 2021-22 season. A work of incredible density, whose libretto - written by Kasi Lemmons, formidable Afro-American director and screenwriter, author of the memorable Harriet, about abolitionist heroine Harriet Tubman - is taken from the book of the same name by Charles Bowl, a delicate and bitter coming-of-age story in racist America. Soon, at least we hope, it will be possible to see the version filmed on the MET stage.
Iphigenia, on the other hand, with music by Wayne Shorter and the libretto of esperanza spalding, which is also the protagonist, is not the transposition of the Greek myth of Iphigenia, but a profound and lyrical reflection on the theme of the feminine. The score of Shorter, for orchestra, within which his usual group moves (with Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Jeff Tain Watts), breaks down, as the critics have written, the boundaries between classical music and jazz, also providing for moments of orchestral improvisation. The work will move to the West Coast in February, to Berkeley and Los Angeles. Who should pass through those parts ...