Pamela Espeland of MinnPost.com:
1 “Parable of the Sower,” the O’Shaughnessy. A post-apocalyptic science fiction opera drew a joyous sold-out crowd. The music by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, flavored with folk, gospel, rock, country and that Sweet Honey spirit, told a bleak and hopeful story.
2 Ken Vandermark and Nate Wooley, MCAD. The multi-reedist and trumpeter, respectively, delivered a night of masterful compositions, inspired improvisations and startling, thrilling sounds — especially from Wooley’s horn.
3 Yousseff Daoudi, “Monk!” This graphic novel tells of the friendship between jazz genius Thelonious Monk and heiress Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a baroness of the Rothschild family. In Daoudi’s drawings, Monk and New York leap off the pages and you can almost hear the music.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 The O’Jays and Al Green, New Orleans Jazz Fest. These 70-something soul legends still have it. The O’Jays brought the harmonies, steps and “Love Train,” while Green, who seldom travels away from his Memphis church, thrilled with his ecstatic and sexy vocalizing.
2 Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Orleans. To hear this trad jazz horn band in its funky antiquated home base was a treat. So many skilled soloists and great humor from trumpeter Will Smith.
3 International Jazz Day, New Orleans Jazz Museum. Experiencing the Professor Longhair exhibit, Jon Cleary’s talk on deconstructing his piano style and the Cha Wa Band throwing down feather-dressed, horn-fueled funk made for a joyously jazzy day.