Braided Together: Jazz United Reflects on Trauma and Resilience in Our Year in Review

Dec 22, 2020

So many of us are more than ready to put 2020 into the rearview.

The dues have been heavy. The losses have been great. The two of us certainly had no way of knowing that our first hang together — in February, at Jazz Standard — could represent a microcosm of the catastrophe and creation that were only weeks away.

As we sat enraptured by the sound of the Ravi Coltrane Quartet, neither of us would have predicted that the Standard, one of the world’s most renowned rooms for improvisational music, would be forced to close shop permanently as a result of a global pandemic. But that evening also planted the seeds for this podcast.

Greg Bryant and Nate Chinen in Beacon, N.Y., Aug. 2020.
Credit Dara Tucker

On our final episode of 2020, we reflect on the year that was. Our arts and music community endured its largest series of challenges in many years: removal of livelihood; deaths in our community (some as a result of COVID-19); civil unrest to demand justice for Black lives; a divisive political climate; the uncertainty of resuming pre-pandemic socialization.

But it wasn’t all darkness. We’ve been amazed by the perseverance of so many musicians over the past ten months. All in all, 2020 was an exceptional year for music from both rising stars (Immanuel Wilkins, Nubya Garcia, Giveton Gelin) and established masters (Maria Schneider, Brad Mehldau, JD Allen.)  

Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn and Ches Smith at Roulette in Brooklyn on Nov. 6, 2020, for Jazzfest Berlin.
Credit Nate Chinen

We’ll talk about some of their efforts, and some of our standout moments from before and after lockdown — like a Nasheet Waits Trio performance in Central Park, as part of the Giant Step Arts series Walk in the Wind (pictured above); and a Craig Taborn / Mary Halvorson / Ches Smith set at Roulette in Brooklyn, for Jazzfest Berlin.

There’s a lot to be grateful for — and we encourage you to remember and share some of your favorite moments of 2020 as well, in the comments below.

Music Featured in This Episode:

Jazz United is produced by Sarah Kerson. Our senior producer is Simon Rentner.

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