2013 is over, friends. But that doesn't mean we should forget about the explosion of jaw-dropping new releases from every corner of the new-music world. From solo woodwind debut albums to extravagant collaborations and evening-length masterworks, the year saw some incredible discs hit the market, and you can be sure that the Brothers Balliett were gobbling them up, voraciously following along to see just what would come next.
An undisputed highlight was the appearance of master violinist/composer/conductor David Fulmer's first album for Tzadik, a large-scale tapestry featuring the peerless soprano-saxophoning of Elliot Gategno. This large and splashy canvas is represented with a gorgeous inner-movement ensemble piece, Nebula No. 3.
The saxophone was also vindicated from its typically-typecaste roles in Ryan Muncy's "Hot," an album that journeys through music with a number of this generation's luminaries. By no means least on this white-hot disc is Marcos Balter's Strohbass, which matches Muncy's soulful baritone with Claire Chase's equally-so bass flute.
The saxophone wasn't the only woodwind to get its day in the sun – Rebekah Heller broke some serious barriers for her instrument, the bassoon, with a menu of ambitious new works, including an ear-bending, face-melting new piece with electronics by Edgar Guzman.
We round out the show out with selections from Ensemble Signal's recording of Michael Gordon/Julia Wolfe/David Lang's overwhelming Shelter and works by Mel Powell and Christos Hatzis. You'll want to take some notes during today's show – so that you can run out and grab these discs before they're all gone.