Best of Miami®

Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

BEST LOCAL PERCUSSIONIST

Boom-cha ... ching-ching da boom da da boom ... ching ba-da-ba boom chingboomboomboom ... cha-ding ... bing ... bop daboom boomdadoom ... booooommm. Yeeeeaaaah! With a touch as hard as a hammer or as soft as silk, depending on the tune and tone, Bobby Thomas (as the North Miami Beach native/South Miami resident is known worldwide) has had a hand in creating countless moments of jazzy splendor. Lacking an instrument for teacher-mandated classroom jam sessions during elementary school, little Bobby used his desk to pound out beats that would eventually lead to collaborations with many jazz greats. While he developed his chops around town, Thomas hooked up with Jet Nero and was discovered by the late bass legend and local hero Jaco Pastorius, who recruited the skin slapper for a little thing called Weather Report, a collective many consider the most potent jazz-rock outfit of the Seventies and early Eighties. Sax maniac Wayne Shorter created Weather Report with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who is said to live in South Florida -- reunion jam! reunion jam! Actually Thomas has reunited with an old cohort, the great Monty Alexander; in March the two were performing shows regularly and planning a tour to Spain. The coolest aspect of Thomas's approach is how anything becomes an instrument: bongo, conga, snare, school desk, bicycle, garbage can lid.... Thomas's inventiveness led Zawinul to dub him the world's first "hand drummer." Boom ... cha-ding!

BEST NEW CULTURAL TREND

When the night ends, it doesn't matter if the artwork altered anyone's perception because, as they say, it was all good. Rocket Projects, at 3440 N. Miami Ave., was at the vanguard of this lowbrow cultural movement, always providing complimentary booze, DJ sounds, and even, on one chilly night, free barbecued chicken out back. OBJEX artspace's soirees tended to be a higher form of lowbrow, but with new digs at 203 NW 36th St., this gallery gets credit for taking the art party movement into ever deeper depths of Wynwood. Lawrence Gartel went even higher (i.e., lower) for an exhibition curated in conjunction with David Lombardi's Roving Fridays. This show, Cyberotica, featured digital art inside the warehouse and painted ladies (literally) who were shaking what they had on a rickety little runway out back. Free vodka drinks, natch. There were many other shining examples of this exciting new trend, but we don't remember them.

BEST NEW MUSIC TREND

Years ago it seemed every kid wanted a guitar. Then all those kids began to trade their guitars in for two turntables, speakers, and a mixer. Some New Jacks even skipped the actual mechanisms, opting for computer programs like ReBirth or Fruity Loops. During the late Nineties, only real-deal rockers dared to take actual guitars and drums onto the stage or into the studio. It was the cut-and-paste, Pro Tools antics of DJs and the 808 drum machine/synthesizer that governed youth-oriented music. These days the role of knobs and computer keyboards in music production are increasingly minimized by objects that were considered rather archaic: guitars, horns, and actual drums (not drum machines). Led by groups such as the Spam Allstars, the modern elements (DJ, rapper, electronic gadgetry) are largely backed by traditional, organic instruments. Local hip-hop groups such as Buddha Gonzalez and the Headless Chihuahuas, Brimstone 127, and Council of the Sun have all put the prerecorded sample on the back burner in favor of the warmer, more dynamic sounds of live instrumental performances. It could be a cue for the comeback of other logical elements of music makers ... like talent.

BEST NEW MUSIC TREND

Years ago it seemed every kid wanted a guitar. Then all those kids began to trade their guitars in for two turntables, speakers, and a mixer. Some New Jacks even skipped the actual mechanisms, opting for computer programs like ReBirth or Fruity Loops. During the late Nineties, only real-deal rockers dared to take actual guitars and drums onto the stage or into the studio. It was the cut-and-paste, Pro Tools antics of DJs and the 808 drum machine/synthesizer that governed youth-oriented music. These days the role of knobs and computer keyboards in music production are increasingly minimized by objects that were considered rather archaic: guitars, horns, and actual drums (not drum machines). Led by groups such as the Spam Allstars, the modern elements (DJ, rapper, electronic gadgetry) are largely backed by traditional, organic instruments. Local hip-hop groups such as Buddha Gonzalez and the Headless Chihuahuas, Brimstone 127, and Council of the Sun have all put the prerecorded sample on the back burner in favor of the warmer, more dynamic sounds of live instrumental performances. It could be a cue for the comeback of other logical elements of music makers ... like talent.

BEST LOCAL JAZZ ARTIST

Okay, so it's not like he plays upstairs at the Van Dyke every other weekend. But when you have a jazz deity living in your back yard, you gotta pay props and do what you can to coax the cool cat out of the bag. Or in this case, out of his Aventura condo and onto a bandstand near you. Jazz fans want him to play as often as possible -- eight nights per week would do. Sparked by a rare planetary alignment or some such harmonically auspicious convergence, the fiery grace of Wayne was upon us for the recent JVC Jazz Festival on Miami Beach, but his live concerts are as rare as Florida panthers. In case you didn't know, Mr. Shorter is a sax player and composer of the highest order, a former member of the Jazz Messengers -- the best Miles Davis band ever -- and Weather Report, and, in general, a living legend. Let us give thanks, for he is among us.

BEST LOCAL JAZZ ARTIST

Okay, so it's not like he plays upstairs at the Van Dyke every other weekend. But when you have a jazz deity living in your back yard, you gotta pay props and do what you can to coax the cool cat out of the bag. Or in this case, out of his Aventura condo and onto a bandstand near you. Jazz fans want him to play as often as possible -- eight nights per week would do. Sparked by a rare planetary alignment or some such harmonically auspicious convergence, the fiery grace of Wayne was upon us for the recent JVC Jazz Festival on Miami Beach, but his live concerts are as rare as Florida panthers. In case you didn't know, Mr. Shorter is a sax player and composer of the highest order, a former member of the Jazz Messengers -- the best Miles Davis band ever -- and Weather Report, and, in general, a living legend. Let us give thanks, for he is among us.

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BEST LOCAL PERCUSSIONIST: Robert Thomas, Jr.

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