It was worth the wait. Wholly improvised but rigorously controlled, the 70-plus-minute set of Taborn at a grand piano bears an incredible, unmistakable intensity—even when Taborn is just barely pressing the hammers to the strings. As the contemplative minimalism of opening track “The Broad Day King” gives way to the dreamy sustain of “Glossolalia,” you’ll be hard-pressed to recall any other jagged left turn executed with comparable fluidity. And when Taborn—a powerful keyboard-abuser—finally does start in with the contrapuntal pounding (during the title track, among others), Avenging Angel doesn’t just seem like an “album of the year” candidate, but something destined to have one of those “crown” icons next to its four-star rating in the 30th Penguin Guide to Jazz, however many years from now. Anyone who wonders why their “indie” music has become so familiar as to be arguably equated with “adult contemporary” should take a tour of Taborn's sound-world: a place where echoes of Debussy, ’70s AACM-school jazz, and minimal techno collide with a force that could easily preclude intelligibility. In Taborn’s hands, that radical chorus really sings.
“Marlboro Marine,” by Luis Sinco
Nominated by: Heather Murphy, Slate photo editor
Many enormously talented photojournalists have risked their lives to cover the war in Iraq. As a result, millions of powerful photos emerged. Sadly, as the war dragged on and on—and then was overshadowed by Afghanistan, the images began to blend together, one bloody combat mission fading into another, one young soldier indistinguishable from the next.
Except for Luis Sinco’s Marlboro Marine. Thirty years from now, his smudged face will continue to stand apart from all the other smudged faces. Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller (his real name) is the “Afghan Girl” of the 2000s. As he struggles with his post-combat nightmares over the coming decades, he’ll smoke his way through textbooks, posters, and documentaries.
Calling out a single photo as “the new classic” is an impossible task. Each genre of photography has its own classics. Sinco’s photo, emblazoned in the minds of millions as it hit the covers of more than 150 newspapers in 2004, is just one of many.
It’s been a decade of radical digital change in photography. Talking to friends in the photo world about this project, many suggested iPhone photos taken with Hipstamatic filters as the new classic. I was tempted to agree. But then I realized that a classic is not a trend or style, it is a single undistinguishable image that will live on, whether we want it to or not. There have been many significant cellphone photos throughout the last few years, but with the exception of perhaps the amateur shot of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” have we seen many that will still be discussed in 50 years? (Do you disagree or have your own nominations? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)