Friday, December 30, 2011

My Short(er) List

So if I downloaded from disk to ipod 797 recordings in 2011, with 350 to 400 being new music as opposed to reissues and found treasures, then a list of 84 of them constitutes what I think would be considered a sound number as "favorites." Anyway, without keeping count, I went through all the titles and wrote down those that I thought were favorites and that is what they came out to. At the end there are a few singers, and a few reissues and older disks that I particularly liked, and those are here as well.

I looked at what some others have for lists and note that Jazz Times critics went to 40 new issues (of which I own 25), and Jazz Breakfast in the UK lists 50 (of which I have 24). The two lists do overlap of course but still represent closer to 70 or so disks. Throw in all those on other lists, and I bet one could easily total 200 recordings on various best of lists. So my 84 seems reasonable, at least to me. I also note that only a few seem to appear nowhere else, while several are everywhere, like Ambrose Akinmusire or Keith Jarrett.

As I said in my first post, when you start to see what I like best, you also start to see where I am coming from, what  I like, and therefore what value you might place on my thoughts. If you like piano soloists then my list will be appealing, trios too. But you will also find a few big bands, some avant garde, quintets; music from the U.S., Europe, Mid-east and Asia. The order is random, and there may be an occassional disk that was not from 2011.
  1. Harold O'Neal -- Marvelous Fantasy:  Fabulous pianist that has to get more exposure. Smalls
  2. Carol Morgan -- Blue Glass Music: Look at those players and listen to them work together. Great stuff
  3. Gerald Wilson Orchestra --- Legacy: The band plays on, and boy does it swing. Never ages for me
  4. Karen Sharp -- Spirit: Baritone, tenor, marvelous sound. Hard to find here (Trio Records UK)
  5. Trish Clowes -- Tangent:  Oops, she recorded this is 2010. But listen to another tenor in action (Basho UK)
  6. Eric Reed -- Something Beautiful: And that describes it to a "T". Classy veteran pianist. See also Dancing Monk this year.
  7. Three Cohens-- Family: Yuval, Anat, Avashai together, separataely, doesn't matter -- all good. Don't miss their other outings either. Anzic
  8. Joan Stiles -- Three Musicians: Clever arrangements, great interplay with Joel Frahm
  9. Kris Davis -- Aeriol Piano: Lovely sound from a young up and comer
  10. John Law -- This Is: A pianist you should look into, this is only his latest. Another UK player that needs to be heard
  11. Mats Eilertsen -- Sky Dive: you've heard this bassist on ECM, now hear his trio on Hubro Records. Has an outstanding discography to explore
  12. Enrico Rava -- Tribe: I am in love with Italian Jazz, the melody, unity,  the atmosphere. Giovanni Guidi on piano has some leader recordings on CamJazz you might want to hear. ECM
  13. Keith Jarrett -- Rio:  I am not sure I would call it the best, but then I might have a lot of trouble identifying the best from his discography, all the way back to Facing You. ECM
  14. Stan Tracey -- A venerable name in the UK, I have only just come to appreciate his playing, and this may be a disk from 2010. But you owe him a listen.
  15. Noah Preminger -- Before the Rain:  A young up and comer, watch for him. Lots of others are too based on the lists.
  16. Gwilym Simcock -- Good Days at Schloss Elmau: Simply gorgeous piano playing from a guy who has appeared on many disks. You might want to listen to the Impossible Gentleman, which also features Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum. Catch him on ACT or Basho, but do catch him, alone or in trio or quartet. Its all good.
  17. Omer Klein -- Rockets on the Balcony: Released late in 2010 by Tzadik label. Check out the cover art as well as the music -- it's great stuff.
  18. Helen Sung -- Going Express and (Re)Conception: A classical talent turns to jazz and produces two outstanding recordings on Blue Note and Steeplechase. Lovely trio settings.
  19. Lynne Arriale -- Convergence: Seems like it all comes together on this lovely album of originals and covers, with her trio and Bill McHenry. Listen to new takes on Paint it Black or Here Comes the Sun. Motema
  20. Trichotomy -- The Gentle War: A late 2010 release from Naim. New wave piano trio music a la EST or Bad Plus. Really worth a listen or seven.
  21. Colin Vallon -- Rruga: An ECM piano trio, lovely to listen to. Some say it goes nowhere, I say it takes you inside and anywhere you want to go.
  22. Jeremy Pelt -- The Talented Mr. Pelt: He sure is, as are all the members of the band. Nuff said.
  23. Brad Mehldau -- Live in Marciac:  How can the left and right hands play so independently yet in such complementary fashion? Are there two brains inside his head? This is the recording that really sets him apart for me.
  24. Jean Michel Pilc -- Essential and Threedom: Few take apart and reassemble tunes like Pilc -- Martial Solial comes to mind but few others. Twists and turns galore, whther solo or with Moutin and Hoenig on Threedom. Always a first rate listen.
  25. Kate Williams -- Made Up; The pianist has gone from trio to quaartet and now to septet. The expanded sound is a thrilling and expands her already prodigous musical imagination. kwjazz UK
  26. Julian Siegel --Urban Theme Park: A guest on the above recording, multi-reed leader here on an adventerous, energetic ramble with guest Liam Nobel on piano, another name to check out. Basho Records UK.
  27. Jake Saslow -- Crosby Street: Can't recall which blog mentioned this recording, but I am glad they did. Download only, it is a great start for the young tenorist.
  28. Sunna Gunnlaugs -- The Dream and Long Pair Bond:  Two great recordings from a marvelous Icelandic pianist residing in Brooklyn. Thjere are many wonderful earlier disks to hear as well.
  29. Joel Frahm -- Live at Smalls: He's been mentioned a couple of times so far as a sideman, but hear he blows it out at Smalls. Great live music, great energy, and a tip of the hat to Spike for producing these fine disks.
  30. Maria Baptiste -- Spring in Berlin: A late entry this year but a lovely piano trio, she also produced a large band album that I have yet to hear. Highly recommended.
  31. Zoe Rahman -- Kindred Spirit: Another pianist I am late to discover this year, I now have three of her recordings, including some with her brother on clarinet. Great blend of jazz and middle eastern sounds. Looking forward to listening to these more in the next few weeks. Another UK find.
  32. Emmet Cohen -- In the Element: A young pianist, a great start.
  33. Julia Hulsmann Trio -- Imprint: Another fine trio from ECM.
  34. Fred Hersch -- Alone at the Village Vanguard: Great music from a great pianist
  35. Matthew Shipp -- Art of Improviser:  A lesson in how to deconstruct music and create new visions.
  36. Kit Downes -- Quiet Tiger: Great music from the UK. Follow up to equally good "Golden" 
  37. Omar Sosa --- Calma: The title says it all. Beautiful piano playing.
  38. Paulo Fresu -- Songlines: Hard to find in the U. S. but worth the effort for this wonderful trumpeter.
  39. Iro Rantala--Lost Heroes: A beautiful set of songs on ACT.
  40. Kris Bowers -- Blue in Green: A young up and coming pianist shows his early skills here
  41. Abdullah Ibrahim -- Sotho Blue:  A really nice set of music from an old pro.
  42. Terrell Stafford -- This Side of Strayhorn: Can a trumpet sound more soulful than this?
  43. Dado Moroni -- Live in Beverly Hills: I have molto disks of his from Italy. This is his first U.S. release and is a good sample of his work.
  44. Kenny Werner -- Balloons: Nice quintet work live at the Blue Note with David Sanchez and Randy Brecker.
  45. Marcin Wasilewski -- Faithful:  Another ECM trio continuing its fine work.
  46. Lee Konitz -- Live at Birdland: Wow what a live disk! Great work by Mehldau and Haden.
  47. Gerald Clayton -- Bond: A young pianist with a great pedigree shows that he has it.
  48. Mats Vinding -- Open Minds: Another of those surprise disks. The back ups are the story -- Jean Michel Pilc and Billy Hart. Great trio disk.
  49. Matthew Shipp and Darius Jones -- Cosmic Lieder: Alittle further out than most of the others, but interesting creative music
  50. Ran Blake -- Grey December: I am a big fan of almost anything Ran Blake does.
  51. Pee Wee Ellis -- Tenoration: Had no clue who he was but once I found out I was enthralled by the big bluesy sound of  his tenor.
  52. Danny Grissett -- Stride:  A very nice pianist making a name for himself with his trio.
  53. Craig Taborn -- Avenging Angel: Who knew he could make such beautiful and contemplative music? A must for any jazz fan who likes Taborn or ECM.
  54. Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein -- Bienestan: Beautiful music together, what more can I say?
  55. Shimrit Shoshan -- Keep it Movin': Not even sure how I found this, but hope you can too. Another Israeli musician, this one on piano
  56. Claire Ritter -- The Stream of Pearls Project: Lovely, peaceful music that captivates the soul.
  57. Stefon Harris et al -- 90 miles: Take a trip to Cuba and enjoy.
  58. Nicole Mitchell -- Awakening:  Mitchell hits it big this outing with her lovely flute and great band.
  59. Ketil Bjornstad -- Early Music: On Hubro label, see where he began. A great set of improvised piano music.
  60. Leszek Mozder -- Komeda: ACT label, give it a listen.
  61. Danilo Rea and Flavio Boltro -- At Schloss Elmau: Another great disk from the Schloss, this time with a great Italian hero Danilo Rea. Look for his backlog of great music too.
  62. John Taylor -- Requiem for a Dreamer: The dreamer is Kurt Vonnegut, the player the great pianist John Taylor. Love it.
  63. Helge Lien Trio -- Natsukashii:  Hubro label. Really nice Northern European trio music.
  64. Bobby Wellins -- Time Gentlemen Please: Straight ahead jazz from a veteran tenor sax. Trio Records UK
  65. Neil Cowley -- Radio Silence: A bit of a cheat but only released here in 2011. Interesting modern piano trio
  66. Ambrose Akinmusire -- When the Heart Emerges Glistening:  Everyone's hit, mine as well.
  67. Trio M -- The Guest House: Modern piano trio led by Myra Melford. Atmospheric probably fits the bill
  68. Denys Baptiste -- Identity by Subtraction:  I cheated and listened to this after it was posted by Jazz Breakfast, but enjoyed every minute of the sax led group.
  69. Aquarium -- Aquarium: Another UK product worth getting a hold of.
  70. Marcus Strickland -- Triumph of the Heavy: Two disks, one live and one in studio, one with and one without piano. Strong strong showing on the trumpet, the shape of things today.
  71. Francesco Turrisi -- Fotografia: Lovely piano musi. Delicate.
  72. Uri Caine Trio -- Siren: It was worth the wait to hear the trio once more in action. Deconstruction and reconstruction of some familiar tunes, strong interplay among the trio, and constant feeling of moving forward with the music. Go back and hear the earlier trio settings for Mr. Caine as well.
  73. Bruce Babad -- A Tribute to Paul Desmond: A smooth alto sound captures the Desmond feeling, with wome up to date touches.
  74. SF Jazz Collective -- 8rth Annual Concert:  Stevie Wonder gone jazz and it works so well, along with some very progressive charts of originals in the same moods. Very classy band.
  75. Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani -- Orvieto: Two pianos, two masters, too good.
  76. Poncho Sanchez and Terrance Blanchard -- Chano y Dizzy: A tribute to two masters played by two modern masters and their band. Will have you swaying to the beat in no time.
  77. Roy Haynes --Roy-Alty: An isn't he just that, here with the Fountain of Youth Band. A continuation of their earlier upbeat music underpinned by a drum legend. 
  78. Cory Weeds -- Just Like That -- The Cellar Live label from Canada offers some nice straight ahead music, and Weeds Alto stands out in this live outing. Check out some others on the label. 
  79. Ed Puddick Big Band -- Guys and Dolls: I am a sucker for all things "guys and Doll', but even I I wasn't these takes on one of the best scores ever are original and fun to listen to. 
  80. Miguel Zenon -- Alma Aldentro: Another unanimous selection this year on most lists. Zenon's trip home brings us the wonderfu l flavor of his childhood. 
  81. Sonny Rollins -- Road Shows Volume 2: Oh to have been there at the Beacon. This captures much of the moment, although the short segment of St. Thomas from a Japanese outing seems extraneous. Wish there was more or none at all. 
  82. Icelandic Musicians:  Gunnar Gunnarsson, Sigurour Flosason, and Arni Heidar Karlsson all cuaght my ear, as did Trio K. May be very hard to find to listen to, but I love the music I am hearing from there.
  83. John Taylor and Stephane Kerecki -- Patience: Patience is not needed to listen to the interplay between the two, and you will be rewarded.
  84. Curtis Fuller -- The Story of Cathy and Me: Fuller describes in words and music his life with, and the passing of, his wife Cathy with some very touching songs, and with outstanding support.
And now for some singers:

  1. Ella Fitzgerald -- Ella in Japan
  2. Sophie Millman -- In the Moonlight
  3. Judy Wexler -- Under the Painted Sky
  4. Karen Allyson -- 'Round Midnight
  5. Cyrille Aimee -- Live at Smalls
  6. Tierney Sutton -- American Road
  7. Tony Bennett -- Duets 2
  8. Frank Sinatra -- Best of the Best
A few oldies not to miss:

  1. Tubby Hayes -- Tubby's New Groove
  2. Gigi Gryce -- Doin' the Gigi
  3. Paul Motian -- The Paul Motian Box (Soul Note/Black Saint)
  4. Herb Geller -- Fire in the West
  5. JATP -- Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl 

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