There is a very worthwhile issue of Downbeat out for December. Featuring the stern looking mug of Sun Ra on the cover, this issue has a nice article about the exhibit of Ra memorabilia that John Corbett has been curating in Chicago. There's also a nice interview session catching up with some AACM greats like Muhal Richard Abrams. It's interesting to look at some of the albums that they have for review in the "hot box" especially the Evan Parker disc that gets a rapturous five star review from one reviewer and a brutal one star drubbing from another. But the majority of the issue is taken up with the results of the readers poll, so I thought I'd compare my choices to the winners.
Hall of Fame: Tim's Choice: Jimmy Smith; Reader's Choice: Jimmy Smith
Well, I'm a huge B-3 fan so you'll get no argument from me about Jimmy Smith. I just wish that for once the honor would go to a living musician. Perhaps they could honor one living musician and one dead musician each year. Smith and Jackie McLean were voted in by the readers and critics respectively just months after each passed away. Couldn't we let them enjoy the honor while still alive?
Jazz Group: Tim's Choice: The Bad Plus; Reader's Choice: Dave Holland Quintet
I've voted for the DHQ before, so again you'll get no argument from me. I just thought it was time to mix it up this year and give a different band a chance. I love The Bad Plus' CDs, and seeing them in person last year was a revelation.
Big Band: Tim's Choice: Sam Rivers Riv-Bea Orchestra; Reader's Choice: Dave Holland Big Band
I like the DHBB releases, but not as much as the quintet's stuff. Sam Rivers hasn't released a big band album with the RivBea Orchestra for a while, but they are still a potent force.
Bass (acoustic and electric): Tim's Choice: Mario Pavone; Reader's Choice: Dave Holland
Pavone has very few peers as an instrumentalist. He's not flashy, but his solos are always filled with ideas and his ensemble playing is rock solid and supportive.
Male Vocalists: Tim's Choice: Mose Allison; Reader's Choice: Kurt Elling
Jazz vocalists really aren't my thing with the exception of really bluesy singers like Kevin Mahogony or quirky singers like Allison. I also contend that he is the best purely jazz lyricist around.
Trombone: Tim's Choice: Robin Eubanks; Reader's Choice: Steve Turre
Eubanks' soloing and ensemble playing has been an integral part of the Dave Holland Quintet's success.
Jazz Artist: Tim's Choice: Andrew Hill; Reader's Choice: Sonny Rollins
Hill released a wonderful album this year, has battled cancer successfully and has been the recipient of some well put together re-issues.
Jazz Album: Tim's Choice: Andrew Hill - Time Lines; Reader's Choice: Sonny Rollins - Without a Song
Hill back on Blue Note as it was meant to be. Ornette's new one may take my honor at the end of the year, but this is a very good album.
Historical Album: Tim's Choice - Miles Davis @ the Cellar Door; Reader's Choice: Thelonious Monk w/ John Coltrane @ Carnegie Hall
The Monk & Trane was high on my list for last year and deserves the kudos, but for '06 I think it's the Miles, which despite all of my whining about the foolish sausage-factory manner in which it was released is a box of simply astounding music.
Record Label: Tim's Choice: Blue Note; Reader's Choice: Blue Note
Solid mainstream new releases and a peerless back catalog. In retrospect, Cryptogramophone would be an excellent choice.
Trumpet: Tim's Choice: Ron Horton; Reader's Choice: Dave Douglas
I love Horton's thoughtful unhurried approach to improvisation and rich, buttery tone.
Soprano Saxophone: Tim's Choice: Wayne Shorter; Reader's Choice: Wayne Shorter
I prefer to hear Shorter on the tenor, but with Steve Lacy's passing, he is probably the reigning master. Many musicians double on soprano, but few play it with such individuality.
Alto Saxophone: Tim's Choice: Arthur Blythe; Reader's Choice: Phil Woods
Blythe has been forgotten a little since he moved back to the west coast, but he still possesses a startlingly tart, biting tone and is a fleet improviser, recording with unusual groups including tuba or electric cello.
Tenor Saxophone: Tim's Choice: Chris Potter; Reader's Choice: Sonny Rollins
There's really no arguing with Sonny, but Potter has come into his own over the past few years as a tenor player on both his own recordings and heavy duty sideman gigs with the likes of Dave Holland and Paul Motian.
Baritone Saxophone: Tim's Choice: Alex Harding; Reader's Choice: James Carter
I discovered Harding this year on his very good recording Blutopia, and I think he deserves the nod because baritone is his primary horn. As good as Carter is, the bari is just one of many in his arsenal.
Flute: Tim's Choice: Sam Rivers; Reader's Choice: James Moody
From deeply lyrical to profoundly free, nobody does it better.
Clarinet: Tim's Choice: Chris Speed; Reader's Choice: Don Byron
Byron has actually de-emphasized clarinet on his last couple of albums for tenor saxophone, so Speed and his interesting hollow, woody tone get the nod.
Acoustic Piano: Tim's Choice: Chick Corea; Reader's Choice: Keith Jarrett
His touch is full-bodied but not overbearing, with deep melodic feel. Now, if he would just kick the L. Ron Hubbard fascination and reunite the wonderful Origin band...
Electric Keyboard: Tim's Choice: Uri Caine; Reader's Choice: Joe Zawinul
I really like Caine's light and funky touch on the Fender Rhodes on his Bedrock recordings.
Organ: Tim's Choice: Alice Coltrane; Reader's Choice: Joey DeFrancesco
Alice Coltrane's sound in the Whirlitzer electric organ is very unique and her use of drones and spiritual feel separate her from the many Jimmy Smith acolytes.
Guitar: Tim's Choice: Ben Monder; Reader's Choice: Bill Frisell
I'm a longtime Frisell fan, but this past year or so Monder has really impressed me with his dark flavored tones and improvisations.
Drums: Tim's Choice: Hamid Drake; Reader's Choice: Jack DeJohnette
Drake is a polyrythmic monster supporting a wide range of musicians and never breaking stride.
Percussion: Tim's Choice: Susie Ibarra; Reader's Choice: Poncho Sanchez
Susie Ibarra's work on a variety of percussion instruments is always impressive.
Vibes: Tim's Choice: Steve Nelson; Reader's Choice: Gary Burton
Nelson gives the Dave Holland Quintet another percussive sound and his ringing and shimmering sound adds a beautiful touch to this great band.
Female Vocalist: Tim's Choice: Luciana Souza; Reader's Choice: Cassandra Wilson
I don't listen to a lot of jazz singers, but Souza's impressive singing backed by just guitar makes for some beautiful music.
Misc. Instrument: Tim's Choice: David Murray, Bass Clarinet; Reader's Choice: Toots Thielemans
David Murray's burbling and bubbling bass clarinet has gone well beyond its roots in Eric Dolphy's sound to develop a unique, individual feel.
Composer: Dave Douglas; Reader's Choice: Maria Schneider
I really like his compositions as they mix the jazz tradition with whimsical originality. Now on his own label he has free reign to experiment and let his imagination fly.
Blues Artist/Group: Tim's Choice: Joe Louis Walker; Reader's Choice: B.B. King
After being dropped by Verve, Walker put his demons at bay and has released a string of great blues records for the British JSP label.
Blues Album: Tim's Choice: Otis Rush - All Your Love I Miss Loving; Reader's Choice: Buddy Guy - Bring 'em In
I feel a little uneasy about listing a historical album as the best, but the music on this disc is so amazing, equal to the epochal recordings of Rush's '50's heyday, that it has to be the choice.
Send comments to: Tim