Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best of 2008, Part Two: New Releases

2008 was an excellent year for music and the new releases that came out were an embarrassment of riches. The discs listed here only begin to hint at all of the wonderful music that came out this year.

Honorable Mention:
Ben Allison - Little Things Rule the World
Tony Malaby - Tamarindo
Elmore James Jr. - Daddy Gave Me the Blues
The Black Keys - Attack and Release
R.E.M. - Accelerate
Bill Frisell - History, Mystery
Nick Cave - Dig! Lazaurs! Dig!
Elvis Costello - Momofuku
David Murray and Mal Waldron - Silence
Vijay Iyer - Tragicomic
Dr. John - City That Care Forgot
Atomic/School Days - Distil
Magic Slim - Midnight Blues
Atomic - Retrograde
McCoy Tyner - Guitars
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith - Born In Arkansas
Doug MacLeod - The Utrecht Sessions
Mostly Other People Do the Killing - This is Our Moosic

10. Steven Bernstein - Diaspora Suite: The latest chapter of this ongoing series explores territory opened up by the likes of Miles Davis's 1970's improvisational funk bands and John Zorn's Electric Masada.

9. William Parker - Petit Oiseau: A wonderful working band creating thoughtful and exciting music.

8. Donny McCaslin - Recommended Tools: A muscular and deeply rhythmic saxophone trio that recalls Sonny Rollins' great pianoless trio recordings.

7. Joe Louis Walker - Witness to the Blues: Combining old school gutbucket blues with Walker's own roots in gospel and soul, he creates music that is both traditional and unique.

6. Orchestra Baobab - Made in Dakar: A longstanding band from Senegal that combines local music styles with Caribbean music as well as R&B, they create a hypnotic blend of musical styles.

5. Vandermark 5 - Beat Reader:
Continues their tradition of frenetic improvisation interspersed with slower more abstract songs, all dedicated to fellow musicians and artists.

4. James Carter - Present Tense: With gimmicks and concepts wisely cast aside, this album successfully presents James Carter as an all around musician, proficient not just a number of different reed instruments, but comfortable in all tempos and situations.

3. Fieldwork - Door: A cooperative band made up of a rotating cast of some of the best players in modern experimental jazz, this is heady stuff from talented musicians, and the music is very exciting to listen to.

2. Rudresh Mahanthappa - Kinsmen: Compiling music from across multiple cultures and melding them in the all encompassing crucible that is modern jazz, Mahanthappa and his comrades have created thoughtful and memorable music that is very well executed.

1. Anthony Braxton, Milford Graves & William Parker - Beyond Quantum: Not as cerebral as the usual "composed" Braxton project, this one is strictly a blowing session and there is extraordinary collective improvisation present.

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