Friday, December 11, 2009

Best of 2009, Part Three: New Release Honorable Mention

More jazz is dead/dying talk, this time in Newsweek, but the sheer volume of good music released in 2009 belies any such concern. These are worthwhile albums that just didn't fit in my top ten, lest I turn it into the top thirty.

Nels Cline - Coward (Cryptogramophone, 2009) It's hard to categorize this album as jazz, rock or anything else, it falls into it's own unique cosmic landscape of sound paintings.

Matthew Shipp - Harmonic Disorder (Thirsty Ear, 2009) Shipp and company are capable of taking any melody from the most familiar to the most open and building an exciting and coherent improvisation upon it.

Tony Malaby - Paloma Recio (New World Records, 2009) the intuitive interaction of the musicians and the coiled energy of the music made it consistently interesting and engaging.

NOMO - Invisible Cities (Ubiquity, 2009) The music has a spell that is fascinating and stimulating, and the short LP length of the album keeps the music from overstaying its welcome and becoming monotonous.

Nick Moss and the Flip Tops - Live At Chans: Combo Platter No. 2 (Blue Bella Records, 2009) Mixing originals with blues standards, they have a unique and enjoyable sound which pays homage to the blues tradition without being slavishly retro.

Bill Frisell - Disfarmer (Nonesuch, 2009) The music must be listened to with a patient ear, but the beauty of the music and the unadorned nature of Disfarmer's photography make for a compelling experience.

Rez Abbasi - Things to Come (Sunnyside, 2009) This is exotic and exciting while still being accessible, and it is very fresh and thoughtfully produced.

James Carter, et. al. - Heaven on Earth (Half Note, 2009) There is a danger in a jam session that egos may overrule teamwork, but that is not the case here and the result is a most agreeable disc.

Joe Morris - Wildlife (AUM Fidelity, 2009) This was a spirited and exciting album which offered a wide open structure allowing the musicians to show off their creativity in a fun and often thrilling manner.

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks: Live At the Hollywood Bowl (Listen to the Lion, 2009) major achievement in looking back at a masterpiece of youth from the perspective of age and hard won wisdom and finding that the ideas and emotions are still valid today.

David S. Ware - Shakti (AUM Fidelity, 2009) Tenor saxophonist Ware has been dealing with some pretty serious health issues lately, but you would never know it from this.

Ellery Eskelin - One Great Night... Live (HatHut, 2009) The music on this album is never stale but constantly evolving, much like the group itself.

Digital Primitives - Hum Crackle and Pop
(Hopscotch, 2009) This group achieves what jazz musicians are always looking for: an original sound that is unique and expressive.

Mike Reed's People Places and Things - About Us (482 Music, 2009) This was a very well done and exciting modern jazz album. Chicago is a hotbed of some of the best improvised music being created right now.

Chad Taylor - Circle Down (482 Music, 2009) While Taylor is nominally the leader, the three voices have equal status and work well together to make consistently original and interesting music.

Jon Crowley - Connections (Jon Crowley Music, 2009) Talented performers drawing for a variety of inspirations making wonderful sounds.

Dave Douglas - A Single Sky (Greenleaf, 2009) The heyday of the large ensemble may be gone, but projects like this indicate that this format is still fertile ground for creativity.

Darius Jones - Man'ish Boy (AUM Fidelity, 2009) it had a searching, seeking tone that was emotionally resonant and very impressive.

Linda Oh Trio - Entry (Linda Oh Music, 2009) If anyone doubts that jazz crosses all genders and cultures, check out this great album led by a woman born in Malaysia, raised in Australia and now living in New York.

Vijay Iyer - Historicity (ACT Music, 2009) The stream of music is ever flowing, and this trio has made a wonderful contribution to the current with this album.

Jon Irabagon - The Observer (Concord, 2009) Jon Irabagon shows that he has a wonderful talent, to be comfortable in the hard swinging world of mainstream jazz and the abstract and ever inquiring world of the avant-garde.

Fred Anderson - 21st Century Chase (Delmark, 2009) Anderson and Jordan are in excellent form and they draw on the entire history of the tenor saxophone in jazz, at times referencing swing, bop and free in the pursuit of their music.

Sharel Cassity - Relentless (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2009) Her music and temperament is confident without being smug, and she’s open to all the possibilities that improvised jazz offer. Hopefully we will hear more from her soon.

Joe Louis Walker - Between A Rock And The Blues (Stony Plain, 2009) With a deep soulful voice and strong supple guitar work, Walker is the complete package, and this album should make blues fans very happy.

The Vandermark 5 - Annular Gift (Not Two, 2009) The music then builds to a strong and vibrant conclusion.This is one of the finest working groups in jazz and their commitment to musical adventure remains as true today as ever.

R.E.M. - Live At The Olympia (Warner Bros., 2009) Far from a band that was playing out the string, these performances and the ensuing Accelerate LP shows that R.E.M. are not going to go quietly.

Send comments to Tim.