Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Jazz Page’s Twenty-One Faves of 2010

Traditionally, magazines and websites offer a Top Ten of the “best” recordings from the past year. But we quickly realized that this was not going to work. There were just way too many great recordings released this year. So we decided to go with a top twenty. However, as we were down to the final cut there were two recordings that we felt had to be included with the others we chose. So we decided to go with 21 selections. So here, presented in no particular order of preference, are our Top Twenty-One Favorites (or “faves”) of 2010. We loved them all and many others not included among this group.

Trio of OZ
The O is drummer Omar Hakim and the Z is pianist Rachel Z. They’re joined in a trio setting by bassist Maeve Royce for some fantasic covers of a range of tunes. Great stuff! Check out our review here.

Babatunde Lea – Umbo Weti
An incredible tribute to Leon Thomas and an incredible live set at Yoshi’s. A fantastic band here, featuring Patrice Rushen on piano, Ernie Watts on saxophone, Gary Brown on bass and the spirited Babatunde Lea on drums and percussion, with powerful vocal work by Dwight Tribble. Check out our review here.


Esperanza Spalding – Chamber Music Society
Esperanza deserves credit for following her musical heart and not doing the expected and giving birth to Chamber Music Society. With the help of Gil Golstein she produced a beautiful recording that pushes the envelope of classical music. Check out our review here.


Gregory Porter – Water
An amazing voice. Fantastic debut for a very impressive talent. Porter earned a Grammy nomination for this project. We wish him a long career, for his benefit, and ours!
Check out our review here.


Charles Lloyd – Mirror
The venerable master saxophonist continues at his best. Mirror is one of his best featuring first class musicianship from pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.Check out our review here.


Gerri Allen & Timeline – Live
Joining tap and jazz in a live recording sounds like a tough feat, but Gerri Allen, with the help of her band, managed to make it work and produced an excellent recording.
Check out our review here.


Geof Bradfield – African Flowers
Inspired by a tour of African countries, Geof Bradfield composed this excellent suite of music. He’s joined by Ryan Cohan among others. Really enjoyable work.
Check out our review here.


Myron Walden – In This World : What We Share
This was one part of Myron Walden’s In This World series. Both are great recordings, but we got to know this one quite well last summer. Beautiful music. Check out our review here.


Tineke Postma – The Traveller
It’s always great to discover a new talent and music that’s interesting and demands to heard, this was the case with Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma and her recording. Another great young composer.


Cindy Blackman – Another Lifetime
In the spirit of her friend and mentor, Tony Williams, drummer Cindy Blackman celebrated with a boundary-pushing project on this one. Powerful drumming and great guitar work from Mike Stern among others. Check out our review here.


Mike LeDonne – The Groover
LeDonne produced a real big city jazz record with this one. True to it’s name, this one is a groovefest, with saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein and Joe Farnsworth on drums.


Tia Fuller – Decisive Steps
Following her excellent debut release a few years ago, Decisive Steps continues saxophonist Tia Fuller’s musical ascendency. Solid compositions and musicianship made this one to love.


Ian Carey Quintet – Contextualizin’
Another solid band out of the Chicago area. Ian and the Quintet have a nice sound that can appeal to musiclovers across the jazz spectrum and beyond.
Check out our review here.


Regina Carter
Ever the musical explorer, violinist Regina Carter drew from the inspiration of field recordings of Ugandan worshippers to create this project. She even makes it swing.
Check out our review here.


Greta Matassa- I Wanna Be Loved
Greta was one of the many nice discoveries of 2010. Greta Matassa has a tremendously powerful voice, combine that with great tunes and you’ve got a recording worth hearing.
Check out our review here.


Christian Scott – Yesterday You Said TomorrowOn his third studio effort, Christian Scott continues to innovate with the trumpet. One gets the feeling that Miles Davis would be doing much of what Scott is doing if he were among us today. Check out our review here.


Dana Hall – Into The Light
Great compositions and performance from the talented Chicago-based Dana Hall made this one we really liked a lot.
Check out our review here.


Mary Stallings – Dream
Vocalist Mary Stallings just gets better with each outing. We love hearing every note she sings. Pianist Eric Reed does a great job, as always, arranging the notes.
Check out our review here.


Helio Alves – Musica
Pianist Helio Alves was kind of a late discovery, but well worth it. It’s just a pleasure to listen to this recording.
Check out our review here.


Christian Howes
Violinist Christian Howes was another great music revelation. In the tradition of Stuff Smith, he’s another wonderully swinging violinist. Great performances and with Robben Ford! How can you go wrong?!


The Mason Brothers – Two Sides, One Story
The Mason Brothers have a wonderful blend of sound. Terrific musicianship on this effort.
Check out our review here.

Helio Alves – Música

(Jazz Legacy Productions)

Growning up in Brazil, pianist Helio Alves was more interested in the classical music he was studying, than the more rhythmic forms associated with his country. His latest recording, Música reflects all those influences and more. The music here runs the gamut from kineticly energized to cooly reflective. Alves’ technical brilliance is complimented nicely by the work of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Antonio Sanchez. The album is further enhanced by guest appearance of revered guitarist Romero Lubambo and trumpetmaster Claudio Roditi. The quality of compositions chosen for the project also makes it first rate. Comprised of standards and tunes by other composers, Alves’ interpretations makes them shine anew.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Black Nile”.

Tracks: Gaeira, Kathy, Sombra, Black Nile, Flor Das Estradas, Musica Das Nuevens E Do Chão, Adeus Alf, Tribute to Charlie, Chan’s Song.


Norma Winstone, Klaus Gesing, Glauco Venier – Stories Yet To Tell

(ECM Records)

Together, the multi-national trio of British vocalist Norma Winston, Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German bass clarinetist and saxophonist Klaus Gesing make hauntingly beautiful music. On Stories Yet To Tell,  their second recording for ECM, the three achieve an alchemy that is soul-piercing. The acoustics of the recording lend to the sense of intimacy and space, with the notes of Venier’s piano reverberating and Gesing’s clarinet and saxes looming, while Winston’s beautifully operatic voice ebbs and flows through it all. The mood of the music, most of which was written by each member of the trio, is subtle and soothing. The convergence of these three talented artists make listening to this recording both reflective and transportive.        

Click here to listen to a clip of “Sisyphus”.

Tracks: Just Sometimes, Sisyphus, Cradle Song (Hoy Nazan), Like A Lover, Rush, The Titles, Carnera, Lipe Rosize, Among The Clouds, Ballo furlano, Goddess, En mort d’ En Joan Cucanh.


Myron Walden – In This World: To Feel

(Demi Sound Records)

The companion piece to saxphononist Myron Walden’s In This World: What We Share, To Feel  is another chapter in the prolific, productive career of this talented musician. Walden says in a note in the package that his his hope for the project is that it “will inspire you to reflect on the beauty that exists in the world”.  It certainly is music for reflecting, with a very gentle, warm and embracing quality. Walden composed all the tracks on the project. Guitarist Mike Moreno providesa nice electric accompaniment to Walden’s tenor throughout the set. Also on the recording are Jon Cowherd and David Bryant on Fender Rhodes organ, Chris Thomas and Yasushi Nakamura on acoustic basses and Kendrick Scott handling drums on most the tracks, with Brian Blade of the Fellowship fame, playing on two of the recording’s eleven tracks. This is deeply beautiful work of art that must be heard and appreciated, along with the other part of the musical diptych.

Click here to listen to a clip of “When All Is Said And Done”.

Tracks: When All Is Said And Done, Giving, Settiling Calmness, In This World, In This World, Lonesome Dwellings The Fall of Summer, Inner Peace, As She Sleeps, Hope, I Believe, Gone But Not Forgotten.


Paquito D’Rivera – Panamericana Suite

(MCG Jazz)

Revered reedman and composer Paquito D’Rivera’s fuses Latin jazz with classical feel for a sound and album that is engaging and beautiful. Panamericana Suite derives from a commissioned piece that D’Rivera created for Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2000. The project feels both epic and intimate at times and features a multi-national ocrchestra of talent that add brilliant colors to the music. Among those featured on the recording are trumpeter Diego Urcola, Andy Narell on the steel pans, Dave Samuels on vibes and Alon Yavnai on piano. The voice of Puerto Rico-born soprano Brenda Feliciano is stunning and beautifully accents the colorful array of the production. 

Click here to listen to a clip of “Tojo”.

Tracks: Waltz For Moe, Con Alma, Preludio No. 3, Tojo, Panamericana Suite, Fiddle Dreams, Serenade, Song For Peace.


Jazz Giant James Moody Passes Away

James Moody, a jazz saxophonist and flutist celebrated for his virtuosity, his versatility and his onstage ebullience, died on Thursday in San Diego. He was 85.

Mr. Moody, who began his career with the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie shortly after World War II and maintained it well into the 21st century, developed distinctive and equally fluent styles on both tenor and alto saxophone, a relatively rare accomplishment in jazz. He also played soprano saxophone, and in the mid-1950s he became one of the first significant jazz flutists, impressing the critics if not himself.

Read more here.

Bob Mintzer – Canyon Cove

(Self Released)

Tenor sax man Bob Mintzer has been able maintain his own musical identity while also remaining a centerpiece of the Yellowjackets for many years now. The successful balancing act continues with his new album Canyon Cove. The new album features Mintzer’s signature big, bright sound in a wholely new context once again. Joined by Larry Goldings’ stirring B-3 organ, Peter Erskine’s solid drumwork, this is yet another great work from one of the great saxophone voices of the modern era.  

Click here to listen to a clip of “Somewhere Up There”.

Tracks: Somewhere Up There, Bebop Special, Papa Lips, Bugaloo to You Thaddeus, When I Fall in Love, Improv #3, Road Well Traveled, Truth, Mr. Fonebone, Improv #2, Canyon Cove, Improv #1.


Nik Bartsch’s Ronin – Llyria

(ECM Records)

Lyria is the free-ranging new album from the Swedish band Ronin, helmed by pianist Nik Bärtsch. The compositions are explorations of grooves and musical lyricism It’s a free-ranging expedition of piano, clarinet and saxophone over metronomic grooves. But far from being The music here is quite expansive and contempelative at the same time. Bärtsch, the project’s composer, is complemented greatly by Sha, whose bass clarinet and saxophone work on the project adds color to the music. Also adding breadth to the sound are Bjorn Meyer on bass, Kaspar Rast on drums and Andi Pupato on percussion. Llyria is a recording that goes well beyond merely entertaining to become truly immersive listening.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Modul 51”.

Tracks: Modul 48, Modul 52, Modul 55, Modul 47, Modul 53, Modul 51, Modul 49_44.


2010 Grammy Nominees – Jazz

Best Contemporary Jazz Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.
The Stanley Clarke Band
The Stanley Clarke Band
[Heads Up International]
Never Can Say Goodbye
Joey DeFrancesco
[HighNote Records]
Now Is The Time
Jeff Lorber Fusion
 [Heads Up International]
To The One
John McLaughlin
[Abstract Logix]
Trombone Shorty
[Verve Forecast]

Best Jazz Vocal Album

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.
Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee
 Dee Dee Bridgewater
Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B
Freddy Cole
[HighNote Records]
When Lights Are Low
Denise Donatelli
[Savant Records]
Lorraine Feather
[Jazzed Media]
Gregory Porter
[Motéma Music]

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

For an instrumental jazz solo performance. Two equal performers on one recording may be eligible as one entry. If the soloist listed appears on a recording billed to another artist, the latter’s name is in parenthesis for identification. Singles or Tracks only.
Alan Broadbent, soloist
Track from: Live At Giannelli Square: Volume 1
[Chilly Bin Records]
A Change Is Gonna Come
Herbie Hancock, soloist
Track from: The Imagine Project
[Hancock Records]
Body And Soul
Keith Jarrett, soloist
Track from: Jasmine[ECM]
Lonely Woman
Hank Jones, soloist
Track from: Pleased To Meet You[Justin Time Records]
Van Gogh
Wynton Marsalis, soloist
Track from: Portrait In Seven Shades (Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra)
[Jazz At Lincoln Center]

 Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group

For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.
John Beasley
[Resonance Records]
The New Song And Dance
Clayton Brothers
Vijay Iyer Trio
[ACT Music + Vision]
Moody 4B
James Moody
[IPO Recordings]
Danilo Perez
[Mack Avenue Records]

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

For large jazz ensembles, including big band sounds. Albums must contain 51% or more INSTRUMENTAL tracks.
Infernal Machines
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
[New Amsterdam Records]
Autumn: In Moving Pictures Jazz – Chamber Music Vol. 2
Billy Childs Ensemble Featuring The Ying String Quartet
Dave Holland Octet
[Dare2 Records]
54Metropole Orkest, John Scofield & Vince Mendoza
Mingus Big Band Live At Jazz Standard
Mingus Big Band
[Jazz Workshop, Inc./Jazz Standard]

Best Latin Jazz Album

Vocal or Instrumental.

Tango Grill
Pablo Aslan
Second Chance
Hector Martignon
Psychedelic Blues
Poncho Sanchez
[Concord Picante]
Chucho’s Steps
Chucho Valdés And The Afro-Cuban Messengers
[Four Quarters Entertainment]
¡Bien Bien!
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet
[Patois Records]

Christian Howes – Out Of The Blue

(Resonance Records)

Christian Howes is a classically-trained violin whose path was changed when he started playing in African-American churches. You can hear the strong bluesy influence in his work on his latest release, Out of The Blue. If the project wasn’t bluesed up enough, he’s joined in this effort by guitar virtuoso Robben Ford. The string fellowship between the two is not to be missed. The supporting ensemble on the recording is outstanding as well, and includes Tamir Hendelman on piano, Bobby Floyd on Hammond b-3, Kevin Axt and Joel Rosenblatt on drums. Howes nicely covers a cross-section of tunes by Chick Corea, Ornette Coleman, Fats Domino and Carla Bley, with the project swinging from start to finish. 

Click here to listen to a clip of “I’m Walkin'”.

Tracks: Fingerprints, I’m Walkin’, Cape Verdean Blues, Gumbo Klomp, Out of The Blue, See and Ye Shall Find, Bobby’s Bad, Sing Me Soflty When Will The Blues Leave, Sweet Lorraine.