2008's Top Recordings

Philip DiPietro

  1. Tim Miller, Trio Vol. 2 (Avenir)

    Miller's an amazing, percussively legato player who upped the ante here so much in terms of pure sound and tone, it earned him not only the guitar record of 2008. More

  2. David Fiuczynski, KiF Express (Fuzelicious Morsels)

    Micrototonal mayhem. This one proves that no other guitarist can even attempt to do all the things Fuze does. More

  3. Andre Fernandes, Cubo (Tone of a Pitch)

    Fernandes' ears and pen synthesize the perfect blend of alternative rock and jazz with the shores and streets of Lisbon. More

  4. David Tronzo, Giacomo Merega, Noah Kaplan, The Light and Other Things (Creative Nation Music)

    Two kids from the Boston microtonal society (ferreal) reimagine Tronzo in his role as spontaneous creator and microtronal combusticator. More

  5. Gaetano Partipilo, Right Place (Emarcy/Universal)

    Forward motion and a superb band (see sidemen performances, below) put Partipilo in this place. More

  6. Oddjob, Sumo (Act-Music)

    Soundscapes, escapes, travelogues and analogs land these Swedes at #1 in the otherworldy music category.

  7. Nik Bartsch's Ronin, Holon (ECM)

    Modul 42 is the jazz ipod anthem of 2008. Ronin is a zen-funk organism.

  8. Noah Preminger, Dry Bridge Road (Nowt)

    Sometimes, rigor and complexity make for great music. No 23 year old tenorist has tunes, a band, or a sound like this. Co-debut of the year.

  9. Rebecca Martin, The Growing Season (Sunnyside)

    Not really jazz; just the best singer-songwriter type thing of 2008. More

  10. Sara Serpa, Praia (Inner Circle)

    The singer as front-line horn, and singer. Co-debut of the year and it's most accessibly beautiful jazz record. More

Top ten sidemen on ten recordings

  1. Neal Fountain, electric bass — Alex MacHacek, Jeff Sipe and Neal Fountain, The Official Triangle Sessions (Abstractlogix)

    A few years back, Fountain was robbed of fine-motor skills in his left hand by a stroke. More than a "comeback," the circumstances, playing and spontaneity quotient warrant sideman performance of the year.

  2. Russ Lossing, piano — Michael Adkins, Rotator (Hat hut)

    Lossing's twinkling breakneck linearity and ultra-responsive reharmonization makes the perfect counterwight to Adkins' languid heft,making this left-field session essential listening.

  3. Ben Monder, guitar — Noah Preminger, Dry Bridge Road (Nowt)

    Monder's "usual" level of complete mastery, tonal versatility and split-second instinct are on overwhelming display.

  4. Mike Moreno, guitar — Leonardo E.M. Cioglia, Contos (Quizamba Music), Gaetano Partipilo, Right Place (Emarcy/Universal), Aaron Parks, Invisible Cinema (Bluenote)

    Moreno adds much more than fantastic guitar to the mix; he lays an entire lyrical, light-filled vibe on these records while playing some very fast, very sophisticated lines.

  5. Take Toriyama, drums — Tim Miller, Trio Vol. 2 (Avenir)

    An incredible swansong for the versatile Toriyama, who outplays high-tech fuisioneers by bringing new sounds and more importantly, new ideas, to the table.

  6. Cary DeNigris, guitar and Matt Garrison, electric bass — Chico Hamilton, Trio! Live @ Artpark (Joyous Shout)

    Sometimes monster displays by incredible musicians are aesthetically more than acceptable. This one-off gig with Garrison on bass provides both the bassist and the criminally underrated guitarist Denigris with ample opportunity to melt your headphones.

  7. Ranjit Baro, drums — John McLaughlin, Floating Point (Abstract Logix)

    McLaughlin put more west than east in this curry to earn five stars from Downbeat. The performance from Barot drives the proceedings from both directions.

  8. Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar, keyboards and production — Rebecca Martin, The Growing Season (Sunnyside 2008)

    Rosenwinkel is known as his generation's most devastating guitarist. That might be, as this session shows, because of his incredibly individualistic and accurate perception of simply what sounds good.

  9. Nasheet Waits, drums — Gaetano Partipilo, Right Place (Emarcy/Universal)

    Waits eats odd-times, real times and meantimes for breakfast lunch and dinner here. Scorching.

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