Philip Booth: Best Jazz Discs of 2009

January 1st 2010 01:06 pm

Copyright © 2010 Philip Booth

(This list is expanded from a similar list published in the Village Voice and Las Vegas City Life).

1. Allen Toussaint, The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch) – The old-school R&B hitmaker digs deep into jazz roots, applying elegant piano to New Orleans chestnuts and pieces by Monk and Ellington.

2. Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge, The Comet’s Tail: Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker (MAMA) – The Florida-based big band revisits and reinvents the music of late saxophone great Brecker.

3. David Binney, Third Occasion (Mythology) – The underappreciated alto saxophonist offers ambitious, expansive originals, with his quartet joined by brass.

4. Tom Harrell, Prana Dance (Highnote) – The trumpeter leads his tight-knit quintet on compositions that are brainy yet emotionally engaging.

5. Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio, Reflections (Wommusic) – The most gifted jazz guitarist under 40 takes a break from his edgy originals for brilliant, shimmering readings of standards by the likes of Monk and Wayne Shorter.

6. John Patitucci Trio, Remembrance (Concord) – The bassist’s heavyweight pianoless trio, with saxophonist Joe Lovano and drummer Brian Blade, bring piercing original compositions replete with surprising detours.

7. Fly, Sky and Country (ECM) – Saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard turn in fertile modern-jazz explorations.

8. Joel Harrison, Urban Myths (Highnote) – The guitarist again draws from fusion, funk and blues for smart, multi-textured jazz originals.

9. John Scofield, Piety Street (EmArcy) – Sco wields his tangy overdriven guitar for hard-grooving gospel pieces, driven by Meters bassist George Porter, Jr.

10. New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Slither Slice (Threadhead) – The veteran brass band returns with horns chewy enough and funk deep enough to blast the competition.

VOCALS: Roberta Gambarini, So in Love (Emarcy) & Gretchen Parlato, In a Dream (Obliqsound) & Tierney Sutton, Desire (Telarc)

DEBUT: Gerald Clayton, Two-Shade (ArtistShare) & Michael Janisch, Purpose Built (Whirlwind)

LATIN: Arturo O’Farrill, Risa Negra (Zoho) & Dafnis Prieto, Live at Jazz Standard NYC (Dafnison Music) & Omar Sosa, Across the Divide (Half Note)

Reissues: Scott LaFaro, Pieces of Jade (Resonance) & Medeski Martin & Wood, Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set (Indirecto) & Eddie Harris and Ellis Marsalis, Homecoming (ELM).

And 10 more of the year’s best jazz recordings:
Vijay Iyer, Historicity (ACT)
Joe Lovano, Folk Art (Blue Note)
Joshua Redman, Compass (Nonesuch)
Gary Burton-Pat Metheny-Steve Swallow-Antonio Sanchez, Quartet Live (Concord)
Gary Peacock-Marc Copland, Insight (Pirouet)
The Bad Plus with Wendy Lewis, For All I Care (Heads Up)
Robert Glasper, Double Booked (Blue Note)
Cedar Walton, Voices Deep Within (High Note)
Christian McBride, Kind of Brown (Mack Avenue)
James Carter-John Medeski-Christian McBride-Adam Rogers, Heaven on Earth (Half Note)

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