January 1st 2010
(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.