Lyn Horton: Take It From the Top

December 31st 2009

It is the end of the year. No, the first decade of the 21st century. And I do feel the anvil of time descending from the sky to crush me. My own age.

I hear the horns, the bass and the drums from the next room; the sound weaving its way around the corners of the walls that become the dividing lines between here and there.

This is poetry… a diary entry more than a report, requiring referential footnotes. Poetry sometimes skips the grammar and the punctuation, formalized in text books. Those saucy steps also happen in improvised music… music that lunges out of bounds passing through the wall that constantly presents itself at the point when no one can leap to the chance of the unknowable future, which, when speculated upon, has already become false and another story, rather than some indescribable set of circumstances.

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Elzy Kolb: A few of my favorite things, 2009

December 31st 2009

Here’s the music that caught my ear in 2009, in alphabetical order:

  • Nuance, Lynne Arriale (Motema)
  • Carla’s Christmas Carols, Carla Bley (ECM)
  • Blending Times, Ravi Coltrane (Savoy Jazz)
  • Disfarmer, Bill Frisell (Nonesuch)
  • Live at the Jazz Standard, Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra (Sunnyside)
  • Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival, The Monterey Quartet (Monterey Jazz Festival Records)
  • Doozy, Jackie Ryan (Open Art)
  • Rise Up, Dr. Lonnie Smith (Palmetto)
  • A Quiet Thing, Lisa Sokolov (Laughing Horse)
  • Emperor March, Charles Tolliver Big Band (Half Note)
  • FreeSong Suite, Fay Victor
  • Joe’s Strut, Michael Wolff (Wrong)

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Bill King: The Best Jazz CDs of 2009

December 30th 2009

1.Darcy James Argue: Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

2.Vijay Iyer: Historicity (ACT)

3.Terence Blanchard: Choices (Concord Jazz)

4.Gerald Clayton: Two-Shade (EmArcy)

5.The Blues Note 7: Mosaic (Blue Note)

6.Jackie Ryan: Doozy (Open Art)

7.East West Quintet: Vast (Native Language Music)

8.Stefano Bollani: Stone in the Water (ECM)

9.Darryl Harper: Bliss  (Stories in Real Time) (HIPNOTIC)

10.Grant Geissman: Cool Man Cool (Futurism Records)


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W. Royal Stokes’ Best CDs of 2009

December 29th 2009

Each category is in alphabetical order

10 Best CDs

Fred Anderson, 21st Century Chase (Delmark)
Joshua Breakstone Trio, No One New (Capri)
The Diva Jazz Trio, Never Never Land (Arbors)
Keith Jarrett, Testament, Paris/London (ECM)
Ramsey Lewis, Songs From the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey (Concord)
Irwin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Book One (World Village/Harmonia Mundi)
Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson (Resonance)
Roswell Rudd, Trombone Tribe (Soundscape)
Carol Sudhalter, The Octave Tunes (Alfa Music)
Mark Weinstein and Omar Sosa, Tales From the Earth (Otà)

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Andrey Henkin: Top 10 Albums of 2009

December 27th 2009

DAVE DOUGLAS BRASS ECSTASY – Spirit Moves (Greenleaf Music)
PETER EVANS – Nature/Culture (psi)
VLADIMIR VOLKOV – In Search Of A Standard (Leo)
ABDULLAH IBRAHIM – Senzo (Solo Piano) (Sunnyside)
HÅKON KORNSTAD – Dwell Time (Jazzland)
SEX MOB MEETS MEDESKI – Live in Willisau 2006 (Thirsty Ear)
THE TIPTONS SAX QUARTET – Laws of Motion (Zipa!/Spoot Music)
TORDEN KVARTETTEN – Devil’s Last Call (Ninth World Music)
MIROSLAV VITOUS – Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

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Bob Protzman: Ten 2009 Jazz CDs Worth Having

December 24th 2009

It seems someone’s always claiming jazz is dead. Well, a prominent jazz writer this year reported on his blog that he received 1,000 recordings for review. End of that discussion. After listening to a slightly lower number of CDs, I’ve come up with 10 that I found special for various reasons. Maybe you’ll agree.

In no particular order:

Dr. Lonnie Smith: “Rise Up!’’ (Palmetto) Jazz organ is everywhere, sometimes creating a “when you’ve heard one you’ve heard ‘em all feeling.’’ The soulful, funky, inventive “Dr.’’ Smith is a wonderful exception.

Joe Locke/David Hazeltine: “Mutual Admiration Society 2’’ (Sharp Nine)

Locke (vibraphone and marimba) and Hazeltine (piano) attest to their musical compatibility, complementing each other beautifully in a shimmering, swinging blend of their instruments and ideas.

Jackie Ryan: “Doozy’’ (OpenArt)

It all begins with the song, and the talented, versatile vocalist ‘s double CD has the most varied, surprising repertoire imaginable, plus smart arrangements and great playing.

Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Antonio Sanchez: “Quartet Live’’ (Concord)

The warm, singing sounds of Burton’s vibes and Metheny’s guitar thrilled listeners 30-plus years ago. This CD from a recent reunion tour proves the thrill is not gone.

Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge: “The Comet’s Tail: Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker’’ (MAMA)

Owen and his outstanding big band recorded this terrific album several months after the 2007 death of exceptional and influential tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. The CD, just released last August, affirms that Brecker also was a talented composer in the group’s performance of seven of his tunes, all given expanded and highly appealing arrangements by Owen and others. It’s a marvelous mostly high-energy fusion and modern jazz tribute (, balanced by a pair of impassioned ballads) to Brecker.

Tom Harrell: “Prana Dance’’ (HighNote)

Among trumpeters, Terell Stafford and Pittsburgh’s Sean Jones also produced high quality recordings, but Harrell gets the nod for maturity and consistency as player, composer and leader.

Elder: “Virtue’’ (Sony Masterworks)

Some would dismiss this 22-year-old Russian-born pianist as merely a virtuoso, but what a scintillating mix of various acoustic/electric styles and power and delicacy he offers. Whew!

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: “Detroit’’ (Mack Avenue)

On this commissioned suite of tunes honoring the Motor City, the senior citizen (91!) among today’s bandleaders proves again that his orchestra comes closest to having real style (ala Basie or Ellington) that is immediately recognizable and thrilling to hear.

Stefon Harris & Blackout: “Urbanus’’ (Concord)

Vibraphonist and marimba player Harris and Blackout are a hip combo of contemporary and straightahead jazz–funky, bluesy, bop-ish, grooving, and natural sounding rather than forced which so often is the case in this situation. Drummer Terreon Gully is as important as or more so than the leader.

Kurt Elling: “Dedicated to the One I Love: Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman’’ (Concord) Only the creative Kurt Elling among today’s singers would have the audacity to “cover’’ the revered Johnny Hartman-John Coltrane collaboration, and the voice, skill, and imagination to not only pull it off, but also make it his own.

Bob Protzman, Erie (PA) Life Magazine; “Everything Jazz,”  ng Jazz,” 3-6 p.m. Fridays, JAZZ FM, 88.5 & 104.9 (streams at

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Dan Ouellette: Top 10 jazz (+12) Top 10 pop

December 22nd 2009

Jazz Journalists Association Poll 2009
Jazz & pop

Submitted by Dan Ouellette (DownBeat, Stereophile, Billboard,

Web site re: biography: “Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes”—

As I have in past years, I’m including two lists…one for jazz and one for pop, which I also cover…

Top 10 jazz albums for 2009…

1. Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM)
2. Ben Allison: Think Free (Palmetto)
3. Joe Lovano Us Five: Folk Art (Blue Note)
4. Henry Threadgill Zooid: This Brings Us To, Volume 1 (Pi Recordings)
5. Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy: Spirit Moves (Greenleaf Music)
6. KD Allen: Shine! (Sunnyside)
7. Nels Cline: Coward (Cryptogramophone)
8. Medeski Martin & Wood: Radiolarians II (Indirecto)
9. The Bad Plus: For All I Care (Heads Up)
10. Jon Balke: SIWAN (ECM)

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Ken Franckling: Year End Rundown

December 21st 2009

The 10 best new jazz releases of 2009, listed alphabetically:

– Lili Añel, “Every Second in Between” (Wall-I Records)

– Big Band Ritmo Sinfonica Città Di Verona, “Restless Spirits” (Velut Luna)

– Seamus Blake, “Live in Italy” (Jazz Eyes)

– Mike Clark, “Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 1” (Talking House)

– Bill Cunliffe, “Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2” (Resonance)

– Kat Edmonson, “Take to the Sky” (Convivium Records)

– Steve Kuhn, “Mostly Coltrane” (ECM)

– LeBoeuf Brothers, “House Without a Door” (LeBoeuf Brothers Music)

– John Scofield, “Piety Street” (EmArcy)

– Joe Zawinul, “75” (Heads Up International)

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Lyn Horton: Top Ten +1+1 2009

December 20th 2009

1. Joe McPhee, Michael Bisio, Dominic Duval, Paul Rogers, Claude Tchamitian: Angels, Devils and Haints, cJr7;
2. Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Moment’s Energy, ECM;
3. Ben Neill: Night Science, Thirsty Ear;
4. The Indigo Trio: Anaya, Rogueart;
5. Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love: Tomorrow Came Today, SmallTown SuperJazz;
6. Matthew Shipp Trio: Harmonic Disorder, Thirsty Ear;
7. Nate Wooley, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jason Roebke: Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing, Porter;
8. Burton Greene, Perry Robinson: Two Voices in the Desert, Tzadik;
9. Cargo Cult: If You Should Go, Cadence;
10. Dom Minasi String Quartet: Dissonance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Konnex;
11. Bobby Previte: 110, Bandcamp;
12. Wadada Leo Smith, Jack DeJohnette: America, Tzadik.

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A New Orleans Postscript, Some Recent Recordings

December 17th 2009

I had intended to add this list of 2009 recordings by New Orleans artists. All but one were self-produced.

Louis Ford, IT’S ALL RELATIVE ( Ford is a fine clarinetist/saxophonist and the son of the late reedman Clarence Ford. Ford is joined on this disc by reedmen Charlie Gabriel and Dr. Michael White, among others.

Tim Laughlin, A ROYAL ST. SERENADE (Gentilly Records). Another clarinetist, Laughlin is the heir apparent to Pete Fountain. Several originals in this collection, including “For Pete’s Sake,” dedicated to guess who.

The Onward Brass Band, THE TRADITION CONTINUES ( “Onward” is one of the most recognizable and respected names in N. O. brass band history. This is a special favorite of mine since I wrote the liner notes for it.

Trevor Richards and The New Orleans Trio, ECCENTRIC! (New Orleans Jazz Productions, NOJP CD-8). Drummer Richards has been leading fine trios for years. He left N. O. for Germany after being devastated by Katrina.

Kermit Ruffins, LIVIN’ A TREME’ LIFE (Basin Street Records 0107-2). Probably the city’s most popular trumpeter, Ruffins adds a number of distinguished guests to his band for this program, like clarinetist Evan Christopher, the Bonerama horns, and trumpeter Troy Andrews.

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