Howard Mandel’s Top 11 of 2009

December 8th 2009

My 11 top CDs of 2009 blow past conventions to enrich jazz, blues, new and unusual music. They’re chosen from almost 1000 I received for review — an abundance of fine releases since November 2008, the full year following Barack Obama’s election to president.

Maybe it’s coincidence that fresh thinking, spirited energy and practical creativity runs high  at this moment in history — or maybe it’s that 2009’s challenges require musicians like everyone else to find new answers to the tough questions: how to find joy amid gloom, work to harmonize and stand independently, keep the beat and take time out, too. The following CDs (most also available as MP3 downloads), are pleasures from the past 12 months I recommend for their surprises and soulfulness. Listed in no particular order. For complete annotations and a list of more-than-honorable mentions, see my blog posting.

Henry Threadgill Zooid, This Brings Us To, Vol. 1 (Pi)

The Thirteenth Assembly (Bynum, Fujiwara, Halvorson, Pavone), (un)sentimental (Important Records)

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Infermal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

Charles Tolliver Big Band, Emperor March (Half Note)

Steve Lehman Octet, Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi)

Bela Fleck, Throw Down Your Heart, Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3: Africa Sessions (Rounder)

Kurt Elling, Dedicated to You (Concord

Keith Jarrett, Paris/London: Testament (ECM)

Indigo Trio (Mitchell-Bankhead-Drake), Anaya (Rogue Art)

Allen Toussaint, The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch)

Digital Primitives, Hum Crackle and Pop (Hopscotch)

— Howard Mandel, www.ArtsJournal.com/jazzbeyondjazz, Down Beat, City Arts-New York, The Wire, So Jazz (see my cover interview with Keith Jarrett in the Dec 09 issue), NPR

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Hank Shteamer: 2009 Jazz Top 10, and more

December 8th 2009

Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2009

1. Ran Blake Driftwoods (Tompkins Square)

2. Chad Taylor Circle Down (482 Music)

3. Jon Irabagon with Mike Pride I Don’t Hear Nothin’ but the Blues (Loyal Label)

4. John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble Eternal Interlude (Sunnyside)

5. Darius Jones Trio Man’ish Boy (A Raw and Beautiful Thing) (Aum Fidelity)

6. Henry Threadgill Zooid This Brings Us To, Volume 1 (Pi)

7. Borah Bergman Trio Luminescence (Tzadik)

8. Jim Black AlasNoAxis Houseplant (Winter & Winter)

9. Charles Evans and Neil Shah Live at Saint Stephens (Hot Cup)

10. Loren Stillman Winter Fruits (Pirouet)

+

Multimedia:

Miles Davis Quintet Live in Europe ’67 [DVD, available with The Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection]

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley (Free Press)

Click past the jump for ten honorable-mention discs and seven live shows.

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David R. Adler: Top 25 of 2009, plus

December 7th 2009

1. David S. Ware, Shakti (Aum Fidelity)
2. Miguel Zenón, Esta Plena (Marsalis Music)
3. Gerald Clayton, Two-Shade (ArtistShare)
4. Vijay Iyer Trio, Historicity (ACT)
5. Steve Lehman Octet, Travail Transformation & Flow (Pi)
6. Herculaneum, Herculaneum III (Clean Feed)
7. David Binney, Third Occasion (Mythology)
8. Edward Simon Trio, Poesía (Cam Jazz)
9. Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam)
10. SFJazz Collective, Live 2009: The Works of McCoy Tyner (SFJazz)
11. Julian Lage, Sounding Point (Decca/Emarcy)
12. Ben Wendel, Simple Song (Sunnyside)
13. Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio, Reflections (Wommusic)
14. Abdullah Ibrahim, Senzo (WDR/Sunnyside)
15. Keith Jarrett, Testament (ECM)
16. Stefon Harris’s Blackout, Urbanus (Concord)
17. John Patitucci, Remembrance (Concord)
18. Marcus Strickland, Idiosyncrasies (Strick Muzik)
19. John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Eternal Interlude (Sunnyside)
20. Linda Oh Trio, Entry (ind.)
21. Fred Hersch Plays Jobim (Sunnyside)
22. Samuel Blaser, Pieces of Old Sky (Clean Feed)
23. Henry Threadgill’s ZOOID, This Brings Us To, Volume 1 (Pi)
24. Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings, Renegades (Delmark)
25. Claudia Acuña, En Este Momento (Marsalis Music)

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Christian Broecking: Best of 2009

December 7th 2009

1. David Murray “Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club” (Jazzwerkstatt)

2. Henry Threadgill “This brings us to, Vol.1” (Pi)

3. Steve Lehman “Travail. Transformation, and Flow” (PI)

4. Jen Shyu “Jade Tongue”  (Jen Shyu)

5. Ralph Towner, Paolo Fresu “Chiaroscuro” (ecm)

6. Christian Lillingers Grund “First Reason” (Clean feed)

7. C.O.D.E. Ken Vandermark, Max Nagl u. a. “play the music of O. Coleman and E. Dolphy” (Handsemmel Rec. Crack)

8. Positive Catastrophe ”Garabatos Vol.1“ (Cuneiform)

9. Joshua Redman “Compass” (Nonesuch)

10. Vijay Iyer “Historicity” (ACT)

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W. Royal Stokes: Recent Jazz, Blues & Pop
Photography & Art Books

December 6th 2009

Here is a grab bag of photography and art books on jazz, blues, and pop. The selections are in alphabetical order by title.

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Bob Putignan: Top 10, 2009

December 6th 2009

Bob Putignano WFDU, Blueswax, Hittin’ the Note, Westchester Heraldwww.SoundsofBlue.com
1. Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood ‘Live from Madison Square Garden
2. Enrico Crivellaro ‘Mojo Zone’
3. Derek Trucks ‘Already Live’
4. Delbert McClinton ‘Acquired Taste’
5. Brian Bromberg ‘Is What It Is’
6. Carl Verheyen ‘Trading 8s’
7. Felix Cabrera Band ‘Live at the Turning Point with Jimmy Vivino’
8. Cold Blood ‘Live Blood’
9. Zora Young ‘Sunnyland’
10. Terry Blersh (self titled)

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Lyn Horton: Don’t Blame Me

September 16th 2009

Recently, Chris Kelsey wrote a blog entry that brings to light a question of the difference between jazz “journalism” and jazz “writing.” (September 5: http://chriskelsey.com/blog/) This is my response.

Journalism, by definition, requires that certain rules of reportage be heeded. Right. OK. That holds true if a story were being written that necessitated arranging facts in order to build a story. I have done that before; there was absolutely no room for poetry. But as far as jazz “criticism” goes, “criticism” does not fit well within the category of journalism.

“Criticism” itself needs to be defined in order for the word to make any sense in its application. In the online dictionary source I use, the first ranked definition of criticism is: “the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.” This is a broadly based, but perhaps a good way to begin to deal with the idea of criticism in general.

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W. Royal Stokes:
interviewed on West Virginia PBS radio

August 3rd 2009

www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=9260

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It’s a girl!

August 1st 2009

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am proud, and profoundly moved, to announce the birth of Tess Mary Adler, July 21, 2009. Six pounds and five ounces at birth and already growing before our eyes. Normal new-parent stresses aside, father, mother and baby are doing fabulously well. Pic below the fold.

Best regards,
David R. Adler

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Jazz Awards comments from Konitz, Rudd

July 13th 2009

Lee Konitz, recipient of the JJA’s 2009 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award wrote on July 2:

I want to thank you and your Jazz Journalists Colleagues for your acknowledgment of my life’s work. A great honor, to be sure.

My really greatest achievement is still being around to say thanks!! I’m playing more than ever — the travel is difficult (for everyone) but that’s what we’re paid for, after all.

I intend to continue playing nice, spontaneous variations on nice songs as long as possible. So, many heartfelt thanks.
Love, Lee

Roswell Rudd, named Trombonist of the Year by the JJA, wrote on June 26:

The special folks who have been able to experience
music performance and write about it in such a way that it continues the sound
(from sublingual to lingual)
I’ve always admired this

And you support us in so many ways

The annual awards get together is just one other

It’s great to see yourself and others who are skilled this way

You’re players too!
Many thanks for your work

Good health and happy landings

Roswell Rudd

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