Neil Tesser

Here’s my list as compiled for the Chicago READER and for discussion on the syndicated public-radio jazz review, “Listen Here!”

  1. VIJAY IYER
  2. Reimagining (Savoy)

    Panist Iyer offers the clearest statement yet of his Indian-American fusion, stitching mathematics, ancestral rhythms and modes, and a powerful lyricism into jagged music that excites head and heart.

  3. MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO
  4. The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance Of The Infidel (Shanachie)

    Hip-hop bass girl opens up to jazz past (a la electric Miles) and present (with the likes of Don Byron, Neal Evans, Wallace Roney), and points to
    an especially fertile possible future.

  5. KEITH JARRETT
  6. Radiance (ECM)

    Solo piano, yes, but a lot edgier than what you expect from Jarrett. It’s two concerts recorded in Japan, three days apart, and combined into one kaledioscopic, 17-part treatise: The (Mostly) Well-Tempered Clavier.

  7. DAVE DOUGLAS
  8. Keystone (Greenleaf)

    What? You don’t think the silent films of the long discredited Fatty Arbuckle can yield the year’s best fusion disc? (Just in case, the disc includes a separate DVD of said films, with Douglas’s obliquely inspired music supplying the soundtrack.)

  9. JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE
  10. A Blessing (OmniTone)

    Having already revitalized chamber jazz with his Claudia Quintet, drummer-composer Hollenbeck now reinvents the jazz orchestra, nodding to Charles Mingus, Aaron Copland, Thad Jones, and Steve Reich.

  11. THELONIOUS MONK QUARTET
  12. With John Coltrane At Carengie Hall (Blue Note)

    No one even knew that it existed, but this album — a technically superior recording of an artistically superior concert in 1957 — immediately became the most valuable example of the short-lived Monk-Coltrane partnership. (And its discovery was jazz’ s feel-good headline of the year.)

  13. ERNEST DAWKINS’ CHICAGO 12
  14. Misconceptions Of A Delusion Shades Of A Charade (Dawk)

    Created by Chicago saxist Ernest Dawkins to mark the 35th anniversary of the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial, this piece captures much of the helter-skelter anarchy, the lively burlesque (both intended and not), and the angry pathos of that time and place.

  15. RICHARD GALLIANO NEW YORK TRIO
  16. Ruby My Dear (Dreyfus)

    Galliano plays accordion, and it speaks to his virtuosity and musicality that you won’t be tempted into a single Lawrence Welk joke.

  17. ANTHONY BROWN’S ORCHESTRA
  18. Rhapsodies (Water Baby)

    Brown has previously tackled and transformed the music of Ellington and Monk; to complete the tryptich comes this re-scoring, re-harmonization, and re-formation of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, incorporating Asian influences (and a touch of Latin). Scandalous, heretical! — until you hear it.

  19. FREDRIK LUNDIN OVERDRIVE
  20. “Belly-Up” — The Music Of Leadbelly (Stunt)

    The Swedish saxist Fredrik Lundin leads his big band in an inventive tribute to the American folk icon, and doubles the ante by dedicating each arrangement — in spirit as in name — to a different American jazz great. C’mon — you didn’t see this one coming.