John Chacona

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Call this recorded jazz’s “Antiques Roadshow” year. Three of my ten best recordings carry look-what-I-found back stories. And when you consider that those recordings date from 1945, 1957 and 1965, well, what does that say about the state of the industry? I had to work pretty hard to scrape up ten really good recordings for this list. Indeed, some of my favorite recordings of the year are audience tapes from the torrents sites (am I allowed to say that?). Better luck next year?

In no particular order:

  • Fieldwork - Simulated Progress - Pi Recordings
  • Jazz could use a distinctive new voice, and Vijay Iyer is as good a choice as we have these days.

  • Savina Yannatou - Sumiglia - ECM
  • Not jazz, probably, but animated by its spirit, I think. The Athenian vocalist is your guide for an enchanting tour of the eastern Mediterranean.

  • William Parker - Luc’s Lantern - Thirsty Ear
  • Can’t have a yearend Ten Best list without a Parker CD. I haven’t heard the AUMs, so this one gets the nod.

  • Ravi Coltrane - In Flux - Savoy Jazz
  • I’m a sucker for a good band, and Ravi has one of the best out there. Folding Shorter into his mental mix has made him a much less predictable — and thus more interesting — soloist.

  • Drew Gress - Seven Black Butterflies - Koch Records
  • Great writing. Great playing. Great band.

  • Paul Motian - I Have the Room Above Her - ECM
  • The older he gets, the fewer notes he plays. The fewer notes he plays, the more eloquent he gets.

  • Luis Perdomo - Focus Point - RKM Music
  • The young guys from the Caribbean basin are putting a much needed charge into jazz. Apt title for a debut that has plenty of focus and point.

  • Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker - Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945 - Uptown
  • The “Rosetta Stone” of jazz? Hardly. This record doesn’t discover the genius of Diz and Bird, but it confirms that genius as thrillingly as anything on record.

  • John Coltrane - One Down, One Up - Impulse!
  • How on earth could one man play so much, so hard and for so long and make it all of it count?

  • Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall - Blue Note
  • Here’s an idea: Take the proceeds from this release and use them to allow Larry Appelbaum to poke around in the VOA archives to see what else he might turn up.

John Chacona
writer/producer (now up, and only seven years late!)