The are the CDs that gave me the most pleasure and aesthetic satisfaction this past year. Others have stacked their lists with some obvious choices. This list goes in a different direction
- Goodbye. Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin, Paul Motian. ECM 1904. Serene music, the deepest of emotional values. Some of the compositions are variations on jazz standards that make you wonder why they have never been interpreted this way before.
- Ancient Future/Blue. Randy Weston. Mutable Music 1758-2. Although published in 2002, this only came into my possession in 2005. Weston is in top form, but here is the important part: this is Randy Weston’s latest recording. The recording industry can be strange at times. Why is this greatest living repository of African-American music going un-recorded at this stage of his life? Weston turned 80 in January.
- Unveil. Mark Dresser, Solo Bass. Clean Feed CF042CD. Dresser belongs to that elite contemporary cadre (two more: Anders Jormin, Jean-Jacques Avenal) who make the bass sing. With Unveil, Dresser uses a modified instrument (see Bill Shoemaker’s notes) to launch the bass into zones ethereal.
- Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes. John Korsrud Hard Rubber Orchestra. Spool SPP203. John Korsrud is the Vancouver-based composer, likely to be found in Amsterdam half the year. Korsrud shuttles between big band arrangments of E. Presley for laughs, Stockhausen new music for seriousness, and jazz classics for jamming. This disc contains an assortment of unpublished originals between 1995-2001.
- The Beautiful. Triptych Myth (Cooper-Moore, Tom Abbs, Chad Taylor). Aum Fidelity AUM 035. Brief comment: this CD grows on you. It is not for listening once. The CD’s title words are true.
- The Definition of a Toy. Dylan van der Schyff, Achim Kaufmann, Mark Helias, Brad Turner, Michael Moore. Songlines SGl SA1552-2. van der Schyff assembled some musical friends, some of whom had not played together before, and asked each to create some compositions. The music is varied, from the abstract to the sublime.
- Sfumato. Vinny Golia Quartet (Bobby Bradford, Ken Filiano, Alex Cline). Cleanfeed CF036CD. A perfect title, for Golia started his artistic career as a painter. Golia continues to record with Bobby Bradford, thus keeping alive the music of an extremely influential but under-rated American trumpeter.
- Satoko Fujii Four Live in Japan (Fujii, Satoko Tamura, Mark Dresser, Jim Black). Natsat MTCJ-3022. Fujii’s “Illusion Suite” dominates this recording. The composition is a movement though many lights and shades of music, a dynamic range of tastes and it is clearly designed for each instrument to fill in the pastels and bolds. Fujii just may be the pianist/composer of the decade. Watch for more from her.
- Monk’s Casin, the Complete Works of Thelonious Monk. Alexander von Schlippenbach: Intakt CD 100. At Jazz em Agosto 2005, von Schlippenbach told me (quoting Boulez) “Imagination is the Queen of Abilities.” To imagine recording the complete works of Thelonious Monk in the way Schlippenbach did proves him to be a giant in the realm of improvised music. Essential for an understanding of contemporary music.
- It’s Mostly Residual. Cuong Vu. artistShare. His compositons and trumpet voices (he has several trumpet voices) are clearly influenced by the musicians he has worked with and listened to. That means he is well-schooled. But hearing the influences is not the main thing, for Cuong Vu has a unique voice in the brave world of contemporary improvisational music.
Laurence Svirchev publishes JazzPhoto (www.svirchev.com), an extensive array of feature articles, CD reviews, interviews, and photographs. He has been guest journalist/photographer at Jazz em Agosto on two occasions.