Philip DiPietro

The top ten jazz recordings of 2006, in excruciatingly particular order are:

  1. David Gilmore - Unified Presence (RKM Records) Extended commentary here. One of our most rhythmically astute musicians and shreddingest guitarists leaves it all out on the court.
  2. Mario Franco - This Life (Tone of a Pitch Records) here. Merely the year’s most accessibly beautiful record.
  3. Scott Kinsey - Kinesthetics (Abstract Logix ) Weather Report’s legacy moved forward. Kinsey imbues synthesis with breath, and blesses fusion with his impeccable aesthetic.
  4. Jason Rigby - Translucent Space (Fresh Sound New Talent) I didn’t think anything was going to surpass my #5 release for fresh, rock-influenced, up-to-the-moment, thinking-man’s small-group jazz, but then this (the very next release on Fresh Sounds!) did.
  5. Jeremy Udden - Torchsongs (Fresh Sound New Talent 2006) Fresh, rock-influenced, up-to-the-moment, thinking-man’s small-group jazz (featuring the two off-the-charts guitarists Ben Monder and Tim Miller).
  6. Steve Coleman - Weaving Symbolics (Label Bleu) Modern-day master releases sprawling opus. Contains 19 tracks culled from Sao Paolo, Brooklyn and Philly sessions. Receives virtually no press. Evidently, that’s the way of the cipher when there is zero publicity machine, but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant.
  7. Corpulent Trio (Gary Thomas) - Wolfwalk (Umlaut Records) The amazing tenorist Gary Thomas is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Johns Hopkins University, which also has a pretty good med school. After hearing this, the Trustees are considering letting him guest lecture on Brain Surgery.
  8. AlasNoAxis - Dogs of Great Indifference (Winter & Winter) The Radiohead of Jazz, this time played looser.
  9. Cory Combs (featuring John Hollenbeck and Dan Willis) - Valencia (Evander Music) extended commentary here: here. One of 2006’s finest slices of modern jazz, turned in by a high school music teacher! He also happens to be a virtuoso 6-stringed electric bassist, who composes music that doesn’t sound like it.
  10. Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet - Husky (Hyena Records) - Skerik is too-often lumped into the jamband category, and is thus overlooked as one of the music’s great tenor players and conceptualists. Fun is a not a word oft-enough associated with jazz. This exemplary horn ensemble, consisting entirely of “new” Seattle talent, should change that.

The Top Dozen sideman appearances 2006:

1. Rebecca Martin - vocals, on Paul Motian’s On Broadway, Vol. 4: Or The Paradox of Continuity.
Love emanates. It is returned.
2. Andre Fernandes - guitar, on Mario Franco’s This Life.
Small-label head honcho makes sure he gets adequate time to color and stretch out on the label’s release of the year. Also plays pitch-bender better than any guitarist out there.
3. Mike Holober - piano and Rhodes, on Jason Rigby’s Translucent Space.
Holober is not known for his Rhodes work. He should be.
4. Kirk Covington - drums, on Scott Kinsey’s Kinesthetics.
A tour de force by a rock - solid fusionist who doesn’t get his due. Colaiuta is on this record too, which shows you how good Covington is.
5,6. Two-way tie: Ben Monder, Tim Miller - guitars, on Jeremy Udden’s Torchsongs.
Twelve incredible strings divided by two of our most cutting edge guitar re-thinkers. Yeesh, even I could make the top ten with these two on my record.
7,8. Two-way tie again this year: Jesse Chandler - organ, electric piano, piano, keyboards, on Mario Franco’s This Life , and Sam Barsh - piano, keyboards. on Avishai Cohen’s Continuo.
These cats pay attention to detail and color, and can stretch accordingly when called upon, making them bandmates to die for. Still waiting on Barsh’s debut as a leader.
9. Lage Lund - guitar, on Marcus Strickland Quartets - Twi-Life (Strick Muzik)
The newly minted Monk Competition winner shows why. Not only a pianistic concept, but in spots, a spookily pianistic sound. That Lage Lund, Julian Lage collaboration should be “One for the Lages.”
10,11. Two way tie: Wayne Krantz - guitar and Craig Taborn - Keyboards, on Chris Potter’s Underground.
Potter updates and futurizes his sound with the indispensable aid of two guys doing the same for guitar and Rhodes, respectively.
12. Leo Genovese - keyboards, on Francisco Pais’ Not Afraid of Color.
This Argentinian currently making his home in Boston is a comer. A true MVP in 2006, he logged stellar performances on no fewer than five fanstastic recordings this year.