Friday, July 24, 2009

The Best Of 2009...So Far

WOW! It has been a good year so far for listening to jazz. Some of my favorites have finally resurrected themselves from the studio and released records of real quality. Here's a shortlist of a few that I have on repeat in the stereo as well as the iPod. I actually would like to talk about more but that would make today's entry a bit long in the tooth. So I will discuss those releases in the coming weeks and lets hope the rest of the year is as good as this.

Acoustic Ladyland Living With A Tiger (Strong & Wrong)
The title almost says it all. The four piece British outfit continue to lead the way in European jazz with their forth album of spellbinding, ear-splintering, rhythmic motifs that will surely be remembered at the end of the year. Here's to hoping they get even wider recognition.

Madeleine Peyroux Bare Bones (Rounder)
Finally!!! On her fifth album Madeleine Peyroux breaks through with material that brings originality to her voice. The Holiday influence is easy to pick up on first listen but by the time you're finished with this release you will realize we are dealing with a true talent.

Steve Kuhn Mostly Coltrane (ECM)
Not all Coltrane tributes go well. This one takes a lot of phenomenal twists and turns with a wonderful rendition of "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes". Steve Kuhn is a legendary pianist who has never done a bad record. His experimentation with each album always amounts to something very intriguing.

Joshua Redman Compass (Nonesuch)
After experimenting on his last couple of albums, saxophonist Joshua Redman has return to straightahead jazz with Compass. This album strikes the perfect balance between introspection and adventure. Compass also shows an older, wiser Joshua Redman with a new voice and vision stretching out with great clarity. A welcome return indeed.

Dave Douglas Spirit Moves (Greenleaf)
I have talked about my joy for Dave Douglas before. His new album Spirit Moves reinforces why I believe he is one of the few trumpet players who continues to push the envelope on jazz. This is a brass album. Meaning the focus is squarely on trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba--oh and drums. Sounds odd, eh!?! Well it's not. Listen and see why he is one of the few American originals at the moment.

Bill Frisell The Best Of Bill Frisell Vol.1 (Nonesuch)
I've never been a big fan of Bill Frisell as a leader. Although I have managed to enjoy his 1992 release This Land (Nonesuch) which was a nice collection of folksy Americana. Folk is the focus of The Best Of...Vol. 1, featuring a number of his more folk leaning recordings. It's actually left me quite excited to see what Vol.2 (if there is one coming) will feature.

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