Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today I have 18  CDs to add to the 22 from the last post, which completes my 40 honorable mention CDs for 2013, category new recordings/non-vocal. Same rules, same breakdowns, so here goes. 

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  • Straight Ahead, Right Down the Middle, Mainstream Jazz

Houston Person, "Nice 'n' Easy" (High Note 2013: This is Person's annual gift to us, his large and soulful tenor sound on a range of interesting songs from the American songbook, played with a fine supporting cast. This time around Chuck Redd's vibes add new textures, but the recording as always belongs to Person, and it's wonderful. 

Gilad Edelman, "My Groove, Your Move" (Sharp Nine 2013): Forget that his Dad is the producer of Sharp Nine rcordings and just listen. You'll hear a mature and sweet tenor from a precocious 20 something playing with an all-star band --- Joe Magnarelli on trumpet, David Hazeltine on piano, John Webber on bass, and Jason Brown on drums. Cut from the same mold as Houston Person and Eric Alexander, a bravura mainstream recording. If you like those artists you'll love this. 

  • Modern Mainstream Jazz

Noah Preminger, "Haymaker" (Palmetto Records 2013): And that's what he delivers, a haymaker of a recording with Ben Monder on guitar, Matt Pavolka on bass and Colin Stranahan on drums. A group of young Turks light up the music, most composed by Preminger himself. Fine music. 

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom,"No Morphine, No Lilies" (Foxhaven 2013): Somehow I slipped this out of the top 25 but lord Product Detailsknows how or why. It's fantastic music, modern tunes by Miller for the most part played by a team of Myra Melford on piano, Jenny Scheinman on violin, and Todd Sickafoose on bass, with guests coming in at times on trdanya stephens, umpet and slide trumpet, and cello. Energetic, clever, and compelling music. 

3 Cohens, "Tightrope" (Anzic 2013): Talented family sound from Anat on woodwinds, Yuval on soprano sax, and Avishai on trumpet, with support from Fred Hersch, Johnathan Blake, and Christian McBride. Reimagined standards interspersed with some free-form improvisations and some songs written by the Cohens. Anat amazes on clarinet, Avishai's tome is as pure as one will find on the trumpet. The arrangements are fun and shake things up a bit so they sound fresh and very smart. 

Danya Stephens, "That Nepenthetic Place" (Sunyside 2013): This is what modern mainstream is about, taking the harmonies, the interplay of key instruments, and the rhythms of hard bop or post bop and extending them and enhancing them with the modern beats of the 2000s. As played by a stellar tenor in Stephens, with support from a cast of young stars --- Taylor Eigsti on piano, Joe Sanders on bass, Justin Brown on drums, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Jaleel Shaw on alto, and Gretchen Parlato singing on two songs. The arranging is tight so everyone gets into the act but never clutter the compositions, which are largely originals by Stephens. Impressive. 

Geri Allen, "Motown and Motor City Inspirations" (Motema 2013): The third in her trilogy of recordings that are connected to Detroit, this one features Marcus Belgrave on trumpet and David McMurray on alto sax. It's mostly piano driven by Allen, who is expressive on a combination of songs from the Motown songbook and penned by herself. You can hear her pouring her feelings into the entire set, her love for the city, her sorrow, anger, and her prayers. It is another one that I barely dropped from the top 25, so consider it one that is highly recommended. 

  • Modern Lyrical Jazz

Lage Lund, Will Vinson, Orlando le Fleming, "Owl Trio" (Losen Records 2013): Music that is ethereal, charmingly lyrical, and wonderfully calming. Tunes from a wide range of sources -- Duke Ellington, Jim Hall, Sammy Cahn, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Toninho Horta -- along with three by the group. Admirably restrained play by Vinson that blends beautifully with the fleet fingerings of Lund. 

Turner Trotignon, "Dusk is a Quiet Place" (Naive 2013): Another soulful, quiet and charming CD, this one combining the tenor sax of Mark Turner with the piano of Baptiste Trotignon. Trotignon has a string of fine piano outings and needs more attention to them in the U.S.; hopefully working with Turner will raise his profile deservedly. And Turner plays with the kind of laid back restraint needed for a CD called "Dusk is a Quiet Place". Beautiful, thoughtful music.

Dave Douglas Quintet, "Time Travel" (Greenleaf Music 2013): Dave Douglas wrote all the music. This is the most accessible CD of Douglas' that I have heard and the first one I truly appreciated for its melodies, lyricism, and lush arrangements. It's quite a group, with Jon Irabagon on saxes, Matt Mitchell on piano, Linda Oh on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums. Works for me.  

  • Modern Impressionistic Jazz

Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow, "Trios" (ECM 2013): Bley and Swallow had a great year with a couple of ECM releases among them.  Here with the talented but neglected -- in the U.S.-- Andy Sheppard on tenor and soprano saxes they impress on five modernist creations by Bley as they move in, out, and around each other. 

John Abercrombie Quartet, "39 Steps": (ECM 2013): Adding Marc Copland on piano to his trio of guitar, Drew Gress on bass, and Joey Baron on drums opened up his sound and created a truly picturesque set of 10 songs played with refinement and admirable restraint. The tribute to Alfred Hitchcock shows up on titles like "Vertigo", Spellbound", and the title piece. Very atmospheric music. 

Ralph Alessi, "Baida" (ECM 2013): The music is lovely, laid back, and nicely played by Alessi on trumpet, Jason Moran on piano, Drew Gress on bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums. But its the names of the tunes that capture one's imagination and funny bone: "Chuck Barris", Gobble Goblins", "In-Flight Entertainment", Throwing Like a Girl to name a few. 

  • Modern Abstract Jazz

Steve Coleman and the Five Elements, "Functional Arrythmias" (Pi 2013): The most approachable CD I have heard from Coleman, the master of the microtone. Its definitely a modern abstract outing but holds together nicely for me with melodies that were distinctive, angular at times, but never harsh to these ears. I suggest this for folks who want to step outside a bit without going over the edge. Miles Okazaki's guitar play is a definitely highlight. 

Pat Metheny, "Tap: Book of Angels Volume 20" (Tzadik 2013): All of the music is by John Zorn, who gave Metheny the choice of any of the Book of Angels songs for the CD. Metheny plays everything here but the drums, which are handled by Antonio Sanchez. so there are guitars of all kinds, piano and keyboards, marimba, bells, and other assorted sounds throughout overlayed upon each other. It's harsh at times, flowing at others, and at all times it's compelling music. First rate. 

John Zorn, "The Mysteries" (Tzadik 2013): This CD is quiet, lyrical, and charming, as played by Bill Frisell on guitar, Carol Emanuel on harp, and Kenny Wollesen on vibes. This is the spiritual side of Zorn, and this CD could also represent a number of his other recordings this past year that I could have chosen here ---"Dream Machines", "Filmworks XXV: City of Slaughter", and "Mysteries." They all were mystical outings of beauty. 

  • New Sounds of New Age Jazz

The Necks, "Open" (Northern Spy Records 2013): This is extremely far from the ordinary. To some it is incredibly boring music, to others it's trippy music. It's one 68:05 minute piece of ambient sound, music that very slowly unwinds, so that it almost sounds like it is never changing. In fact it subtly unravels as the dynamics between the players morphs slowly but steadily. It's not really music that you sit and listen to intently, it's more like music that is subliminal a slowly washes over you. Not sure how to explain it.  

  • Latin Jazz

Omar Sosa, "Eggun: The Afro-Lectric Experience" (Ota Records 2013): This is Sosa's label on which he has released a number of fine latin tinged recordings in various combinations. This one has a core of six players featuring Sosa on keyboards, Joo Kraus on trumpet and Peter Apfelbaum on saxes; with additional support on various tracks by Lionel Louke on guitar and a number of other guitarists and percussionists. Its a tribute of a sort to "Kind of Blue", not in the melodies but in the spiritual feels and texture of that recording. Eggun is driven by the sounds, textures, interplay, and harmonic sensibility of Miles and Gil Evans, and has composed 15 tunes reflecting those spirits nicely. 

In my next post I will count down from 25 to 1 of my top choices of the year. Stay tuned. 

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