Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The best of 2011 - my take

'Tis the season for the outpouring of Top 10 lists, and their many variations, for jazz, world events, etc.

The jazz lists tend to have a lot of variation depending on the individual reviewer's personal tastes, as well as what he or she had a chance to hear during the year.* Bottom line, they are very subjective. Some do numerical rankings, some do alphabetical.

In recent years, I have gravitated toward the more-democratic alphabetical format, though some polls require numerical choices (including Jazztimes and Rhapsody.com (the latter a Francis Davis-produced poll that until this year was published by The Village Voice.)

As I begin preparing my review of significant events an trends in jazz in 2011 for posting on allaboutjazz.com, I thought I'd share my "best of 2011" lists. *Always keep in mind the above caveats.

The 10 best new jazz releases of 2011, listed alphabetically:
· Lynne Arriale, Convergence (Motema)
· The Cookers, Cast the First Stone (Plus Loin Music)
· Fred Hersch, Alone at the Vanguard (Palmetto)
· Julian Lage Group, Gladwell (EmArcy)
· Brian Lynch, Unsung Heroes (Hollistic MusicWorks)
· Roberto Magris Quintet, Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan,
Vol. 1
· Bill O’Connell, Rhapsody in Blue (Challenge)
· Gretchen Parlato, The Lost and Found (ObliqSound)
· Kenny Werner, Balloons (Half Note)
· Yellowjackets, Timeline (Mack Avenue)

The 10 best new songs of the year, listed alphabetically:
· Lynne Arriale, “Dance of the Rain” from Convergence (Motema)

· Pedro Giraudo, “Duende Del Mate” from Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, C√≥rdoba (Zoho)
· Tom Harrell, “Dream Text” from The Time of the Sun (HighNote)
· Donald Harrison Ron Carter and Billy Cobham, “Treme Swagger” from This is Jazz (Half Note)
· Lisa Hilton, “Blue Truth” from Underground (Ruby Slippers)
· Julian Lage, “233 Butler” from Gladwell (EmArcy)
· Mike Longo, “A Picture of Dorian Mode” from To My Surprise (CAP)
· Roberto Magris, “Lee-Too” from Roberto Magris Quintet, Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol. 1 (JMood)
· Vince Mendoza, “Beauty and Sadness” from Nights on Earth (Horizontal)
· Ralph Peterson, “Outer Reaches” from Outer Reaches (self-produced)

2011's best debut recording:
· Emmet Cohen, In The Element (Bada Beep)

The best historical/reissues of 2011:
- Miles Davis Quintet, Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy)

- Duke Ellington, The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (Mosaic)
- Bill Evans, The Sesjun Radio Shows (Naxos/Beeld en Geluid)
- Jaco Pastorius. The 60th Anniversary Collection (Warner Music Japan)

The best jazz-related DVDs of 2011:
· Miles Davis, The Definitive Miles Davis at Montreux DVD Collection, 1973-1991 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
· Stan Kenton, Artistry in Rhythm (Jazzed Media)
· Ray Charles, Live in France 1961 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The best jazz-related books of 2011:
- John Swenson, “New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans” (Oxford)
- Norman Granz, “The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice” (University of California Press)
- Clark Terry with Gwen Terry, “Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry” (University of California Press)

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