Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top 10 of 2011

Here are ten albums I really enjoyed this year:

1. Mathias Eick - Skala (ECM)
Best known for his work with the ten-piece Norwegian band Jaga Jazzist, the trumpeter's second solo album is a collection of melodic, pop-influenced instumental compositions. If this is what jazz sounds like in Norway, I'm moving.

2. Le Boeuf Brothers - In Praise of Shadows (Nineteen-Eight Records)
Twin brothers Remy (saxophone/clarinet) and Pascal (piano/keyboards) have created an incredible hybrid recording that features an acoustic quintet + string quartet paired with an added layer of post-production electronics.

3. Chris Tarry - Rest of the Story (Nineteen-Eight Records)
The latest collection of songs from the Canadian bassist and his working quintet was released as as a beautifully packaged book & CD set - complete with 100 pages of Tarry's original fiction - but the music easily stands on its own.

4. Death Cab for Cutie Codes & Keys (Atlantic)
Another collection of finely crafted, tuneful, ear-cathing songs - given a studio shine - from one of my favorite pop bands. While their previous effort Narrow Stairs felt like a misstep, this one sounds like a worthy successor to Plans.

5. Magnus Öström - Thread of Life (ACT)
The drummer from the late Esbjorn Svenssen's trio has created the closest thing we'll ever get to a new EST album. If only his choice of cover art was as tasteful as the music.

6. Yellowjackets - Timeline (Mack Avenue)
Joyful, unpretentious contemporary jazz from a group that's been around for three decades. These four guys are partially responsible for turning me on to jazz back in the early 90's.

7. Bon Iver Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)
At first listen I was less than thrilled, but this music grew on me with repeated listens. Best experienced with headphones and a view of nature. Big thanks to Matt Loiacono for introducing me to this album.

8. James Farm - James Farm (Nonesuch)
An all-star, collaborative quartet featuring saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. I hope this group is just getting started.

9. Coldplay - Mylo Xylto (Capital)
The production on this album alone makes for an interesting listen, but the English foursome has once again found a way to craft a collection of uplifting, listener friendly tunes that sound familiar, yet new. Plus, it makes for a great soundtrack to my new running habit.

10. MuteMath - Odd Soul (Warner Brothers)
Nice combination of vintage and contemporary sounds paired with creative song writing and killer vocals. Plan and simple - this music rocks.

What were your favorites this year?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Tribute to Michael Brecker 4

This morning I went on Bill McCann's "Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz" on WCDB 90.9 FM to pay tribute to the late saxophonist Michael Brecker. Today's four hour program marked the fourth year of annual tributes to the biggest musical influence in my life.

The music was broken down into several sections focusing on Brecker's work as a sideman from the '70s & '80s; his playing with large ensembles; music from his own albums and songs from his work as a sideman in the '90s & '00s.

Mel LewisMel Lewis & Friends (1977)
6 – Sho’ Nuff Did (10:20)
Composed by Thad Jones
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet, first solo), Gregory Hebert (alto sax), Hank Jones (piano), Ron Carter (bass) Mel Lewis (drums)

Jack WilkinsMerge (1977)
5 – What Is This Thing Called Love? (8:05)
Composed by Cole Porter
Randy Brecker (flugelhorn), Jack Wilkins (guitar), Phil Markowitz (piano), John Burr (bass), Al Foster (drums)

Chick CoreaThree Quartets (1981)
5 – Folk Song (5:47)
Composed by Chick Corea
Chick Corea (piano), Eddie Gomez (bass), Steve Gadd (drums)

Jaco PastoriusThe Birthday Concert (1981)
1 – Soul Intro/The Chicken (8:00)
Composed by Jaco Pastorius/Pee Wee Ellis
Jaco Pastorius (bass), Bob Mintzer (tenor sax), Don Alias (congas), Peter Erskine (drums), big band

Franco AmbrosettiGin and Pentatonic (1985)
3 – Yes or No (8:07)
Composed by Wayne Shorter
Franco Ambrosetti (trumpet), Lew Soloff (trumpet), Michael Mossman (trumpet), Steve Coleman (alto sax), Alex Brofsky (French horn), Howard Johnson (tuba/bari sax), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Daniel Humair (drums)

GRP All-Star Big BandAll Blues (1995)
8 – Mysterioso/Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are (8:12)
Composed by Thelonious Monk, arranged by Michael Abene
Chick Corea (piano), big band

GRP All-Star Big Band All Blues (1995)
7 – Blue Miles (8:12)
Composed by Chick Corea, arranged by Russell Ferrante
Chick Corea (piano), big band

Michael BreckerMichael Brecker (1987)
3 – Choices (8:06)
Composed by Mike Stern
Pat Metheny (guitar), Kenny Kirkland (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Michael BreckerDon’t Try This At Home (1988)
1 – Itsbynne Reel (7:41)
Composed by Michael Brecker & Don Grolnick
Mike Stern (guitar), Don Grolnick (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Jeff Andrews (electric bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Mark O’Connor (violin)

Michael BreckerNow You See It … Now You Don’t (1990)
5 – Peep (7:25)
Composed by Michael Brecker
Joey Calderazzo (piano), Jim Beard (keyboards), Victor Bailey (electric bass), Jay Anderson (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums), Jon Herington (guitar)

Michael BreckerTales From The Hudson (1996)
8 – Willie T (8:13)
Composed by Don Grolnick
Pat Metheny (guitar), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Michael BreckerTwo Blocks From The Edge (1998)
5 – Cat’s Cradle (6:43)
Composed by Joey Calderazzo
Joey Calderazzo (piano), James Genus (bass), Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums)

Michael BreckerTime Is Of The Essence (1999)
4 – Timeline (6:06)
Composed by Pat Methney
Pat Metheny (guitar), Larry Goldings (organ), Elvin Jones (drums)

Michael BreckerNearness of You – The Ballad Book (2001)
11 – I Can See Your Dreams (3:50)
Composed by Michael Brecker
Pat Metheny (guitar), Herbie Hancock (piano), Chalie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Michael Brecker QuindectetWide Angles (2003)
4 – Timbuktu (7:58)
Composed by Michael Brecker
Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Peter Gordon (french horn), Steve Wilson (flute), Iain Dixon (clarinet & bass clarinet), Charles Pillow (oboe & English horn), Mark Feldman (violin), Joyce Hammann (violin), Lois Martin (viola), Erik Friedlander (cello), Adam Rogers (guitar), John Patitucci (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Daniel Sadownick (percussion)

Michael BreckerPilgrimage (2007)
4 – Tumbleweed (9:36)
Composed by Michael Brecker
Pat Metheny (guitar), Brad Mehldau (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Jack DeJohnete (drums)

John Patitucci Now (1998)
5 – Labor Day (9:30)
Composed by John Patitucci
John Scofield (guitar), John Patitucci (bass), Bill Stewart (drums)

Steve KhanCrossings (1993)
10. While My Lady Sleeps (6:24)
Composed by Bronislau Kaper/Gus Kahn
Steve Kahn (guitar), Anthony Jackson (electric bass), Denis Chambers (drums), Manolo Badrena (percussion)

McCoy TynerInfinity (1995)
7 – Impressions (11:11)
Composed by John Coltrane
McCoy Tyner (piano), Avery Sharpe (bass), Aaron Scott (drums)

Horace SilverThe Hardbop Grandpop (1996)
1 – I Want You (5:17)
Composed by Horace Silver
Claudio Roditi (trumpet), Steve Turre (trombone), Ronnie Cuber (bari sax), Ron Carter (bass), Lewis Nash (drums)

Doky BrothersDoky Brothers (1995)
1 – While We Wait (5:56)
Composed by Niels Lan Doky
Niels Lan Doky (piano), Chris Minh Doky (bass), Teri Lyn Carrington (drums), Frank Stangerup (acoustic guitar)

Don GrolnickMedianoche (1996)
5. Cape Verdean Blues (4:54)
Composed by Horace Silver
Don Grolnick (piano), Dave Valentin (flute), Mike Mainieri (vibes), Andy Gonzalez (bass), Don Alias (timbales & percussion), Steve Berrios (bongos, drums & percussion), Milton Cardona (congas & percussion)

Charlie HadenAmerican Dreams (2002)
11 – Bird Food (7:29)
Composed by Ornette Coleman
Charlie Haden (bass), Brad Mehldau (piano), Brian Blade (drums)

Jeff “Tain” WattsBar Talk (2002)
4. Mr. JJ (9:51)
Composed by Jeff “Tain” Watts
Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums), Branford Marsalis (tenor sax), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass)