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?


Carl E. Olson said...

Wonderful, eclectic list. Thank you! I'm really enjoying your newest album. Yes, there are folks on the West Coast (Eugene, Oregon, to be specific) who follow great players from Albany, New York.

Brian P said...

Thanks Carl!