Here are ten albums I enjoyed this year:
1. Romain Collin - The Calling (Palmetto)
The French pianist blends the sounds of an acoustic piano trio with subtle electronic effects/samples on a set of original compositions and songs by Horace Silver and John Mayer.
2. Pat Metheny - Unity Band (Nonsuch)
A collection of nine original songs by the celebrated guitarist in a quartet setting featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez. This is the first time Metheny has released a recording featuring tenor saxophone since 1980's classic 80/81 which showcased the talents of the late Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman. Here's hoping he doesn't wait another thirty years to do it again.
3. Donny McCaslin - Casting for Gravity (Greenleaf)
An incredible hybrid of jazz and contemporary electronic music, this album sounds like nothing I've heard before.
4. Kurt Rosenwinkel - Star of Jupiter (Wommusic)
A double album of the guitarist's original material featuring a quartet comprised of pianist/keyboardist Aaron Parks, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner. It's great to hear Revis and Faulkner, best known for their work in saxophonist Branford Marsalis' quartet, in a completely different context.
5. & 6. Brad Mehldau - Ode/Where Do You Start (Nonesuch)
This year the pianist and his long-standing trio released two albums culled from the same recording sessions. Ode is a collection of eleven Mehldau originals while Where Do You Start features jazz classics by Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins interspersed with pop songs made famous by Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden, Sufjan Stevens, Nick Drake and others.
7. Dave Douglas Quintet - Be Still (Greenleaf)
A beautiful collection of hymns and folk songs with a personal connection to the trumpeter. Vocalist Aoife O’Donovan is featured on several tracks including the touching opener "Be Still My Soul."
8. Mike Moreno - Another Way (World Culture Music)
The guitarists second release of all original composition features pianist Aaron Parks, vibraphonists Warren Wolf & Chris Dingman, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Ted Poor & Jochen Rueckert.
9. Ben Wendel - Frame (Sunnyside)
Kneebody saxophonist's second release features nine original tunes - as well as a duo arrangement of "Con Alma" - performed by pianists/keyboardists Gerald Clayton, Tigran Hamasyan & Adam Benjamin, guitarist Nir Felder, bassist Ben Street and drummer Nate Wood.
The trumpeter continues to develop his own compositional style with a lengthy collection of original music that melds multiple musical genres.
What were your favorites this year?