Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jazz in 2007 + the Village Voice's Poll

A tad bit late, but a post that was meant to coincide with and comment on the Village Voice's 2007 Jazz Poll. My initial reaction after seeing the list was to question whether I was completely out of touch with the knowledgeable people polled. My second reaction, after reading Francis Davis' enlightening comments, lessened that feeling but rather mirrored some of the reactions to Destination-Out!'s 90s Poll, strengthening the contention that we are indeed in an age where there seems to be less and less consensus about what good jazz is. Nonetheless, the top of the list is filled with old timers (Mingus (!!!), Brecker, Lovano/Jones, Hancock, Lincoln). No harm in that as such, but most of those records operate in fairly safe waters, in my opinion (and some of them I don't think are all that good). It leaves me with the feeling that the real winner this year were those who feel that jazz was better "back in the day" and/or played by those old enough to remember "how to". The first album on VV's poll to appear among my favorites is Andersons/Drake's From the River to the Ocean at 16. My list would look something like this:

  1. (((Powerhouse Sound))): Oslo/Chicago: (((Breaks))) (Atavistic)
  2. Assif Tsahar/Cooper-Moore/Chad Taylor: Digital Primitives (Hopscotch)
  3. Adam Lane/Ken Vandermark/Markus Broo/Paal Nilssen-Love: 4 Corners (Clean Feed)
  4. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Shamokin'!!! (Hot Cup/CD Baby)
  5. Billy Bang Quintet Featuring Frank Lowe: Above & Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids (Justin Time)
  6. Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake: From the River to the Ocean (Thrill Jockey)
  7. Tyshawn Sorey Quartet: That/Not (Firehouse 12)
  8. Matthew Shipp: Piano Vortex (Blue Series)
  9. David S. Ware Quartet: Renunciation (AUM Fidelity)
  10. Kahil El'Zabar's Infinity Orchestra: Transmigration (Delmark)

Happy to see Tyshawn Sorey do well both in the main poll and getting top spot for best debut. He would get my vote for debut of the year.

Honorable mentions to:

  • Matt Lavelle Trio: Spiritual Power (Silkheart)
  • Jewels and Binoculars: Ships With Tattood Sails (Upshot)
  • The Claudia Quintet: For (Cuneiform)
  • David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground (Justin Time)
  • William Parker: Corn Meal Dance (AUM Fidelity)

Matt Lavelle is probably the one record out of those most likely to push for a top ten spot. Murray and Parker both made good but slightly disappointing records (even having a similar post-bop-with-vocals starting point). Yet to hear Happy Apple's Back on Top - praised by Tom Hull - in any length, but it does sound promising.

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