Monday, December 30, 2013

Fave jazz of 2013

I have previously stated my reluctance to post end of year lists until sometime into the new year, as even at this stage of the year, I'm still sifting through some of the releases that have been sent to me, or ones I have picked up myself along the way, yet not had time to listen to yet. Plus, there are late releases that just haven't accumulated enough plays to register properly, and may not until sometime into the new year; Brian Settles Trio's Folk and Ben Allison's The Stars Look Very Different Today, both sounding very good the last time I played them, being two recent examples. However, I've gotten used to the deadlines for Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll – which asks pollsters to consider albums from around Thanksgiving the previous year to Thanksgiving the year in question, rather than strictly releases from the year that still has almost a month to go – and similar polls, so I'm comfortable enough to post an end-of-year list now (which, as it happens, is very much near the end of the year), while considering the late-comers for a later day. In the case of Settles, Allison and others like them, these should be eligible for the Jazz Critics poll for next year anyway, and so hopefully will not be forgotten by the time we get there.

Anyway, here are my 25 fave jazz albums of 2013. There were several more worthy records this year, and as I mentioned up top, even more may pop up over the coming weeks, but I had to stop somewhere and 25 seemed like a decent number.

  1. Eric Revis Trio feat. Kris Davis and Andrew Cyrille: City of Asylum (Clean Feed) – Those who knew the remarkable and boundary crossing bassists Eric Revis only from (fairly) straight-ahead settings with the likes of Branford Marsalis, have been missing out. As his work with Avram Fefer, the post post-bop (you read that correctly) group Tarbaby, and his previous outing as a leader for Clean Feed have proven, Revis is a musician well-versed in the jazz's outer reaches too, but equally important, capable of blurring the lines between the traditional, the modern and the avant-garde. For City of Asylum, Revis teamed up with the equally talented pianist Kris Davis and veteran drummer Andrew Cyrille, mostly improvising a series of loose-knit themes ranging from the graceful to the ominous, creating suspenseful tension, deconstructing a Monk tune and relaxing a stiff-legged Keith Jarrett original along the way, in the latter case the the result was the most moving piece of music I heard in 2013.

  2. Barry Altschul: The 3Dom Factor (TUM Records) – Barry Altschul's first record as a leader in 28 years, where he re-examines several compositions from his past and adds three new ones. In collaboration with the bustling sax of Jon Irabagon and the meaty bass of Joe Fonda, Altschul whips up playful, loose and at times refreshingly humorous free spirited jazz. Melodies, always central here, spin out of purposefully tumbling yet resolute and pivotal rhythms as the musicians expertly straddle the rowdy and the buoyant.

  3. Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Functional Arrhythmias (Pi Recordings) – Although Steve Coleman has always made intriguing music, this is his best album in a while, full of pulsating zig-zag funk rhythms with complex and thrilling, twirling and leaping melodic lines and thematic ideas.

  4. Adam Lane Trio: Absolute Horizon (NoBusiness Records) – Bassist Adam Lane and altoist Darius Jones have long seemed like kindred spirits, both having a penchant for raucous and spirited avant leaning yet thematically focused jazz, infused with rough hewn blues and groovy acoustic funk, among other things. On this exciting, fully improvised set, the two together with drummer Vijay Iyer explore open landscapes of musical ideas, taking tentative steps in one direction, then another, only to dive into grab-the-reins thrill rides at the drop of a few notes, the twists and turns so expertly executed you'd be forgiven to think it was composed.

  5. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock (Hot Cup Records) – While 2007s Shamokin!!! remains my fave MOPDtK album, I've loved every record these über jazz spass-makers have released since, Slippery Rock being no exception. Billed as main man Moppa Elliott's attempt at channeling smooth jazz through his own musical language, this showcases yet again the quartets free spirited inventiveness, keen musicianship as well as their knowledge of jazz' heritage, with the added punch of an almost rock like sound, exemplified by Kevin Shea's booming drums and Elliott's often chugging bass.

  6. Billy Martin's Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head (Amulet Records)

  7. Taylor Ho Bynum, John Hébert & Gerald Cleaver/Book of Three: Continuum (2012) (Relative Pitch)

  8. Ralph Alessi: Baida (ECM)

  9. Dr. Kay & His Interstellar Tone Scientists: Dr. Kay and the Search for True Happines (Bangles & Brass Records)

  10. Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter 2: Mississippi Moonchile (Constellation)
  11. Ceramic Dog: Your Turn (Northern Spy)
  12. Nate Wooley Sextet: (Sit In the Throne) of Friendship (Clean Feed)
  13. Peter Evans Trio: Zebulon (More Is More)
  14. Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea (Firehouse 12)
  15. Kris Davis: Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed)
  16. Atomic: There's a Hole in the Mountain (Jazzland)
  17. The Necks: Open (Northern Spy)
  18. Digital Primitives: Lipsomuch & Soul Searchin' (HopScotch Records)
  19. Michael Pride's From Bacteria to Men: Birthing Days (AUM Fidelity)
  20. Ghost Train Orchestra: Book of Rhapsodies (Accurate Records)
  21. Tarbaby feat. Oliver Lake and Ambrose Akinmusire: The Ballad of Sam Langford (Hipnotic Records)
  22. Rich Halley 4: Crossing the Passes (Pine Eagle)
  23. Mark Dresser Quintet: Nourishments (Clean Feed Records)
  24. Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio: Blessed (Origin)
  25. Rodrigo Amado Trio + Jeb Bishop: The Flame Alphabet (Not Two Records)

1 comment:

maria said...

nice blog

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