Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fave Jazz of 2014

Below you'll find my top 30 list of fave jazz albums of 2014, with additional comments for the top 3. I'll add that there were more jazz records released in 2014 than these that I have enjoyed and would recommend. Those can be found or will eventually be added to the full 2014 favorites list. At any rate, this is a list of 30 new jazz albums I have listened to and enjoyed so far in 2014, plus three reissues.

New albums:

1.    Moskus: Mestertyven (Hubro): Anja Lauvdal (piano), Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson (bass) and Hans Hulbækmo (drums) have taken a major step towards a more distinctive expression since their more structured debut (Salemsykkel, 2012), and grown into a rather unique piano trio. Mestertyven does admittedly have nods to jazz history -- traces of Thelonious Monk and Paul Bley Trio pop up here and there -- but it is chock full of personality, bubbling with ideas and eruptive whims. Fresh, quirky, experimental, and simultaneously alluring and even funny.

2.    Jemeel Moondoc: The Zookeeper's House (Relative Pitch Records): Jemeel Moondoc has been relatively active in recent years, but on this release, he emerged with the best band he's lead in a long time, with contributions from Matthew Shipp (piano), Steve Swell (trombone), Hilliard Greene (bass), Newman Taylor Baker (drums) and the late trumpeter Roy Campbell. Performing alternately as a trio, quartet and quintet, they stir up a riveting and delightful mix of rough-hewn avant-blues and hard-swinging free-bop, reminiscent of the music Moondoc became known for in his time with Muntu and in varous projects throughout the 80's, yet additionally colored by his artistic adventures from then up until now.

3.    Max Johnson Trio: The Invisible Trio (Fresh Sound New Talent): Bassist/composer Max Johnson was involved as a leader or co-leader in three very interesting and distinctive albums in what seemed like something of a break-out year. The Invisible Trio was the first of to emerge of these releases, and remained a firm favorite throughout the year. A uniquely sounding trio with Johnson plus Kirk Knuffke on cornet and Ziv Ravitz on drums, they expertly glide, sprint, and jump through intriguing and subtly shape-shifting patterns.

4.    Wadada Leo Smith: The Great Lakes Suites (TUM Records)

5.    Peter Van Huffel, Michael Bates & Jeff Davis: BOOM CRANE (Fresh Sound New Talent) 

6.    Mary Halvorson: Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch Records)

7.    James Brandon Lewis: Divine Travels (OKeh Records) 

8.    Steve Lehman Octet: Mise en Abîme (Pi Recordings)

9.    Tyshawn Sorey: Alloy (Pi Recordings)

10.   Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit: Erta Ale (PNL Records/Catalytic Sound)

11.   Trio 3 & Vijay Iyer: Wiring (Intakt Records)

12.   Kris Davis Trio: Waiting For You to Grow (Clean Feed)

13.   Microscopic Septet: Manhattan Moonrise (Cuneiform)

14.   Tarbaby with Oliver Lake & Marc Ducret: Fanon (Rogue Art)

15.   Marc Ribot Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard (Pi Recordings)
16.   Rodrigo Amado: Wire Quartet (Clean Feed) 

17.   Mark Turner Quartet: Lathe of Heaven (ECM)

18.   Wadada Leo Smith, Joe Morris, Jamie Saft & Balasz Pandi: Red Hill (RareNoiseRecords)
19.   Ross Martin, Max Johnson & Jeff Davis: Big Eyed Rabbit (NotTwo Records)

20.   Ken Thomson and Slow/Fast: Settle (NCM East Records

21.   Made to Break: Cherchez La Femme (Trost)

22.   Danny Fox Trio: Wide Eyed (Hot Cup Records)

23.   Sarah Manning: Harmonious Creature (Posi-Tone Records)

Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein: Viper's Drag (Universal Music)

25.   Fred Hersch Trio: Floating (Palmetto Records)

26.   Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures: Nightshades (Clean Feed)

Angles 9: Injuries (Clean Feed)
28.   Max Johnson: The Prisoner (No Business Records)

29.   Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra: Live in Ljubjana (Clean Feed)

30.   Sylvie Courvoisier Trio: Double Windsor (Tzadik Records)


1.   Horace Tapscott Quintet: The Giant is Awakened (International Phonograph Inc.)
2.   Ted Daniel's Energy Module: Innerconnections (2CD, NoBusiness Records)
3.   Sun Ra:  In the Orbit of Ra (2CD, Strut)

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