The Big City

”The more susbtantial an individual’s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer—though not necessarily the happier—he is.."

Now is the time for list making, at least when Francis Davis once again asks for your ballot for the annual NPR Jazz Critics Poll of the previous year’s releases. Below is what I sent him.

When I made this list for myself, it was unranked, but the poll needs numbers to compile, so I did the best I could. My personal feeling is that the first seven on this list could each be the single best jazz release of the year. The last three are excellent, but each has a tiny flaw that, while not compromising it in any way, separates it slightly from the first seven, all of which I found marvelous, beautiful, and satisfying.

  1. Zach Brock/Matt Ulery/Jon Deitemeyer, Wonderment (Woolgathering Records)
  2. Greg Ward Presents Rogue Parade, Stomping Off From Greenwood (Greenleaf)
  3. Anat Fort Trio, Colour (Sunnyside)
  4. Avram Fefer Quartet, Testament (Clean Feed)
  5. Miho Hazama, Dancer in Nowhere (Sunnyside)
  6. Chano Dominguez/Hadar Noiberg, Paramus (Sunnyside)
  7. Kassa Overall, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz (Kassa Overall)
  8. Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, Where Future Unfolds (International Anthem)
  9. Go: Organic Orchestra & Brooklyn Raga Massive, Ragmala—A Garland of Ragas (Meta Records)
  10. Fabian Almazan Trio, This Land Abounds With Life (Biophilia)

These are my top three choices for reissues/archival recordings. There were other fine ones, including a live Betty Carter and ECM’s recent reissue of their very first recording, Mal Waldron’s Free At Last. But the limit was three, so here you go:

  1. Charles Mingus, Jazz in Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden (BBE)
  2. Sun Ra, Monorails and Satellites, Vols. 1, 2 and 3 (Cosmic Myth Records)
  3. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Sessions (Resonance)

Year’s best vocal album easily goes to Fay Victor, who is out there carving out new territory every time she sings:

Fay Victor, Barn Songs (Northern Spy)

Year’s best debut album, one of the most mysterious and intriguing records I’ve heard outside of ambient music or field recordings:

Angel Bat Dawid, The Oracle (International Anthem)

My choice for best latin jazz album lets me cheat and add this one, which also belongs in the top ten:

Miguel Zenon, Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miel Music)

“I dig the jacket!”

Kurt Elling

“George Grella, always on the money!”

G. Schirmer & Associates
%d bloggers like this: