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2013 JJA 'Best of'

These are the 2013 "Best of Jazz" lists and commentaries compiled by
Members of the Jazz Journalists Association.

It's up to each member to decide what to include in his or her post
--recordings, books, live performances or whatever--
how many choices to include, and how the post will be formatted.

Click the member's name after the date to view that member's profile. You are invited to comment on the posts.

Posting is now closed. Thanks to all the JJA Members who posted and especially to all the musicians who produced wonderful jazz in 2013.
HAPPY 2014! 
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  • 02 Jan 2014 1:04 PM | joyce wilson

    1.  Christian McBride - OUT THERE

    2.  Steve Turre - THE BONES OF ART

    3.  Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran - HAGAR SONG


    5.  Rene' Marie - I WANNA BE EVIL

    6.  Gregory Porter - LIQUID SPIRIT

    7.  Jose' James - NO BEGINNING NO END

    8.  Ce'cile McLorin Salvant - WOMAN CHILD

    9.  Tommy flanagan & Jaki Byard - THE MAGIC OF 2

    10. Marc Cary - FOR THE LOVE OF ABBEY


    no particular order; however loving the sounds of the vocalists...

  • 02 Jan 2014 10:09 AM | Anonymous
    Excellent year for recordings; these are in no particular order
    1. William Parker, Wood Flute Songs (Thirsty Ear)
    2. Marc Cary, For the Love of Abbey (Motema)
    3. Cecile McLorin Salvant, Woman Child (Mack Avenue)
    4. Chucho Valdes, Border Free (Jazz Village)
    5. Matthew Shipp, Piano Sutras (Thirsty Ear)
    6. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Gamak (ACT)
    7. Ivo Perelman, Enigma (Leo)
    8. Bob Dorough, Duets (Essa Foundation)
    9. Marty Ehrlich, A Trumpet in the Morning (New World)
    10. Trio 3 plus Jason Moran, Refraction - Breakin' Glass (Intakt)
    11. Mike Jones, Plays Well with Others (Capri)
    12. Gregory Porter, Liquid Support (Blue Note)

    Reissued, restored, resurfaced:
    1. Miles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)
    2. Tommy Flanagan and Jaki Byard, The Magic of 2 (Resonance)
    3. Giuseppi Logan, More (ESP Disc)
    4. Coleman Hawkins, Classic Sessions 1922-1947 (Mosaic)
    5. Paul Bley, Closer (ESP Disc)
    6. Art Pepper, Live at the Winery 1976 (Widow's Choice)
    7. Miles Davis, Live in Europe 1969 (Columbia/Legacy)
    8. Lester Young, Boston 1950 (Uptown)
    9. Albert Ayler, Live on the Riviera (ESP Disk)

    Movie turn-ons:
    1. Martial Solal driving the closing scenes in Jean-Pierre Melville's Two Men in Manhattan (Cohen)
    2. "Jeep's Blues" opening and closing David Russell's American Hustle
    3. Oscar Isaac throughout and Dave Van Ronk in the closing credits of Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis.
    4. Everything about Bertrand Tavernier's Quai d'Orsay
  • 01 Jan 2014 11:29 PM | Anonymous
    Jazz History/Reference book
    Jazz Conversation Revised and Edited 2012  (and Beyond)  By JaRon K.  Eames

  • 01 Jan 2014 10:27 PM | J. R. Carroll
    Artists (and authors) based in or with strong links to the greater Boston jazz community are a primary focus for me.  Here are a pair of outstanding recordings by musicians who also presented memorable live performances in the area during 2013:

    Albino Mbie, Mozambican Dance (Interrobang)

    Mozambican guitarist/composer/vocalist Albino Mbie is one of the freshest new voices on the jazz scene. Mbie’s subtly expressive singing (in Portuguese, English, and indigenous languages of Mozambique) and delicate melodies float effortlessly atop a rich web of cross-rhythms and diverse instrumental and vocal colors.

    Dani & Debora Gurgel Quarteto, Um (Dapávirada)

    The mother-daughter team of vocalist Dani and pianist Debora Gurgel are not as familiar to American audiences as some other Brazilian jazz artists, but their reputation is deservedly growing.  Joined by bassist Sidiel Vieira and drummer Thiago Rabello, the Gurgels traverse a program of impressive originals, along with a couple of classics by Hermeto Pascoal and João Bosco.

    Turning to books, I want to highlight one that may have been lost a bit in the shuffle, just like the artist himself:

    Paul Combs, Dameronia (University of Michigan Press)

    For this landmark biography of composer/arranger Tadd Dameron, Paul Combs has done yeoman work unearthing Dameron’s scores–including many that were never recorded or published, for which he supplies excerpts–and ferreting out numerous recordings where Dameron, sometimes invisibly, created stellar musical settings for vocalists, instrumental soloists, and other bandleaders’ ensembles. He also places Dameron’s work within the larger musical context of the rise of bebop and the transition to hard bop and beyond.

    Finally, in a year of fine performances, one truly stood out–and was unique to Boston:

    Guinga Meets Berklee, December 12, 2013 at the Berklee Performance Center
    Guinga is a virtuoso Brazilian guitarist and composer with a harmonic voiceprint that is instantly recognizable.  This event brought him together with the 30-piece Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Francisco Noya to perform a dozen of his strikingly original songs and instrumental works, all in lush and vivid arrangements by Paulo Aragão and Matthew Nichol, among others.
  • 01 Jan 2014 7:32 PM | Doug Ramsey

    Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, Somewhere

    (ECM)Wayne Shorter, Without A Net (Blue Note)

    Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway, Live in Santa Fe: Duke at the  Roadhouse (IPO)

    Dave Holland, Prism (Dare2)

    Bill Frisell, Big Sur (Okeh)

    JD Allen, Grace (Savant)

    Dave Douglas, DD/50 Special Edition 50th Birthday Recordings  (Greenleaf Music)

    Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Whit Dickey, Gerald Cleaver, Enigma (Leo Records)

    Steve Turre, The Bones of Art (High Note)

    Rudresh Mahanthappa, Gamak (ACT)


    Jeremy Steig, Flute Fever (International Phonograph)

    Lester Young, Boston 1950 (Uptown)

    Woody Shaw, The Complete Muse Sessions (Mosaic)

    •Best Vocal Album

    Cécile McLorin Salvant, Woman Child (Mack Avenue)

    •Best Debut Album

    Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, Imagery Manifesto (Lefkowitz-Brown)

    •Best Latin jazz album

    Mark Weinstein, Todo Corazon (Jazzheads)

  • 01 Jan 2014 7:31 PM | Anonymous
    13 from 2013

    Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba; A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America (Advance Dance Disques)

    Jaimeo Brown; Transcendence (Motema)

    Carla Bley; Trios (ECM)

    Geri Allen; Grand River Crossings (Motema)

    Lucian Ban Elevation; Mystery (SunnySide)

    Will Calhoun; Life in This World (Motema)

    Mary Stallings; But Beautiful (HighNote)

    Frank Wess; Magic 101 (IPO)

    David Murray Infinity Quartet; Be My Monster Love (Motema)

    Jamie Baum Septet Plus; In This Life (SunnySide)

    Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom; No Morphine, No Lilies (Foxhaven)

    Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio; Blessed (Origin)

    Steven Bernstein; Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti: Sexmob Plays Fellini (The Royal Potato Family)

  • 01 Jan 2014 6:17 PM | John Chacona
    A couple of notes:  These are not the best jazz recordings of the year.  They're my favorites among those I've heard (The only reissues I heard were the ones I bought).  This list isn't exactly in order of preference, either, though readers with sharp eyes will notice that the CDs are listed in the ranking order asked for by Francis Davis' NPR poll.  I've also included the specialized categories of that poll.  They were in the document so they're in here.
    Steve Coleman & Five Elements:  Functional Arrhythmias
    Matt Mitchell:  Fiction
    John O'Gallagher:  Anton Webern Project
    Ceramic Dog: Your Turn
    Tim Berne's Snakeoil:  Shadow Man
    Ches Smith and These Arches: Hammered
    Craig Taborn: Chants
    Roswell Rudd:  Trombone for Lovers
    Matthew Shipp: Piano Sutras
    Chris Morrissey: North Hero


    Paul Motian:  ECM Box Set
    Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2
    Roscoe Mitchell: Live At 'A Space' 1975

    Vocal album

    Cécile McLorin Salvant: WomanChild

    New Artist

    Matt Mitchell:  Fiction

    Latin jazz CD

    Alexis Cuadrado: A Lorca Soundscape

  • 01 Jan 2014 5:44 PM | Alain Drouot
    New Releases

    1. Black Host - Life In The Sugar Candle Mines (Northern Spy)
    2. Harris Eisenstadt September Trio - (Clean Feed)
    3. Charles Evans - Subliminal Leaps (More Is More)
    4. Trio 3 + Jason Moran - Refraction - Breakin' Glass (Intakt)
    5. Ches Smith & These Arches - Hammered (Clean Feed)
    6. Reut Regev's R*Time - Exploring The Vibe (Enja)
    7. Evan Parker-Matthew Shipp - Rex, Wrecks & XXX (Rogue Art)
    8. Atomic - There's A Hole In The Mountain (Jazzland)
    9. Denman Maroney/Hans Tammen - Arson (OutNow)
    10. Rich Halley 4 - Crossing The Passes (Pine Eagle)


    1. Woody Shaw - The Complete Muse Sessions (Mosaic)
    2. Paul Motian - Paul Motian (ECM)
    3. Joe McPhee - Nation Time/The Complete Recordings (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
  • 01 Jan 2014 2:07 PM | Howard Mandel (Administrator)

    I'm interested in the jazz beyond mere "jazz" -- the exciting, enticing, sooo real recorded music to my ears of 2013, a genre very loosely defined.  That's what this list is meant to acclaim. 

    My list follows from Francis Davis' format, with an important (to me) difference. Francis asks, reasonably enough, that contributors to his poll refrain from voting for albums on which they've labored in some professional capacity. But I'd be remiss if I neglected what I think are two of this year's very best records are Organ Monk's American Standard and Jamie Baum's In This Life, both of which I wrote on for money, as well as the "historical" album of Jaki Byard/Tommy Flanagan duets The Magic of Two, the debut of The Puppeteers, and Op Der Schmelze LIve by the quartet of Klaus Kugel, Roberta Picket, Robby Glod and Mark Tokar, Charnett Moffett's The Bridge and Christian Howes/Richard Galliano's Southern Exposure Last year I didn't mentioned Amina Figarova's 12 in my bests, but I'm not serving readers or listeners if I disqualify work I honestly think is rewarding just because I worked on it. 

    Best vocal album: Cecile McLorin Salvant, Womanchild – Astonishing debut of a fabulous singer – Ms. Salvant is a knowing heir of Ella, Sarah, Billie, Bessie but entirely herself: daring, engaging, dramatic, entertaining. May she have a long career. Aaron Diehl's trio plays precisely perfect support. 

    Another excellent debut: Jonathan Finlayson, Moments and the Message – A smart, incisive trumpeter, chops steeled by 16 years of close collaboration with Steve Coleman, and a sound of his own, on original compositions with a tight ensemble that shows"freedom" isn't random, chaotic or unplanned, but rather open to ideas and willing to try hard challenges.

    Most consequential historical album: Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe '69 – The mercurial trumpeter barnstorming with his never-officially recorded band – Shorter, Corea, Holland, DeJohnette – shifting repertoire and interpretive approach from sophisticated late '60s to explosive early '70s.

    Best "Latin jazz": I dislike this category because its definition is inoperable -- what's 'Latin'? and what's not? Nilson Matta's Black Orpheus is neither Afro-Cuban nor Caribbean; it features Brazilian-American all-stars and associates with personalized new approaches to the unforgettable sambas written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and equally notable Luis Bonfa.

    Beyond Category production: The Road To Jajouka, A Benefit Album by The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar -- Guests including Ornette, Zorn, Flea, Laswell, Sirius Quartet, DJ Logic, Mickey Hart, Lee Renaldo in new performances and remixes featuring the wild winds, strings and percussion of Morocco's Rif Mountains.

    Greatest loss of the year: Lawrence Douglas "Butch" Morris (February 10, 1947 - January 29, 2013). Butch was the father of Conduction, a systematic hand language for directing ensembles of any makeup through spontaneous compositions. He was more than that: a cornetist, yes, that too -- and a stimulating charmer, who made everyone he came in contact with feel like a specially valued friend. I'm also sad to learn of the death at the end of Dec '13 of bassist Dwayne Burno, admirable player, firm and gentle man.

    Best trend: The continuing development of large, heterogenous improvising ensembles, a movement in which Butch Morris was a significant actor, but which also includes Karl Berger's Creative Music Orchestra, Adam Rudolph's Go: Organic Orchestra, David Murray's Blues Big Band, Walter Thompson's Soundpainting orchestra, Bill Horvitz's Expanded Band*, Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-uba* (*see below), the Revive Big Band, J.A. Deane brilliantly conducting a chamber group filled with brass players at Roulette during the Festival of New Trumpet, and ongoing ensembles such as Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project and the Maria Schneider's Orchestra. 

    Repeated listening favoritesAmir ElSaffar, Alchemy – High-concept jazz should actually sound good, as do these originals by virtuosic, nuanced trumpeter ElSaffar, with dedicated collaboration from pianist John Escreet, tenorist Ole Mathisen, bassist Francois Moutin, drummer Dan Weiss. Infusions of deep Middle Eastern traditions into clear compositions drawing on blues and Blakey-like bebop structures.

    Douglas Ewart/Yusef Lateef/Roscoe Mitchell/Adam Rudolph, Voice Prints – Ewart is a lesser known hero of the AACM, maybe because he's worked across disciplines as an installation artist, sculptor, educator and shaman besides (as here) breathing life into winds, reeds, glass didgeridoo, bells. He convened estimable elder reedist Yusef Lateef, ever-probing Roscoe Mitchell and worldly percussionist Adam Rudolph for four comprovisations live from the Walker Museum, Minneapolis. Exploratory improvisation which moves intuitively through mostly quiet, uncharted interactions.

    Myra Melford, Life Carries Me This Way –I'm immensely proud of having produced pianist Ms. Melford's first recording, the solo One For Now of 1986 on the Nisus cassette label (good luck finding it!). But in 27 years her skills and scope have grown immeasurably. She is committed to full expression through lyrical, dynamic, flowing lyricism.

    Michele Rosewoman, New-Yoruba – Pianist Rosewoman has created the masterpiece she's envisioned for 30 years, an extended, loving and fully informed evocation of the Santeria orishas, bata drums prominent with her committed jazz octet and a couple of guests. Two discs is a lot of music to absorb, and doubly rewarding.

    Other pleasures: drummer Harris Eisenstat's Golden State with flutist Nicole Mitchell, bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck and bassist Mark Dresser. 

    Nicole Mitchell, Engraved in the Wind -- unaccompanied flute, lots of imagination.

    Guitarist Kenny Wessell Quartet, Weights and Measures - Pretty and subtly swinging tunes, nice moods.

    Bassist/composer Gregg August, Four By Six -- Quartet and sextet tracks with coming up players worth hearing: soprano saxist Sam Newsome, pianist Luis Perdomo, drummers E.J. Strickland and Rudy Royston, tenor saxist JD Allen, alto saxist Yosvany Terry, trumpeter John Bailey.

    Guitarist/composer Bill Horvitz Expanded Band, The Long Walk -- West Coast large ensemble performs carefully wrought compositions celebrating its leader's late younger brother, full of feeling and even wisdom. 

    Marty Ehrlich, A Trumpet In The Morning -- New York large ensemble takes on an orchestral piece by a brilliant saxophist/composer who (unfortunately) doesn' take any solos.  

    More notable reissues: Tito Puente, Quatro -- Master timbalest and bandleader's lively albums of 1956 - '60, plus out-take and alternates (released late 2012)

    Paul Bley Trio, Closer -- The flinty, witty pianist, tinkers concisely with melodies by his ex-wife Carla Bley, Annette Peacock and Ornette Coleman, accompanied by bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Barry Altschul; from 1965 on ESP Disk. 

    Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald, Decca Sessions 1934 - '41 -- Eight cds from the swing orchestra that launched the most beloved of American singers.

    Art Hodes, I Remember Bessie -- A nice way to recall or be introduced to Hodes, the raggy blues pianist then in his '70s.

    . . . I should add that I've still got a lot of albums released in '13 listening to catch up on. 2013 wasn't an easiest year for artists on the margins of commerce, overlooked by patrons and philanthropists; thanks to musicians persevering in pursuit of enlivening, sensuous sound. 


  • 31 Dec 2013 5:44 PM | Perry Tannenbaum

    Top 25

    • 1. Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet – Wislawa (ECM)
    • 2. Alexis Cuadrado – A Lorca Landscape (Sunnyside)
    • 3. Nicole Mitchell – Aquarius (Delmark)
    • 4. Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran – Hagar’s Song (ECM)
    • 5. Wayne Shorter Quartet – Without a Net (Blue Note)
    • 6. Bobby McFerrin – spirityouall (Masterworks)
    • 7. Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet – In a World of Mallets (Basin Street)
    • 8. Geraldo Henrique Bulhões – Quasar (Geraldo Henrique Bulhões)
    • 9. Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette – Somewhere:  Live in Lucerne 2009 (ECM)
    • 10. Gilad Edelman – My Groove, Your Move (Sharp Nine)
    • 11. Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra – Second Wind: A Tribute to the Music of Bill Evans (Soulpatch)
    • 12. Tierney Sutton – After Blue (BFM)
    • 13. Alan Broadbent – Heart to Heart: Solo Piano (Chilly Bin)
    • 14. The Wee Trio – Live at the Bistro (Bionic)
    • 15. Terence Blanchard – Magnetic (Blue Note)
    • 16. Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit (Blue Note)
    • 17. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society – Brooklyn Babylon (New Amsterdam)
    • 18. The Willie Jones III Sextet – The Willie Jones III Sextet Plays the Max Roach Songbook (WJ3)
    • 19. Chris Potter – The Sirens (ECM)
    • 20. Bill O’Connell – The Latin Jazz All-Stars (Savant)
    • 21. Stefano Battaglia Trio – Songways (ECM)
    • 22.Ted Nash Big Band – Chakra (Plastic Sax)
    • 23. George Benson – Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole (Concord)
    • 24.Christian McBride – People Music (Mack Avenue)
    • 25.Frank Wess – Magic 101 (IPO)

    Best of the Rest

    Ben Goldberg – Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (Bag Production)

    Bobby Matos & His Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Mambo Jazz Dance (Lifeforce Jazz / Planetworks)

    Boyd Lee Dunlop – The Lake Reflections (Mr. B Sharp)

    Cécile McLorin Salvant – WomanChild (Mack Avenue)

    Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Messengers – Border-Free (Jazz Village)

    Cyrus Chestnut – Soul Brother Cool (WJ3)

    Dave Douglas Quintet – Time Travel (Greenleaf)

    David Murray Infinity Quartet – Be My Monster Love (Motéma)

    David Weiss – Endangered Species: The Music of Wayne Shorter (Motéma)

    Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson, & Paul Motian – Live At The Village Vanguard (Cam)

    Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo – Melody Magic (Azica)

    Gilad Hekselman – This Just In (Jazz Village)

    Gregory Tardy – Standards & More (SteepleChase)

    Jaimeo Brown – Transcendence (Motéma)

    Jason Moran + Trio 3 – Refraction – Breakin’ Glass (Intakt)

    Jeff Lederer – Swing N’ Dix (Little (i) Music)

    Joshua Redman – Walking Shadows (Nonesuch)

    Kenny Garrett – Pushing the World Away (Mack Avenue)

    René Marie – I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt (Motéma)

    Ryan Truesdell/Gil Evans Project – Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (ArtistShare)

    Steve Swallow Quintet – Into the Woodwork (ECM)

    Tom McDermott – Bamboula (Minky)

    Walter Norris & Leszek Możdżer – The Last Set: Live at the A-Trane (Act Music & Vision)

    Warren Wolf – Wolfgang (Mack Avenue)

    Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet – Latin Jazz - Jazz Latin (Patois)

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