Daily Archives: December 29, 2008

Clean Feed Records on All About Jazz Best 2008 List

Honorable Mention – Best New Release 2008
Conference Call – Poetry in Motion
RIDD Quartet – Fiction Avalanche
Townhouse Orchestra – Belle Ville

Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – A Calculus of Loss
Tony Malaby/William Parker/Nasheet Waits – Tamarindo

Best New Release (selected by David Adler)
Angelica Sanchez – Life Between

Best New Release (selected by Laurence Donohue-Greene)
Mauger  – The Beautiful Enabler

Best New Release (selected by Andrey Henkin)
Stephen Gauci’s Basso Continuo – Nididhyasana

Best Record Label
Clean Feed

Best Debut
Sean Conly – Re:Action

Best Original Album Artwork
Sean Conly – Re:Action

Stef (Free Jazz Blog) 2008 Best of List

I think 2008 was a great year for modern jazz, and it may take some years, like good wine, before it’s really appreciated.

Some record labels did really great things. Four labels immediately come to mind :

AUM Fidelity managed to order great compositions from some of its regular musicians : Bill Dixon, Roy Campbell, William Parker, leading to three stellar albums, with music that might otherwise not have seen the light of day without the label’s support.

Clean Feed continues to amaze me with their openness of ears for new and upcoming musical visions, together with their courage to sign on new talent. I’m thinking about Fight The Big Bull, Memorize The Sky, RIDD Quartet, Mauger, Angles, Kirk Knuffke, Sean Conly, Luis Lopes, Empty Cage Quartet, but also with great albums by Braxton, Adam Lane, Mark Dresser, Conference Call, Harris Eisenstadt, … What a list of names, but most of all, what a list of great quality albums.

CIMP is of course one of the long-standing true values in the modern jazz, but they keep delivering great stuff, with the Trio X box being my absolute favorite, but there’s also Bill Gagliardi, Stephen Gauci, Joe McPhee & Dominic Duval. The quantity is less, but the quality remains high.

Ayler Records kept offering great live performances, branching out into wilder territory, often involving electronics, and why not? They also released great boxes, with François Carrier, Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut, and great albums with Frode Gjerstad and Abdelhai Bennani to name just a few.

But of course there are also the new labels: Amor Fati, Sans Bruit, NoBusiness, NotTwo, Skirl, … who released great and adventurous albums.

Here are the must-haves for 2008 in random order:

Steve Harris ZAUM – A’ Is For Ox + I Hope You Never Love …
Trio X – Live In Vilnius + 2006 US Tour
Natsuki Tamura & Satoko Fujii – Chun
Satoko Fujii Ma-Do – Heat Wave
Junk Box – Sunny Then Cloudy
Larry Ochs, Miya Masaoka, Peggy Lee – Spiller Alley
Vincent Courtois – As Soon As Possible
Joëlle Léandre & Akosh S. – Kor
Harris Eisenstadt – Guewel
Anthony Braxton & Joe Morris – Four Improvisations
Anthony Braxton, William Parker, Milford Graves – Beyond Quantum
Kris Davis – Rye Eclipse
Nuts – L’Atelier Tampon Ramier
Matthew Shipp – Cosmic Suite
William Parker – Double Sunrise Over Neptune
Wadada Leo Smith – Tabligh
The Stone Quartet – DMG@TheStone
Roy Campbell – Akhnaten Suite
Dans Les Arbres – Dans Les Arbres
Frode Gjerstad, Kevin Norton, Paul Rogers – Antioch
Paul Rogers – Being
Bar Kokhba – Lucifer
Bill Dixon & Exploding Star Orchestra
Bill Dixon – 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound/Darfur
Chris Gestrin – After The City Has Gone: Quiet

Now it is extremely hard to name the best albums in this list. With some records I laughed out loud because of the sheer musical joy they offered (despite the sadness), and those include Harris Eisenstadt’s Guewel and William Parker’s Double Sunrise, and I listened to those two albums the most of the above list, possibly together with the double trumpet front line of Nuts. I was emotionally overwhelmed by Paul Rogers Being and Bill Dixon’s Darfur. I was impressed by the new musical avenues demonstrated by Dans Les Arbres, Larry Ochs/Miya Masaoka/Peggy Lee and Vincent Courtois. I was perplexed by Satoko Fujii’s musical breadth, depth, energy and vision (and she’s only 50!), I was stunned by Kris Davis’ Rye Eclipse, and to be sure, Tony Malaby figures on many of my favorite albums of the year, as does Roy Campbell, I was charmed by Bar Kokba, as always before, I was happy that Matthew Shipp came out with an album that I could relate to (I love the guy’s stubborn search for new things!), I enjoyed every second of Trio X’s endless recordings of the same material, because it’s so fantastically moving, I am sad because a musical visionary like Steve Harris is no longer among us, and really at the height of his possibilities …

In the end, musical lists are futile. Paul Rogers’ Being is to me like Lou Reed’s Berlin: it has such emotional depth and range, that the moments you will listen to it are far and wide apart, but you know one thing: in ten years from now you will still listen to it. And just to show how futile these lists are: in many years from now, I will still listen to records that do not figure on this list, including “Fight The Big Bull”, “Angles”, to the albums that were released this year by François Carrier, Erik Friedlander, Chris Kelsey, Mark O’Leary, Franz Hautzinger, Taylor Ho Bynum, Daniel Humair, … and many other albums. A great year!

Manuel Jorge Veloso 2008 Best of List

Angelica Sanchez – Life Between (Clean Feed)
Bill Stewart – Incandescence (Pirouet)
Bobo Stenson – Cantando (ECM)
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band – Seasons of Change (Verve)
Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band! – Appearing Nightly (Watts)
Charles Lloyd – Rabo de Nube (ECM)
Chick & Hiromi – Duet (Stretch)
Dave Douglas & Keystone – Moonshine (Greenleaf Music)
Enrico Rava & Stefano Bollani The Third Man (ECM)
Esperanza Spalding – Esperanza (Heads Up)
Evan Parker (Transatlantic Art Ensemble) – Boustrophedon (ECM)
Conference Call – Poetry in Motion (Clean Feed)
Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Avatar (Blue Note)
Jane Ira Bloom – Mental Weather (Outline/ArtistShare)
Jason Palmer (feat.Greg Osby+Ravi Coltrane) – Songbook (Ayva Music)
Joe Lovano – Symphonica (Blue Note)
Loren Stillman – Blind Date (Pirouet)
Marc Copland – Another Place (Pirouet)
Marcin Wasilewski – January (ECM)
Mark Dresser/Ed Harkins/Steven Schick – House of Mirrors (Clean Feed)
Mauger – The Beautiful Enabler (Clean Feed)

Miguel Zenon – Awake (Marsalis Music)
Patricia Barber – The Cole Porter Mix (Blue Note)
Saxophone Summit – Seraphic Light (Telarc)
The Nuttree Quartet – Standards (Kind of Blue)

Temporary Fault review by Massimo Ricci


Empty Cage Quartet – Stratostrophic (CF 103)
The systematic annoyances originating from delayed mail are a crucial characteristic of Italian routine, in particular as far as reviewing records is concerned. This explains the reason for which only recently I was able to take pleasure in listening to the brilliant Stratostrophic (Clean Feed) by the Empty Cage Quartet. The group consists of four youngsters whose mind is filled with serious ideas, expounded through eleven tracks that mix a multiplicity of coordinates and influences; essentially, their style can be placed in a province bordering on present-day jazz and rather curbed improvisation, with hints to Charles Ives-like superimpositions of different conjectures and junctures. Jason Mears (alto sax, clarinet) and Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn) are the composers, while percussionist Paul Kikuchi and double bassist Ivan Johnson build their contribution upon everything you would look ahead to by a technically dextrous rhythm section.

When an ensemble needs not to recur to metaphoric paraphernalia and short-lived tricks, we immediately realize that the direction is right. Quite often during the playback I found myself thinking of charts made of very long lines and exploded views, music leading to places where expectations are met without fretfulness and transitions are clearly visible. This sense of structural intelligibility, in conjunction with an evident respect for tradition, is the most considerable attribute of the album. We glance at the young faces of the artists in the inner sleeve’s picture, compare them with the maturity shown by these fairly challenging pieces, and all of a sudden the perspectives of jazz-derived languages look pretty bright, provided that one doesn’t start daydreaming about groundbreaking visions and on-the-spot innovations.