Top ten new releases for 2011 by Tim Niland (Music is More)

10. Greg Ward’s Phonic Juggernaut (Thirsty Ear)
Hard hitting trio for sax, bass and drums. This is tough, gritty and strong music that deserves an audience; it’s potent stuff.
9. Rudresh Mahanthappa – Samdhi (ACT)
Samdhi looks forward to new vistas in Mathanhappa’s all-encompassing musical vision. Combining multi-cultural music and looking at jazz in a fresh direction, he has created a unique synergy of music that is fresh and exciting.
8. Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp – Cosmic Lieder (AUM Fidelity)
This was a masterful performance from the two musicians – one an established master himself, and another on his way to becoming one. Jones and Shipp’s Cosmic Lieder is the aural equivalent to a dark and stormy night. Short, stark ideas collide like in a particle accelerator, and the brief nature of the performances just adds to their pointedness.
7. David S. Ware – Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity)
You can chart Ware’s lineage in the depth and strength of the music, from a young devotee of Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler, to a loft scene veteran developing his own unique sound to an esteemed elder statesman and master improviser and instrumentalist, Davis S. Ware is one of a kind and every note is a treasure.
6. BB & C – The Veil (Cryptogramophone)
BB and C is a cooperative group consisting of alto saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nels Cline. This was a very exciting and continuously engaging album to listen to, moving between avant-garde squalls of noise and abstract passages of sound sculpture.
5. Matt Lavelle – Goodbye New York, Hello World (Musicnow)
This album was very well planned out and executed, with both the duo and full band tracks succeeding well. Fans of progressive jazz are urged to check this out soon.
4. Steve Reid, Kieran Hebden and Mats Gustafsson – Live at the South Bank (Smalltown Superjazz, 2011)
Shifting from dark and brooding textures to exciting, heavy and powerful features, the double album unfolds in a continuous suite waxing and waning like the unstoppable tide. This unique and fascinating performance is highly recommended for progressive jazz and rock fans.
3. Matthew Shipp – Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear)
The power of the piece comes from the juxtaposition of heavy with light, much like the recent work of Ahmad Jamal. This was an excellent set that is highly recommended to anyone looking for the state of the art in jazz piano.
2. World Saxophone Quartet – Yes We Can (Jazzwerkstatt)
The musicians play with great authority throughout this very exciting album, showing that regardless of the passing of time and the changing of lineups, the WSQ remains a powerful force in jazz.
1. Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Coimbra Concert (Clean Feed)
What makes the band so much fun to follow is the impish delight they take in making music, from the delightful spoof covers to wryly quoting famous jazz songs amidst their original compositions. But make no mistake, their music is taken seriously and played with a very high degree of competence.
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