Tag Archives: Barry Guy

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

PARKER / GUY / LYTTON + PETER EVANS – Scenes In The House Of Music (CF 196) 
This record – born in September 2009 at Casa Da Música (hence the title) – is permeated by a striking forthrightness parallelling the equally impressive dexterity and improvisational fantasy of each of the contributing musicians. Consisting of five “scenes” (plus an encore not indicated on the cover), it is initially a tough nut to crack – no concessions whatsoever, no winks to the audience – but once the essence of the interplay is finally visible, one almost gets a sense of invincibility, of being shielded by some kind of superior power. This feel is reinforced by the awareness of sounds generated by unbending characters who have no intention of giving up a strenuous fight against the “exhaustion by stereotype” syndrome. The way in which the augmented trio rotates extreme collective intensity and large spaces for the actions of single components is pure delight for these ears.

There is a deceptive prevalence in the mix by the duo of forwards. Parker on the left, tenor and soprano saxes achieving a perfect balance of bulkiness and bright-minded quarrelsomeness, Evans on the right, alternating solitary quacks and hysteric shrieks to the everlasting research for unusual combinations and successions of peculiar physical events. Yet an expert listener immediately realizes that without the remaining factors the music wouldn’t be at the same level of acoustic heftiness and unequivocal originality. Guy’s absolute domination of the low-frequency area through a wooden beast manipulated like a painter’s brush is a vision itself, his solo at the beginning of the fourth chapter a confirmation of a not enough sung magnitude. Lytton is precious and modest, never too much at the mix’s vanguard. Still, there’s no mistaking those incessant anti-rhythms and spastic fragments with negligence, an inalienable percussive creativity lying at the basis of an abnormal type of propulsion that benefits the entire group’s vibrancy.
http://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/parker-guy-lytton-peter-evans-%e2%80%93-scenes-in-the-house-of-music/

SoJazz review by Thierry Lepin

Publico Best of 2010 List by Rodrigo Amado and Nuno Catarino

Melhores Ano Público – 2010 – Escolhas de Rodrigo Amado e Nuno Catarino

1 Sara Serpa / Ran Blake “Camera Obscura” (Inner Circle)
Longe da previsibilidade e artifício da maioria das cantoras jazz actuais, Sara Serpa dá um enorme salto artístico e afirma-se como uma das mais interessantes cantoras da actualidade. Em duo com Ran Blake, um enorme pianista que é um dos segredos mais bem guardados do jazz, assina um registo poderoso, mágico e vibrante, que evoca os grandes criadores do jazz vocal. Disco revelação do jazz nacional 2010. RA

2 Vandermark 5 “The Horse Jumps and The Shipp is Gone” (Not Two) Gravado ao vivo no clube Green Mill de Chicago, este novo registo do saxofonista Ken Vandermark é uma bomba! O saxofonista pega na sua mais celebrada formação, os Vandermark 5, e junta-lhes dois convidados de excepção; o trompetista Magnus Broo e o pianista Havard Wiik. Um equilíbrio notável entre forma e improvisação e uma atitude “take-no-prisoners” dá origem a uma música orgânica, visceral e urgente. Registo internacional do ano. RA

3 Fight the Big Bull – All is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
O decateto americano conta aqui com a participação do trompetista Steven Bernstein e elabora um dos mais originais discos dos últimos anos. Assente numa forte vertente composicional, a música do grupo abre alas à inspiração dos instrumentistas, sempre direccionados por um permanente sentido colectivo. Com o auxílio de Bernstein o colectivo dá mais um grande passo em frente. NC

4 Mike Pride’s From Bacteria to Boys “Betweenwhile” (Aum Fidelity) Mike Pride é, há muito, um subversivo agitador do jazz nova-iorquino. Em “Betweenwhile” reúne um quarteto explosivo que opera entre o passado e o futuro do jazz, como se de um jogo se tratasse. A seu lado, Peter Bitenc, Alexis Marcelo e o saxofonista Darius Jones, uma das grandes revelações dos últimos anos. Fogo, elegância e contenção, num registo descrito com jazz de vanguarda soul. RA

5 Red Trio – Red Trio (Clean Feed)
Revelaram-se em disco, mas não só. Para o Red Trio – Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano), Hernâni Faustino (contrabaixo) e Gabriel Ferrandini (bateria) – este 2010 foi um ano imparável: aclamação internacional, concertos em grandes salas (nacionais e internacionais) e colaborações com convidados de peso (como John Butcher ou Nate Wooley). Improvisando na constante busca de formas sonoras imprevisíveis, o trio encarnado desenvolve uma música única. Que o futuro seja deles. NC

6 Little Women “Throat” (Aum Fidelity)
Jazz com espírito punk, free com disciplina prog. Os Little Women – quarteto de Darius Jones, Travis Laplante, Andrew Smiley e Jason Nazary – apresentam um dos mais inclassificáveis discos que o ano viu nascer, um disco que vira o jazz de pernas para o ar, que mostra uma música barulhenta e irresistível, que explora os limites, que se materializa em múltiplas explosões de energia. NC

7 The Bad Plus – Never Stop (E1)
O irreverente trio de Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson e David King confirma finalmente aquilo que já muitos desconfiavam: estes moços não são apenas capazes de boas (e divertidas) versões de temas rock/pop, são também capazes de fazer uma música intensíssima, enérgica e original, que não deve nada a ninguém. Este é o primeiro disco que não inclui temas alheios e ao que parece estes já não fazem falta nenhuma. NC

8 Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman “Dual Identity” (Clean Feed) Dois saxofonistas, virtuosos e inovadores, tentam desvendar os códigos do futuro do jazz. Com uma abordagem altamente pessoal e acompanhados por três grandes músicos – Liberty Ellman, Matt Brewer e Damion Reid – destilam um jazz intenso, angular e complexo, e constroem uma entidade musical abstracta que se apresenta como o paradigma do jazz moderno. RA

9 Parker/Guy/Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed) Constituindo um dos mais celebrados trios do jazz improvisado europeu, Evan Parker, Barry Guy e Paul Lytton são três gigantes que garantiram há muito um lugar de destaque na história do jazz moderno. Neste disco, registo de um concerto memorável na Casa da Música, convidam o extraordinário trompetista Peter Evans e formam um quadrado perfeito, impressionista e caleidoscópico. Aquilo que mais se aproxima de uma pura magia sonora. RA

10 Henry Threadgill Zooid “This Brings Us To Vol.2” (Pi)
A aventura criativa de Threadgill continua. Com Zooid, o seu notável projecto para o novo século, realiza explorações de timbre, estrutura e instrumentação. No seu universo, o de um verdadeiro músico dos músicos, nada é o que parece. Em múltiplos planos de percepção, cruzam-se jazz de vanguarda, blues, música contemporânea, jazz latino e muita improvisação, estruturada e consistente como poucas. RA

11 Paul Motian Trio “Lost in a Dream” (ECM)
Mais do que a enorme vitalidade de Motian, mestre absoluto do drumming mundial, a grande surpresa de “Lost in a Dream” vem de Jason Moran – mais contido, com um toque europeu que lhe assenta como uma luva – e acima de tudo, de Chris Potter, que aqui utiliza uma subtileza e suavidade tímbrica que raramente lhe é ouvida. Um trio clássico num registo poético e lírico. RA

12 LUME – Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble (JACC)
A “big band” dirigida por Marco Barroso chega finalmente ao disco e confirma aquilo que muitos já conheciam das actuações ao vivo da banda: jazz multi-referencial, temas que atravessam décadas da história em poucos minutos, de Ellington a Sun Ra à velocidade da luz. Um brilhante projecto nacional que não pára de surpreender e merecerá todo o reconhecimento (aqui e lá fora). NC

13 Vijay Iyer – Solo (Act)
O pianista aventura-se a solo e o resultado já não surpreende ninguém. Trabalhando uma selecção de standards como “Darn That Dream” e clássicos de Monk (“Epistrophy”) e Ellington (“Fleurette Africaine”), Vijay passa também por “Human Nature” (belíssimo tema de Michael Jackson). Em qualquer desses ambientes, o pianista nunca abandona o seu típico registo, sóbrio e metódico, inteligente no desenvolvimento dos temas, criativo e elegante. NC

14 Steve Swell Slammin’ The Infinite “5000 Poems” (Not Two)
Nome incontornável do jazz de vanguarda norte-americano e um dos maiores trombonistas da actualidade, Steve Swell já não gravava um disco assim há muito tempo. Em “5000 Poems”, com um quinteto bem calibrado, surpreende tudo e todos com um registo vibrante, pleno de inspiração e poder, na linha dos grandes clássicos free dos anos 60 e 70. Composições brilhantes e discursos solistas de cortar a respiração. RA

15 Mário Laginha Trio “Mongrel” (ONC)
Cada vez mais focado no seu próprio universo, Mário Laginha continua a seguir a sua estrela aventurando-se em projectos de alto risco. Em “Mongrel” aborda a obra de um dos seus compositores favoritos, Frédéric Chopin, e recusando soluções fáceis, opera uma transformação profunda das suas composições, alterando compassos, tempos, melodias e harmonias. Raramente uma fusão ou “mestiçagem” de estilos musicais deu origem a uma música tão pura e orgânica. RA

The Village Voice Jazz Best of 2010 List (texts by Francis Davis)

Jason Moran Tops Himself
The adventurous Ten headlines the Voice’s Fifth Annual Jazz Critics’ Poll

It wouldn’t be exaggerating much to say that Jason Moran’s only competition in the Fifth Annual Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll was Jason Moran. Ten, his first trio album in seven years, won Album of the Year in a landslide, but that’s not all. The pianist figured prominently on the runner-up, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green’s Apex, and Charles Lloyd’s Mirror, which finished fourth—only a surprise No. 3 showing from rising guitarist Mary Halvorson kept him from a hat trick. Add Paul Motian’s Lost in a Dream, on which Moran and saxophonist Chris Potter are virtually the veteran drummer’s co-leaders, and that gives the 2010 MacArthur Fellow four appearances in the Top 10—a fete unprecedented in this poll’s short history and unlikely to be equaled anytime soon.
 
Mary HalvorsonVijay IyerPaul MotianArts, Entertainment, and MediaI wanted this year’s poll to do the impossible, to go some way toward restoring my faith in the democratic process following November’s dismal midterm elections. And in its modest way, it did. With Moran and drummer Nasheet Waits varying the dynamics and dancing around the beat while bassist Tarus Mateen holds fast to it, Ten easily passes the most crucial test facing any piano-trio album: You never find yourself wishing for horns. It’s an extremely worthy winner, and listening to it again as I write, not only do I feel guilty about its absence on my own ballot, I find myself applauding my colleagues for showing smarts I evidently lack.

Since the poll’s 2006 inception, I’ve come to think of my wrap-up as akin to a State of the Union. Starting with that first year’s overwhelming evidence of the mainstream widening to accommodate Ornette Coleman without him so much as meeting it halfway, the results of each subsequent poll have revealed an encouraging new trend: in ’07, something approaching equality for jazz women behind winner Maria Schneider; in ’08, how this country’s changing ethnic demographics are letting jazz go global without leaving home; last year, signs of a long-needed infusion of young blood. This year? Well, Ten is the second consecutive piano-trio winner, following Vijay Iyer’s Historicity, and joining it in the Top 10 are Keith Jarrett’s duets with bassist Charlie Haden, and solo efforts by Iyer and Geri Allen. But a list dominated by pianists strikes me as coincidence rather than as a harbinger of anything in particular.

What might be more significant is that with the majors having all but abandoned jazz until further notice, independents are enjoying a boom, albeit one probably more aesthetic than financial. Pi Recordings claimed four spots in the Top 20, as many as Blue Note and Nonesuch combined placed in the Top 50, the only majors to appear there. ECM enjoyed its usual good showing, although this year’s overall winner might be Clean Feed, a relatively new Portuguese label fast becoming this era’s Soul Note/Black Saint in terms of both quality and prolificacy—a staggering two dozen of its 2010 releases received votes, led by Chris Lightcap’s Big Mouth at No. 12 and Bay Area bassist Lisa Mezzacappa, who tied singer/songwriter Gregory Porter for Best Debut. But along with the perseverance of these indie labors of love, the logical takeway from a Top 10 featuring two women, as well as four musicians under 40 (including Mahanthappa and Iyer, both native-born Americans of Indian descent), is that the trends suggested by previous years’ results genuinely were trends, not just blips. Which I’d say confirms this annual survey’s worth beyond providing readers and participants alike with a catch-up shopping list.

The 2010 Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll: The Results

Jazz Album of the Year
1. Jason Moran Ten (Blue Note)
2. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green Apex(Pi)
3. Mary Halvorson Quintet Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12)
4. Charles Lloyd Quartet Mirror (ECM)
5. Henry Threadgill’s Zooid This Brings Us to, Vol. 2 (Pi)
6. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden Jasmine(ECM)
7. Steve Coleman & Five Elements Harvesting Semblances and Affinities(Pi)
8. Vijay Iyer Solo (ACT)
9. Geri Allen Flying Toward the Sound (Motéma)
10. Paul Motian Lost in a Dream (ECM)
11. Dave Holland Octet Pathways (Dare2)
12. Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth Deluxe(Clean Feed)
13. Brad Mehldau Highway Rider(Nonesuch)
14. Myra Melford’s Be Bread The Whole Tree Gone(Firehouse 12)
15. James Moody4B(IPO)
16. Randy Weston & His African Rhythms Sextet The Storyteller (Motéma)
17. Mostly Other People Do the Killing Forty Fort (Hot Cup)
18. Marc Ribot Silent Movies (Pi)
19. Fred Hersch Trio Whirl(Palmetto)
20. Regina Carter Reverse Thread (E1)
21. Claudia Quintet Royal Toast(Cuneiform)
22. Danilo PerezProvidencia(Mack Avenue)
23. Christian Scott Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)
24. Nels Cline Singers Initiate(Cryptogramophone)
25. Microscopic Septet Friday The Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk(Cuneiform Records)
26. Tomasz Stanko Quintet Dark Eyes(ECM)
27. Michael Formanek The Rub and Spare Change (ECM)
28. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman Dual Identity(Clean Feed) “My preference for this stand-off with a fellow altoist near Mahanthappa’s own age comes down to their shared belief in the value of stridency (the legacy of Jackie McLean) and the sharper edge that Liberty Ellman’s guitar lends the rhythm section.”- Francis Davis
29. Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things Stories and Negotiations(482 Music)
30. Tom Harrell Roman Nights(High Note)
31. Irene Kral Second Chance (Jazzed Media)
32. Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes Double Portrait (Blue Note)
33. Steve Lacy November (Intakt)
34. William Parker Organ Quartet Uncle Joe’s Spirit House (Centering)
35. Ideal BreadTransmit: Volume 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy(Cuneiform)
36. Billy BangPrayer for Peace(TUM)
37. John Escreet Don’t Fight the Inevitable(Mythology)
38. Parker/Guy/Lytton + Peter Evans Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed)
39. Jason Adasiewicz Sun Rooms (Delmark)
39. Kris Davis-Ingrid Laubrock-Tyshawn Sorey Paradoxical Frog (Clean Feed)
41. William ParkerI Plan to Stay a Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield(AUM Fidelity)
42. Guillermo KleinDomador de Huellas: Music of “Cuchi” Leguizamon (Sunnyside)
43. Lee Konitz New Quartet Live at the Village Vanguard (Enja)
44. Nels Cline Dirty Baby (Cryptogramophone)
45. Wadada Leo Smith & Ed BlackwellThe Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer(Kabell)
46. Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society (Heads Up)
47. Either/Orchestra Mood Music for Time Travellers (Accurate)
48. Bad Plus Never Stop (E1)
49. Chucho Valdes & the Afro.Cuban Messengers Chucho’s Steps (Four Quarters)
50. Pat Metheny Orchestrion27
Critics were asked to list 10 albums in descending order, with 10 points awarded for their #1, 9 for #2, etc. (On ballots where choices were listed alphabetically, each received 5.5 points.) The first bold number indicates total points; the number in parentheses is the tally of ballots on which a CD appeared, which was used as a tiebreaker.

Jazz Reissue of the Year
1. Henry Threadgill/Air The Complete Novus and Columbia Recordings(Mosaic)
2. Miles Davis Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Columbia/Legacy)
3. Stan Getz & Kenny Barron People Time: The Complete Recordings (Sunnyside)
4. Ahmad Jamal Trio The Complete Argo Sessions 1956–62 (Mosaic)
5. John Carter & Bobby Bradford The Complete Revelation Sessions (Mosaic Select)
6. Philly Joe Jones & Dameronia Look, Stop and Listen (Uptown)
7. Duke Ellington The Complete 1932–1940 Brunswick, Columbia, and Master Recordings (Mosaic)
8. Sun Ra Heliocentric Worlds (ESP-Disk)
9. Nat King Cole Riffin’ (Hip-O-Select)
9. Jemeel Moondoc The Muntu Recordings (No Business)
Critics were asked to list three reissues in descending order, with three points awarded for #1, 2 for #2, and 1 for #3. The first bold number indicates total points; the number in parentheses tallies ballots on which a CD appeared, which was used as a tiebreaker.

Best Vocal Album
1. Cassandra Wilson Silver Pony (Blue Note)
2. Irene Kral Second Chance (Jazzed Media)
2. Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society (Heads Up)
4. Theo Bleckman I Dwell in Possibility (Winter & Winter)
5. Dee Dee Bridgewater Eleanora Fagan (1915–1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee (Emarcy)
6. Rebecca MartinWhen I Was Long Ago (Sunnyside)
7. Catherine Russell Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village)
8. Norma Winstone Stories Yet to Tell (ECM)

Best Debut
1. Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch What Is Known (Clean Feed)
1. Gregory Porter Water(Motema)
3. Eric HarlandVoyager, Live by Night (Space Time)


Best Latin

1. Chucho Valdes & the Afro-Cuban Messengers Chucho’s Steps (Four Quarters)
2. Guillermo Klein Domador de Huellas: Musica del Cuchi Leguizamon(Sunnyside)
3. Conrad Herwig The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock(Half Note)
4. Danilo Perez Providencia (Mack Avenue)
5. Paquito D’Rivera Panamericana Suite (MCG)
For Best Vocal, Debut, and Latin albums, critics were asked to name one album apiece, with no point system.

This poll has become my labor of love—my equivalent of social networking, and, for a couple weeks once the ballots start filling my inbox, just about my only social life. Along the way this year, in addition to a hundred or so albums I might otherwise not ever have known existed, I also got word of layoffs and cutbacks, a corneal abrasion, a nagging heel injury, the death of a mother, the birth of a daughter, and the loss of James Moody to pancreatic cancer. Thanks to this year’s 120 participants for keeping me up to date: David R. Adler, Scott Albin, Clifford Allen, A.D. Amorosi, Larry Applebaum, Chris Barton, Nick Bewsey, Larry Birmbaum, Paul Blair, Larry Blumenfeld, Philip Booth, Michael Bourne, Shaun Brady, Marcia Breton, Christian Broecking, Stuart Broomer, Brent Burton, John Chacona, Nate Chinen, Fred Cisterna, Troy Collins, Thomas Conrad, J.D. Considine, Owen Cordle, Lawrence Cosentino, Michael Coyle, Francis Davis, Steve Dollar, Laurence Donohue-Greene, Alain Drout, Ken Dryden, Donald Elfman, Steve Feeney, Colin Fleming, Ken Franckling, Phil Freeman, David Fricke, Richard Gehr, Andrew Gilbert, Ted Gioia, Lars Gotrich, Kurt Gottschalk, Steve Greenlee, George Grella, James Hale, Ed Hazell, Don Heckman, Tad Hendrickson, Andrey Henkin, W. Kim Heron, Geoffrey Himes, Eugene Holley, Lyn Horton, Tom Hull, Peter Hum, Robert Iannapollo, Josh Jackson, Patrick Jarenwattananon, Willard Jenkins, Martin Johnson, George Kanzler, Fred Kaplan, Larry Kart, Mark Keresman, Bill King, Elzy Kolb, Art Lange, Will Layman, Devin Leonard, Aidan Levy, John Litweiler, Martin Longley, Suzanne Lorge, Kevin Lynch, John McDonough, Shaunna Morrison Machosky, Jim Macnie, Howard Mandel, Peter Margasak, Bill Milkowski, Dan Morgenstern, John Murph, Russ Musto, Marc Myers, Michael G. Nastos, Dan Ouellette, Ted Panken, Thierry Peremarti, Bob Porter, Doug Ramsey, Derk Richardson, Joel Roberts, Chris Robinson, Britt Robson, Jim Roberts, Michael Rosenstein, Lloyd Sachs, Gene Seymour, Mike Shanley, Bill Shoemaker, Hank Shteamer, Slim, Chip Stern, Zan Stewart, Jeff Stockton, W, Royal Stokes, Mark Stryker, John F. Szwed, Jeff Tamarkin, Neil Tesser, Ludwig Van Trikt, George Varga, Andrew Velez, Seth Colter Walls, Jason Weiss, Michael J. West, Kevin Whitehead, K. Leander Williams, Josef Woodard, Ron Wynn, and Scott Yanow.
http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-12-29/music/the-2010-voice-jazz-poll/

Peter Margasak’s Best of 2010 list (Chicago Reader)

I don’t mind making year-end lists, and in some cases I even enjoy reading them—but anybody who bothers arguing about them is a fool. It’s impossible to hear everything released in a year, and the “consensus” picks—the albums that show up on list after list—say more about how widely available and heavily promoted a piece of music is than they do about its quality. On the day I wrote this, the ten records below stood out in my mind as the best of 2010. Ask me to choose again in a week, though, and I might come up with a different list.

10. Seu Jorge and Almaz Seu Jorge and Almaz (Now-Again/Stones Throw) A lot of people first heard Brazilian singer Seu Jorge thanks to his David Bowie homage in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, but even at the time I thought it was the least interesting thing he’d done—so I certainly didn’t expect this spontaneously recorded collection of covers to be the highlight of his career. Jorge and Almaz (a nimble trio featuring two members of Nacao Zumbi) reinterpret Brazilian classics by stars like Jorge Ben, Tim Maia, and Martinho da Vila, familiar English-language tunes from Kraftwerk, Roy Ayers, and Michael Jackson, and a heavy obscurity from a group called Tribo Massahi. The scrappy band borrows from dub, psychedelia, and rock to inject its loose, suave arrangements—whether of sambas, bossa novas, or R&B hits—with electric vitality.

9. Koboku Senju Selektiv Hogst (Sofa) This year my favorite album of free improvisation is by Japanese-Norwegian quintet Koboku Senju, which consists of Tetuzi Akiyama (guitar), Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board), Eivind Lonning (trumpet), Espen Reinertsen (saxophone and flute), and Martin Taxt (tuba). The familar vocabularies of the horns and guitar are nowhere in evidence, and the music trafficks in no identifiable genre—even the pieces that sprang from prompts like “death metal” or “funeral march” called out by band members sound nothing like those styles. Koboku Senju makes its own road, finding a calm through-line across the turbulence it creates and lending an austere and meditative beauty to a profusion of details and textures that easily could’ve been dizzying. It’s useless to try to identify foreground and background; the pleasure comes from how the parts fit together and morph en masse.

8. Ideal Bread Transmit: Vol. 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform) Though soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy was one of the first jazz musicians to launch a repertory band—in the early 60s he played the music of Thelonious Monk with School Days—he’s hardly an easy subject for such a group. (Of course, the same thing could be said of Monk.) Lacy’s exploratory aesthetic and dry, austere tone—a huge departure from the soprano’s usual sweet sound—are so inextricably linked with his material that it’s hard to do anything that doesn’t sound either imitative or disrespectful. But Ideal Bread—baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, trumpeter Kirk Knuffke, bassist Reuben Radding, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara—have done Lacy proud again. Whether synthesizing ideas from several different Lacy arrangements of the same tune or extrapolating solos from sections of the written score, they play the master’s music with a thoughtful, focused rigor that’s on par with his.

7. Atomic Theater Tilters Vols. 1 and 2 (Jazzland) This Scandinavian quintet seems to turn up in my top ten every time it makes a record. Atomic has evolved constantly since forming in 1999, and over the past few years they’ve pushed their bold postbop toward a much more open and spontaneous sound—making their music more exciting and challenging without losing a bit of its satisfying soulfulness. I’m cheating a little here, as these excellent 2009 live recordings are spread across two releases, but either one would’ve made my list alone.

6. Khaira Arby Timbuktu Tarab (Clermont Music) Malian singer Khaira Arby, a major figure in her homeland for more than a decade, released her first U.S. album this year and followed up with a stateside tour that included two knockout performances at Chicago’s World Music Festival. Ali Farka Toure was one of her cousins, and the kind of spindly, cyclical guitar licks he made famous turn up all over Timbuktu Tarab, interwoven with terse n’goni and fiddle parts; the music also has affinities with the so-called desert rock of bands like Tinariwen. What sets it apart is Arby’s searing, powerful voice, ironclad pitch control, and regal bearing. This is not only the best African record I heard in 2010 but one of the best I’ve heard in many years.

5. Marc Ribot Silent Movies (Pi) For this gorgeous solo album, mercurial guitarist Marc Ribot recorded music he’s scored for films both real and imaginary, abetted on a few tracks by subtle atmospheric noise from Keefus Ciancia (credited with “soundscapes” on the sleeve). As much as I’ve enjoyed the recent outpouring of technically dazzling fingerstyle guitar records, I like the rough-edged power of these electric-guitar pieces even more—they favor raw emotion and dark, harrowing beauty over hypnotizing intricacy. With his off-kilter style and jarring stabs of dissonance, Ribot has always been great at ugliness, but he’s never made it sound as graceful and vulnerable as he does here.

4. John McNeil and Bill McHenry Chill Morn He Climb Jenny (Sunnyside) On their second album together, trumpeter John McNeil and tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry carry on their convincing reappraisal of the “cool” west-coast jazz of the 1950s. Prodded by the spiky swing of drummer Jochen Rueckert and bassist Joe Martin, they resurrect tunes by overlooked pianist Russ Freeman and bring subversive humor to 40s pop tunes like “Moonlight in Vermont” and “Aren’t You Glad You’re You.” The classic west-coast sound isn’t particularly aggressive, but it’d be a mistake to write it off as lightweight or insubstantial because of that—and McNeil and McHenry demonstrate exactly why, bringing a stunning rapport to the exhilarating multilinear improvisations typical of the style.

3. Alasdair Roberts & Friends Too Long in This Condition (Drag City) Alasdair Roberts started his musical career in the mid-90s as leader of the Will Oldham-worshipping Appendix Out, but since then he’s committed himself to Scottish folk. On this powerful album, which consists of nine traditional tunes and one original instrumental, he brings contemporary vitality, parched soul, and spontaneous, unmannered beauty to his interpretations, distinguishing himself from just about everyone else I’ve heard sing this repertoire. He’s joined by a stellar support cast, including English folk singer Emily Portman on concertina and backing vocals and Trembling Bells guitarist Ben Reynolds on lap steel.

2. Parker/Guy/Lytton + Peter Evans Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed)
The trio of reedist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy, and percussionist Paul Lytton is a paragon of European free improvisation, carrying on the first-wave style of brutally intense radical abstraction. Every member has a profoundly individual vocabulary, deployed in the service of rigorous full-ensemble interaction—no soloing over changes here—and the group’s energy and inventiveness haven’t flagged after nearly 30 years. It’s a testament to the wizardry of young trumpeter Peter Evans that he can step into this lineup of titans and improve it—his sensitivity and musicality place him in the uppermost rank among improvisers the world over.

1. Jason Moran Ten (Blue Note)
Pianist Jason Moran, bassist Tarus Mateen, and drummer Nasheet Waits have played together as the Bandwagon for a decade, and the title of the trio’s latest album, Ten, is a tip of the hat to that fact. They’ve been one of the best bands in jazz for that entire stretch in part because of the allegiance the rhythm section shows Moran, which results in a rare kind of ensemble drive. Ten complements Moran’s sturdy, consistently surprising originals with pieces by fellow iconoclasts Thelonious Monk, Conlon Nancarrow, Leonard Bernstein, and Jaki Byard, but despite the pianist’s dominant role in determining the group’s repertoire, its roiling, cohesive performances are never less than collective creations.
http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-best-music-of-2010/Content?oid=2889314

Paris Transatlantic review by Jason Bivins

Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton + Peter Evans – SCENES FROM THE HOUSE OF MUSIC (CF 196)
When an improviser accepts an invitation to play with a combo of such long standing and immediate distinctiveness, is it better to try and fit in to a perceived aesthetic or to lob bombs in the hopes of destabilizing and redirecting things? In posing this question, I’m not suggesting that the PGL sound is in any way ossified, any more than the scads of other working groups that have so energized free improvisation over the decades. Just listen to the distance between, say, Atlanta and Zafiro as proof. Rather, there’s simply nothing else like the way they inhabit certain kinds of territories, and the peculiarity of their exchanges. On this fantastic festival date, Evans’ presence makes the music both more flinty and more burnished than before, in ways that recall George Lewis’ guest spot on Hook Drift & Shuffle. The trumpeter spits out fire, but also sails above the music and generates some wonderful counterpoint; he inserts himself into the dense foliage of the music but is also a quirky odd man out with his occasionally puckish, neo-freebop lines. And with the trio in such fine form, it’s a pleasure of a record. The grain of the music is subtle but it’s stitched together by that frisson we love in this band, its circulation of overtones, hints of melancholy, sudden dropoffs, and quicksilver pace. And while I want to keep raving about Evans, there are marvelous features for Guy (a wonderfully metallic solo to open the third “Scene”) and Parker (a frenzied skirl to open the fourth) throughout. Exploratory and intense as ever, this performance has an audible joy and humor to it that confirms the exuberance of the players.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2010/12dec_text.html#8

Village Voice 25th Jazz Consumers Guide by Tom Hull

Jazz Consumer Guide: Low-End Theories
Bassists shine, even amid the dark age of conservatism

Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra – Ashcan Rantings | Clean Feed
Like Mingus, Lane plays a mean bass, composes pieces that encapsulate the entire jazz tradition and then some, and runs a band that sounds even bigger than it is. His new group dispenses with guitar to deploy seven horns, doubling up on trumpet and trombone for cozy warmth as well as freewheeling action. Yet below all that brass, the bass dominates the tone and pulse, holding the power back so it’s more implied than felt, except when the throttle opens. A

William Parker – I Plan to Stay a Believer | AUM Fidelity
Long awaited. Parker unveiled his inside take on Curtis Mayfield’s political thoughts in 2001 and has shopped it around ever since, finally collecting slices from six concerts up through 2008 onto two discs. Leena Conquest sings, Amiri Baraka waxes eloquent, ad hoc choirs come and go, and the groove picks up some swing and a bunch of horns. “This Is My Country” could shut down a tea party, or launch another. A

Angles – Epileptical West | Clean Feed Leader/alto-saxophonist Martin Küchen’s other group is Exploding Customer. Trumpeter Magnus Broo’s main group is Atomic. There seem to be scads of young Scandinavians who cut their teeth in rock bands, then switched to jazz when they found they could play wilder, and maybe even louder. A sextet, with trombone for extra dirt and vibes for extra sparkle, live and loose in Coimbra. A

Tommy Babin’s Benzene – Your Body Is Your Prison | Drip Audio Although the hype sheet suggests “improv/space rock,” this is more dense than spacey, and doesn’t rock so much as bring the noize. The bassist-leader introduces two Chads, his star MacQuarrie on guitar, and Makela beefing up the bottom on bari sax. The group name and title suggest art/music that’s toxic and inflammable, and maybe we’re too far gone not to indulge it. A MINUS

The Nels Cline Singers – Initiate | Cryptogramophone
No vocals, just a guitar trio that’s been around a while, took a backseat while Cline pursued other projects (including a day job with Wilco), then decided they had something to prove. Two discs, a brainy one cut in the studio with lots of ideas and a few guests, and a brawny one recorded live that sounds like Cline learned something playing arenas, and that he’s delighted not to be backing a vocalist. A MINUS

Anat Cohen Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard | Anzic
A couple of songs beg comparison to Barney Bigard and don’t flinch, and her “Body and Soul” is worthy of Gary Giddins’s mixtape. It helps that the Peter Washington–Lewis Nash rhythm section is the best that mainstream has to offer, and that pianist Benny Green keeps pace. Helps even more that she answers any reservations I had about her poll-winning clarinet work. A MINUS

Freddy Cole – Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B | HighNote
Mr. B is ’40s crooner Billy Eckstine, whose rich baritone and studly swagger have left him irretrievably passé. No such problem for Cole, whose soft touch pries these gems loose as surely as Houston Person’s tenor sax shines them up. A MINUS

Bill Frisell – Beautiful Dreamers | Savoy Jazz 
The Norman Rockwell of jazz guitarists, growing ever more comfortable framing his string-toned Americana, with Eyvind Kang’s viola for flair and Rudy Royston’s drums for emphasis. The signposts are as familiar as “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Goin’ Out of My Head.” The originals cast unexpected highlights. A MINUS

Fred Hersch Trio – Whirl | Palmetto
Returning from a two-month coma: They say near-death focuses the mind, but so does working with a superior bass-drums combo—John Hébert and Eric McPherson—and focusing on your own legacy instead of cranking out another songbook tribute. If he sounds like his idol, Bill Evans, he isn’t bouncing back. He’s just being true. A MINUS

Oleg Kireyev/Keith Javors – Rhyme & Reason | Inarhyme
A Russian saxophonist from deep in the Urals, Kireyev worked his way through Poland to the U.S., where he studied under Bud Shank. His recent Mandala tapped into diverse streams of world fusion, but here he teams up with pianist Javors for an album of insouciant mainstream, fresh enough to do his late mentor proud. A MINUS

Myra Melford’s Be Bread – The Whole Tree Gone | Firehouse 12
She’s a dazzling piano player when she takes charge, but mostly she holds back, letting Brandon Ross’s guitar, Ben Goldberg’s clarinet, and Cuong Vu’s trumpet shape and color her seductive compositions. When she does cut loose, the whole band lifts up. A MINUS

Sounds of Liberation – Sounds of Liberation [1972] | Porter
Before the dark age of conservatism descended upon us, before Reagan, just before Watergate, this is what the future that might have been sounded like: funky conga rhythms sprinkled with sparkling Khan Jamal vibes, topped with Byard Lancaster’s avant-sax all but screaming freedom, justice, good times. A MINUS

The Stryker/Slagle Band – Keeper | Panorama
Dave Stryker’s fleet guitar changes, warmed up with Steve Slagle’s blues-inflected alto sax, with dependable bassist Jay Anderson and redoubtable drummer Victor Lewis keeping time: Postbop journeymen pull a minor masterpiece out of decades of earnest toil. A MINUS 

Henry Threadgill Zooid – This Brings Us To: Volume II | Pi
More of last year’s hit, and better, I’d say: The flute never flails against the tense, jagged rhythms, and contrasts neatly with tuba or trombone, while guitarist Liberty Ellman spins ever more elaborate lines. A MINUS

Vandermark 5 – Annular Gift | Not Two
With Fred Lonberg-Holm’s cello and electronics broadening the palette—including what sounds like a more refined return to Jeb Bishop’s guitar—the band returns to Alchemia in Krakow, and whips out a furious set that stands proudly alongside the Alchemia box. A MINUS

Honorable Mentions

Paal Nilssen-Love/Ken Vandermark – Milwaukee Volume/Chicago Volume | Smalltown Superjazz Two nights of smoldering sax and lascivious clarinet knocked about by a drummer who rocks in no known time.

3ology With Ron Miles | Tapestry This Colorado sax trio remains intimate enough to merit the introspective moniker, as Miles’s cornet fits in and draws them out.

Allison Miller – Boom Tic Boom | Foxhaven Drummer-led trio, an even better showcase for Myra Melford’s piano than her own album.

James Blood Ulmer – In and Out | In+Out As his grizzled vocals sink deeper into the blues, his harmolodic guitar skitters beyond.

Vijay Iyer – Solo | ACT Can the best jazz pianist of the last decade do a solo album? Sure, easy.

Bryan and the Haggards Pretend It’s the End of the World – Merle’s melodies run through the mill, from Bird to Ornette to Ayler.

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin – Llyria  | ECM Precision Swiss movement, more dazzling at high speed than when they settle for ambience.

Steve Turre – Delicious and Delightful | HighNote Bright, bold flavors: Billy Harper, Larry Willis, and the trombonist, of course. Even the conch shell contributes.

Ralph Alessi – Cognitive Dissonance | CAM Jazz Everyone’s favorite sideman brings his trumpet out front, outshining even pianist Jason Moran.

Rova & the Nels Cline Singers – Celestial Septet | New World
Sax quartet and guitar trio, a perfectly matched band, but sometimes they cancel out each other’s idiosyncrasies.

Peter Evans Quartet – Live in Lisbon | Clean Feed
With pianist Ricardo Gallo tossing bombs every which way, a tough venue for a hard-playing trumpeter.


David Murray Black Saint Quartet – Live in Berlin | Jazzwerkstatt
The piano and bass slots aren’t much, but muscular bass clarinet and monster sax prevail.

James Moody – 4B | IPO Finely aged standards, no rough edges, no flute—just tenor sax framed for posterity, or a romantic dinner.

Erica Lindsay/Sumi Tonooka – Initiation | ARC Unheralded stars team up: Spare, Coltrane-ish sax thrashes a bit with rich, loquacious piano.

Paul Motian/Chris Potter/ Jason Moran – Lost in a Dream | ECM Enigmatic drummer sets two stars adrift, trying to make sense of nothing.

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 1 3 – Nights in Oslo | Smalltown Superjazz  Five discs, two with the large band in full fury, three cleaving off subsets deconstructing the mischief.

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music | Clean Feed
Trumpet enfant terrible can’t rattle the old guys of the Anglo avant-garde.


Curtis Fuller – I Will Tell Her | Capri
A classic Detroit cruiser from the 1950s, the trombonist’s band spiffed up with Keith Oxman’s tenor sax and Al Hood’s trumpet.

William Parker – At Somewhere There | Barnyard Long bass solo, mild and creamy as those things go, followed by experiments on dousn’gouni and double flute.

Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory – Far Side | ECM
A double quartet clash: two drummers, two bassists, two thrashing pianos, trumpet sparks to ignite the leader’s sax.

Nels Cline – Dirty Baby | Cryptogramophone
An art box of Ed Ruscha paintings, bracketed by a guitar tour de force on one disc, meaty scraps on another.

Gia Notte – Shades | Gnote Tasty standards from Ellington, Weill, and the usual suspects, saxed up by Don Braden.

David Weiss & Point of Departure – Snuck In | Sunnyside
Twenty-first-century Jazz Messengers, with horns sparring, guitar slinking, and nothing as obvious as hard bop.

Nils Petter Molvaer – Hamada | Thirsty Ear Two bass-and-drums eruptions break the Arctic chill of trumpet and electronic ambience.

Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green – Apex | Pi Ever the chameleon, he could pass for Green’s old partner, Sonny Stitt, at the bebop joust.

Mort Weiss – Raising the Bar | SMS Jazz Small businessman, picked up the clarinet at 65, plays solo on well-worn covers, gets by on charm.

Nilson Matta’s Brazilian Voyage – Copacabana | Zoho
The bass pulse of Brazil, with Harry Allen’s elegant sax swing and wisps of flute.

Jason Robinson – The Two Faces of Janus | Cuneiform
Backed with a fleet-footed band, with crucial interventions by Marty Ehrlich and Rudresh Mahanthappa.

Food Quiet – Inlet | ECM Thomas Strønen’s electronics overcome his percussion, devolving into ambiencelaced with Iain Ballamy reeds.

Brad Mehldau – Highway Rider | Nonesuch Two discs of string-swept pastorale, dotted by the occasional Joshua Redman oasis.

Duds

Jason Robinson and Anthony Davis – Cerulean Landscapes | Clean Feed
Sax-piano duets, limited palette, fancy abstractions. B

 

Metropole Orkest 54 | Emarcy
Vince Mendoza rolls out so much red carpet for John Scofield that nobody notices the guest star. B MINUS

Puttin’ on the Ritz White Light/White Heat | Hot Cup
Sometimes, when they try to kill, they only maim themselves. C PLUS
http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-12-22/music/jazz-consumer-guide-low-end-theories/