Rick Erben

Volunteer Jazz Host

Once again we're back with this year's edition of our respective picks for top albums of the year. Inhabiting our three hours on Saturday nights we have been hearing a lot from the albums listed below, all of which should also prove attractive recordings to which we'll return over the years. Dispensing with all pretense of maintaining a rigorous limit in deference to this year's bountiful array of releases, here are a number of eminently worthy recordings:

We begin with the KIOS Jazz CD of the month:

ORRIN EVANS – LIBERATION BLUES – Smoke Sessions Records SSR-1409

As a listener I appreciate an album that catches my attention through stimulating composition, improvisation and that spark that transpires between musicians during a good session. It is also pleasing when a CD's capacity is utilized to offer over seventy minutes of solid music that takes one unexpected places, both inside and outside the pocket. Pianist Orrin Evans' new release “Liberation Blues”embraces these qualities in stimulating fashion.

EVERETTE DEVAN – For the LOVE of YOU – Henry Records  

Tip Top! The likeability index on this new one from organist Everette DeVan is like the heat index on a mid-summer day in the Heartland. But don't worry much about that because DeVan has the burners on his Hammond B-3 turned up to 'way cool' for seventy-one minutes of the sweetest organ combo music to come our way recently. 

One of the most influential and popular of jazz artists, Horace Silver, passed away on June 18 at the age of 85. Born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver in Norwalk, CT in 1928, his father was an immigrant from the Cape Verde Islands. The creole rhythms from these islands were to have profound impact upon Silver's music and his successful career. 

In the not too distant past we have had the pleasure of hearing previously unreleased live recordings from artists such as Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane. Now comes an album from guitarist Pat Martino's personal collection recorded during the waning days of the “chitlin' circuit” at Club 118 in Louisville, KY. The tracks are culled from different appearances at the club during 1968 and 1969 although the program sounds cohesive, as if it were a one night engagement.

Every now and then you slip a disc into the CD player and immediately become engaged in a thrilling experience. Such is the case with alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's new album “Threshold”. Firmly ensconced in the post-bop idiom, this smoking quintet session is full of captivating delights for the listener.

Here's a release that is going to write it's own review, a session so inspired and intuitively right-there that it all bubbles to the surface propelled by the buoyant trombone sound of Steve Davis. This quintet session is Davis's seventeenth album as leader and a gem among a steady succession of strong recordings.

The pantheon of jazz trumpet players includes familiar names such as Davis, Gillespie, Brown, Hubbard and Morgan. There are, however, numerous lesser known trumpet players whose music comprises an essential part of jazz history. One of our contemporary trumpet masters, Brian Lynch, embarked upon a project focusing upon some of the unsung heroes – and thus the title for this project, the second volume of which is our album of the month for December.

Giacomo Gates – Miles Tones – Savant SCD 2124

The music of Miles Davis, so firmly entrenched in the instrumental heart and soul of jazz music, has also been embellished with lyrics in several instances. Vocalist Giacomo Gates' latest release gathers a variety of these selections and serves them with his inimitable stylings and superb musical accompaniment.

Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, known as Donald Byrd, passed away February 4, 2013 at the age of eighty. Byrd was a superb trumpet player whose music spanned a period of some five deacdes. After playing with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school and service in the United States Air Force, Byrd completed his bachelor's degree in music at Wayne State University in 1954 and moved to New York in 1955 to get his master's at the Manhattan School of Music.