Yes, it's that time of year when we take a fond look back at some of the delightful releases of the year and attempt to whittle so many worthy contenders to a dozen, because only ten was just too difficult. Come to think of it, twelve is kind of tough – so here's our baker's dozen at the Jazz Junction:
Jim Alfredson's Dirty Fingers – A Tribute to Big John Patton – Big O Records – Nothing like good meat and potatoes Hammond organ music and here's an outing that encompasses the thrill and energy of the genre in this savory dedication to organist Big John Patton.
Miles Davis – Live In Europe 1969 – Columbia/Legacy – three CDs and a DVD with the band featuring Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette in performance in Paris and Stockholm. Especially interesting is the program material with long-standing band numbers such as “Milestones” and “No Blues” interspersed with songs that would comprise the album “Bitches Brew” that Miles began recording the following month.
Gilad Edelman – My Groove, Your Move – Sharp Nine – Edelman displays both impressive technique and resourcefulness at the alto saxophone in this engaging quintet session.
Ken Fowser – Behn Gillece – Top Shelf – Positone Records – in their fourth enjoyable release, tenor man Fowser and vibist Gillece lead a sextet through stimulating original compositions.
Giacomo Gates – Miles Tones – Savant – Gates' nicely done vocal tribute to Miles Davis with solid instrumental support.
Brian Lynch – Unsung Heroes Volume 2 – Hollistic Music Works - (see this month's album review)
Mark Masters Ensemble – Everything You Did (The Music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen) – Capri – Masters has arranged music associated with Steely Dan featuring unique and captivating instrumentation in this 16 member organization.
Vanessa Rubin – Don Braden – Full Circle – Creative Perspective Music – Just a kick as vocalist Vanessa Rubin lays into a feel-good set of music backed by Don Braden's “Organix” quartet.
Imer Santiago – Hidden Journey – Jazz Music City - Straight-ahead and some latin grooves upon this pleasing outing from trumpeter Santiago and his group.
Dave Slonaker Big Band – Intrada – Origin Records – Excellent original compositions by Slonaker yield tempting rewards for the listener with superb arrangements and solo spots.
Dave Stryker – Blue To The Bone IV – SteepleChase – one of our best contemporary guitarists leads a crackling septet through originals and selections from the Isley Brothers, Robert Johnson and James Brown.
Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express – Expectativas – Mavo Records – cutting-edge Afro-Cuban sounds from pianist Valera and his exciting band.
Mark Winkler – Cheryl Bentyne – West Coast Cool – Summit Records – The two vocalists recall the swinging west coast cool days on this pleasing disc featuring 1950s jazz hits and modern arrangements that make one want to drop a record on the hi-fi.