Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Round-Up

It's a widely-practiced ritual among the jazz cognoscenti to take stock of the past year's jazz output before toasting to the New Year. By now, dozens and dozens of bloggers have posted their own Top-10 lists, a few engaged in a digital round-table discussion, and one critic compiled 120 of his friends' opinions to form something close to a definitive list.

I didn't quite make the pre-New Year's deadline, but this post is my own humble reflection on jazz in 2010. First, I bring news of new AccuJazz channels that have a year-end round-up nature to them: the 2011 Jazz Grammy Nominations Channel and Staff Picks: 2010 Faves, both now featured on the AccuJazz homepage.

The Grammy Channel is playing music from most all of the albums nominated in the jazz categories for the 2011 Grammy Awards. See a complete list of nominees here. After the awards are presented on February 13, I'll change up the programming a little bit so you'll hear the winners slightly more often than the other nominees.

What's the fun in running a jazz radio site if I don't throw in some editorialized programming now and then? Hence, my own Best of 2010 channel. Instead of limiting myself to a set number of albums or songs, I just went through all the music we had from 2010, added everything that I really dug, and ended up with 36 CDs. I think that's a good number, right? Not too big or too small. I'll present a proper Top-10 list in an upcoming separate blog post. Here's the complete 36-album list, in alphabetical order:

Jason Adasiewicz - Sun Rooms
The Bad Plus - Never Stop
Jeb Bishop Trio - 2009
Regina Carter - Reverse Thread
The Claudia Quintet - Royal Toast
The Nels Cline Singers - Initiate
Avishai Cohen - Introducing Triveni
Colorlist - A Square White Lie
Stephan Crump with Rosetta Trio - Reclamation
Dave Douglas - Spark of Being Vol. 2: Expand
Amir ElSaffar and Hafez Modirzadeh - Radif Suite
Exploding Star Orchestra - Stars Have Shapes
Larry Goldings and Harry Allen - When Larry Met Harry
Tord Gustavsen - Restored, Returned
Mary Halvorson - Saturn Sings
Fred Hersch Trio - Whirl
Ideal Bread - Transmit Vol 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy
Vijay Iyer - Solo
Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine
Guillermo Klein - Domador de Huellas
Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth - Deluxe
Charles Lloyd - Mirror
Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green - Apex
Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider
Myra Melford's Be Bread - The Whole Tree Gone
Mostly Other People Do the Killing - Forty Fort
Jason Moran - Ten
Paul Motian - Lost in a Dream
Danilo Perez - Providencia
Polar Bear - Peepers
Julian Waterfall Pollack - Infinite Playground
Mike Reed's People, Places and Things - Stories and Negotiations
Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
Jeremy Siskind - Simple Songs for When the World Seems Strange
Greg Ward's Fitted Shards - South Side Story
Dan Weiss Trio - Timshel

I hope you enjoy listening to my 36 favorite jazz albums from 2010. Please share your favorites in the comments section, won't you?

Also, look out for another best of 2010 channel in the next week or so. This one will be based solely on the definitive Village Voice Jazz Poll. Listen for whose taste you like better: 120 critics, or... me.

To finish up this 2010 Round-Up, I'll share two more lists I posted on Twitter last week, because you can never have enough lists.

Favorite live shows of 2010

I try to see music pretty frequently. I probably averaged around 2.3 shows a week throughout 2010, and I'm pretty sure I can say that every single one of them was worth the time and money, but when I thought back over the year, there were exactly 9 shows that stuck out as having been particularly mind-blowing for me. Here they are, in chronological order:

Ben Allison at the Green Mill, 2/13
Tuneful, focused, alternately playful and serious. Amazing violin solos by Jenny Scheinman.

Matt Wilson Quartet at the Green Mill, 4/2
The perfect combination of musicianship and showmanship. Using a beer glass as a percussion instrument, earnestly covering a Beyonce tune without fancy re-harmonizations or rhythmic trickery, the whole band chanting a Carl Sandburg poem, these are but a few of the pleasures in store when you attend an MWQ show.

Occidental Brothers Dance Band International at Schubas, 4/17
Tight, fun, loud, danceable African pop. Smiles and booty-shaking all around.

Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock and Kris Davis at the Chicago Cultural Center, 5/14
Patient, meditative, focused and eye-opening. One utterly engrossing 70ish-minute-long piece.

Greg Ward's Fitted Shards at the Velvet Lounge, 9/17
Mindful long-form fusion-flavored post-bop delivered with passion.

Jeff Parker Organ Quartet at the Green Mill, 9/21
Full-throttle soul-jazz from everyone's favorite jazz chameleon.

Wadada Leo Smith and Gunter "Baby" Sommer at the Hungry Brain, 11/7
Two masters freely improvise a joyous, engaging, constantly surprising set of music.

Daniel Lanois' Black Dub at Lincoln Hall, 11/23
Roots rock? Reggae? Jazz? Whatever it is, it's one incredible band. Brian Blade really, really knows how to play those drums.

The Bad Plus at the Jazz Showcase, 12/16
TBP's completely realized individual style fuses jazz, rock, contemporary classical and Fisher Price toys into something that I just can't get enough of. First set was a little tentative; second was everything one could hope for at a TBP show.

And now, for one more list:

Favorite Jazz cover art of 2010

Because I do care what a CD looks like. Listed in alphabetical order:

Nels Cline - Initiate

Avishai Cohen - Introducing Triveni

Colorlist - A Square White Lie

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine

Dave King - Indelicate

Little Women - Throat

Polar Bear - Peepers

And thus concludes my 2010 Round-Up. Here's to an even better 2011!

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