Here are some of the great recordings from 2008
Cynthia Hilts is a Force of Nature. When she wants to lull you with a sultry tune as in "Love For Sale," she will. When she wants to pummel you with her Neo Bop Monk like piano playing as in"Nun, Miffdemeanor-like" she will. It is all so easy for her on this brilliant recording where she is ably supported by veterans Ron McLure and Jeff Williams. What a joy! 2. Norma Winstone - Distances
I've been listening to Norma for more than 30 years?! From her days with Azimuth to her days with John Taylor and Tony Coe. Recordings with Jimmy Rowles, then some with Gary Burton and Fred Hersch. There have been long stretches where I was unable to remove her recording from the player. I have loved her ethereal and personal takes on so many great tunes. You will too. For this Grammy nominated recording Norma has surrounded herself with two of her favorite musicians: Glauco Venier on piano, and Klaus Gesing on bass clarinet and soprano saxophone. February 8 my money will be on Norma.3. Danilo Perez with Orchestra arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman - Across The Crystal Sea
4. Bill Carrothers - Home Row
This was a very pleasant discovery for me this past year. Another great piano trio here with Bill accompanied by Gary Peacock and Bill Stewart. They're rollicking and turbulent one moment. Thoughtful and pensive the next. Great interplay on tunes written by Ornette ("When Will the Blues Leave"), Cole Porter ("My Heart Belongs to Daddy"), Kurt Weill ("Lost in the Stars"), and others. Fine work. 5. Ben Wolfe - No Strangers Here
Sophisticated sounds that swing. Something noir-ish performed by Ben and friends. From the Artist - "I chose to combine a jazz and string quartet to give myself a wide range of options as a composer yet to retain the feeling of a small ensemble. The music ranges from the lush title track, "No Strangers Here," to the more chamber music-sounding, "Rosy & Zero." The musicians are a wonderful blend of new acquaintances and guys I've played with for over twenty years." Ben takes great advantage of his opportunity here with a jazz ensemble and a string quartet.6. Chick Corea & Gary Burton - The New Crystal Silence
This is a two CD set that celebrates the 35 year Anniversary of the Crystal Silence release. On CD 1 these two masters are accompanied by The Sydney Symphony Orchestra in "Crystal Silence,"" La Fiesta" and other tunes. CD 2 finds the two performing "Waltz for Debbie,"" No Mystery,"" Bud Powell" and others alone. These are two of the most generous and talented jazz players there are. How nice that they've been able to perform together for so many years. How lucky we are to be able to observe this.
This young Polish trio must've learned a lot over the years playing with Tomasz Stanko. Their first Trio recording from 2005 was amazing with their renditions of Wayne Shorter's "Plaza Real," and of Björk's "Hyperballad" among others. I could not wait for this second release and it doesn't dissapoint. Here's what the UK Guardian had to say about it:
Here one of the finest guitarist/composers of my generation performs in a trio setting with bass player Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez. A recording that many reviewers have called Metheny's best trio recording to date. Having performed and recorded with so many great trios over the years, that is one neat trick indeed. For all these years, since I first saw a young Pat Metheny playing along side Mick Goodrick with The Gary Burton Quintet, or for that matter with Jaco and Bobby Moses, I've always eagerly welcomed Pat's recordings. I've never been dissapointed.
9. George Duke - Faces in Reflection
Finally MPS has issued a CD of this wonderful 1974 recording. I have been waiting a long time for this. Here we find pianist, keyboard player, vocalist, George Duke in a power trio setting accompanied by bass player John Heard and drummer Leon Ndugu Chanceler. You'll find fierce and driving trio playing one moment, a beautiful piano sonnet the next. George's vocals are great too. And if at any time you are reminded of Zappa, it is of course because George played with him for quite a while. Be sure to get a copy of this while it is still around.
10. Charlie Mariano - Helen 12 Trees
Here's another great MPS reissue released recently. One of the very talented early fusion groups featuring Charlie along with Jan Hammer, Jack Bruce, John Marshall, percussionist Nippy Noya, and polish jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert. John Kelman of All About Jazz summed it up well when he wrote "While fusion was taking a decided turn towards excess in North America, Mariano proved that it could be a more all-encompassing term, incorporating elements of South Indian music, classical impressionism and sophisticated jazz harmonies alongside potent, rock-based grooves and concise but muscular soloing." It is great to have these MPS recordings back!