Saturday, December 11. 2010
Francis Davis is running his annual jazz critics poll at the Village Voice this year. I've been invited to vote, and to write up a sidebar article explaining or expanding on my ballot, and to do some website work. The bold stuff that follows is quoted from the ballot request, followed by my submissions, followed by some extraneous comments I didn't submit.
Your choices for 2010's ten best new releases (albums released between Thanksgiving 2009 and Thanksgiving 2010, give or take), listed in descending order one-through-ten.
Six of those were Jazz CG Pick Hits, including the pending column. Two missed out on the new column, so they are prospective Pick Hits until something better comes along. Six (down through Angles) are full A rateds; the others very high A-, leading a long list that follows. The mix of black and white is typical of my lists, but an lot of Asian blood has seeped in, some born here (Brown), some there (Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura), some just hard to explain (Mahanthappa, born in Italy although his Indian parents had previously emigrated to the US). Not that any of that makes much difference, but there is a lot of boundary crossing in the list. Only one European group, but four of the records are on European labels -- three on Clean Feed, which is clearly the label of the year. Most would be classified as avant or free, but the Parker album, to take one example, is full of popular songs with vocals. Several artists show rock roots, but none of the records could be called fusion.
The rest of the jazz subset of my 2010 A-list, as it currently stands:
Your top-three reissues, again listed in descending order:
All three of these are remarkable but extremely obscure reissues, but they completely exhaust my stash. I did get some promo material on the Miles Davis Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition, but never figured out what to do with it. There are lots of reissues I could imagine adding to this list: Mosaic's big boxes of Duke Ellington and Henry Threadgill; Hip-O's boxes of Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington; Sunnyside's 4-CD expansion of Stan Getz's swansong, People Time. Steeplechase has a 5-CD box of Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra. Storyville has an 8-CD Teddy Wilson box, and 2-CD centennary editions of Lester Young and Stuff Smith. (Also a 4-CD box of Papa Bue's Viking Jazz Band, which I've never heard but long wanted to.) European labels, thanks to their 50-year copyright limit, are having a field day with reissuing 1950s jazz. And I'm sure there's a lot more, but I haven't gotten close to it. The records on the ballot, however, are pretty amazing.
Your choice for the year's best vocal album:
William Parker's I Plan to Stay a Believer has so many vocals the rules suggest I should pick it instead. Cole's record is the best headlined by a vocalist. The only other one on my A-list is James Blood Ulmer's In and Out, which is more up for its guitar. I don't even see many jazz vocals in my HM list: Gia Notte's Shades (Gnote), Barb Jungr's The Men I Love (Naim), Billy Jenkins' blues records I Am a Man From Lewisham and Born Again (VOTP), that's about it. Seems like an especially poor year for jazz vocals, but since I separated vocal CDs into a separate inbox queue I've been avoiding them, so may have missed something. Still, whatever it is isn't clear from the early end-of-year lists I've seen.
Your choice for the year's best debut CD:
Beyond that, only Ben Syversen and RED Trio appear to be eligible. It's so easy to self-release something these days that it's very rare for artists to wait until they come up with something really solid.
Your choice for the year's best Latin jazz CD:
Again, that's the only one on my A-list, except for Spanish and Portuguese artists who play mainstream or avant jazz -- Ismael Dueñas, Rodrigo Amado, Luis Lopes, any of which would have edged D'Rivera. On the HM list: Hilario Duran's Motion (Alma), Nilson Matta's Copacabana (Zoho), Rafi Malkiel's Water (Tzadik), and Pablo Aslan's Tango Grill (Zoho) -- Aslan, by the way, is the critical ingredient in D'Rivera's album above.
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