A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge: January, 2007

Recycled Goods (#39)

by Tom Hull

Last January I took a break from the old music and devoted Recycled Goods to searching out the year's A-list albums. Below is the second annual year-end round-up. Omitted are records that previously appeared in Recycled Goods or in the Jazz Consumer Guide I write for the Village Voice. Those exclusions cut out quite a few jazz and world music releases, although some have managed to slip through here -- including future Jazz CG items. Everything below is recommended. Expanding the list to include honorable mentions would be too much -- due to time and space, I didn't even get to all the A-list records. (See the surplus list below.) Digging into stuff I don't much care for would be an even more hopeless task. Omissions signify nothing more than the fact that I can't listen to everything. All I managed to get to this year was 1075 records (744 new, 331 old). These are the picks of that crop.

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: MTO Volume 1 (2005 [2006], Sunnyside): Robert Altman's film Kansas City made you want to know more about the city's jazz and less about its mobsters. The featured music stars got a package tour out of the deal before returning to contemporary postbop, but lowly associate music producer Bernstein actually put his research to work. He takes the idea of barnstorming territory bands and time travels to and from his home base in downtown New York, treating Prince and Stevie Wonder songs to 1928-style arrangements, while adding postmodern quirks to Count Basie staples. It works because he's one of the few who believes that jazz can become popular again by making it fun without dumbing it down. This group played together regularly for six years before dropping their first album -- an incubation period that matches Basie in Kansas City. A-

The Coup: Pick a Bigger Weapon (2006, Epitaph): Parsing two run-on titles gives you a clue how the personal is central but politics keeps butting in: "I Jus Wanna Lay Around All Day in Bed With You" and "Baby Let's Have a Baby Before Bush Do Somethin' Crazy." Boots is committed to helping "the damn revolution come quicker," but that's just the tag line to his prime directive: "I'm here to laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor." And don't forget politics' evil twin economics: I'm not down with pro-shoplifting "I Love Boosters!" even given the exploitation of children in Asia, but I've gotten to the point where I can get by without succumbing to ass breath. A

Bob Dylan: Modern Times (2006, Columbia): Constant touring has been good for Dylan -- musically anyhow. Having a steady working band he can lean on helps flesh out his underrated melodic ideas. It may also have helped him realize he doesn't have to be profound each time out, although he still has no problem dropping clever couplets. With its blues and jazzy shuffles, this album feels less labored than any good album he's done in ages. After forty-some years, he's turned into a natural. A-

Satoko Fujii Four: When We Were There (2005 [2006], Libra): She plays piano with finesse and abandon, juggles a slew of groups based both in Japan and New York, and has released an amazing string of records over the last decade -- eight this year, including four big band albums. All of the groups feature her trumpeter-husband Natsuki Tamura, who tends to play cool even when she flares red hot. The Four here also includes Mark Dresser on bass -- electric as well as acoustic -- and Jim Black on drums. When Dresser plays electric, they can generate the groove fusion promised but rarely delivered. And on acoustic, Dresser's nimble enough to add something no matter how far out Fujii goes. The high point of an impressive year. A-

Ghostface Killah: Fishscale (2006, Def Jam): Pretty toney last time out, but here Killah's back. He's always been the litterateur of Wu-Tang world, but this is the first time he's hooked me on his stories, if not always the skits. That's probably because the beats and samples are up to snuff -- they drive the words, but they don't hook on their own. So it comes back to the stories. The one about momma "Whip You With a Strap" is wrenching. A

Jesus H Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse (2006, jesushchristrocks.com): Anyone who fondly remembers the Waitresses will have a leg up on this smart, funny, and exuberantly horny band. Not sure whether the difference is a generation of progress in spite of backlash or just that lead singer Risa Mickenberg writes her own lines. Her critique of "Vampire Girls" is spot on, like she's been one and graduated to being interesting in her own right. But it's not just the lyrics. Her voice is corny, and the choruses and horns even more so. A-

Odyssey the Band: Back in Time (2005 [2006], Pi): In 1983 James "Blood" Ulmer, a jazz guitarist schooled by Ornette Coleman and a blues singer deep in the Delta, cut Odyssey. Years later Rolling Stone ran a poll which picked it as the best record never reissued on CD -- testimony both to how strange and wonderful the record was. The group was a trio, with Charles Burnham on violin and Warren Benbow on drums. They regrouped for Reunion in 1998, and here they are one more time. Ulmer's recent blues albums for Hyena have gotten straighter as his vocals gained depth, but the two vocals here are the weak spots -- so enchanting are the guitar-violin harmonics. A-

Public Enemy: Rebirth of a Nation (2006, Guerrilla Funk): Public citizens, a hip-hop nation formed in reaction to a Reagan-Bush era that offered them nothing but reason to sharpen their attitudes and their beats. By contrast, the best they could do during the Clinton years was He Got Game. But the advent of this "son of a Bush" has fired them back up again. Even more than the analysis, which is sharp enough, it's the anger here that satisfies my own. A

Todd Snider: The Devil You Know (2006, New Door): A couple years ago I caught Snider opening for his label master, John Prine. His set recapitulated his live album, with wit clever enough it helped to have heard it before. But what commended him to Prine was only the start. Two albums later he rocks harder and his humor has a darker edge, mostly because the losers he relates to but never coddles have had rough years -- like the construction worker who learned in jail to "watch what you say to someone with nothing/it's almost like having it all." On the other hand, one song is about the winners -- a couple of frat boys who always got away with it, even at Camp David. A

Sound in Action Trio: Gate (2003 [2006], Atavistic): Pace Satoko Fujii, Ken Vandermark continued his reign as the hardest worker in avant-jazz this year, with a pair of doubles from the Vandermark 5, five discs in two sets from the Territory Band, a new group called Bridge 61, the Paul Lytton-Phillip Wachsmann improv CINC, and this bracing two-drummer trio. As the only horn, Vandermark is constantly on the spot, and hangs tough on everything -- originals dedicated to famous drummers, a Dolphy cover to spotlight his clarinet, and a Coltrane piece for transcendent tenor sax. A-

Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006, Anti-, 3CD): Half spare parts from soundtracks, tributes, etc., half new songs that don't care if they're only half-baked, sorted into three bins that loosely define Waits -- a guy who started out fascinated by the picaresque and perverse, then found in Beefheart and Brecht a workable aesthetic that he only made rougher and cruder. Sprawling, slapdash sets -- the Clash's Sandinista, Laurie Anderson's United States Live, and the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs are three good examples -- defy familiarity through sheer numbers and diversity, compensating for their rough edges with endless discovery. I doubt that any of these discs would stand high on its own, but together they refine and reveal each other. A-

Briefly Noted

Fred Anderson: Timeless: Live at the Velvet Lounge (2005 [2006], Delmark): A noisy minor wheel in the early days of the AACM, Chicago's Velvet Lounge proprietor picked up his tenor sax after passing retirement age and recently has reeled off four straight superb albums; slowing down may have helped bring his horn into focus, but his great fortune was adopting a Louisiana teenager who grew up to be drummer Hamid Drake. A-

Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006, Domino): Britain's award-winning "best new band" gets great press and decent sales here because they back up the hype unpretentiously, at least in the music; their post-punk plays clean, changing speeds and layering guitars, the heavy accent so clearly enunciated, their wit is shrewd enough it doesn't matter if you don't always get it. A-

Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll (2005 [2006], Downtown): Unlikely to succeed in their ambition to write "the song that makes Israel and Palestine get along," let alone one "as universal as Happy Birthday"; but they vary their guitar-band art punk with enough panache to wow anyone able to savor their references or cope with the irony of decrying songs about sex and drugs after exclaiming over seeing a new girlfriend naked and demanding a drug that works. A-

Be Your Own Pet (2006, Ecstatic Peace): Nashville teens with a rock solid backbeat and enough noise to fuzz up the requisite attitude; they probably won't last now that a founder has quit to look for a nice college, but this won't be the last you hear from at least some of them; note "Parental Advisory Explicit Content" logo -- presumably that's meant to warn off your parents. A-

Ignacio Berroa: Codes (2006, Blue Note): Like Chano Pozo in 1947, trap drummer Berroa moved to New York in 1980 and found a job in Dizzy Gillespie's band. But his Afro-Cuban roots were attenuated; even here, the archetypal Afro-Cuban rhythms come not from the usual percussion instruments but from Gonzalo Rubalcaba's piano and Felipe LaMoglia's saxophones. A-

T Bone Burnett: The True False Identity (2006, DMZ/Columbia): The thinness of his career-spanning Twenty Twenty may have reminded the goto roots producer to mind his own business, or he may have just had his stiff moralism shocked, not least by his fellow believers; "Blinded by the Darkness" is a worthy brief on separation of church and state, but it also helps when he brings the noise. A-

Carneyball Johnson (2006, Akron Cracker): Tin Huey/Tom Waits saxophonist Ralph Carney rounds up guys named Ball, Johnson, and Whitman for mischievous aural origami made from covers of Monk and Sun Ra, Cream's "White Room," Desmond Dekker's "Intensified" -- reminds me of the Lounge Lizards, only hold the tango. A-

Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury (2006, Re-Up Gang/Zomba): At least some of the gangsta shit was commissioned for Miami Vice, which makes it fiction, or poetry when the rhymes mesh; the Neptunes' beats, on the other hand, are pure aural candy, even when they get skimpy, which just reveals their naked beauty. A-

Club D'Elf: Now I Understand (1998-2006 [2006], Accurate): Boston eclectics, centered on bassist Mike Rivard, but open to damn near anyone willing to share the stage; a melange of techno beats, Middle Eastern oud, John Medeski funk, raps and skits, novelty songs -- my favorite is the kiddie sample reggae romp "Just Kiddin'" -- jazz more by spirit than by form. A-

Crunk Hits (2002-04 [2005], TVT): The crude beats here are topped only by the cruder groans, creating a cartoon crassness that doesn't offend so much as celebrate its niche far outside polite society -- definitive statement: "if you don't give a damn, we don't give a fuck"; but when it comes to real crunk, the girlz rool -- not so much Ciara's "Goodies" as Jacki-O's "Nookie" and Khia's authoritative "Lick It." A-

Crunk Hits, Vol. 2 (2004-05 [2006], TVT): Less crunk, more hits -- not necessarily on the charts, which would be too respectable anyway, but the hooks pack some punch, and after a dozen tracks that shake your booty, along comes one called "Gasolina" that really rips the roof off the sucker; I've never heard a first-rate album by any of these artistes, but mixed up in small doses they can be potent. A-

Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra: Boulevard de l'Indépencence (2006, Nonesuch): The Malian kora master's relentless networking pays off here with a big band that spreads both traditional and modern instruments out into an even-handed, seamless mix that's consciously evocative of Mali old and new. A-

Gato Libre: Nomad (2006, No Man's Land): Ten pieces named for cities and months of a tour in Europe, with Spanish guitar by Kazuhiko Tsumura and Italian accordion by Satoko Fujii, setting up the folkish milieu for leader Natsuki Tamura's plaintive trumpet. A-

Ghostface Killah: More Fish (2006, Def Jam): Leftovers, featuring the crew Theodore Unit and spiced up with guests, but the window dressing is neither here nor there; the grooves are as fierce as ever, the grit real, and while the songs don't flow conceptually, they stand fine on their own. A-

Golem: Fresh Off Boat (2006, JDub): Billed as folk-punk, where the folk maps to klezmer, their jagged edge strikes me as closer to Brecht and Weill, an effect reinforced by my inability to distinguish Yiddish from German; the pieces are mostly traditional, but their arrangements -- accordion, violin, trombone -- aren't. A-

The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury: Songs From a Series of Unfortunate Events (2006, Nonesuch): The Lemony Snicket tie-in is beyond my cultural ken, so what I relate to is the deadpan monotone voice of the Magnetic Fields and an exceptionally playful bag of melodies, more whimsical than his love songs ever were. A-

Scott Hamilton: Nocturnes & Serenades (2006, Concord): Slow standards, with "Autumn Nocturne" and "Serenade in Blue" justifying into the title, "You Go to My Head" and "Chelsea Bridge" more instantly recognizable, and "Man With a Horn" his calling card; sometimes sax is best when you take it nice and easy. A-

The Handsome Family: Last Days of Wonder (2006, Carrot Top): If Brett Sparks had a twang his duo with wife Rennie would probably be counted as country, but his affectless voice reveals a deeper, darker history, mostly by letting the words speak; first stanza: "Like four million tons of hydrogen exploding on the sun. Like the whisper of the termites building castles in the dust. You're no longer leaving foot prints. You left your wallet on the bus. Your great journey has begun." A-

Hat: Hi Ha (2005 [2006], Fresh Sound New Talent): Sergi Sirvent is an up and coming Spanish jazz pianist with a handful of impressive records over the last few years; here he adds guitarist Jordi Matas to his trio and finds the perfect balance; at first it sounds like a mistake when he tries to sing one, but even that he puts over on pure emotion. A-

Hazmat Modine: Bahamut (2006, Barbes): These New Yorkers remind me of the Blasters, especially when Wade Schuman sings something hooked into the blues tradition; but this group searches the world for borrowed roots, ranging from Hawaiian steel guitar to Gypsy cimbalom to an alliance with Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu; with a core sound from two harmonicas on top of tuba, they provide a blast of hot air from everywhere. A-

Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid: The Exchange Session Vol. 1 (2005 [2006], Domino): Better known as Four Tet, Hebden's instrument is laptop; here he improvises his jazzlike samples in real time, reminiscent of George Russell's electronic sonatas; Reid answers on drums, but as you'd expect from a guy who's worked for James Brown and Fela Kuti, he often finds a groove. A-

Frank Hewitt: Fresh From the Cooler (1996 [2006], Smalls): A bebop pianist who almost slipped through 66 years of life without leaving a trace, Hewitt's long residency at Smalls inspired a label in no small part dedicated to his legacy; his fourth posthumous release steps gingerly around jazz standards like "Cherokee" and "Monk's Mood," showing a rare knack for the art of the piano trio. A-

Maurice Hines: To Nat "King" Cole With Love (2005 [2006], Arbors): Gregory's big brother is a smooth, agile singer -- doesn't have Cole's voice, but comes close enough, and benefits from a band with more muscle than the Trio and none of the dross of Cole's orchestras, giving a career-spanning song selection new life. A-

The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America (2006, Vagrant): Hard not to take songs so detailed as personal, but if true Craig Finn's soft spot is for girls who get high and aren't all that straight about their Christianity; Finn knows boys and girls in America have tough times, but he feels "jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers"; the band, with extra strings, horns, and lap steel, can blow Springsteen off the road. A-

Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker: Palm of Soul (2005 [2006], AUM Fidelity): Hurricane Katrina drove the 70 year old Jordan out of his home and into a Brooklyn studio for the best record of a storied but little documented career; he plays wild and wooly tenor sax, but he's finally showing signs of mellowing a bit -- or maybe he's just dazzled by his bandmates, who go beyond their usual skills to mix things up with guimbri and tablas. A-

Kékélé: Kinavana (2006, Stern's Africa): The superstars from Kinshasa give the Afro-Cuban screw another turn here by recording an album of standards penned by Guillermo Portables, adding a few new lyrics in Lingala, and a dash of Manu Dibango sax; so while the rhythm and coro remind you of Cuba, the Papa Noel guitar is uncommonly sweet. A-

Chris Knight: Enough Rope (2006, Drifter's Church): A singer-songwriter from Kentucky, country because he doesn't much care for the city, least of all when the city comes calling; his writing is wound as tight as his guitar, which grabs your attention like a ticking bomb even when he has a full band somewhere in the background; he worries about quail and rabbits, knows better than to put a bridle on a bull, and while admitting that love can save you, he also acknowledges that you do what you have to do. A-

Diana Krall: From This Moment On (2006, Verve): The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra doesn't split the difference between Billy May and Nelson Riddle so much as they aggregate the virtues of each, but they were pretty useless until Krall came around; she sings the title song, "It Could Happen to You," "Come Dance With Me," even the often hoary "Willow Weep for Me" as authoritatively as they've ever been sung, which speaks volumes. A-

KRS-One: Life (2006, Antagonist): Old school, not so much in the elemental beats and hooks as in the old-fashioned realpolitik; he's a true hip-hop patriot, one of the few who believes his commitment to the music, the society, and the nation are one; so he makes fun of "Bling Blung," exhorts us to "Wake Up," berates us to "Gimme Da Gun," reminds us that "I Am There" and "I Ain't Leavin'"; so straight the irony-impaired can get it. A-

Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (2006, Atlantic): You got your good and your bad, your food and your liquor -- one worries that this earnest young Muslim teetotaler's messages are getting lost in mixes as materialistic as Jay-Z, Pharrell, and Kanye West can tool them; but "Hurt My Soul" is clear enough, and the "Outro" shout-out is humble and funky enough, it matters not how long it unrolls. A-

Madonna: I'm Going to Tell You a Secret (2004 [2006], Warner Brothers, CD+DVD): The live album on its own is unlikely to interest anyone but devotees and souvenir hunters, but "Imagine" is a plus, and the more you play it the more it coheres; but the concert tour DVD is the only one I've ever seen that justifies the packaging -- Truth or Dare redux, but this one goes much further. A-

Mr. Lif: Mo' Mega (2006, Definitive Jux): You know he's gone deep underground because he ends a diatribe against Bush with a "Fuck Clinton too!"; once upon a time his juxtapositions resolved as dialectics, but those were the days when we thought there would be resolutions; but at least he's got hope, and beats. A-

Maria Muldaur: Heart of Mine: Love Songs of Bob Dylan (2006, Telarc): She's not just showing but flaunting her age when she describes encountering the young Dylan on her native Greenwich Village turf as "a likable enough fellow"; his songs are likable as well, but she warms them up, drawing out whatever sensuality and libido she can find, and adding whatever more is needed. A-

New York Dolls: Some Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This (2006, Roadrunner): Thirty years after the day, the surviving 40% of the band reunite, sounding aged, but along the same trajectory the Rolling Stones painstakingly plotted out, where recycled riffs support newfound maturity -- as in "you've got the human condition/boy I feel sorry for you." A-

OutKast: Idlewild (2006, LaFace/Zomba): I'm always slow on the uptake with them, and most likely it doesn't help that I didn't get to the theatre on time. The soundtrack tie-in kept their heads away from radio hooks, and the retro-nouveau shtick left us not knowing what to expect, but from the moment some woman shoots her man (or is it some other woman?) up to the movie denouement at the end, this is pretty amazing. A-

The Rakes: Capture/Release (2006, V2): Sounds like Wire out of the box, then spreads a bit over the middle ground between the Buzzcocks and the Police, without ever discounting the hard guitar edge of Wire; still, there's so much history now that everyone sounds like someone, so give them credit for picking a sharp line of attack and working it. A-

The Rapture: Pieces of the People We Love (2006, Universal Motown): A new wave aesthetic that could be rooted in Talking Heads, but trimmed back and smartly layered, the sorts of refinements typical of the last few decades; sounds trivial, but if so, why isn't there more like it? A-

Bob Reynolds: Can't Wait for Perfect (2005 [2006], Fresh Sound New Talent): Debut album from a tenor saxophonist who follows a line plotted from Budd Johnson and Ben Webster through Bennie Wallace and Tommy Smith, which is to say he relishes the pure beauty of the horn, but he's not retro -- for one thing, he relates more to funk than to swing. A-

Rhymefest: Blue Collar (2006, J/All I Do): The two cuts featuring Kanye West wouldn't have made the cut on Late Registration but they stand out here, both for popcraft and earnest ambitions; but this journeyman's relative lack of fame keeps him grounded: he knows the dead-end jobs, crack tragedies, military recruiter lies; then he closes with a novelty -- O.D.B. resurrecting "Build Me Up" from the grave. A-

Vittor Santos: Renewed Impressions (2005 [2006], Adventure Music): It's rare to hear Brazilian music with a lead horn of any sort, much less a trombone, but Santos's rapid-fire puffs give some much needed heft to the sly rhythms and flighty melodies. A-

Bill Sheffield: Journal on a Shelf (2006, American Roots): A singer-songwriter from Atlanta with a deep feel for the old blues, down to the way his fingers shuffle the guitar strings. Everything here rings true, but the choice cut is "I Don't Hate Nobody": "And if you hate my little song, you know I don't hate you/Because I know sweet forgiveness/Always comes back in kind/So I don't hate nobody it's a waste of my time." A-

Sonic Liberation Front: Change Over Time (2006, High Two): Kevin Diehl's Afro-Cuban percussion continues to amaze, especially when Dan Scofield's avant-rooted sax skips and skids over the complex beats; if this fails to live up to the previous one, Ashé a Go-Go, it's because the two vocal pieces are more mojo than magic. A-

Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped (2006, Geffen): More muscular than their recent outings, but lacking their trademark sonic squalls -- an accomplishment signifying their accumulating maturity: youth no more, more sonic than ever. A-

The Streets: The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living (2006, Vice/Atlantic): Established enough, here Mike Skinner dissects his newfound fame with the same cunning and curiosity, a far cry from the ego success so often inflates; the loopy melodies still strike me as awkward but they kick in at some level even when they leave you wondering. A-

Rachid Taha: Diwan 2 (2006, Wrasse): Like 1998's Diwan, a look back at the roots of Algeria's electrified dance music, otherwise known as rai. But where the first album pictured a young man dancing, the cover photo here is somber, and a good deal older. The music is also more measured, more personal, but equally compelling. After all, everything he picks is new to us. A-

This Moment in Black History: It Takes a Nation (of Assholes to Hold Us Back) (2005 [2006], Cold Sweat): Cleveland-based hardcore band, two whites, two blacks, Steve Albini-produced; can't make out most of the words, but what I can is promising, but even as an instrumental -- and they do jam -- this is crisp as well as loud. A-

Thunderbirds Are Now!: Make History (2006, Frenchkiss): High teensy voice, hooky keybs, everything fast with a lot of uplift, the lack of sonic gravity lets their doubts and anxieties and puzzled pontificating sneak up on you, if you notice it at all; they capture the spirit of the times when they yelp, "we don't know what we want, but we want it all." A-

Hank Williams III: Straight to Hell (2006, Bruc, 2CD): He's got his grandpa's pipes and his dad's gonads and he's got more attitude than either; he relishes the dick in Dixie and the cunt in country, and hates pop country and frauds like Kid Rock; despite all his proud vices, he's managed to live longer than his namesake; maybe guilt's the worst killer of all? A-

Additional Consumer News

Omitted from the above were 2006 releases of A-list records that previously reviewed in Recycled Goods. This was usually because the source material was old even though it hadn't been released before.

  • Cabruêra: Proibido Cochilar: Sambas for Sleepless Nights (Piranha)
  • Johnny Cash: Personal File (1973-82, Columbia/Legacy, 2CD)
  • Maurice El Médioni Meets Roberto Rodriguez: Descarga Oriental: The New York Sessions (Piranha)
  • Guitar Gabriel & the Brothers in the Kitchen: Toot Blues (1991, Music Maker)
  • Merle Haggard: Live From Austin TX (1985, New West)
  • The Klezmatics: Wonder Wheel: Lyrics by Woody Guthrie (JMG)
  • Los de Abajo: LDA V The Lunatics (Real World)
  • Harry Miller's Isipingo: Which Way Now (1975, Cuneiform)
  • Mohammed "Jimmy" Mohammed: Takkabel! (Terp)
  • Nils Petter Molvaer: An American Compilation (Thirsty Ear)
  • Les Primitifs du Futur: World Musette (1999, Sunnyside)
  • Saborit: Que Linda Es Mi Cuba (Tumi Music)
  • Sir Douglas Quintet: Live From Austin TX (1981, New West)
  • Soft Machine: Grides (1971, Cuneiform)

Also omitted are the records I've reviewed in the Jazz Consumer Guide I write for the Village Voice:

  • Rabih Abou-Khalil/Joachim Kuhn: Journey to the Centre of an Egg (Enja/Justin Time)
  • The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet: Hey, Look Me Over (Arbors)
  • Ben Allison: Cowboy Justice (Palmetto)
  • Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Stoa (ECM)
  • François Carrier: Happening (Leo, 2CD)
  • Bill Carrothers: Shine Ball (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
  • Ramón Díaz: Diàleg (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • Jon Faddis: Teranga (Koch)
  • Erik Friedlander: Prowl (Cryptogramophone)
  • Moncef Genoud: Aqua (Savoy Jazz)
  • Jeff Healey & the Jazz Wizards: It's Tight Like That (Stony Plain)
  • Junk Box: Fragment (Libra)
  • Manu Katché: Neighbourhood (ECM)
  • Adam Lane Trio: Zero Degree Music (CIMP)
  • Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra: New Magical Kingdom (Clean Feed)
  • Charles Lloyd: Sangam (ECM)
  • Joe Morris Quartet: Beautiful Existence (Clean Feed)
  • Paul Motian: On Broadway Vol. 4 (Winter & Winter)
  • Mario Pavone Sextet: Deez to Blues (Playscape)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please (Doxy)
  • Thomas Strønen: Pohlitz (Rune Grammofon)
  • The Vandermark 5: A Discontinuous Line (Atavistic)
  • Ulf Wakenius: Notes From the Heart (ACT)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Political Blues (Justin Time)
  • Zentralquartett: 11 Songs -- Aus Teutschen Landen (Intakt)

Finally, a few more A- records that I didn't get to here, given the limitations of time and space:

  • Omer Avital: The Ancient Art of Giving (Smalls)
  • Rosanne Cash: Black Cadillac (Capitol)
  • Drive-By Truckers: A Blessing and a Curse (New West)
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Codebook (Pi)
  • Steve Lacy Quintet: Esteem (1975, Atavistic)
  • Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love)
  • Willie Nelson: You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker (Lost Highway)
  • Pink: I'm Not Dead (LaFace/Zomba)
  • Prince: 3121 (Universal)
  • The Roots: Game Theory (Def Jam)
  • Bruce Springsteen: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (Columbia)
  • The David S. Ware Quartet: BalladWare (Thirsty Ear)

No doubt there's more I haven't gotten to.


In an infinite universe, all the music you'll ever need already exists somewhere. We find more each month, but this month take a break to round up the best of 2006: singer-songwriters (Bob Dylan, Todd Snider, Tom Waits), rockers (Arctic Monkeys, Hold Steady, Rakes, Rupture), rappers (The Coup, Ghostface Killah, Public Enemy, KRS-One), country and blues bards (Chris Knight, Bill Sheffield), world (Golem, Kekele, Rachid Taha), even some jazz (Steven Bernstein, Satoko Fujii, Ken Vandermark); many more (59 records).


Copyright © 2007 Tom Hull.