Jazz Consumer Guide (20):
Prospecting

These are the prospecting notes from working on Jazz CG #20. The idea here was to pick an unrated record from the incoming queue, play it, jot down a note, and a grade. Any grade in brackets is tentative, with the record going back for further play. Brackets are also used for qualifying notes: "advance" refers to a record that was reviewed on the basis of an advance of special promo copy, without viewing the final packaging; "Rhapsody" refers to a record that was reviewed based on streaming the record from the Rhapsody music service; in this case I've seen no packaging material or promotional material, except what I've scrounged up on the web. In some of these cases there is a second note, written once I've settled on the grade. Rarely there may be an additional note written after grading.

These were written from Apr. 13, 2009 to July 19, 2009, with non-finalized entries duplicated from previous prospecting. The notes have been sorted by artist. The chronological order can be obtained from the notebook or blog.

The number of records noted below is 226 (plus 97 carryovers). The count from the previous file was 230 (before that: 293, 291, 240, 259).


Claudia Acuńa: Es Este Momento (2007 [2009], Marsalis Music): Singer, from Chile, b. 1971, moved to New York in 1995. Fourth album, or fifth counting the one with Arturo O'Farrill's name out front. Liner notes argue that this record, with its flow between Spanish and English (often in the same song), "stands as the truest reflection of both her and her band to date." That may be true, but it doesn't amount to much. Her voice is as thin as a frill, and when the band picks up the pace she has trouble keeping up. If her Spanish harbors any depth, it's not disclosed in English -- probably helps that this is her most heavily Spanish-tilted album. The band can't be blamed: Jason Lindner, Omer Avital, Clarence Penn, and a guitarist named Juancho Herrera. Label mogul Branford Marsalis drops in for a soprano sax solo, a high point. B-

Bob Albanese Trio with Ira Sullivan: One Way/Detour (2008 [2009], Zoho): Piano trio plus spare wheel -- Sullivan plays tenor sax on three cuts, soprano sax on one, alto flute on one, and percussion on one more, leaving the trio to their own devices on 4 of 10. Albanese is a pianist, based in New York since 1980 -- don't know how old he is, or where he came from. First album; not many side credits -- first AMG lists is 1991. Mainstream bebopper -- one review I've seen likens him to Red Garland, and I'm not going to try to improve on that. Wrote 7 of 10 pieces, with one from Monk, one from Hampton, and one called "Yesterday's Gardenias" by guys I don't recognize. Sullivan goes back further: in the liner notes, Ira Gitler talks about hearing Sullivan blow trumpet in 1949. AMG has a picture of a fairly young Sullivan with trumpet, but his main axe has long been tenor sax. Cut a couple records in the 1950s, a Bird Lives! in 1962, a fairly productive stretch from 1975-82, not much since. He helps out here, especially on tenor sax. B+(**)

The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet: Plays Music From South Pacific (2008 [2009], Arbors): Same group, including singers Rebecca Kilgore and Eddie Erickson, who took on Guys and Dolls a while back. The liner notes is already referring to them as "the official Arbors Repertory Company of American Musical Theater," so I guess they'll keep this up until they run out of material. I never cared for Broadway musicals, and never listened to an original cast album until the Royal Shakespeare Company did Threepenny Opera, which was something else altogether (and very much my thing). Hardly ever saw the movies either, but the one thing I do recall was how hokey the stories were with so much plot wound up in song. Still, I love Allen's tenor sax, and Cohn's guitar has been a productive accompaniment. Every significant music of the period -- South Pacific came out in 1949 -- has a few songs that have turned into jazz standards, and it's interesting to check out the context, much of which hasn't aged very well -- cf. "There's Nothing Like a Dame" and "Honeybun" which sound these days little better than a couple of old coon songs. The singers are fun, but they don't fit their characters very well -- Erickson as a sophisticated French man? They are, as Kilgore puts it, cornier than Kansas in August, while Allen and Cohn do what they always do: swing. B+(***)

J.D. Allen Trio: Shine! (2008 [209], Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist. Wikipedia lists him as J.D. Allen III, b. 1972, Detroit. Fourth album since 1996, plus a dozen-plus side credits, usually making a big impression. Trio includes Gregg August on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. Played this last night while on my way to bed, then twice this morning while reading. Not sure whether it's just a real solid freebop outing or he's breaking loose as a major voice. Latter seems likely to happen sooner or later. [B+(***)]

John Allred/Jeff Barnhart/Danny Coots: The ABC's of Jazz (2008 [2009], Arbors): Trombone, piano, drums, respectively. Bassist Dave Stone missed out on the top line, presumably because of the ABC concept. Allred's father, Bill Allred, also plays trombone, in the same retro-swing circles. B. 1962, Allred has four albums and 30-some side credits, mostly Arbors titles and a smattering of albums with Harry Connick Jr. His trombone leads are a treat here, and the band members know their way around the repertoire centered on Fats Waller. Several songs have vocals, which aren't credited. B+(*)

Bill Anschell/Brent Jensen: We Couldn't Agree More (2008 [2009], Origin): Duets, Anschell playing piano, Jensen soprano sax. Anschell is a Seattle pianist with a half dozen or so albums since 1997. Jensen teaches in Idaho; started out on alto, but has played more soprano recently, exclusively on his last couple of albums. The latest, a quartet with Anschell called One More Mile, made my A-list. This is less flush, of course, but the strong points are still here. Ends with a remarkably schematic take on "Sunny Side of the Street." B+(***)

Irene Atman: New York Rendezvous (2009, no label): Vocalist, from Toronto. Evidently sung a little when she was young -- "twenty years ago, while working on a forgettable cruise ship, I met a piano player . . . Frank Kimbrough" -- then did something else for a couple of decades before coming back with a record, and now her second. A New York group set up by Kimbrough, with Jay Anderson on bass, Matt Wilson on drums, and Joel Frahm on sax -- not that I noticed. Voice has some character, band is solid, but nothing special in the songs. Shows her range with one in Spanish, "Somos Novios" -- better choice than an obligatory Jobim. B [June 1]

Atomic/School Days: Distil (2006 [2008], Okka Disk, 2CD): School Days is a Ken Vandermark, named for the Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd album, with trombonist Jeb Bishop and a Norwegian rhythm pair who show up together in various groups, including Atomic and The Thing: bassist Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Atomic features Magnus Broo on trumpet, Fredrik Ljungkvist on tenor sax and clarinet, Hĺvard Wiik on piano, and Kjell Nordeson on vibes. When they tour Chicago, all they have to do is add Vandermark and Bishop to get this mash-up. They've done this before, producing 2004's Nuclear Assembly Hall. Played this twice, and it sounds like a party -- a lot of fun at the time, but nothing you're going to remember all that clearly afterwards. Bishop's trombone adds some muscle and depth to Broo's trumpet, as does Vandermark's baritone to Ljundkvist's tenor sax. And it doesn't hurt when one or both of the reed players switch to clarinet, or when Nordeson's vibes add a splash of tinkle. B+(**)

Jon Balke/Amina Alaoui: Siwan (2007-08 [2009], ECM): Balke is a Norwegian pianist, credited with keyboards here. He was b. 1955, has 10 or so albums since 1991, most on ECM. His name appears above the title, and on the spine before the title. Alaoui, a Moroccan vocalist specializing in Arabic-Andalusian classical music, is listed just below the title, and on the spine after the title. Three more names make the front cover: Jon Hassell (trumpet, electronics); Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche (violin); and Bjarte Eike (violin, leader of the Barokksolistene, an ensemble of strings, lute, and harpsichord. The material is mostly Spanish, mostly from the Arabic period. For all I know, sounds pretty expert, authentic, an interesting exercise in the archives. B+(*)

Scotty Barnhart: Say It Plain (2008 [2009], Unity Music): Trumpeter. MySpace has him based in Los Angeles but teaching at Florida State. B. 1964. Debut album, calling in various chits from years as a sideman, including five piano players (Ellis Marsalis and Marcus Roberts the best known), trumpet duets with Wynton Marsalis and Clark Terry, and a vocal from Jamie Davis -- like Barnhart, an alumni of the Basie big band, which Barnhart joined in 1993. Stanley Crouch wrote the gushing liner notes, and Bill Cosby chipped in a blurb quote. This sounds a bit like he's trying too hard, but the record is delightful, a vigorous slice of New Orleans neotrad, with supple ballads, a couple of burners, a couple of amusing twists. About half original, half covers. The Wynton duo on "Con Alma" is disposable, but Clark Terry's turn, complete with vocal, is worth hearing ("Pay Me My Money"), and Davis turns in a charming "Young at Heart." Barnhart also has a book: The World of Jazz Trumpet: A Comprehensive History and Practical Philosophy. B+(***)

Shelly Berg: The Nearness of You (2008 [2009], Arbors): Pianist, b. 1955, from Cleveland, studied in Houston, taught in Texas and, since 1991, at USC. Father played trumpet -- Jay Berg, doesn't ring a bell. Sixth album since 1995, including an Oscar Peterson tribute. This is solo, Volume 19 in Arbors Piano Series. A couple of medleys from "My Fair Lady" and "Guys and Dolls"; standards like the title cut and "Where or When" and "My One and Only Love," with "Con Alma" for a taste of bebop. I don't get much out of this sort of thing. Dr. Judith Schlesinger, in the liner notes, describes it as "inherently relaxing," but I don't even get that. It takes a lot to sustain interest in solo piano -- a Ran Blake or Paul Bley or Dave Burrell, maybe, or better still, a Cecil Taylor or Earl Hines or Art Tatum. B-

Jerry Bergonzi: Simply Put (2008 [2009], Savant): Tenor saxophonist, a mainstream blower from Boston who doesn't go in for fancy titles or concepts. He's happy working in front of piano-bass-drums, and you'll be happy too, because the point is to hear the sax. Bruce Barth (piano) joints Dave Santoro (bass) and Andrea Michelutti (drums), repeaters from last year's Tenor Talk, which I thought might have been his best yet. (25-plus albums since 1982; I've only heard a few recent ones, and some older side-spots, where he's always made a big impression.) No signs of decline here. He's on a roll. A-

Josh Berman: Old Idea (2007 [2009], Delmark): Cornet player, from and in Chicago, b. 1972, debut album although he's been gathering credits since 2002 -- Lucky 7s, Exploding Star Orchestra, various projects with tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz (both on board here). Quintet, with Anton Hatwich on bass, Nori Tanaka on drums. Mild mannered, ambles thoughtfully without much splash, the drama neatly tucked inside. Good framework for the vibes. B+(*)

Chuck Bernstein: Delta Berimbau Blues (2007-08 [2008], CMB): Drummer, b. 1940, otherwise best known for leading a group called Monk's Music Trio. First album under his own name, something focused on the berimbau, described herein as a Brazilian diddley bow -- one string, plucked or bowed, tied to a bow with a sphere at the bottom of the bow that may add some resonance or just be used for incidental percussion. Reminds Bernstein of delta blues, which he explores with occasional guests in a series of very spare pieces -- mostly duos with a little extra guitar, bass, or drums. One piece has tenor sax, a couple vocals, one with trombone from Roswell Rudd, who adds his blessing ("every track raises the bar for World Music"). Strikes me as a novelty, but that may just mean it's unique. [B+(***)]

Chuck Bernstein: Delta Berimbau Blues (2007-08 [2008], CMB): Minimalist gutbucket blues, played on berimbau, a Brazilian diddley bow -- one string, plucked or bowed, with a sphere at the bottom for resonance and/or percussion. Other musicians show up now and then, and two cuts have vocals. The choice cut is the one Roswell Rudd plays on. B+(***)

Steven Bernstein/Marcus Rojas/Kresten Osgood: Tattoos and Mushrooms (2008 [2009], ILK): Osgood is a Danish drummer, b. 1976, doesn't have much under his own name, partly because he hasn't bothered to push his name up front in multi-artist credits. He's showed up on several good records recently -- Scott DuBois' Banshees, Michael Blake's Control This. He probably should be considered the leader here: the original material has one group credit, one shared with Bernstein, three more just Osgood, including a terrific closer called "The Beat Up Blues"; moreover, he's on his home turf here. Rojas plays tuba, starting off burying a Charles Brackeen piece deep under, and he provides a dependable bottom to Bernstein's trumpet and slide trumpet. Also covered are pieces by Monk and Mingus, and a deep, slow, lovely run through Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." B+(***)

Bik Bent Braam: Extremen (2008, BBB): Braam is Michiel Braam, Dutch pianist, b. 1964. Don't know what "Bik Bent" means. One suggestion was Big Band, but online Dutch-to-English dictionary don't confirm that. The band is big: 13 pieces. None of the other names seem to figure in. Five reeds, with three saxes switching off to clarinet, another to bassoon. Five brass: cornet, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba. A few players I recognize: Wilbert de Joode and Michael Vatcher from Braam's trio; trombonist Walter Wierbos; saxophonist/clarinetist Frank Gratkowski, who hitherto may have ranked as the most famous jazz musician I had never managed to hear. (No idea who moves up, but surely someone does.) As is often the case with avant-garde orchestras, the pieces are little more than cues for variation and improvisation. Starts somewhat tentative, but before long the players start to find their moments. A Spanish twist in a piece called "Franxs" especially grabbed my attention, but it was probably just a mistake. Hard to tell. B+(**)

David Binney: Third Occasion (2008 [2009], Mythology): Played this three times straight, and I'm not mentally up to it, so will put it back. Alto saxophonist, won Downbeat's Rising Star poll a couple years back, leading a top-notch quartet with Craig Taborn on piano, Scott Colley on bass, and Brian Blade on drums, plus an extra brass section with two trumpets and two trombones. Runs through all the moves you'd expect from a top tier alto saxophonist: a lot of racing and riffing, some slow curves. Pretty sure this will show up in more than a few year-end lists. Just not sure what I think of it. [B+(***)]

Todd Bishop's Pop Art 4: Plays the Music of Serge Gainsbourg: 69 Année Érotique (2008 [2009], Origin): Not a bad idea, but done so roughly you figure that's part of their concept. Bishop is a drummer from Portland; does some visual art; has a gig on a Columbia River cruise ship; sells some merchandise; has been on a couple of group albums as Flatland and Lower Monumental. Group includes Richard Cole on woodwinds (i.e., not the much better known Richie Cole, although I'm pretty sure I've run across this one before), Steve Moore on keyboards, and Geoff Harper on bass, plus occasional guests. Casey Scott sings "Initials B.B." and "Je T'Aime . . . Moi Non Plus" -- crudely, of course. B

Ran Blake: Driftwoods (2008 [2009], Tompkins Square): Solo piano, more trouble for me. Blake has played a lot of solo piano over the years, and I've rarely been up to it. I gave his last one, All That Is Tied, a polite B+(**) and promptly forgot about it. The Penguin Guide, which has long shown an excessive fondness for solo piano, annointed it with one of their crowns. I need to dig it up and give it another shot. This one has a sticker saying: "Ran Blake salutes his favorite singers: Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Hank Williams, Nat King Cole and more." Need to figure out what that's about, too -- maybe even dig up that Unmarked Van (as in Vaughan, Sarah) that I didn't much care for long ago. (I've given him one A- grade, for his legendary Short Life of Barbara Monk, a non-solo.) What I can say is that he picks his way through these songs with great skill, like a master chef deboning fish. The one that I feel closest to, "You Are My Sunshine," hasn't been done this exquisitely since Sheila Jordan sang it for George Russell. No doubt a major jazz pianist. For me, still a project. [A-]

Ran Blake: Driftwoods (2008 [2009], Tompkins Square): Solo piano, a set of covers picked through so sparely and meticulously that the only one I recognized was the impossible to miss "You Are My Sunshine." He plays it off center, slow and somewhat arch, very tasty. Wish I could focus equally on the others. He's always been an enigma to me, and remains so. B+(***)

Seamus Blake Quartet: Live in Italy (2007 [2009], Jazz Eyes, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, born 1969 in England, raised in Canada (Vancouver), studied in Boston (Berklee), lives in New York. Ninth album since 1993, fairly large number of side credits, where he always sounds good. Quartet includes David Kikoski, a first-rate pianist. The live cuts range from 8:10 to 17:07, cherry picked from at least three shows: open, wide-ranging, vigorous. B+(**)

Theo Bleckmann/Kneebody: Twelve Songs by Charles Ives (2008 [2009], Winter & Winter): On paper this looks dicier than The Refuge Trio, but it comes off better. Ives' songs suck up enough Americana to contain their artiness, and his fondness for juxtaposing things provides a bit of edge. Kneebody has some names I barely recognize (Ben Wendel on tenor sax, Adam Benjamin on piano, Shane Endsley on trumpet) and others I don't (Kaveh Rastegar on bass, Nate Wood on drums). Bleckmann's voice fits the songs nicely, only rarely slipping into his angelic upper register. B+(**)

Blink.: The Epidemic of Ideas (2008, Thirsty Ear): Chicago group, evidently they prefer lower case with a period at the end, but the typographer (not to mention the database architect) in me rebels. No one I'm familiar with: Jeff Greene (bass, sample, harmonium), Quin Kirchner (drums, percussion, glockenspiel), Dave Miller (guitar, effects), Greg Ward (alto sax). Don't know if there's any sort of pecking order there, although Greene is front and center in the group photo over at MySpace. Got an advance on this last summer and it fell through the cracks. Greene seems happy enough with rock grooves, while Ward plays a fairly aggressive freebop. Haven't paid enough attention to the drummer, who should be decisive. Maybe I can get a real copy. [B+(***)] [advance]

The Blue Note 7: Mosaic (2008 [2009], Blue Note): Bill Charlap's superb trio with Peter Washington and Lewis Nash, plus four: Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Steve Wilson (alto sax, flute), Ravi Coltrane (tenor sax), Peter Bernstein (guitar). Songs from landmark Blue Note albums, written by Cedar Walton, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Duke Pearson, Horace Silver. How bad can it be? Still crunching the numbers here, but it doesn't sound promising. [B-]

The Blue Note 7: Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records (2008 [2009], Blue Note): Bill Charlap's trio augmented with three name horn players -- Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Steve Wilson (alto sax, flute), and Ravi Coltrane (tenor sax) -- plus Peter Bernstein on guitar, work through songs from Blue Note's heyday. Five members plus Renee Rosnes contribute arrangements, but no one seems to have a handle on how to play the horns off, maybe because the original records never used groups like this, or because the Charlap trio and the horns inhabit different universes. Bernstein came up with the only solo I took note of, probably on the song he arranged. B

Michiel Braam's Wurli Trio: Non-Functionals! (2009, BBB): Dutch pianist, b. 1964, of Bik Bent Braam fame. Has 20-some albums since 1989 in various guises, including one previous one by his Wurli Trio. The name comes from the Wurlitzer 200A electric piano featured here. Pieter Douma plays various basses, and Dirk-Peter Kölsch hits things (credits: "drums, all possible soundobjects"). Nine compositions are declared "non-functional" and simply numbered. Seems like a pretty simple idea, and I doubt that any amount of close listening will change that opinion. Still, an attractive, amusing outing. Tempting to slot it with soul organ grooves, but that's only pro forma. It occurs to me that I should try to do something long on the Dutch avant-garde, if for no other reason than that it's one of the few places in Europe I get things with some regularity (Portugal and Norway are the others). Well, that and because these guys have a wicked sense of humor. [B+(**)]

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Blessings (2007 [2009], Origin): Branker's credit here: compositions & music director. Got a BA from Princeton in 1980, and has taught there since 1989; currently working on an EdD at Columbia. Had a Fulbright scholarship 2005-06 which took him to Estonia. Second album under this attribution, although he also has a record For the Children as Tony Branker. Plays trumpet, but left that slot empty in this 7-8 piece group -- the delta is Renato Thoms, playing congas on two of nine cuts. Mostly well-known musicians: Steve Wilson (alto sax), Ralph Bowen (tenor & soprano saxes), Clifford Adams Jr. (trombone), Bryan Carrott (vibes), Jonny King (piano), Belden Bullock (bass), Wilby Fletcher (drums). Not sure that it all holds up, but this starts off with an impressive balance of instruments, with Carrott's vibes central and indispensible, drawing a nice range of colors out of the horns, except on the rare cases where they get tied in lockstep. I don't pay much attention to what other critics say, but Branker's website has a rave from Maria Schneider: "beautiful writing, and such great people to realize all of it." Mostly right. B+(***)

Brinsk: A Hamster Speaks (2008, Nowt): Group led by bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky: born in Winnipeg, grew up in Fargo, studied at McGill in Montreal and New England Conservatory, based in Brooklyn. Group includes trumpet (Jacob Wick), tenor sax (Evan Smith), euphonium (Adam Dotson), drums (Jason Nazary). Hype sheet says group "began as a vision of a metal/opera/cartoon with hamsters singing classical arias over metal-based rhythmic structures." At least they got rid of the vocal aspect here, and the rhythm is more free than metal. The horns chew on each other, with the euphonium an interesting contrast. I suspect it's too limited to go far, but worth another listen. William Block's comic strip illustrations are a nice touch. [B+(**)]

Sarah Brooks and Graceful Soul: Under the Bones of the Great Blue Whale (2006 [2009], Whaling City Sound): Recorded live at The New Bedford Whaling Museum. Hard to read any of the tiny-blue-type-on-black-background: couldn't find the credits at first, or the venue, or the date, all of which eventually revealed themselves under an illuminated magnifying glass. Still haven't tackled Neal Weiss's liner notes. Brooks has one previous album, What My Heart Is For, unless she has a side-business recording things like Give Yourself Permission to Relax (CDBaby) -- seems unlikely for someone whose first impression is that she's a Janis Joplin wannabe. Of course, that comes through more loud and clear on songs that fit ("Bring It On Home to Me," "Chain of Fools," "At Last") than on songs that don't (e.g., "Look of Love"). Two guitar band, with an alto sax. Ends with an "instrumental version" of "Amazing Grace," which seems to add a second sax -- by far the best thing on the record. B

Bobby Broom: Plays for Monk (2009, Origin): Guitarist, b. 1961. Seventh album since 1995, a trio with Dennis Carroll on bass and Kobie Watkins on drums. Eight Monk tunes, plus "Lulu's Back in Town" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Nice and clean, even with Monk being Monk. B+(*)

Peter Brötzmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm: The Brain of the Dog in Section (2007 [2009], Atavistic): Lonberg-Holm plays cello and dabbles in electronics. Based in Chicago, he's best known as a late addition to the Vandermark 5. He provides the glue that holds Brötzmann's reed instruments from going off the deep end. Three pieces have no titles -- just timings. Offhand, this seems longer than the 37:53 they add up to, but the noise level causes a lot of wear and tear. Still, I find that I enjoy it. Not that I can imagine ever playing it for a guest. B+(*)

Peter Brötzmann/Marino Pliakas/Michael Wertmüller: Full Blast/Black Hole (2008 [2009], Atavistic): Could parse artist/title differently, but this seems like the most useful way. Pliakas plays electric bass; Wertmüller drums. Haven't run across either of them, but the point is the reed player, who lists B-flat clarinet and tarogato ahead of alto/tenor sax this time, not that it makes much difference. When he's not just screeching -- mostly limited to the opener, maybe just to prove he still can -- he can come up with remarkably clever sequences. B+(***)

Peter Brötzmann/Toshinori Kondo/Massimo Pupillo/Paal Nilssen-Love: Hairy Bones (2008 [2009], Okka Disk): The musical chairs continues. Kondo goes back a long ways with Brötzmann, especially in a quartet named for its first album, Die Like a Dog. (Dogs don't seem to fare very well with Brötzmann.) Kondo plays electric trumpet here: has an oddly processed sound, like a toy with a lot of squelched decay. An early segment matches most likely against Brötzmann's tarogato for unworldly post-exotica. Pupillo and Nilssen-Love hold their rhythm close, neither free nor regular; more like a source of energy that holds the horns in tight orbits rather than letting them fly off. The horns twist themselves into tight wads of sound, achieving an intensity that doesn't depend on volume. Not that they can't bring the noise when they want to. A-

Dave Brubeck: Time Out [Legacy Edition] (1959-64 [2009], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD+DVD): Every song in a different time signature -- the sort of neat trick an egghead like Brubeck with the degree to back it up might do. The big surprise is how little notice you'd give to the concept, for the simple reason that the pieces seem so organic and complete. "Take Five" sounded so timeless it broke through the charts and sold over a million copies. Brubeck's popularity, like Keith Jarrett's a couple decades later, always seemed a bit excessive: not undeserved, just not fairly distributed. But you couldn't charge his group with selling out or pandering. Maybe you'd complain that Paul Desmond played the most simply gorgeous alto saxophone since Johnny Hodges, but that sounds more like a compliment. Time Out's success encouraged sequels -- the five discs collected in For All Time hold up pretty well (especially Time Further Out). A best-of might have made good filler for the second disc, but Legacy opted instead to plunder the previously unreleased live archives instead, picking from 1961, 1963, and 1964 sets at Newport. Mostly standard in the usual time -- "St. Louis Blues," "Pennies From Heaven," "You Go to My Head" -- they showcase a superb group fleet on their toes. Closes with slightly stretched versions of their two best-known Time Out classics, tying the package up neatly. As for the DVD -- 30 minutes of interview, performance footage, and an "interactive, multi-camera piano lesson" -- another day. A- [single disc: A]

Bill Bruford: The Winterfold Collection 1978-1986 (1977-85 [2009], Winterfold): English prog rock's premier drummer, cut loose and adrift with instrumentalists -- Allan Holdsworth and Dave Stewart are the prime offenders -- neither up for jazz nor down for rock -- aside for Annette Peacock, who's up for anything, but only manages to salvage one of her three cuts here. Runners up are the duets with Patrick Moraz, which give Bruford something to interact with. Mostly released by EG at the time, and ultimately picked up by Bruford for his own pair of labels: Summerfold for the newer stuff once he started thinking of himself as a jazz drummer, and Winterfold for the barren old stuff. B-

Bill Bruford: The Summerfold Collection 1987-2008 (1986-2007 [2009], Summerfold, 2CD): The jazz years, which kicked off abruptly when Bruford recruited a odd pair of avant-gardists -- saxophonist Iain Ballamy and keyboardist Django Bates. Other groups followed, with slick saxophonist Tim Garland represented here with his Latin-flavored flute, choice meetings with guitarist Ralph Towner and pianist Michiel Borstlap, and the inevitable percussion ensemble. A long period, some sparkling tunes, some interesting ideas, not especially helped by the mix and match. One previously unreleased cut, from 2002, with a Latin kick. B

Alison Burns and Martin Taylor: 1: AM (2008 [2009], P3 Music): Burns is a singer, from Scotland, grew up in Dundee; website says she's Scottish-Canadian, but MySpace bases her in UK. Second album. Has a voice I disliked at first, but makes it work in subtle ways. Accompanied by nothing more than Taylor's guitar, which doesn't seem like a lot of support, but could hardly be more fitting. One original. Mostly standards I rarely run across. B+(***)

Kenny Burrell: Prime Kenny Burrell: Live at the Downtown Room (1976-2006 [2009], High Note): Six cuts as advertised, from a prime period between when Burrell recorded his two Ellington Is Forever volumes, but everyday fare, in an intimate quartet with the equally decorus Richard Wyands on piano. No Ellington there, but the seventh cut is a much later solo guitar take on "Single Petal of a Rose," which hardly seems out of place. B+(**)

François Carrier/Michel Lambert: Nada (2008 [2009], Creative Sources): Canadian saxophonist, plays alto and soprano, and his long-time drummer sidekick, in a duet setting, running through 20 short exercises in 56:53. I've become a big ban, and have two of their records -- the trio Within on Leo and the 6-CD Digital Box on Ayler -- lined up for the next Jazz CG. This isn't quite as compelling, but doesn't disappoint as a catalog of ideas -- just roughly sketched out ones. B+(***)

Terri Lyne Carrington: More to Say . . . (2009, Koch): Title may (or may not) segue to "(Real Life Story: Nextgen)." Real Life Story was the title of Carrington's 1989 first album, on Verve Forecast, panned by AMG as "disappointingly lightweight." However, her 2003 record on ACT, Structure, with Jimmy Haslip and Greg Osby, got a 4-star rating from The Penguin Guide. Haven't heard either, or anything else, so I'm having trouble parsing her short and scattered discography, which AMG sums up as: funk, instrumental pop, hard bop, M-base. Carrington's a drummer, mentored by Jack De Johnette, currently teaches at Berklee. This is pop jazz with some gospel overtones. It's crammed with guests: Walter Beasley, George Duke, Everette Harp, Jimmy Haslip, Chuck Loeb, Christian McBride, Les McCann, Lori Perri, Patrice Rushen, Dwight Sills, Krik Whallum, Nancy Wilson. At least that's the list from the cover sticker, which also touts the single "Let It Be" -- yes, the Beatles endgame, vocal by Lori Perry (same person as Lori Perri?). Booklet adds more "featuring" credits not deemed cover-worthy: Danilo Perez is the name that jumps out for me. Not really sure how bad this is, and don't care to figure that out. What I look for in pop jazz albums is vibrant funk, cheap disco, breakout sax, and no gospel vocals, and what I can say is that this album fails on all counts. C-

Don Cherry/Nana Vasconcelos/Collin Walcott: The Codona Trilogy (1978-82 [2009], ECM, 3CD): Three albums in a nice little box, like ECM did for Keith Jarrett's Setting Standards. Cherry left Ornette Coleman's classic group to see the world, and he never encountered a rhythm or an instrument he didn't like. In Walcott, an American who specialized in Indian music, playing sitar and tabla, and Vasconcelos, a Brazilian percussionist, he collected a compact synopsis of world music. The name came from the players' first name first syllables, and the second and third albums were simply named Codona 2 and Codona 3. They played everything from melodica to doson n'goni to berimbau to timpani, but Cherry's pocket trumpet always stood out, even as it faded in the declining later albums. The groove-and-trumpet dominated first album reminds one of early '70s Miles Davis. The later albums are more eclectic and aimless. Walcott, best known for his work in Oregon, died in an auto accident in 1984, finishing off the group. B+(*)

Leonardo E.M. Cioglia: Contos (2007 [2008], Quizamba Music): Brazilian bassist, b. 1971, working in Brooklyn these days, with an interesting group: John Ellis (reeds), Mike Moreno (guitar), Stefon Harris (vibes, 4 cuts), Aaron Goldberg (piano), Antonio Sanchez (drums). Not much olde Brasil here; more like postbop, sly enough it escapes the usual traps of ornateness and/or retrovision. Ellis and Goldberg are more appealing than on their own records. (Harris too, of course.) [B+(***)]

Leonardo E.M. Cioglia: Contos (2007 [2008], Quizamba Music): Brooklyn-based bassist, originally from Brazil, which influences his music in subtle ways that don't overwhelm the postbop inclinations of his band -- John Ellis (reeds), Mike Moreno (guitar), Stefon Harris (vibes/marimba), Aaron Goldberg (piano), Antonio Sanchez (drums). Flows nicely, thoughtful, not a lot of pop or punch. B+(**)

Jay Clayton: The Peace of Wild Things: Singing and Saying the Poets (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): English vocalist, enjoys a substantial reputation working well outside the mainstream, although I'm so far behind the learning curve I can't say much more. Dedicates this one to Jeanne Lee and Sheila Jordan. Doesn't sound much like either, but at least that gives you a sense of where she finds peers. Reminds me a bit of Laurie Anderson at her most austere, with minimal electronics and some dubbing of background vocals behind her spiel. [B+(**)]

PS: Last week I incorrectly identified Jay Clayton as English. She was born in 1941 in Youngstown, Ohio; spent a little time in Europe, but has lived most of her life in the US, currently teaching at Vanderbilt. I thought I knew enough about her I didn't need to do the due dilligence. In fact, I've heard very little by her, mostly remembering the name from the Anglo-centric Penguin Guide, and confusing her with someone else -- probably Norma Winstone. Her new record, The Peace of Wild Things, is interesting and still in play.

Jay Clayton: The Peace of Wild Things: Singing and Saying the Poets (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Vocalist, b. 1941 in Youngstown, OH, has a strong reputation based on at least a dozen albums, tends to get grouped with Jeanne Lee and Sheila Jordan. I'm way behind the learning curve, with this only the second of her albums I've heard. I messed up my original note, thinking she was British (Penguin Guide loves her) and misreading the subtitle (bad eyes, tightly kerned type). I note though that Wikipedia attributes her albums to Jane Clayton, so maybe she's accident prone. More saying than singing here, accompanied by thin, atmospheric electronics; makes for slow going, not delivering much unless you're paying close attention. Clayton and Lee are good for one lyric each. The other poets are e.e. cummings (5 cuts), Lara Pellegrinelli (1), and Wendell Berry (1). Liked this better the first pass. B

Mike Clinco: Neon (2008 [2009], Whaling City Sound): Guitarist, b. 1954, lives in Sherman Oaks, CA. Toured with Henry Mancini 1980; did some (maybe a lot) of film work from 1981 on. First album. Wrote everything on it except for "Charade" by Mancini and Johnny Mercer. Lined up a good band, with a couple of CA names I recognize -- Darek Oleskiewicz on bass; Bob Sheppard on tenor sax, alto sax, and alto flute. The others -- ex-Mother Walt Fowler on flugelhorn, electric bassist Jimmy Johnson, and drummer/percussionist Jimmy Branly -- have been around. Nice little postbop album. Probably had it in him for decades. B+(*)

Alex Cline: Continuation (2008 [2009], Cryptogramophone): Drummer, leads a string-heavy quintet here with Jeff Gauthier on violin, Peggy Lee on cello, Scott Walton on bass, and Myra Melford on piano and harmonium. Don't think I would have connected with this if I hadn't taken time out to follow it closely. The string stuff is nice and elegant; the drummer works his way carefully around it. Melford's harmonium changes the game immensely -- wish there was more of it. B+(**)

Coyote Poets of the Universe: Callin' You Home (2008 [2009], Square Shaped): Denver group, fourth album since 2004 (second I've heard). AMG files them under Pop/Rock, which is evidently their default genre. They call it FolkaDelic. Multiple vocalists, mostly female judging from the credits, with Melissa Ingalls the most prominently mentioned, but starts off with a male spoken word poems about coyotes -- may be bassist Andy O'Blivion, who may in turn once have been Andy O'Leary. Music trends countryish with fiddle and banjo, but also includes a congalero. Sort of an inward-bound Pink Martini. Choice cut: "I Don't Know Birds"; followed by "Canonization," which is pretty good too, and covers their range. B+(***)

Crimson Jazz Trio: King Crimson Songbook, Volume 2 (2006 [2009], Inner Knot): Nominally a straight mainstream piano trio, Volume One from 2005 fared well reducing a set of King Crimson melodies to their bare bones. Volume 2 aims to be jazzier, but isn't much, and "special guest" Mel Collins (saxophone, maybe flute; someone uncredited sings one track) undercuts the spareness. Trio is: Joey Nardone (piano), Tim Landers (bass), and Ian Wallace (drums). Wallace is probably the key character, and he died in 2007 shortly after this was cut. Leads off with "The Court of the Crimson King," which was nice to hear again. B+(*) [advance]

Cyminology: As Ney (2008 [2009], ECM): Piano trio -- Benedikt Jahnel, Ralf Schwarz, Ketan Bhatti -- backing vocalist Cymin Samawatie, b. 1976 in Braunschweig, Germany, of Iranian parents. Fourth album. Songs based on Iranian models, including the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, in Farsi with English trots in the oversized booklet. I find her voice hymnal, which isn't usually a good thing, although it helps when the piano gets out in front. B

Mélanie Dahan: La Princesse et les Croque-Notes (2007 [2009], Sunnyside): French singer. Not much bio other than vague stuff: started singing at 11 as the youngest of a troupe called Les Gavroches; inspired by Natalie Cole's Unforgettable and Ella in Berlin to take up jazz c. 2001; hooked up with pianist Giovanni Mirabassi in 2006. First album, a tribute to lyricist Bernard Dimey fluffed up with other French chanson. Don't know this stuff well enough to catch the transformation from pop to jazz that reviewers talk about, but I did catch a little scat, and two tracks have alto sax. Evidently a bestseller in France. B+(*)

Roger Davidson & Raúl Jaurena: Pasión por la Vida (2008 [2009], Soundbrush): Davidson has a long history exploring Latin jazz, which has lately moved him toward Argentina's tango. He finally wrote a batch, which Jaurena's bandoneón makes sound warm, intimate, sometimes stately, more often classic. One cut triggered my Bach reflex, but I soon decided that wasn't such a bad thing. B+(***)

Tim Davies Big Band: Dialmentia (2007 [2009], Origin): Credits list 8 reeds, 7 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 guitars, 2 keyboards, 2 basses, drums, percussion, and 5 extra guest soloists. Davies is the drummer. He's Australian, based in Los Angeles, aims to add hip-hop and death metal to the usual big band fare. One cut features an MC named Aloe Blacc ("Hanging by a Thread"). Another ("Pythagatha") breaks some interesting jazztronic ground with an electric piano solo (Alan Steinberger, who also has an organ solo later on). The massed horns are less surprising, but they're there for sheer punching power. B+(**)

Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain [Legacy Edition] (1959-60 [2009], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): The third of three major collaborations between Davis and Gil Evans, following Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess. Spiced with Spanish themes, leading off with Joaquin Rodrigo's slow and moody "Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)" -- 16:20 on the original album -- and fleshed out with Evans compositions. The first disc leaves the album intact, signing off after 45:36. Evans keeps his cleverness under tight wraps, producing a subtle background tapestry that never distracts you from the leader's trumpet -- the saving grace here. The second disc adds 70:10 of alternate takes and miscellaneous scraps -- more of the same, but without the flow. B [single album: B+(**)]

DKV Trio: Baraka (1997, Okka Disk): This is the first Hamid Drake-Kent Kessler-Ken Vandermark trio record. Tough, talented group; all pieces jointly credited; fitting that Drake gets the first initial. Still, the long (35:58) title piece has some disorienting dead spots -- sure, I could turn it up -- and the fast-riffing avant runs don't much exceed their stock in trade. B+(*)

Lajos Dudas: Jazz on Stage (2006-07 [2008], Jazz Stick): Clarinet, b. 1941 in Budapest, Hungary, based in Germany, has a dozen or so albums since 1982. This is drawn from three live shots: a duo with guitarist Philipp van Endert; a trio with van Endert and percussionist Jochen Büttner; a quartet with van Endert, bassist Martin Gjakonovski, and drummer Kurt Billker. Never ran across Van Endert before, but he has at least five albums since 1996. Plays in a nice lyrical postbop style, which works very nicely as support here and for solo spacing between the clarinet leads. The Büttner trios are a bit dramatic, but the duos show a delicate sensibility, and the quartets pick up the pace. B+(***)

East West Quintet: Vast (2007 [2009], Native Language Music): Brooklyn group -- even on their website they say "don't be fooled by the name." Members: Dylan Heaney (saxes), Simon Kafka (guitars), Mike Cassedy (keys), Ben Campbell (bass), Jordan Perlson (drums). Kafka and Cassedy have most of the writing credits -- four each, compared to one each for Campbell and Heaney. Reportedly originated as a Cannonball Adderley-style hard bop group, but evolved to be more rockish. Works best when the saxophonist breaks free of the rhythmic thrash; worst when the thrash turns to sludge. C+ [June 23]

Eddie Erickson: I'm Old-Fashioned (2007 [2009], Arbors): A/k/a Fast Eddie, plays banjo and guitar, sings (also dubs himself "The Singing Moustache"). Resume includes 1978-83 leading the Riverboat Rascals show band on Disney's Empress Lilly Showboat. Don't know how old he is, but he started his career in California in the mid-1960s. Has a few previous albums, mostly sharing credits with Bill Dendle, Big Mama Sue, or BEDlam (Becky Kilgore and Dan Barrett). Also appeared with Kilgore as a lead voice in the Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Guys and Dolls. This one is more/less billed "Live with his International Swing Band": a group Mannie Selchow assembled in Germany. Might as well list the names, about half unfamiliar to me: Menno Daams (trumpet), Bill Allred (trombone), Antti Sarpila (clarinet, tenor sax), Rossano Sportiello (piano), Henning Gailing (bass), Moritz Gastreich (drums). Band swings hard on the usual fair. Erickson's an adequate but not all that impressive singer. The banjo is fun. B+(*)

Gabriel Espinosa: From Yucatan to Rio (2009, Zoho): Mexican bassist, starts with his arrangement of Jobim, adds a bunch of originals straddling his title, including two from vocalist Alison Wedding. It's OK as long as the sinuous grooves hold out, with Brazilian pianist Helio Alves setting the pace, and Brazilians Romero Lubambo (guitar) and Claudio Roditi (trumpet/flugelhorn) adding their skills. The drummers alternate between Brazilian Adriano Santos and Mexican Antonio Sanchez. It's less than OK when the singers chime in -- not just Wedding but also Darmon Meader and Kim Nazarian. Anat Cohen gets a lot of billing for one clarinet solo that I didn't notice. B-

Oran Etkin: Kelenia (2009, Motema): Plays clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor sax. Born in Israel, now based in Brooklyn; started studying with George Garzone at age 14, which suggests a Boston connection (not to mention good luck). Back label instructs to "file under jazz or world." Core group includes Joe Sanders on bass, and two Malians: Balla Kouyate on balafon and Makane Kouyate on calabash and vocals. They set up gentle, near-hypnotic grooves, which Etkin plies his reeds on. Some other guests show up, with Abdoulaye Diabate taking over vocals on two tracks, Lionel Loueke playing guitar on three, John Benitez subbing on bass on three, Jessie Martino and Sara Caswell adding strings on one. Attractive fusion concept, although the vocals are less than compelling. B+(***)

Charles Evans: The King of All Instruments (2007-08 [2009], Hot Cup): Baritone saxophonist, b. 1978 somewhere in PA, a childhood friend of bassist Moppa Elliott. Studied with Dave Liebman. Moved to New York. Elliott introduced him to trumpeter Peter Evans, leading to a joint album called No Relation. The latter Evans brought influences like Anthony Braxton into play, but this solo album is no analog to Braxton's For Alto. For one thing, Charles is still enamored with Gerry Mulligan (name-checked in one song title here). For another, this is overlayed, which lets him build up a bit of sax choir sound. In the liner notes, Evans says: "It was created during a period of musical isolation, introspection, and poor health." Makes sense. B+(**)

Marianne Faithfull: Easy Come Easy Go (2008 [2009], Decca): Not a jazz singer of any recognition, but interpreting a bunch of songs -- only "Solitude" counts as a standard, with "Ooh Baby Baby" (Smokey Robinson) comparably famous and not much more than "Sing Me Back Home" (Merle Haggard) easy to place (title song was part of Bessie Smith's repertoire) -- with Hal Willner producing more than qualifies. Willner's worked effectively with Faithfull before, producing her 1987 record Strange Weather -- a candidate for the last record she's done this good, although it's possible you'll have to go back to 1979's Broken English, not that I'd totally discount 1997's Twentieth Century Blues -- and perhaps more importantly turned her loose on Kurt Weill on the Willner's wondrous Lost in the Stars (1985). Willner brings several things, starting with networking. The only guest vocalist I find actively annoying is Antony (on "Ooh Baby Baby"), but Nick Cave, Sean Lennon, Chan Marshall, and Rufus Wainwright aren't even on my B-list -- Teddy Thompson and Keith Richard might be. But the revolving band is superb: horns include Steven Bernstein, Marty Ehrlich, Ken Peplowski, Lenny Pickett, and Doug Wieselman; Marc Ribot and Barry Reynolds on guitar; Rob Burger, Gil Goldstein, and Steve Weisberg on various keyboards; Greg Cohen on bass and Jim White on drums; and a string quartet on five cuts, never too conspicuous. Leads off with Dolly Parton's "Down From Dover" which Faithfull's accent moves from Tennessee and her gravitas lifts from pity to tragedy. Nothing else is transformed so powerfully, but it's all worth pondering. Can't think of many real jazz singers who can do that. A-

Fat Cat Big Band: Meditations on the War for Whose Great God Is the Most High You Are God (2008 [2009], Smalls): The first, at least by catalog number, of two discs recorded in one shot. Eleven-piece big band -- two trumpets, two trombones, three reeds -- led by guitarist Jade Synstelien, whose previous discography consists of a quartet record and a credit with Nellie McKay. Band does a fine job of invoking swing and postbop motifs, like he's aiming for a midpoint between Ellington and Mingus. Ends with a flourish that reminds me of "Satin Doll," on a song title that reminds me of Mingus: "Please Be Green New Orleans." B+(**)

Fat Cat Big Band: Angels Praying for Freedom (2008 [2009], Smalls): More from guitarist Jade Synstelien's near-big band, cut at the same sessions, and not sorted to any obvious logic. The hot stuff is hotter; Synstelien's infrequent vocals are even wobblier. B+(**)

Avram Fefer Trio: Ritual (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Reed player -- I have him listed clarinet first based on earlier work, but credits this time are ordered alto sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, which seems like the right order. B. 1965, near San Francisco, family moved around, settling in Seattle; picked up a liberal arts degree at Harvard, while studying music at Berklee and New England Conservatory. Spent some time in Paris, wound up in New York. Sixth album since 2001, a trio with Eric Revis on bass, Chad Taylor on drums. Basically, a series of freebop pieces, varied mostly by horn. Played it four straight times while fighting with my cabinet work and reading about the CIA, enjoying it while not finding much to say, and need to move on. The bass clarinet piece stands out, and Taylor is a bundle of focused energy. B+(**)

Fire Room: Broken Music (2005 [2009], Atavistic): Trio, another Ken Vandermark project, with Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, and Lasse Marhaug doing something with electronics. The electronics include low-pitched buzzes and warbles, and can get loud and ugly, although Vandermark -- playing tenor and baritone saxes here -- is more than his match. Don't have a settled sense of this yet, other than that the drummer is very much in the game. [B+(*)]

FJF: Blow Horn (1995 [1997], Okka Disk): Acronym stands for Free Jazz Four. Horn should be plural, with Mats Gustafsson squaring off against Ken Vandermark. The bassist is Kent Kessler; the drummer Steve Hunt. This was cut 2-3 years after Vandermark moved to Chicago, so it's pretty early, but he already had a couple of albums I can recommend -- Utility Hitter and Steelwool Trio's International Front. This was also the first of many crash-ups with Gustafsson. I normally don't care much for avant screech, unless it's funny or invigorating or something like that, which this sort of is. After the initial rutting even a drum solo is relief, but then it also ranges a bit, the single horn sections impressive, especially a baritone riff in "Structure a la Malle." B+(*)

Béla Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From the Acoustic Planet Vol. 3: Africa Sessions (2009, Rounder): Although the banjo reportedly came from Africa, it doesn't seem inevitable that Fleck would trek back to the mother continent to situate his banjo in such ancestral music. But a tape of Mali's Oumou Sangare got him started on a project that wound up recording 40 pieces of music and recording some 250 hours of film. This CD has 18 songs. Not sure of the dates and locations, but it looks like he cut chunks in Mali, Gambia, Uganda, and Tanzania -- those four nations account for almost everyone involved here, the principal exceptions being D'Gary (from Malagasy) and Vusi Mahlasela (South Africa). (One piece called "D'Gary Jam" also credits musicians from Senegal and Cameroon, but it was actually cut in Nashville.) The African music is more folk than pop or jazz -- it almost has the feel of field recordings -- with the banjo running steadily through it. This will ultimately succeed or fail based on the African music, which at first has the feel of novelty about it. But Africans made a mensch out of Paul Simon, even. They certainly put a new spin on Fleck. [B+(***)]

Béla Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From the Acoustic Planet Vol. 3: Africa Sessions (2009, Rounder): This is the first Fleck album (admittedly, I haven't heard many) that sustains my interest, but doesn't prove much other than the adage that there's lots more to Africa than we've even begun to imagine. Fleck takes his banjo back to its mother continent where it blends in seamlessly, especially in rural folk backwaters like Uganda and Tanzania. Not that he didn't lean on a few stars for connections -- the Malians have some star power, and D'Gary and Vusi Mahlasela are recognizable if idiosyncratic names. But it's ultimately an Afrofolk curiosity, like the Kaiser-Lindley Malagasy albums. Not knowing any better, that's good enough. A-

Fred Forney: Chasing Horizons (2008 [2009], OA2): Trumpeter, from Detroit, moved to Arizona in 1973, teaches at Mesa Community College. Second album, a hard bop quintet, recorded in Tempe, AZ , presumably with local musicians, all unknown to me: Brice Winston (tenor sax), Chuck Marohnic (piano), Dwight Kilian (bass), Dom Moio (drums). Wrote all seven songs, ranging from 6:08 ("The Simplest Things") to 8:16 (the title song). Bright, bouncy hard bop. B+(**)

Erik Friedlander/Mike Sarin/Trevor Dunn: Broken Arm Trio (2008, Skipstone): All compositions by cellist Friedlander, so file it there. Dunn plays bass, Sarin drums. The cello is mostly plucked, more string band than chamber group. Light, loose, seductive music. Not sure how deep, but could grow on me even more. [B+(***)]

Jürgen Friedrich: Pollock (2007 [2009], Pirouet): German pianist; looks pretty young judging from photo; AMG credits him with 8 records since 2000. This is a piano trio with bassist John Hebert and drummer Tony Moreno. One cover: "'Round Midnight"; two group credits, one by Friedrich and Moreno, two by Hebert, four by Friedrich. They all evince a delicate inside flow, quiet and meditative. B+(**)

Satoko Fujii/Myra Melford: Under the Water (2007 [2009], Libra): Two jazz pianists in three duos and a solo apiece, recorded at Maybeck Studio -- home of Concord's 30-plus volume solo piano series from the early 1990s, now deleted. Fujii and Melford started recording around then, but didn't get invites, less because they were unknown than because they were far out. The studio did have good pianos, and the tones ring out here, as does some extra percussion coaxed from the hardware. The solos lay out their kits nicely, including a barnstorming run by Fujii. The duets are more respectful, often with one rumbling on the bottom end while the other waxes eloquent. B+(***)

The Fully Celebrated: Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (2008 [2009], AUM Fidelity): Boston group, a trio with Jim Hobbs on alto sax, Timo Shanko on bass, and Django Carranza on drums. Not familiar with the latter two, but Hobbs had a couple of albums in 1993 (Babadita and Peace & Pig Grease) then largely disappeared. I noticed him when he appeared on Joe Morris's Beautiful Existence and flat-out stole the show. There is a 2002 album by a slightly larger group (add Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet) billed as The Fully Celebrated Orchestra: Marriage of Heaven and Earth. Same lineup also appears on a 2005 album, Lapis Exilis, as Jim Hobbs & the Fully Celebrated Orchestra. Don't know what the mythology signifies, but it strikes me as a ruse. Most of the cuts here start with basic funk or blues grooves and lay on deceptively simple sax melodies, just shy of honking, but thoughtfully close to the edge. The odd tune out is "Conotocarius," where they run free and thrash -- it can get a bit tedious. A- [May 26]

Andrea Fultz: The German Projekt: German Songs From the Twenties & Thirties (2009, no label): Four songs by Friedrich Hollaender; seven by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, one by Brecht and Hanns Eisler. Fultz was born in Munich, 1974, German mother, American father. Passed through Austria on her way to San Francisco in 2003. First album, with Bob Reich on accordion, Dina Maccabee on violin, Adam Shulman on piano, Eugene Warren on bass, and Micha Patri on percussion. Starts with the flamboyantly English-speaking "Alabama Song," which seems too simple and obvious to make the point. Beyond that it's almost all in German, a treat if you're so inclined. Brecht-Weill is a touchstone for me, a fact I may be overly compensating for, especially given how sublime the Hollaender songs come off -- "Johnny" and "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe eingestellt" ring a bell even if the composer's name doesn't. The violin and accordion nail the milieu perfectly. Fultz won't make you forget Lotte Lenya, or even Marlene Dietrich. But then, who wants to? B+(***)

Hal Galper/Reggie Workman/Rashied Ali: Art-Work (2008 [2009], Origin): Subtitle: "Live at the Jazz Room/William Patterson University." Piano trio, of course. No excuse for any jazz fan not to recognize all three names, but Galper certainly deserves more recognition. He has a couple dozen albums since 1971, including a couple on my A-list (Portrait from 1989; Just Us from 1993). Influenced by Bud Powell. Taught by Jaki Byard. This was cut shortly before his 70th birthday, and he sounds superb at high speed, even better when he slows it down a bit. He cut a good album for Origin a couple of years ago using the home team rhythm section (Jeff Johnson and John Bishop) -- competent as they are Workman and Ali are in a whole nuther league. (I don't catch much live jazz, but quite a while back I caught Workman with Mal Waldron and spent the whole set fixated on him: totally changed the way I hear bass.) [A-]

Hal Galper/Reggie Workman/Rashied Ali: Art-Work (2008 [2009], Origin): A 70-year-old pianist too few have heard of -- inspired by Bud Powell, taught by Jaki Byard, always turns out thoughtful albums -- goes live with two 70-year-old avant-gardists, each as fascinating in his own right as the leader. A-

Gaucho: Deep Night (2008 [2009], Gaucho): San Francisco group, played every Wednesday night for five years at a "dive" called Amnesia. Plays gypsy jazz -- the name reportedly derived from the Spanish gadjo. Lineup: Bob Reich (accordion), David Ricketts (guitar), Michael Groh (guitar), Ralph Carney (horns), Art Munkers (bass), Pete Devine (drums), with guest Craig Ventresco for more guitar on 4 tracks. Carney, who started out with Tin Huey in Akron, travelled all around with Tom Waits, and seems to be everywhere in San Francisco these days, is the best known. Ricketts and Groh have worked in Hot Club of San Francisco, another Django-styled group. This group strikes me as qualitatively cooler than their model, which isn't such a bad thing. The opening "Tea for Two" is delightful, "The Sheik of Araby" has some spark, "Valse a Bambula" is sly and elegant, but "St. Louis Blues" is too crude for this crew. B+(**)

Rick Germanson Trio: Off the Cuff (2009, Owl Studios): First album I recall seeing thus far this year with an honest 2009 recording date: January 6-7. I probably have some more in the queue, and more are sure to follow soon, since it no longer takes much to turn this product out. Pianist, b. 1972, Milwaukee, based in New York, has two previous 2003-05 Fresh Sound New Talent albums plus a couple dozen side credits since 1999 -- Brian Lynch, Jeremy Pelt, Wayne Escoffery, George Gee, Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Brad Leali, Louis Hayes & the Cannonball Legacy Band. Hayes is the drummer here, along with bassist Gerald Cannon. Originals slightly outnumber covers -- "Up Jumped Spring," "This Time the Dream's on Me," "Wives and Lovers," "Autumn in New York." B+(*)

Paul Giallorenzo: Get In to Get Out (2005 [2009], 482 Music): Pianist, originally from New York, based in Chicago, has several groups/projects in the fire. This one is a quintet, with Josh Berman (cornet), Dave Rempis (alto/tenor/baritone sax), Anton Hatwich (bass), and Frank Rosaly (drums). First song out, "Vacillation," takes a neat little repetitive riff and breaks it wide open. Some good stuff later on where Rempis gets a beat and rips loose. Don't have a good sense of the piano yet. [B+(**)]

Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Unity: Ancients Speak (2008 [2009], LiveWired): Bassist, mostly (or wholly) electric, also programs and plays keyboards; claims 200 album credits (AMG lists 94 since 1980), but this is first album under his own name. Broke in with Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society; worked primarily in groups like Defunkt, Power Tools, Rollins Band, and Harriet Tubman, with side credits ranging from Sonny Sharrock to Arto Lindsay to Marisa Monte to John Zorn to Femi Kuti to Dead Prez. This pulls pretty much all of those credits together, with several rappers, a Brazilian group [?] called Afoxé Filhos do Korin Efan, a singer from Antibalas, a rotation of keyboardists (including Craig Taborn and John Medeski), guitarists (Pete Cosey is the one I recognize), and drummers (Torreon Gully, JT Lewis). Funk-world-fusion: not sure how successful it all is, but I've played it a dozen times for work background, and it sure works for that. [A-] [Mar. 17]

Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Unity: Ancients Speak (2008 [2009], Live Wired): Moderns speaking in hip-hop tongues, homologues to ancient drums, but cross-bred like crazy, even if you can trace all of it, like damn near everything else, back to African. Gibbs is a bassist who has worked under band names from Defunkt to Power Tools to Harriet Tubman, with side credits ranging from Sonny Sharrock to Marisa Monte to John Zorn to Femi Kuti -- a career he finally unifies. A-

Clay Giberson: Spaceton's Approach (2007-08 [2008], Origin): Pianist, based in Portland OR, teaches at Clackamas Community College, has a couple of good records out as Upper Left Trio. This is another piano trio, with David Ambrosio on bass and Matt Garrity on drums. Two covers ("It Might as Well Be Spring," "Solar"), five originals. Mainstream postbop, nicely done, probably better than most such records, but so firmly embedded in its flow you tend not to notice the well-crafted details. B+(*)

Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra: El Viaje (2008 [2009], PGM): Argentine bassist, from Cordoba, moved to New York in 1996, leads a big band, mostly people I don't recognize -- the exception is drummer Jeff Davis. Third album. Relationship to tango, to Latin jazz, or to big band swing, is unclear; this feels more like a sprawling symphony, minus the strings. Played it twice, turning it up part way through because I was having trouble hearing it. Ten minutes later I don't recall anything about it, other than that it wasn't unpleasant. B-

Dave Glenn: National Pastime (2009, Origin): Trombonist. Graduated from UNT. Director of Jazz Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. First album, although AMG lists a couple of side credits going back to 1977 and 1980 -- the latter with Gerry Mulligan. Baseball-themed album, with tributes to Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron, a "Blues for Buck O'Neil," and a "Reliving the Glory Days" about the 1978-85 Kansas City Royals. With Dave Scott (trumpet), Rich Perry (tenor sax), Gary Versace (piano), John Hebert (bass), Jeff Hirshfield (drums), and Jim Clouse (soprano sax, 1 cut). Postbop, a bit on the fancy side, with the leader's trombone mostly buried in the mix -- Scott's trumpet is attractive, especially in contrast. Rhythm section is athletic enough. B

Frank Glover: Politico (2005 [2009], Owl Studios): Clarinetist. Don't know much about him, except for some hints that he's from and/or based in Indianapolis, has four albums since 1991, that this one was originally self-released in 2005. Quartet, with Steve Allee on piano, Jack Helsley on bass, Bryson Kern on drums. One piece is a three-part concerto; two more were slated for films. Has a loose postbop feel that covers all these angles. B+(*)

Dennis González/Joăo Paulo Duo: Scape Grace (2007 [2009], Clean Feed): Paulo is a Portuguese pianist; full name is Joăo Paulo Esteves da Silva. B. 1961 in Lisbon. Has three more albums on Clean Feed -- don't know what else. Duets with González playing cornet and trumpet. Seems like an informal set with each musician bringing a few songs. I'm not used to González playing without a rhythm section, so this sounds a bit disjointed. Intimate and sometimes eloquent. B+(*)

Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion: Live at the Zinc Bar (2007 [2009], RichMan): Electric bassist, from Pittsburgh, went to Berklee, now in New York -- MySpace page says Cortlandt Manor, NY, somewhere in upper Westchester. Quartet, with Helen Sung on keyboards, Jeff Lockhart on guitar, and Mike Clark on drums. Hype sheet describes this as having "a retro 70's fusion flavor." That may be the base, with covers from Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Lenny White, but the funk grooves here sound brand new and squeaky clean. The plasticky sound of the unbranded electric keyboard, at least under Sung's fingers, is cleaner and more nimble than an organ would be, and the grooves are much tighter. As fusion, this may seem narrow, but as soul jazz it is a quantum leap forward. [B+(***)]

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band: Act Your Age (2008, Immergent, CD+DVD): Big band, fifth album since 2001. Goodwin was born in 1955; plays piano, saxophone (tenor and alto here). He came up through Louie Bellson's big band. He wrote about half of the material here; arranged the rest. Band numbers eighteen, plus some guests, including a sample from Art Tatum. Fast and slick, packs a punch without looming heavy. Don't know about the DVD: don't even know if I can access the "5.1 surround sound versions of all 12 tracks with detailed on-screen liner notes." [B+(**)]

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band: Act Your Age (2008, Immergent, CD+DVD): Big band, eighteen-strong plus some guests, fast, slick, packs a wallop, seems like a fun group. Goodwin plays piano, tenor sax, and soprano sax. Came up with Louie Bellson, continuing in that vein. Never got to the DVD. B+(**)

Jerry Granelli V16: Vancouver '08 (2008 [2009], Songlines, CD+DVD): Drummer led quartet with two electric guitars (David Tronzo, using a slide, and Christian Kögel) and electric bass (brother J. Anthony Granelli), the name meant to imply power, but the music this time is pretty slippery, with few hints of fusion. This works very nicely in the straightforward "Steel Eyed Blues" but mostly it just soaks into the woodwork. Didn't check out the "bonus" DVD. B

Andrew Green: Narrow Margin (2007 [2008], Microphonic): Guitarist. Name appears in red type on front cover, standing out in the middle of a list of better-known artists: Bill McHenry (tenor sax), Russ Johnson (trumpet), JC Sanford (trombone), John Hebert (bass), Mark Ferber (drums). Still, it's Green's album: co-produced with John McNeil, wrote everything except an excerpt from Bernard Herrmann's "Taxi Driver" theme, two credits shared with McNeil. Still, he probably means the title as the group name. Title comes from a 1952 B-movie noir. Green previously worked in a group called Sound Assembly, and has a Shaggs tribute band called My Band Foot Foot. Lives in NYC, and has written three books on jazz guitar technique. His grooves drive this group, but the omnipresent horns dominate the sound, especially Johnson. B+(*)

Lew Green and Joe Muranyi: Together (2008 [2009], Arbors): Muranyi is the senior citizen here, b. 1928, plays clarinet, resume includes work with Louis Armstrong's last bands. Don't know much about Green: evidently he joined the Original Salty Dogs at Purdue in 1956 and moved them to Chicago in 1960. Band includes Jeff Barnhart (piano), Bob Leary (banjo, guitar), Vince Giordano (tuba, bass, bass sax), and Danny Coots (drums). Trad jazz sound, with Green's cornet as bright as Ruby Braff's (if not Armstrong's), on a relatively obscure selection of songs, including two Muranyis. Exception is an amusing take on "Rockin' Chair," one of four songs with vocals -- four different vocalists from the band, none bad. B+(**)

Jimmy Greene: Mission Statement (2008 [2009], RazDaz/Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, soprano too, b. 1975, has 7-8 albums since 1997 (mostly on mainstream Criss Cross), 50 or so side credits (mostly with young postboppers, a few singers). Mostly quintet with guitar, piano, bass, and drums -- Stefon Harris adds vibes to one cut. Green is an energetic and talented saxophonist, but this feels rather rote, pretty much par for the course, and the band doesn't stand out. B

Steve Haines Quintet with Jimmy Cobb: Stickadiboom (2007 [2009], Zoho): Bassist, teaches in North Carolina (Director of the Miles Davis Program in Jazz Studies at UNC Greensboro). Quintet is a solid hard bop unit, with drummer Thomas Taylor making way for Cobb, who must feel right at home. Trumpeter Rob Smith makes more of an impression than tenor saxophonist David Lown or pianist Chip Crawford, but all are sharp enough, and a couple of bass solos by the leader are spot on. B+(**)

Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Thin Air (2008 [2009], Thirsty Ear): First time I heard the vocals here I flashed on the thought that this might be a jazz analogue to anti-folk -- much more learned, of course, but something meant to upset the cart. Second time through I heard echoes of Syd Barrett. But by then Halvorson's guitar and Pavone's violin had started to come into their own and the occasional words seem to matter less. Halvorson's developed a critical cult in the last couple of years. B. 1980 in Boston, studied enough at Wesleyan to get associated with Braxton, moved on to Brooklyn. I haven't heard her Dragon's Head record, which finished strong in 2008 year-end polls, and only caught a previous duo with Pavone, On and Off on Rhapsody, with one play not making much sense of it. Pavone is from New York, a few years older, attended University of Hartford, and was drawn into Braxton's orbit at Wesleyan, and of course returned to New York. (She is evidently not related to the great bassist Mario Pavone, who also has a Braxton connection.) This will take some time to sort out, if indeed I ever do. Note that Halvorson and Pavone are on the current cover of Signal to Noise, whose eds. are no doubt pleased with the contrast that Diana Krall is on the cover of Downbeat. [B+(***)]

The Peter Hand Big Band: The Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute to Harold Arlen (2005 [2009], Savant): Guitarist, co-founder of Westchester Jazz Orchestra, don't know much more than that. Band number 18, about half names I recognize -- Harvie S on bass, Richard Wyands on piano; Cecil Bridgewater, Valery Ponomarev, and Jim Rotondi among the trumpets; Brad Leali, Ralph Lalama, Don Braden, and Houston Pearson in the reeds. Pearson gets a "featuring" credit -- reportedly throughout, but he carries "Stormy Weather" and "Over the Rainbow" practically by himself, making them the choice cuts. Group has a light, sprightly touch, put to good use on great songs. B+(**)

Joel Harrison: Urban Myths (2009, High Note): Well, this sucks. One of the most important mainstream jazz labels around switches to a new publicist and starts cutting corners by sending out promos in crappy cardboard sleeves with a wadded up copy of the booklet stuffed inside. Normally -- especially for artists this insignificant -- these things go into the bin where they get ignored for months or years until I notice the discrepancy in my database and decide to dismiss them with a quick spin. But this one arrived on a bad mood day when I was already wondering why the hell I even bother, so I figured I'd dispose of it right away. Starts out promising enough with typical David Binney alto sax, which Harrison does a nice job of emulating. Some violin appears -- Christian Howes. But then it slows down with some fancy postbop arranging, then tries to recover the pace with some funk grooves. Either too many ideas, or not enough conviction. Go figure. B [advance]

PS: Chris Di Giorolamo informs me that he works for Harrison, not High Note, so this doesn't represent a change in High Note's service. My service from High Note has been shakey lately, so I just flew off the handle. Arguably, the promo was a favor, but the fact is that promo copies do me little good: I don't have advance deadlines, so I tend to file them away, then they almost invariably get lost. I still have advances listed in my active file from 3-4 years ago -- presumably they're still around here somewhere, but they're not doing anyone any good. Of course, I'd rather hear a promo than nothing at all, but they don't put me in a good mood, and they don't feel quite honest: even if the music is the same, they're not really the same product I'm supposed to be reviewing.

Ken Hatfield and Friends: Play the Music of Bill McCormick: To Be continued . . . (2008, M/Pub): Guitarist, also plays mandolin, has half dozen albums since 1998. AMG lists his first style as "folk-jazz" -- don't really know what that means, but he does have some folkie in his veins: sharp plucks, a little twang, maybe a hint of John Fahey or Doc Watson. Don't know much about McCormick, who presumably wrote the music -- he also wrote the liner notes, is probably pictured on the back cover, isn't credited as playing except in some fine print in the booklet, and seems to be the "M" in M/Pub. Jim Clouse plays soprano and tenor sax, more for color than anything else. With Hans Glawischnig on bass, Dan Weiss on drums, and Steve Kroon on percussion. Surprised me enough I'll have to play it again. [B+(**)]

The Kevin Hays Trio: You've Got a Friend (2007 [2009], Jazz Eyes): Piano trio, with Doug Weiss on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Pianist Hays comes from Connecticut, b. 1968, has 10 albums since 1994 when he broke through on Blue Note -- several earlier ones back to 1991 then appeared on Steeplechase in Denmark. Starts with three pop/rock tunes -- Carole King's title track, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Fool on the Hill" -- offering little but avoiding my tendency to gag on Simon's tune. Then moves back to the jazz repertoire, with Monk and Parker bracketing "Sweet and Lovely" and Bob Dorough's "Nothing Like You" -- more substance in all of those. One of those pianists I respect a lot but never get excited about. Stewart does a lot of this sort of thing, and show you why he's so in demand. B+(*)

Duke Heitger and Bernd Lhotzky: Doin' the Voom Voom (2008 [2009], Arbors): Heitger is a trumpet player from Toledo, based in New Orleans; plays trad jazz. Has a fairly lengthy credits list since 1993, including Jacques Gauthé, Silver Leaf Jazz Band, Squirrel Nut Zippers, various John Gill groups (Dixieland Serenaders, Yerba Buena Stompers); also a couple of albums under his own name, like Duke Heitger's Steamboat Stompers and Duke Heitger's Big Four. Lhotzky is a German pianist who is especially fond of James P. Johnson. He showed up on one of those Arbors Piano Series records a few years back: Piano Portrait. Still, not much stomping going on here, just polite, often charming, duets on classic themes. B+(*)

Pablo Held: Forest of Oblivion (2007 [2008], Pirouet): Young pianist, b. 1986, from Germany. Won lots of prizes for young jazz musicians, the first at age 10. First album, a piano trio with Robert Landfermann on bass and Jonas Burgwinkel on drums. Wrote 6 of 10 songs, not counting the group-credited "Interlude." Fairly quiet, contemplative; hard for me to gauge. B+(*)

Arve Henriksen: Cartography (2006-08 [2009], ECM): Trumpeter, from Norway, b. 1968. AMG classifies him as Avant-Garde, presumably factoring in his classical training, fascination with Japanese shakuhachi, use of electronics, and utter lack of swing. Fourth album since 2001, the first three on Rune Grammofon. The music is mostly built on samples -- quiet, peaceful, ethereal -- mostly by Jan Bang, with tiny bits of guitar (Eivind Aarset on 2 cuts), bass (Lars Danielsson on 1 cut), synth (Erik Honoré on 4 cuts), and drums (Audun Kleive on 1 cut, percussion on 2 more), and David Sylvain spoken words (2 cuts). So subtle it could slip by unheard, which would be a shame. B+(***)

Herculaneum: Herculaneum III (2007 [2009], Clean Feed): A town in ancient Italy, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in CE 79. Also a septet from Chicago -- note that only six unidentified pictures, presumably members, are fit into the inside cover -- with a Flash-only website (isn't it time to gripe about that again?). MySpace has no real info either, and I don't feel like trying to track them down. No familiar names: John Beard (guitar), David McDonnell (alto sax, clarinet), Nick Broste (trombone), Patrick Newbery (trumpet, flugelhorn), Nate Lepine (flute), Greg Danek (bass), Dylan Ryan (drums, vibes). Two previous albums -- second one is called Orange Blossom; first one was eponymous, with a quintet (minus Beard and Lepine). Thick large group sound, tightly arranged, rockish drumming, not a lot of fluff (despite clarinet, flute, and vibes). B+(*)

Magos Herrera: Distancia (2008 [2009], Sunnyside): Vocalist, from Mexico City, based in New York since 2007. Sixth or seventh album since 1998, although AMG and Sunnyside both count this as her fourth. Group includes Aaron Goldberg on piano, Lionel Loueke on guitar. Produced by Tim Ries. Hype says "her repertoire is filled with romance, intimacy and enchantment," but that's lost to my woeful ear for Spanish, but two songs in English don't catch my ear either; her "Mexican and Cuban sones and boleros, and sultry, languid samba-bossa nova beats" should cut the language barrier, but I'm not so sure about them either. Brazil is a big part of her mix, with her reworking a Nascimento song and closing with "Dindi." B

Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra: Live at Jazz Standard (2008 [2009], Sunnyside): Not much of an orchestra: just the pianist, percussionist Richie Barshay, and an alternating choice of vocalist Jo Lawry or trumpeter Ralph Alessi. I'd take Alessi any day, and his first shot, on the appropriately named "Stuttering," had me thinking I'd picked up my third straight A-list record. Lawry will take more time to get used to, but she has a serviceable voice and offers some energetic scat. Barshay has really wound Hersch up. Always an elegant stylist, I've never heard him play with such vigor. [B+(***)]

The Ron Hockett Quintet: Finally Ron (2008, Arbors): Trad jazz clarinetist, based in DC for last 29 years, mostly with the US Marine Band, plus 9 years with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band in San Antonio, leads his first album. Arbors treats him right, filling out the quintet with John Sheridan (piano), James Chirillo (guitar), Phil Flanigan (bass), and Jake Hanna (drums). One original blues; covers as obvious as "Beale Street Blues" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and as modern as Bob Wilber. Doesn't sound important, but does sound terrific. I keep forgetting how much I like Chirillo. [B+(***)]

The Ron Hockett Quintet: Finally Ron (2008, Arbors): Longtime journeyman clarinettist gets the Arbors red carpet treatment, with a first class trad band -- John Sheridan, James Chirillo, Phil Flanigan, Jake Hanna -- and no complaints when he wants to do yet another "Beale Street Blues." Everybody's sharp, especially Chirillo, but Hockett earns his keep too. Arbors is a rare label that will not only pull someone out of the blue and give him a recording date because every musician deserves one sooner or later; they'll make sure the record is worth remembering. B+(***)

Rainbow Jimmies: The Music of John Hollenbeck (2007-08 [2009], GPE): Might as well file this under Hollenbeck, even though he subcontracts several cuts to various artists. The first seven pieces are collectively titled "Gray Cottage Study": they were written for violinist Todd Reynolds, with Hollenbeck on drums and/or Matt Moran on vibes occasionally helping out. Fairly static chamber music, not a lot of beat to them, unlike the others: two Claudia Quintet cuts, a 12:51 piece by the Youngstown Percussion Collective and Saxophone Quartet ("oh yeah") and another 12:02 by Ethos Percussion Group. Hollenbeck's beatwise pieces are irresistible -- he is first and foremost a drummer -- but his impressionistic chamber music hangs in there too. What could be a scattered collection keeps catching your ear. B+(***)

Freddie Hubbard: Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969 (1969 [2009], Blue Note): Few jazz men made a bigger splash when they first broke in than Hubbard. From 1960 through 1965 he seemed to be everywhere, straddling hard bop and the avant-garde, filling in Miles Davis slots and adding a little extra splash, dropping a series of good-to-very-good records under his own name. He made his mark with chops and flexibility, and declined rather quickly after that, first losing opportunities, then losing his touch. In 1969 he was still a force, with a couple of good fusion-oriented albums still ahead of him -- Red Clay and Straight Life in 1970. He died in 2008 after a belated and unspectacular comeback shot, pushed largely by David Weiss, who helped assemble this set from three concerts in England and Germany. Seems fairly typical of his repertoire, but his "A Night in Tunisia" doesn't eclipse Gillespie's, and the other standards are unexceptional. But he does break through with expansive solos on the two originals at the end, "Space Talk" and "Hub-Tones." And Roland Hanna's fans will find his fills of interest. B+(**)

Nico Huijbregts: Free Floating Forms (2007 [2009], Vindu): Pianist, Dutch presumably -- web bio has nothing pertaining to space or time, but the domain name is ".nl" and the record was recorded in Holland. Solo piano. Title is as good a description as any. B+(*)

I Compani: Circusism (2007-08 [2009], Icdisc): Dutch group, formed originally in 1985, released a couple of records based on film music of Nino Rota, and has a record of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida. This one promises "a new approach to circus music." Not sure what that is, given that it sounds like stereotypical circus music, although perhaps a bit odd and disjointed. Fairly sizable group, including saxophonist Bo van de Graaf, who seems to be a mainstay, and pianist Albert van Veenendaal, who's done work I've liked in the past. B+(*)

Jon Irabagon: I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues (2008 [2009], Loyal Label): Alto saxophonist, plays with Mostly Other People Do the Killing, has shown up on a couple of other good records. This one's a duo with drummer Mike Pride: comes from Portland, ME; has a couple dozen credits ranging from MDC to Anthony Braxton and Sonny Simmons, including a group called Evil Eye. Nothing there I've actually heard before, although a lot of things look to be of at least marginal interest. This is a single 47:40 improv, starting with a blues riff which is then turned over, twisted, and tortured until it screams. First time I put it on I wasn't in the mood and ripped it off. Second time I kicked back, was amused and even a bit psyched. I've seen several reviews comparing this to Coltrane/Ali. Sounds to me more like Brötzmann and one of those German drummers I can't recall. Which is good enough. B+(**)

Ahmad Jamal: It's Magic (2007 [2008], Dreyfus): A relatively major pianist who's largely escaped my attention -- I've only heard three previous albums, two from the 1950s. Nearly missed this one too, but when the publicist sent me mail bragging about his Grammy nomination, I figured I might as well ask. Piano trio plus extra percussion from Manolo Badrena. When the latter kicks in it's pretty irresistible. Not fully convinced by the slow/solo stuff, at least yet. Could move up. [B+(***)]

Ahmad Jamal: It's Magic (2007 [2008], Dreyfus): An old pianist with a light touch, his trio fluffed up with Manolo Badrena's extra percussion, his knack for catchy melodies undiminished. B+(***)

Jentsch Group Large: Cycles Suite (2008 [2009], Fleur de Son): Composed and produced by guitarist Chris Jentsch, leading a conventionally sized big band: 5 reeds, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 4 rhythm (guitar, piano, bass, drums). Darcy James Argue conducts, and Mike Kaupa gets a "featuring" credit with solos in 4 of 6 movements (trumpet section; photographs show him with a flugelhorn). This flows very smoothly, the large group tightly disciplined to groove, the solos elevating the themes as opposed to breaking out of them. B+(*)

Aaron J Johnson: Songs of Our Fathers (2007 [2009], Bubble-Sun): Plays trombone and shells here, bass trombone and tuba elsewhere. B. 1958, from Washington DC, studied at Carnegie Mellon, degree in electronic engineering and economics; lives in Irvington NJ, works in/around New York City, mostly working in big bands. First record, all originals (despite the title), a mainstream quintet with Salim Washington on tenor sax (also flute and oboe), Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano, Robert Sabin on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. Old fashioned -- I've seen this referred to as hard bop, but Lewis is too subtle to fall for that. Washington is underrated, Gumbs is overly fancy but spices this up, and the trombonist holds it together. B+(**)

Jeff Johnson: Tall Stranger (2002 [2008], Origin): Google shows up many Jeff Johnsons; AMG lists 14. This one is a mainstay of the Seattle jazz scene, playing bass, with four albums since 1999, several dozen side credits, especially with pianists Jessica Williams and Hal Galper. This is a trio, with Hans Teuber (tenor sax, bass clarinet) and Billy Mintz (drums). Slow pieces, strongly shaped by the bass, with Teuber's reeds following the same contours. Somewhat abstract, very seductive, rewards attention. [B+(***)]

Jeff Johnson: Tall Stranger (2002 [2008], Origin): Bassist-led trio. Hans Teuber's reeds (tenor sax, bass clarinet) are weakly blown, almost faint, while Billy Mintz's drums whisper more often than not, with soft splashes on the cymbals predominant. All of this keeps the bass equally in the game, and it works remarkably well -- sure, you need to pay careful attention, but that's easy to do. Johnson switches to guitar on one cut, with Teuber moving to bass. That works, too. B+(***)

Darren Johnston/Fred Frith/Larry Ochs/Devin Hoff/Ches Smith: Reasons for Moving (2005 [2007], Not Two): Respectively: trumpet, electric guitar, tenor/sopranino sax, bass, drums. Johnston comes from Ontario; wasn't familiar with him until recently, but he has an album on Clean Feed, The Edge of the Forest, that I like a lot. Ochs is one of the saxophonists from Rova. Frith has a long career on the avant fringe, including some innovative (if not exactly listenable) solo work with prepared guitar. He's really the center here, holding a lot of parts together that are predisposed to fly apart, not least by stating rhythmic parts often enough to keep them in mind. The horns are choppy and abstract, which works most of the time. B+(***)

Hank Jones & Frank Wess: Hank and Frank II (2009, Lineage): This is guitarist Ilya Lushtak's label, and his gig. He's a big fan of old jazz, and Jones and Wess are about as far back as anyone can reach today. They are delightful -- Jones especially. And Lushtak is a quite competent swing-styled guitarist -- sort of Howard Alden, minus the fancy stuff. More problematical is Marion Cowings, who sings most of the songs. Where Jones and Wess sound timeless, Cowings is perfectly dated as a 1950s crooner, even a bit old-fashioned in that context. I hated his sound at first, then it started growing a bit on me. B+(**)

Stanley Jordan: State of Nature (2008, Mack Avenue): Another well-known guitarist, one I've paid even less attention to than Metheny -- I have him filed under pop jazz, which may or may not be fair. Jordan had a run on Blue Note 1984-90 with at least one gold record, but hasn't recorded much since. Not much info to go with this advance copy: no musician credits, although Charnett Moffett, David Haynes, and Kenwood Dennard are somewhere, and there is something about Jordan playing guitar and piano simultaneously. Piano is fairly prominent on some pieces, including Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" and the quasi-classical "Healing Waves." Some of the guitar is quite elegant -- don't have an ear for his famous "tapping" method, which doesn't seem much in play. Mix bag of pieces, ranging from Latin to Mozart. Might as well wait for more info. [B+(*)] [advance: Apr. 22]

Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Ken Vandermark: No Such Thing (1999 [2001], Boxholder): This is the earlier trio I referred to in the Vandermark/Karayorgis Foreground Music note. Both ends of this trio can be combustible, which is hinted at early on, but the music calms down -- the closer, a Vandermark dedication to Jimmy Giuffre, is quite lovely. B+(**)

Eryan Katsenelenbogen: 88 Fingers (2006-07 [2009], Eyran): Israeli pianist, b. 1965, teaches at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston; has a bunch of records since 1989 -- AMG lists 6, Wikipedia (swallowing his press bio whole) has 15. Solo piano, a lot of familiar tunes -- Weill, Berlin, Gillespie, "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" -- as well as a couple of improvs based on classical themes (Chopin, Mussorgsky). Nicely done. B

Arthur Kell Quartet: Victoria: Live in Germany (2008 [2009], Buj'ecords): Bassist-composer, based in New York. Thin discography, with two previous albums (Traveller, an A-list record from 2005, and See You in Zanzibar, which I haven't heard) and virtually no side credits. Website claims to have played extensively in the 1980s with Thomas Chapin, Bobby Previte, and Marc Ribot. Quartet here has Loren Stillman on alto sax, Brad Shepik on guitar, and Joe Smith on drums. Kell does a good job of keeping Stillman on his toes -- he's a mainstreamer who has never much impressed me before -- and Shepik is terrific throughout. [B+(***)]

Daniel Kelly: Emerge (2009, Bju'ecords): Pianist, based in Brooklyn, seems to have one or two previous records, plus some side-credits with the bassist who'll always be Harvie Swartz to me. Trio, mostly groove-based, plays some Fender Rhodes. B+(*)

Sřren Kjćrgaard/Ben Street/Andrew Cyrille: Optics (2007 [2009], ILK): Danish pianist, won some prize in 2000, having trouble figuring out much of anything else, even whether this is his first album. Street plays bass, and Cyrille you know. A couple of things catch my ear: a sly little rhythmic figure in "Cyrille Surreal"; a piece of blockish denseness later on. Lots of quiet stuff in between. Will figure out more later. [B+(**)]

Charlie Kohlhase's Explorer's Club: Adventures (2007 [2009], Boxholder): Boston-based saxophonist (alto, tenor, baritone, listed in that order, although his website shows him playing baritone), leads a group with a couple more horns (Matt Langley on tenor and soprano sax, Jeff Galindo on trombone), guitar (Eric Hofbauer), bass (Jef Charland), and drums (Miki Matsuki and Chris Punis). Kohlhase once released an album with the title Play Free or Die, and that seems to be his motto. Such freedom produces a certain amount of wreckage, especially given the weight of the horns. B+(*)

Diana Krall: Quiet Nights (2009, Verve): Pretty simple concept, almost inevitable given Krall's market profile: ballads with some light Brazilian froth (two Jobim standards, Paulinho da Costa's percussion), swimming in Claus Ogerman's soft-toned arrangements backed by a massive string orchestra whose main job is to swoon gently in the background. Can't think of anyone else who could pull it off. I'm not sure this will hold up, but it's been a sheer delight ever since I popped it and heard "Where or When." It's not the commanding performance From This Moment On was -- more Bennett than Sinatra. [A-]

Diana Krall: Quiet Nights (2009, Verve): Claus Ogerman's strings are soft and cushy, but they do the job, whether adding to the grandeur of a "Where or When" or setting up a little holiday to Brazil to check out "The Boy From Ipanema" and imagine that "So Nice" is something one could ever hope for. The concept is artistically marginal, commercially obvious, and a little bit demeaning. I especially hate the dysfunctional evening gown and all the make up that's meant to glamorize the plainest face in show business. But she sings every song superbly, especially the two so-called bonus tracks, and plays a little piano. She's always been willing to do what it takes to be a star, because deep down she is one. A-

Tim Kuhl: King (2008 [2009], WJF): Drummer, from Baltimore area, b. 1982, studied at Towson, moved to New York in 2003. Second album. Group includes tenor sax (Jon Irabagon), trombone (Rick Parker), two guitars, bass. Plays free, remaining the center of attention. The two horns make their mark. I'm less taken with the guitars. B+(*)

Steve Kuhn: Life's Backward Glances: Solo and Quartet (1974-79 [2009], ECM, 3CD): One of those pianists who should be far better known but they're just too damn many of them. Started studying under Serge Chaloff's mother, later with George Russell; played with the likes of Coleman Hawkins as a teenager and Stan Getz a bit later; was the original pianist in John Coltrane's Quartet, until McCoy Tyner displaced him. He's recorded steadily since 1963, mostly piano trios. This packages three of the six albums he cut for ECM from 1974-81 -- for variety picking two quartets and one solo. The extra on the first quartet, 1977's Motility, was Steve Slagle, a clear-toned saxophonist who can bop and swing, although he mostly winds up dodging Kuhn's screwballs. Over the record he keeps moving up the register, from tenor to soprano, finishing with flute, a progression that improbably works. The second quartet, 1979's Playground, features vocalist Sheila Jordan. Kuhn's lyrics are as oblique as his music, and Jordan is mixed down, hard to hear, working in the band rather than in front of it. But her command is so complete she makes something of it anyway -- the depth in "Deep Tango" comes from her. The third disc was the first record, 1974's Ecstasy. Solo piano, not easy to get a handle on, no matter how clear and sharp it seems. B+(**)

Julian Lage: Sounding Point (2009, Emarcy/Decca): Guitarist. First record. Twelve paragraphs of "bio" on his webpage disclose hardly anything: he's "Bay Area-based" and/or "Boston-based" (sure, I know about Boston Bay); he is (or was) 21; he's played on albums with Gary Burton, Marian McPartland, Nnenna Freelon, and Taylor Eigsti. Two solo cuts. Other small combinations weave in and out: two duos with Eigsti; three trios with Béla Fleck on banjo and Chris Thile on mandolin; five cuts with Ben Norseth on sax, one a duo, the others with Tupac Mantilla percussion, two also with Aristedes Rivas on cello. They flow nicely because the distinctive guitar is rarely out of the spotlight, and everyone else (well, except Eigsti) makes him sound better. B+(**)

Jermaine Landsberger: Gettin' Blazed (2009, Resonance): Organ player, from Germany, of Sinti heritage, claims to have "made many albums as a jazz pianist under his own name" -- AMG counts four since 2000. Group includes Gary Meek (tenor sax, soprano sax, flute), Andreas Öberg (guitar, with Pat Martino added on three cuts), James Genus (bass), Harvey Mason (drums), and a second keyboard player, Kuno Schmid. Covers one Django Reinhardt song, but also picks on Richard Galliano, Stevie Wonder, Horace Silver, and some Brazilians. Played it twice while trying to write something and didn't notice it much one way or the other. B

Jennifer Lee: Quiet Joy (2008 [2009], SBE): Singer, from San Francisco; MySpace page says she's 43, if that's her -- I'm suspicious of any musician with only 5 friends. Google came up with a lot of Jennifer Lees, most unlikely. This one has two albums, with guitarist Peter Sprague and bassist Bob Magnusson among her band. Three originals, a mix of standards and Brazilian tunes. Surprisingly, the Brazilians are the best things here -- "O Pato" caught my attention, mostly because it doesn't melt in the sun like so many sambas. A bit of Gershwin merged into "Amor Certinho" also works like a charm, especially leading into "Pennies From Heaven." B

The Peggy Lee Band: New Code (2008, Drip Audio): Cellist, from Vancouver, been around long enough now you should recognize her. Group is octet, mostly Vancouver avant-gardists I recognize from elsewhere, like Brad Turner (trumpet), Jon Bentley (tenor sax), and Dylan van der Schyff (drums). Two guitars (Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson), and electric bass thicken up texture, setting off the cello and horns. Starts with a bent take on Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do." Tends toward the atmospheric after that, but complex with surprises. [B+(**)]

The Peggy Lee Band: New Code (2008, Drip Audio): Lots of good things here -- Brad Turner trumpet, Jon Bentley tenor sax, a lot of guitar, a little trombone, a nicely bent "All I Want to Do" opening. The leader's cello is less evident, except when it gets slow and threatens to get mushy. B+(**)

Steve Lehman Octet: Travail, Transformation, and Flow (2008 [2009], Pi): Alto saxophonist, don't see a birthdate anywhere, but he studied under Anthony Braxton and Jackie McLean, has six or more albums under his own name since 2001, plus two with Vijay Iyer as Fieldwork. His recent press has been playing up his Downbeat Rising Star votes (finished #5 last year), which seems more or less right -- although you could argue that Downbeat's critics aren't his natural constituency, given that they left McLean off their Hall of Fame ballot until after he died, and that they still haven't considered Braxton. (On the other hand, Lehman records for more critic-friendly labels than Braxton, at least in the last 20 years.) As with Braxton, Lehman's technique is slowed by his compositions, which are difficult little pieces that play against your expectations. I've found that they work best in small groups, as on his Demian as Posthuman. Scaling them up to octet strength is tricky, but he does a good job of keeping the five horns (Mark Shim on tenor sax, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Tim Albright on trombone, and Jose Davila on Tuba) distinct, and Chris Dingman's vibes fly against the grain -- not that there is much of a grain with Drew Gress on bass and, especially, Tyshawn Sorey on drums. Don't have it sussed out adequately. Nor do I recognize the last piece, the only one Lehman didn't write -- evidently comes from somewhere in the Wu-Tang empire. [B+(***)]

Joe Lovano Us Five: Folk Art (2008 [2009], Blue Note): Quintet, a new working band with two drummers (Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela), bass (Esperanza Spalding), and piano (James Weidman). Lovano strays a lot from his tenor sax -- his website even has a picture of him playing two horns Kirk-style, a straight alto sax and a tarogato -- for a slippery, unsettled feel. The rhythm section helps to grease the skids. I'm less impressed with Weidman, who fills up a lot of space with fast but uninteresting bebop lines. Most likely a promising group that hasn't found itself yet, but maybe I just haven't found them. [B+(**)]

Lucky 7s: Pluto Junkyard (2007 [2009], Clean Feed): Septet, from Chicago, led by two trombonists, Jeff Albert and Jeb Bishop. Others are: Josh Berman (cornet), Keefe Jackson (tenor sax), Jason Adasiewicz (vibes), Matthew Golombisky (double bass), and Quin Kirchner (drums). Tough group to characterize, more freebop than avant; despite the group size there doesn't seem to be anyone at the helm with postbop arranger ambitions. I thought their previous album, Faragut, had a bit of New Orleans gumbo in it, but don't get that feel here -- maybe it's that the vibes are better integrated. The cornet adds some high contrast, but the sax seems to be here mostly for muscle, the trombones rooling. B+(***)

Paul Lytton/Ken Vandermark: English Suites (1999 [2000], Wobbly Rail, 2CD): Some back story: before I started writing Jazz Consumer Guide I wrote the first piece The Village Voice published on Ken Vandermark. Shortly before that I wrote a huge William Parker-Matthew Shipp Consumer Guide, based on a windfall of records I got while working on the Shipp entry in The Rolling Stone Album Guide. I thought it would be cool to do the same thing for Vandermark, and he was kind enough to send me a huge pile of missing records. I started working on it, then was asked to do Jazz CG, and never found the time to finish. I always meant to get back to them. Now that I'm in the sweet spot of Jazz Prospecting -- column out this week, no pressure to wrap up the next -- I can't think of a better time to dust off some of the old things I never got to. This one is two disc-long improvs with Lytton on drums, percusson, and live electronics. The first was cut in Chicago on Jan. 11, and the second in Belgium on Nov. 20, 1999. Lytton is probably best known for his work with Evan Parker and/or Barry Guy, but he's one of the four or five major drummers of the European avant-garde, at least from the mid-1970s through the 1990s. I don't get much out of Vandermark here: a range of effects, including an amusing try at circular breathing. Maybe this early on he was still in awe of Lytton, who puts on a dazzling show from gate to finish line. B+(*)

Jacám Manricks: Labyrinth (2008 [2009], Manricks Music): Plays winds: alto/soprano sax, clarinet/bass clarinet, flute/alto flute. Based in New York, graduated from and teaches at Manhattan School of Music. Don't know where he came from or how he got there, but he's done contract work in Finland. MySpace page has a list of nearly a hundred influences starting with Jelly Roll Morton and including everyone you're sure to have heard of, ending with Metallica and the Beatles -- about 85% jazz, 10% classical, 5% pop. Possible telling outlier is Dick Oatts, who makes the list twice. Six of eight cuts use a quintet with Ben Monder on guitar, Jacob Sacks on piano, Thomas Morganon bass, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. Two cuts add in a chamber orchestra with French horn, flute, and a mess of strings, merely sweetening the basic concept. Intricately elaborate, lots of concepts in the liner notes that turn into complexities in the sound. B+(**)

Thomas Marriott: Flexicon (2008 [2009], Origin): Seattle-based trumpeter. Fourth album since 2005, plus a couple dozen side credits, almost all on Origin. Core group is a quartet with Bill Anschell on piano, Jeff Johnson on bass, and Matt Jorgensen on drums. Five cuts add Mark Taylor on sax; two cuts feature Joe Locke on vibes. The first, with all six, is a Freddie Hubbard barn burner, turned out messy. Locke's other piece is John Barry's "You Only Live Twice," turned out nicely. Otherwise, a mix of originals and covers, wobbling uncertainly between hard bop and postbop. B-

Hugh Masekela: Phola (2009, 4Q/Times Square): South African, b. 1939, plays flugelhorn these days and sings somewhat awkwardly; joined the Jazz Epistles with the future Abdullah Ibrahim in 1959, and left the country soon after the Sharpeville Massacre. Recorded more or less steadily since the mid-1960s, working his way through jazz, fusion, funk, disco, and pop, more often than not working a bit of his homeland in. A good summary is his 2007 live album, Live at Market Theatre, marking his return to South Africa. This follows up nicely, his flugelhorn riding an easy groove with complex beats; a couple of songs, like "Sonnyboy," strike me as overly ripe, but the emotion is palpable. B+(**)

Rob Mazurek Quintet: Sound Is (2009, Delmark): Cornet player, based in Chicago, the mainstay behind Chicago Underground Duo/Trio/Quartet and Exploding Star Orchestra. Quintet picks up drummer and bass guitarist with more rock credits than anything else -- Matthew Lux on bass guitar, John Herndon on drums -- along with two common names in the Chicago underground: Josh Abrams on acoustic bass and Jason Adasiewicz on vibes. There is a lot of stuff to like here, but too much that I find annoying -- mostly having to do with lots of ringing bells. Even the bits that I like -- cornet, stretches of oddly accented free rhythm -- I can't make much of a case for. Played it four times in a row today, and want to move on, and don't particularly care to come back to it. B

Joe McPhee/Peter Brötzmann/Kent Kessler/Michael Zerang: Guts (2005 [2007], Okka Disk): Not as gory as it looks, not that anyone who doesn't already know and admire Brötzmann or (more critically) McPhee should bother. For those who don't, Brötzmann is the original lion of the European avant-garde, taking all of the fire and fury of Ayler and late Coltrane and stripping them of blues and bop and gospel context. He's mellowed a bit with age, especially when he switches to tarogato or clarinet, which doesn't mean he can't still peel paint. McPhee has worked in deliberate obscurity as long -- he's actually two years older, is first record in 1968 vs. 1967 for Brötzmann -- so selfless he's the patron saint of the American avant-garde. He's also damn near the only major musician who has credibly played both trumpet and sax (alto and tenor) over a long haul. I count 6 A-list records in my database, ranging from 1969's Underground Railroad to last fall's Tomorrow Came Today. Two pieces here, the 17:41 title thing and a 41:16 jam called "Rising Spirits." Kessler and Zerang set up one of those roiling semi-rhythms that provides a strong springboard for the horns. McPhee starts on trumpet, a nice contrast to the sax, then rotates around. Lots of choppy little invention, with a few inevitable rough edges. B+(***)

Susie Meissner: I'll Remember April (2008 [2009], Lydian Jazz): Standards singer, based in Philadelphia, started out in a dinner theatre in the mid-1970s. First album. The usual Berlin ("How Deep Is the Ocean"), Porter ("You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"), Rodgers/Hart ("There's a Small Hotel"). Two Jobims, both in English. Band swings a little, and she can reach those troublesome high notes. Still, the only reason to bother is "special guest" Brian Lynch, who bursts forth with fireworks we he gets the shot. B- [June 1]

Andy Milne/Benoît Delbecq: Where Is Pannonica? (2008 [2009], Songlines): Piano duets. I've run across both pianists before, generally finding their work exacting and impressive but much to my taste -- Delbecq's 2005 album, Phonetics, is the exception there, juiced up with Congo drums, sax and viola. This one is toned down, abstract even. The second piano often functions more like a bass, just more minimally. B

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um [Legacy Edition] (1959 [2009], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): Frantically label-hopping in the late 1950s, Mingus landed at Columbia for two albums: the title album here on the first disc, and the erratic follow-up, Mingus Dynasty, that fills most of the second disc. The former is an undoubted masterpiece. Mingus learned jazz from the ground up, playing trad with Kid Ory, swinging with Red Norvo, apprenticing with Duke Ellington, bopping with Bird and Max Roach, finding his own path through the avant-garde. The nine neatly trimmed songs on the original Mingus Ah Um take a postmodern tack on jazz history, with gospel welling up in "Better Get It in Your Soul," nods to "Jelly Roll" and "Bird Calls" and an "Open Letter to Duke" and a gorgeous remembrance of Lester Young called "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." But they don't imitate the past; they subsume it, catapulting it into the future as urgent testimony, which was most explicit in "Fables of Faubus," heaping scorn on the segregationist governor of Arkansas. Mingus was never more Ellingtonian, but everything was updated: his septet thinner but more rambunctious, the gentility and elegance giving way to cleverness and fury. While the first disc -- even fleshed out with the edits restored and padded with redundant alternate takes -- was as perfect as jazz records get, the second slops back and forth between aimless sections and wildly inspired ones. The new edition omits three alternate takes from the 3-CD The Complete 1959 Columbia Recordings -- no great loss -- and it frames Mingus Dynasty better by starting it off with alternate takes to "Better Get It in Your Soul" and "Jelly Roll." A [single albums: Mingus Ah Um A+; Mingus Dynasty A-]

Giovanni Moltoni: 3 (2008, C#2 Productions): Guitarist. Don't know how old, or where he comes from; seems to be in Boston now, with hooks into New York. Studied at Berklee and New England Conservatory; teaches at Berklee. Third album since 1996. Also credited with synth here. Quartet includes Greg Hopkins on trumpet, Fernando Huergo on bass, Bob Tamagni on drums. Mostly follows the boppish trumpet around, filling out and adding to the rhythmic push. Nice formula. [B+(**)]

Giovanni Moltoni: 3 (2008, C#2 Productions): Guitar album -- long lines, gentle grooves, nice vibes, topped off with Greg Hopkins' moderately boppish trumpet. B+(*)

Joe Morris w/DKV Trio: Deep Telling (1998 [1999], Okka Disk): DKV Trio is Hamid Drake (drums), Kent Kessler (bass), and Ken Vandermark (tenor sax). They released four albums from 1997 to 2002, plus three albums backing up and/or collaborating with others: Aaly Trio, Fred Anderson, and Morris, a guitarist from Boston. This breaks down into subgroups for 5 of 8 cuts: two Kessler-Morris duos, three trios omitting a D, K, or V. The opener finds Vandermark parodying Morris's guitar style, rather tedious, which may help the next two Vandermark-less cuts sound more refreshing. Morris plays long lines with a sort of staccato rhythm for a somewhat indeterminate groove -- works nicely here when he gets to lead. Vandermark's return is more auspicious, and the 18:35 "Telling" suite finally gets all of the pieces moving in synch. B+(**)

Chris Morrissey: The Morning World (2008 [2009], Sunnyside): Bassist, b. 1980, from Minneapolis/St. Paul area, now based in Brooklyn. First album. Side credits since 2004 with Mason Jennings, Andrew Bird, Haley Bonar, and Ben Kweller -- those I recognize are rockers (more/less), and AMG misfiled this as Pop/Rock. With Michael Lewis (all kinds of saxes) and David King (drums) this is virtually a Happy Apple record. Piano is split between Peter Schimke (5 cuts) and Bryan Nichols (3). Chris Thomson adds another sax to one cut. Record doesn't specify electric or acoustic bass, but Morrissey's MySpace page shows him pretty juiced up. He wrote all of the pieces here, mostly propulsive bass lines which King emphatically pushes along. That may not sound like much, but Lewis does a terrific job of exploring the jazz angles tangential to the grooves, and he can wax eloquent even when he doesn't have much to go on. Record doesn't specify which sax he plays when, but they tend toward higher registers -- alto, probably a lot of soprano too. Working behind his group name and on the side like this he's way underrecognized. A-

Rakalam Bob Moses: Father's Day B'hash (2006 [2009], Sunnyside): Percussionist. Broke in while still a teenager with Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1964-65), and eventually figured he needed a cool moniker as well. Has a dozen or so albums since 1975. Has long taught at New England Conservatory of Music, where he recruited most of this mostly unknown band. Some small rhythmic bits are interesting, but most of the band came armed with horns, which they tend to play loud and at the same time, which isn't to say in unison. "Pollack Springs" splashes sound as chaotically as Pollack poured paint. I find it can get to be very annoying, although a little control -- as on "A Pure and Simple Being" -- can make all the difference. B-

Paul Meyers: World on a String (2009, Miles High): Guitarist. Don't know anything about him, and Google isn't helping. Presumably not Mike Myers' older brother, the former front man for a group called the Gravelberrys. Plays acoustic. Wrote 7 of 9 songs, the exceptions the Arlen-Koehler "I've Got the World on a String" that suggests the title and John Lennon's "Because." Nice sound and feel on guitar, plus he gets help from Donny McCaslin on sax and Helio Alves on piano -- both given featuring plugs on the cover -- and also Leo Traversa on electric bass and Vanderlei Pereira on drums/percussion. McCaslin also plays flute on a couple of cuts, which spoils this for me. B+(*)

PS: As the publicist patiently explained to me, the reason I couldn't find anything on this guitarist was that I had the name misspelled: Meyers, not Myers. Embarrassing mistake, especially since I made something of it. Went to his website -- even though Flash-only is a pain, I resolved not to complain, although all I got from his bio was lives in New York and digs Brazilian music, which could have been surmised from recruiting Helio Alves. Has a few past records, including his own website typo on the record "featuring Frank Weiss" -- album cover and photo are unmistakably Frank Wess.

Milton Nascimento and Jobim Trio: Novas Bossas (2007 [2008], Blue Note): Guitarist son Paulo Jobim and pianist grandson Daniel Jobim of Antonio Carlos Jobim anchor the trio, with Paulo Braga on drums, and bassist Rodrigo Villa relegated to a "featuring" credit. A little stiff with the piano up front. Nascimento sings, his falsetto aiming for the heavens but often brought down by the dead weight -- especially when the others chime in. C+

Roy Nathanson: Subway Moon (2009, Yellow Bird/Enja): A follow up to Nathanson's vocal-dominated 2006 Sotto Voce -- the front cover and booklet have "sottovoce" in small print to the left of Nathanson's name and to the left and above the title, so there is some temptation to work that in somehow. Nathanson plays alto and soprano sax, and has a vocals credit along with several others here. He came out of the Jazz Passengers with Curtis Fowlkes (also here, on trombone). Most of the vocals are spoken word, poems over slippery jazz grooves, presumably Nathanson himself, but the album starts off with a cover of Gamble and Huff's "Love Train" with Tim Kiah taking the lead. Nathanson's albums often pick a pop song and play it close enough to cash in on its hooks but loose enough to make you think they could do anything with it. Haven't sussed out all of the poetry yet -- some is in the booklet, but not all. But the music between the lines is full of delights, not least Sam Bardfeld's violin, Bill Ware's vibes, and Marcus Rojas's tuba. A-

David "Fathead" Newman: The Blessing (2008 [2009], High Note): Cut a little over a month before Newman died, at 75, Jan. 20, 2009. Soul jazz man, best known for his stint with Ray Charles, has a steady stream of 30-plus records under his own name ever since 1958 -- the biggest gap in AMG's list is 1989-1994. Had a lovely tone and a gentle disposition, but never made especially good records -- Bluesiana Triangle, with Dr. John and Art Blakey, is an exception but not really his album. Wrote the title song, and featured two from his pianist, David Leonhardt; covers tend to be slow and wispy, covering for a shortfall of wind. Peter Bernstein's guitar fills in admirably. Doesn't lose much on his flute feature this time. B

Adam Niewood & His Rabble Rousers: Epic Journey, Volumes I & II (2008, Innova, 2CD): I picked this up several times over the last few months; realized it was a double, and didn't feel up to wading through it. Saxophonist, credited here with tenor, C-melody, soprano, alto, and baritone, in that order, followed by clarinet and bass clarinet. Had a 2004 album called Introducing Adam Niewood, released on the normally pop-oriented Native Language label, so not having heard it I filed him under Pop Jazz. My bad. Seven of nine pieces on the second disc are credited as Free Group Improvisations; he wrote everything else. Group includes piano (Kristjan Randalu), guitar (Jesse Lewis), bass (Matt Brewer or Chris Higgins), drums (Greg Ritchie and/or Rohin Khemani, who adds some exotic percussion). Has a strong, clear tone on tenor; a distinctly wiry sound on soprano; not sure about the rest. Plays with some edge and a lot of polish. Likes a good beat, but doesn't feel bound to it. Should get another play, sooner or later. [B+(***)]

Adam Niewood & His Rabble Rousers: Epic Journey Volumes I & II (2008, Innova, 2CD): An epic record, two long discs, one mostly composed, the other mostly improv. Niewood plays a wide range of saxophones and clarinets, with tenor sax justly first listed. Add keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, including some African percussion. His tone and range are impressive, although it's hard to know just what to make of it all. Perhaps in the future he'll make a record clear enough to make this one worth deciphering. As it is, I prefer the improvs -- "Movin' & Groovin'" does just that for 9:35, after which "Loved Ones" shows some ballad sensitivity. B+(**)

Sean Noonan's Brewed by Noon: Boxing Dreams (2007-08 [2008], Songlines): Drummer, from Brockton, MA, graduated from Berklee. Formed Brewed by Noon in 2004, leading to a 2007 record, Stories to Tell -- also a "live" record on Innova I haven't heard. Similar lineup, with Aram Bajakian and Marc Ribot (electric guitar), Mat Maneri (viola), Thierno Camara (electric bass), Thiokho Diagne (percussion), Susan McKeown and Abdoulaye Diabaté (vocals) on both. This one adds Jamaldeen Tacuma on electric bass, dropping some extra guitar, percussion, and vocals. Package teases: "A Potent Brew: Tribal Rhythms by an Irish Griot." The Afro-Celtic fusion is palpable, but the vocals don't mesh very well -- Diabaté runs roughshod over the album, but isn't anywhere near the next Salif Keita. Still, Ribot and Maneri make a powerful team, and the mixed-bag percussion is interesting. B+(*)

Margie Notte: Just You, Just Me & Friends: Live at Cecil's (2008 [2009], Gnote): Singer, from Orange, NJ, no published age -- one hint is that her mother had five brothers who served in WWII. Studied with Carla Wood and Roseanna Vitro. First album. Standards, mostly associated with the 1950s: "Too Close for Comfort," "Cry Me a River," "You Go to My Head," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I Thought About You." Cecil's owner Cecil Brooks III is the house drummer. Jason Teborek handles the piano, and Tom Di Carlo bass. Don Braden plays warm tenor sax and a little flute. I like her voice and poise, and the songs are hard to miss with. She nails them all. B+(**)

Michael Occhipinti: The Sicilian Jazz Project (2008 [2009], True North): Guitarist, has one of those web bios that offer no info before his professional debut in 1994, but presumably from Toronto, Canada -- at least his older brother, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, is. (Plus he has JUNO nominations, including one for an album of Bruce Cockburn songs.) Father may have been Sicilian. (Note postcard dated 1952, Palermo), but his musical interest goes back to 1954 field recordings by Alan Lomax. The weak spot here, as usual, is the vocals: Dominc Mancuso and Maryem Tollar, appropriately authentic as far as I know, sounds rather like flamenco, or a Sardinian I ran into once. Seven of nine cuts are powered with Louis Simao's accordion, Ernie Tollar on sax or flute, and (six cuts) Kevin Turcotte on trumpet. Two cuts substitute a string quartet, and the opener has everything, even an extra oud. B+(**)

Larry Ochs/Sax & Drumming Core: Out Trios Volume Five: Up From Under (2004 [2007], Atavistic): Ochs, best known from Rova, plays tenor and sopranino sax. The rest of the trio -- a/k/a Drumming Core -- consists of two drummers: Scott Amendola and Don Robinson. Amendola plays in Nels Cline Singers and has a few good albums of his own. Robinson is another SF drummer, with one record I haven't heard (on CIMP) and side credits with Glenn Spearman, What We Live, and a few others. Trio has a previous album, The Neon Truth, on Black Saint (haven't heard). Avant sax-drum duos tend to work (if they work at all) on two levels: athletic prowess and telepathic communication. Doubling up on the drums evens the balance (as long as nobody trips up), and pushes Ochs even harder. No big deal, but probably the best example of his free-form playing I've heard thus far. A-

Offonoff: Slap and Tickle (2007 [2009], Smalltown Superjazz): Another permutation on the Ex-Zu axis, with Ex guitarist Terrie Ex and Zu bassist Massimo Zu (here dba Massimo Pupillo) joining forces, label house drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (Atomic, School Days, The Thing, etc.) refereeing, or just stirring up trouble. Two pieces, more "Slap" (32:39) than "Tickle" (16:20), but plenty of both. Thrashes at first, but they get tired of that not long after you do, at which point the moves take on a bit more interest. Not a lot of contrast between bass and guitar, so it's rather narrow. Terrific drummer. B+(*)

Olatunji: Drums of Passion [Legacy Edition] (1959-66 [2009], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): One of the first albums of African music to appear in the US, no doubt because Babatunde Olatunji, a Yoruba from southwest Nigeria, got a scholarship to study at Morehouse College in Georgia, then moved on to New York, where he set up his percussion ensemble as a side project while studying public administration. With its dense percussion and crude, chantlike vocals, this seems geared to contemporary stereotypes of Africa, but it doesn't pander: it stands tall and forthright. The album became a huge bestseller. The band expanded, with some notable jazz names joining in on the bonus tracks: Clark Terry, Yusef Lateef, Jerome Richardson, Bud Johnson, Ray Barretto. Second disc features the long-out-of-print More Drums of Passion. Cut 7 years later, it seems less of a novelty, especially with the irresistible groove of "Mbira." A- [single albums: Drums of Passion B+(***); More A-]

Original Silence: The Second Original Silence (2006 [2008], Smalltown Superjazz): There's also an album called The First Original Silence, which I didn't get, but is presumably much the same. This gets classified as improvised rock because Sonic Youth is a rock band and that's where Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke hail from. That's also more/less what Terrie Ex (of The Ex) and Massimo Pupillo (of Zu) do. The Ex, for those not in the know, has a long history with most of their stuff roughly paralleling the Mekons, although guitarist Terrie Ex occasionally shows up in jazz contexts, like his duets with Ab Baars. Zu is more consistently on the jazz edge -- no doubt best known (to the extent they are known at all) for their mashups with Ken Vandermark (Spaceways Inc.'s Radiale) and Mats Gustafsson (How to Raise an Ox). Gustafsson is here too, along with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love -- two thirds of The Thing. Sonic Youth has a long line of big commercial records and a smattering of obscure spinoffs there Moore, in particular, indulges his guitar noise fetish. So what we have here is the intersection of four circles -- coincidentally four nations -- pursuing a common goal: not sure what it is, but I wouldn't exclude making you squirm. I don't have a lot of tolerance for just cranking up the amps and letting them choke on feedback, so parts of this do make me squirm, but when they can control themselves they produce a powerful post-Velvets crunch, with Gustafsson's sax a fair analogue to Cale's viola. Good drummer, too. B+(**) [advance]

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Moment's Energy (2007 [2009], ECM): It seems odd that Parker's one shot on a label someone might actually hear should be focused on this strange large group but certainly not a big band. This is the group's fifth album on ECM. Parker plays soprano sax, but it's hard to pick him out even though he's generally the easiest soprano saxophonist in the world to recognize. From the start, violinist Philipp Wachsmann has been the group's key member -- probably also the ECM connection -- but mostly for his interest in electronics. It's taken a while for the electronics to take hold as something more than occasional blips and squiggles, but this is where they finally pay off, perhaps because they've finally gained majority status. Sample credits: Wachsmann (violin, live electronics), Paul Lytton (percussion, live electronics), Lawrence Casserley (signal processing equipment), Joel Ryan (sample and signal processing), Walter Prati (computer processing), Richard Barnet (live electronics), Paul Obermayer (live electronics), Marco Vecchi (sound projection). The acoustic contingent is more likely to provide fodder for the knob twiddlers, but it's also the case that they've been beefed up this time, with Peter Evans' trumpet standing out, joined by Ko Ishikawa's sho and Ned Rothenberg's clarinets and shakuhachi. Odd stuff, piled on deep. Takes a while, but I inadvertently got stuck in it, and kept playing it until it made sense. A-

Arvo Pärt: In Principio (2007-08 [2009], ECM New Series): This release marks the 25th anniversary of ECM's more or less classical sublabel, ECM New Series, launched in 1984 with Pärt's Tabula Rasa. Seemed like an event worth noting, and Pärt is a name that I noticed around then but never managed to get to. Back in the 1970s I took an interest in what I prefer to call postclassical music -- seems premature to be call it classical, ahistorical as contemporary composition, too pointed as avant-garde. I grew up despising Euroclassical music -- everything from Bach to Mahler, and a good deal before and after -- but took a deep interest in Theodor Adorno, who in turn was very much devoted to the 12-tone music Schönberg and Webern. I found I could handle it -- even got to where I liked Pierrot Lunaire -- and I checked out some of the newer stuff, especially with electronics (Babbitt, Berio, Crumb, Wuorinen, Stockhausen, Cage, Cardew, Glass, Reich). I lost track in the 1980s, especially after Tom Johnson left The Voice, and never managed to pick it up again -- one reason, perhaps, being that the avant fringes of jazz are usually more interesting. Pärt doesn't seem to be much of a modernist at all. Born 1935 in Estonia, left the Soviet Union for Vienna in 1980, then moved on to Berlin. This is a scattered set of pieces originating 1999-2006, recorded back in Estonia by Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. The choral pieces are based on scriptures. The ensemble work is dominated by the violins. Feels quasi-medieval to me, not a distinction I'm in any way expert on. Certainly not my thing, but tolerable, even in spots haunting. B+(*)

Madeleine Peyroux: Bare Bones (2009, Rounder): Nice French name, but she was born 1974 in Athens GA, grew up in New York and Southern California, but moved to Paris with her mother after her parents divorced, and was discovered there. She was slotted as a jazz singer because she sounds like Billie Holiday -- not that anyone really does, but she was one of the few who begged comparison. (Holiday wasn't necessarily a jazz singer either, but she hung with jazz musicians, sung on their records, employed them on hers, and was so great that no one quibbled about her style.) Peyroux's earlier records paraded various songbook items which heightened the comparison, but she has her name on every song here -- mostly co-credits with bassist-producer Larry Klein. Several are striking -- "Love and Treachery," "Our Lady of Pigalle" -- but none are what you would call jazzy. The band is mostly guitar and keyboards -- several credits on Estey, a brand name that could be a piano but is probably an old pump organ -- with a bit of violin by Carla Kihlstedt. Peyroux herself plays acoustic guitar. B+(**)

Enrico Pieranunzi: Plays Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas and Improvisations (2007 [2009], CAM Jazz): Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti is a baroque composer, 1685-1757. My wife has a short list of classical music faves, mostly from his period or earlier, and Scarlatti is on it. I tend to hate all classical music as a matter of personal principle and custom, but this isn't bad -- has some groove to it, even if it's a bit too neatly tied up in the end. Solo piano, which is probably par for this course. The pianist is a major figure in Italy's jazz scene, with a lengthy catalog that I've only lately had the luxury of following. He is always worth hearing, even solo, even here. Note that the improvs stay strictly in character. B+(*)

PIZZArelli Party With the Arbors All Stars (2009, Arbors): I filed this under Bucky Pizzarelli, figuring he's still the tribe's sheikh, but closer inspection suggests this is really John Pizzarelli's record -- he produced, wrote a sizable chunk of the songs (to Bucky's one and seven covers from the usual suspects), sings on two, and wrote the liner notes. Martin Pizzarelli is on bass, Tony Tedesco on drums, Larry Fuller on piano. The Arbors All Stars are limited to Harry Allen on tenor sax and Aaron Weinstein on violin, plus a couple of vocal spots for Rebecca Kilgore and/or Jessica Molaskey. The vocals are rather scattered, but there's a lot of hot swing guitar, and Weinstein and Allen are superb, especially on the closer, "I'll See You in My Dreams." B+(**)

Frank Potenza Trio: Old, New, Borrowed, & Blue (2008 [2009], Capri): Guitarist-led organ trio, with Joe Bagg on organ, Steve Barnes on drums, and Holly Hoffman joining in here and there as "special guest" on flute and alto flute. Potenza was b. 1950, studied at Berklee, has eight albums since 1986. Also sings a little. This is about as lightweight as jazz gets -- pop songs like "Ode to Billie Joe" and "You've Got a Friend"; clean guitar lines over just enough organ to carry the tune; the vocals and even the flute solos are instantly forgettable -- I noted two and one, which must be a short count, but reinforces my point. Still, it's awfully damn pleasant, which is something. B+(*)

Tito Puente: Dance Mania [Legacy Edition] (1956-60 [2009], RCA/Legacy, 2CD): A Puerto Rican timbalero from Spanish Harlem, Puente jumped onto the Cuban bandwagon in the mid-1950s, releasing albums like Cuban Carnival and Cubarama before this breakthrough party album. The band is huge, the blaring brass rather clunky, and the beats a bit more basic than what the real Cubans were doing -- Pérez Prado, in particular, managed to sound more pop and at the same time more radical -- but the energy is cranked up high and the vocals exude passion. This package expands the original 12-cut 37:50 album to 22 cuts to fill the first disc, then offers Dance Mania Vol. 2, again pumped up from 12 to 23 cuts. The prime slice is slightly leaner and cleaner, but it's hard to nitpick the rest: more is truly more. A- [single albums: Dance Mania A-; Vol. 2 B+(***)]

Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra: Secrets of the Sun (1962 [2009], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): A six-track album originally released on Ra's Saturn Records in 1965 and skipped over in previous reissue passes, plus a previously unreleased 17:35 originally promised to be the B-side of a never-released album (catalog number 547). Recorded shortly after Ra and his Arkestra landed in New York, feels rough and scattered, with shifting lineups (the young Eddie Gale is a surprise), even the regulars rotating instruments (John Gilmore variously plays tenor sax, bass clarinet, and percussion, his credits also including space drums and space bird sounds, while Marshall Allen plays more flute than alto sax), while Ra's piano jumps hither and yon. B+(**)

Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra: Strange Strings (1966-67 [2009], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): You can't help but do a double take when the man from Saturn finds anything strange. The string instruments played by nearly everyone in the band -- rotating with their more/less normal instruments, although Marshall Allen's first credit is oboe, and the rhythm section mostly consists of log drums and tympani -- are unidentified but seem to include odd lutes and zithers from around the world. Seem, because they're pretty much unidentifiable: undulating waves of metallic bowed and plucked sounds crashing against the shore. The pieces move from "Worlds Approaching" to "Strings Strange" to "Strange Strange": the first is remarkable, especially for the drums, while the later pieces unravel a bit. One of Ra's many self-issued low-run LPs, augmented with a bonus track called "Door Squeak" -- an improv based on Ra repeatedly opening and closing a squeaky door. B+(***)

Andrew Rathbun: Where We Are Now (2007 [2009], SteepleChase): Saxophonist, plays tenor and soprano, has been rather prolific since 2000, recording for Fresh Sound New Talent and more recently SteepleChase -- third album there. (By the way, this is the first SteepleChase album I've received since starting Jazz Consumer Guide. They're an important Danish label, since the late 1970s a safe harbor for American expatriates starting with Dexter Gordon and Duke Jordan, with a small minority of European artists -- Piere Dřrge, Niels-Henning Řrsted Pedersen, Tete Montoliu are three who come to mind. Mostly mainstream postbop; deep catalog; a lot of things on my scrounging list.) Previous record (haven't heard it) was called Affairs of State, with songs themed on the Bush administration: "We Have Nothing but Tears," "Around the Same Circles, Again and Again," "5th Anniversary" (of 9/11), "Fiasco," "Folly (of the Future Fallen)." This one is a quintet: Nate Radley (guitar), George Colligan (piano), Johannes Weidenmuller (bass), Billy Hart (drums). Rathbun's tenor sax is a bit light and sly, slipping easily around the complex rhythm. Radley has some nice solo spots, and Colligan is superb. B+(***)

Joshua Redman: Compass (2008 [2009], Nonesuch): Advance copy. Back cover reads, "Full album program from Nonesuch 510844-2 available January 13, 2009," which makes me wonder if this is the full album. (Length is certainly substantial enough.) No track credits, but listing two bassists (Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers) and two drummers (Brian Blade and Gregory Hutchinson) makes me suspect this showcases two sax trios rather than a quintet with doubled bass and drums. Straightforward, elemental, another deep excursion into the saxophonist's art. [B+(***)] [advance: Jan. 13]

Joshua Redman: Compass (2008 [2009], Nonesuch): Final copy has the song-by-song credits, so my speculation of two separate sax trios is wrong. Bassists Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers double up on 7 of 13 cuts, the other splitting 3-3. Drummers Brian Blade and Gregory Hutchinson double up on 5 cuts, splitting the rest 5-3 in favor of Blade. Redman plays tenor sax on 10 cuts, soprano on three. I've played this like six times in a row now, feeling indifferent for stretches, then hearing something I like -- often something real simple like "Insomniac" which is just a repeated riff he rides out. Redman remains a superb tenor saxophonist, but only so-so on soprano. This seems like an average record for him, probably no worse than the Branford Marsalis record I have down as an HM. B+(**)

Refuge Trio (2008 [2009], Winter & Winter): This would be Theo Bleckmann (vocals, live electronic processing), Gary Versace (piano, accordion, keyboards), and John Hollenbeck (drums, percussion, crotales, vibraphone, glockenspiel). Group name seems to be tied into the 1:09 intro version of Joni Mitchell's "Refuge of the Roads" -- otherwise it's not at all clear what it means. Hollenbeck is always doing interesting things, and Versace is a pretty dependable double threat. Bleckmann, on the other hand, is a difficult case. I find his voice has little appeal, although he clearly is a fountain of clever ideas -- it's hard to think of any male vocalist who's pushed so many boundaries over the last five years. I wish I liked him more. B+(*)

Matt Renzi: Lunch Special (2007 [2009], Three P's): Plays tenor sax and clarinet. Not very forthcoming on biography: father played flute in SF Symphony; studied at Berklee with George Garzone (like, who didn't?), and in India with R.A. Ramamani; has een all around the world; sixth album since 1998. Only other one I've heard, The Cave (on Fresh Sound New Talent), made my HM list. I described it as "centered," adding that "Renzi plays difficult music but makes it looks easy because he doesn't go in for the stress and force of most avant saxophonists." Don't have much more to add on this trio with Dave Ambrosio (bass) and Russ Meissner (drums) yet. [B+(**)]

Ridd Quartet: Fiction Avalanche (2005 [2008], Clean Feed): Jon Irabagon (sax, presumably alto); Kris Davis (piano); Reuben Radding (double bass); Jeff Davis (drums). The Canadian pianist has a couple of quartet records with Tony Malaby on tenor sax, so it's tempting to think of this group as a variant -- drummer Davis is in both; Radding, a bassist well traveled in avant circles, subs for Eivind Opsvik -- and Irabagon is an interesting alternative to Malaby. On the other hand, the pieces are all jointly credited. [B+(**)]

Ridd Quartet: Fiction Avalanche (2005 [2008], Clean Feed): The all-Davis half of the Kris Davis Quartet -- that means drummer Jeff Davis -- with a couple of New Yorkers who, in theory at least, push the Davises a bit further out towards left field: alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, best known for Mostly Other People Do the Killing, and bassist Reuben Radding. A bit rougher and less settled: maybe because no one is calling the shots, or it's a relatively old tape that Radding remastered and the others are moving on. B+(**)

Tim Ries: Stones World: The Rolling Stones Project II (2008, Sunnyside, 2CD): Rolling Stones songs. Ries plays tenor sax, quite a bit of soprano too. Spent some chunk of his career touring with the Rolling Stones, which may or may not give him some special insight, but certainly helps when he needs a drummer -- Charlie Watts on 5 cuts here -- or a little lap steel (Ronnie Wood) or harmonica (Mick Jagger). The original The Rolling Stones Project came out in 2005, an eclectic sampling of idiosyncratic band arrangements, most with guests singers of uneven merit. This one is even more so: think of it as The Rolling Stones Project hits the road. The sessions are labelled: Africa, Brazil, Japan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, NYC, Paris, with most of those plus Mexico somehow joined into a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual "Salt of the Earth." Huge range of guests: flamenco in Spain, fado in Portugal, a Tuareg group in Africa, Milton Nascimento in Brazil, tablas in India, Eddie Palmieri in Puerto Rico, Bill Frisell in New York, Keith Richards in Japan. So many disparate ideas here it's hard (probably futile) to make sense of them all -- might be a better candidate for Choice Cuts. Second disc is "enhanced," whatever that means. In the CD player it adds four tracks to the nine on the first. [B+(**)]

Tim Ries: Stones World: The Rolling Stones Project II (2008, Sunnyside, 2CD): A saxophonist who's toured with the Rolling Stones takes over the repertoire. The first volume was content to refocus the first tier songs on the saxophonist, but here, Ries goes on tour, picking up anyone (and pretty much everyone) who wanted to get in on the act -- including some actual Stones (Keith Richard in Japan, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood in Africa, Charlie Watts several places). Singers are especially plentiful, and not all that convincing -- at least with Jagger you were pretty sure not to believe everything. Instead, we get Ana Moura dropping into Portuguese for parts of "Brown Sugar"; "Jumpin' Jack Flash" goes flamenco, and "Angie" goes to Bollywood; the whole UN gets a piece of "Salt of the Earth"; Marina Machado and Milton Nascimento strain for "Lady Jane." More sax than the originals, but still it takes a back seat to the vocals. If there's a theme, it's the worldwide promotion of the Stones' great idea: miscegnation. B

Marcus Roberts Trio: New Orleans Meets Harlem, Vol. 1 (2007 [2009], J-Master Music): Pianist; b. 1963 Jacksonville, FL; blind since youth; studied and teaches at Florida State. Joined Wynton Marsalis's group in 1985. Has 15 albums since 1988, mostly tributes to other pianists plus several Gershwin sets. This one, with Roland Guerin on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums, pulls 11 songs from Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious Monk, then tacks on an original called "Searching for the Blues" (actually, another stride tune, until he slows it down). That about sums up his range, and as long as he sticks to what he knows he does nicely. When he wanders, as on the first half of "Honeysuckle Rose" (misattributed to Jelly Roll Morton on the hype sheet), he gets lost fast. First record on his own label. Got a lot of florid press in advance of this, but when it came to put up or shut up all I got was a crappy CDR. B+(*) [advance]

The Rocco John Group: Devotion (2008 [2009], Coalition of Creative Artists): Pianoless quartet, based in New York, led by Rocco John Iacovone (alto sax, soprano sax), with Michael Irwin spinning off on trumpet. Freebop with some kick to it. Group's previous album, Don't Wait Too Long, made my HM list, although it languished in my files a long time. This is another one at pretty much the same level -- deserves some recognition, but probably won't get it. [Found my HM line on his website, and it still applies: "Iacovone plays alto sax, cut his teeth in '70s lofts, cooled his heels in Alaska, returns as gray-haired demon."] B+(**)

Rufus Huff (2009, Zoho Roots): What makes this Southern rock-blues-boogie band any different from any other Southern rock-blues boogie band? Well, nothing, really. B-

Jimmy Rushing: The Scene: Live in New York (1965 [2009], High Note): Backed by a band including Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. Evidently they appeared frequently together, with Sims and Cohn opening for a half-hour or so, then Rushing joining in. The record includes eight Rushing tunes and two instrumentals slotted fifth and ninth. Works reasonably well. No precise dates. Seems to have come from at least two sessions, given two bassists and two pianist -- one of the latter billed as "unknown." Nothing new or surprising here for anyone who knows Rushing reasonably well. His set is about as standard as you can get: "Deed I Do," "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You," "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me," "I Want a Little Girl," "Goin' to Chicago," "I Cried for You," "Everyday I Have the Blues," and "Good Morning Blues." For that matter, Sims and Cohn break loose on "The Red Door" and "It's Noteworthy." If you don't know Rushing, well, you've got a lot to look forward to: he was the model every Kansas City blues shouter aspired to -- they were called "shouters" because they never could match Rushing's grace, charm, and swing, so tried to make up for it with gut volume. A-

Philippe Saisse: At World's Edge (2009, Koch): French pianist, classified as smooth jazz or new age; credited here with keyboards and programming, of course. AMG figures this is his 12th album since 1988 (first I've heard). They also give him two pages of side credits, starting with a 1979 Andy Pratt album and three 1980-82 by Al di Meola -- mostly bit parts on rock albums, including David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, Nona Hendryx, Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Steve Winwood, Billy Joel, the B-52's, Donny Osmond, Rod Stewart; plus a few smooth jazzers, with Rick Braun, Kirk Whallum, Marc Antoine, and Jeff Golub returning the favor here. Three cuts have vocals: the chintzy disco from Jasmine Roy and processed Africana from Angelique Kidjo aren't bad, but the pro forma vocal version of the title track (also an album instrumental) by David Rice is staggeringly, almost comically, awful. C

David Sánchez: Cultural Survival (2007 [2008], Concord Picante): Originally streamed this from Rhapsody, noting that his roots are more in Coltrane than in his native Puerto Rican salsa or his neighboring Afro-Cuban jazz. Got a copy, played it a few times, and don't have much more to say, other than that the inspiration cited in the liner notes comes from Africa: "the Baca forest people from southeast Cameroon, the Ari people of Tanzania, polyphonies from music from Ethiopia and music from Mali, all of which are important resources that I drew from when composing this piece." This piece is "La Leyenda del Cańaveral" -- the 20:31 closer which works best because he takes his time building it up. B+(**)

Oumou Sangare: Seya (2009, World Circuit/Nonesuch): Critics who have studied her texts are taken by her feminism, but I'm quite satisfied with the groove. From Mali, she pulls together all the various strains of her national music -- the desert blues, the authority of the griots, the chants and soft strings -- then kicks it up a notch, crossing Wassoulou with Mbalax and then some. Eleven songs, most so finely balanced they already feel classic. A

Venissa Santi: Bienvenida (2006 [2009], Sunnyside): Singer, b. 1978, Cuban-American, family left Cuba in 1961; raised in Ithaca NY, based in Philadelphia; first album. She takes her Cuban heritage seriously, with three expats in her band, and more second-generation Cuban-Americans. Most impressive when the rhythms are most authentic, but she's also more than credible on standards like "Embraceable You," and wrote one called "Wish You Well" that if anything reminds me of Leon Russell's "Song for You." B+(**)

Daniela Schächter: Purple Butterfly (2008 [2009], CDBaby): Pianist-vocalist, from Messina, Sicily, Italy. Studied classical music, got a scholarship to Berklee, where she got into jazz, studying with Joanne Brackeen. Third album, after Quintet (2001) and I Colori del Mare (2006). This is another quintet, with Alex Sipiagin (trumpet, flugelhorn), Joel Frahm (tenor sax), Massimo Biolcati (bass), and Quincy Davis (drums), as well as Schäcter's piano (sometimes Rhodes). The latter doesn't emerge much from the accompaniment, so it's hard to judge her more than proficient. She has a distinctive, compelling voice, but she doesn't take the songs into particularly interesting places. Two have Italian titles but there's no ethnic fusion attempt, and no accent betraying her as a non-native English speaker. Didn't notice Frahm much, but Sipiagin makes a strong showing. B+(*)

Jenny Scheinman: Crossing the Field (2008, Koch): Not quite sure what to make of this one either. This is Scheinman's serious side, as opposed to the alt-country fluke her eponymous album is. Too serious, maybe. No vocals, a near-allstar group, plus a massive string orchestra on five cuts, an even larger one on one more. Lots of good things here: Jason Moran's piano, Ron Miles' cornet, Doug Wieselman's clarinets, Bill Frisell's guitar, and of course the violin. Scheinman wrote all the pieces, except for Duke Ellington's "Awful Sad" -- very unorthodox choice there. [B+(**)]

Jenny Scheinman: Crossing the Field (2008, Koch): Two string orchestras on six cuts lay this on rather thick. The other half is more engaging, but that's the least you'd expect from Ron Miles, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Doug Wieselman, etc., not to mention the violinist-leader, who often seems either missing or buried in the masses. B+(*)

Louis Sclavis: Lost on the Way (2008 [2009], ECM): French clarinetist, b. 1953, has been a major figure since the early 1980s. Quintet, with Matthieu Metzger on soprano and alto sax blending in near seamlessly, and Maxime Delpierre on guitar, not just fitting in but sometimes busting out in solos that have more to do with Jimi Hendrix. B+(***)

John Scofield: Piety Street (2009, Emarcy): AMG describes him as one of the "big three" jazz guitarists, along with Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny. He has released 30-plus albums since 1977, but still strikes me as an underachiever -- his best records simple jams like Groove Elation (1994) although his change of pace Quiet (1996) made a good case that he can play. The new record is reminiscent of his 2005 Ray Charles tribute -- I missed a couple records in between, so this seems like even more of a slumming slump. The Charles record relied on guests, especially vocalists, and got by on the songs and sentiment, but just barely. Here he goes into gospel, picking immaculate songs -- Dorsey, Cleveland, Bartlett, Hank Williams, Dorothy Love Coates, trad. -- backing them with a blues-oriented band, and using two singers: Jon Cleary, a nonentity from England, and John Boutté, not much better from New Orleans. In the end, the paleness they bring to Afro-American gospel is a saving grace -- no one's going to compete with Coates, or even Williams, so why try? Not much from the guitarist, although his work on "The Angel of Death" suggests he could contribute if he wanted to. B

Sex Mob Meets Medeski: Live in Willisau (2006 [2009], Thirsty Ear): Quartet -- Steven Bernstein on slide trumpet, Briggan Krauss on alto sax, Tony Scherr on bass, Kenny Wollesen on drums -- with John Medeski sitting in on organ. Usual mix of lowbrow pop raised to avant-kitsch, with covers from Prince and John Barry -- think James Bond themes -- prominent, along with bits from Ellington, Basie, and "Little Liza Jane." Originals include a series of "Mob Rule" connecting pieces and a tribute named "Artie Shaw." A lot of brains go into this, but the wit is swallowed up in sloppy noise. And while Medeski has fun, he doesn't add much. B+(*)

Avery Sharpe Trio: Autumn Moonlight (2008 [2009], JKNM): Bassist-led piano trio. Sharpe has eight albums since 1988, plus a much longer list of side credits, especially working for McCoy Tyner. His pianist here, Onaje Allan Gumbs, fits nicely into the Tyner mold, although his performance here is less flashy than usual. B

Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra: Harriet Tubman (2007 [2008], Noir, 2CD): Bassist, b. 1966 Alabama, currently based in San Francisco. Sixth album since 1997, mostly with his MSJO big band. This one takes its inspiration from Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), a Maryland slave who escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. She worked guiding slaves north to freedom, served with the Union army as an armed scout and spy (liberating 700 slaves in one operation), and was later a women's suffrage activist. The music swings, the horns bright and rowdy, as impressive as any big band work I've heard in several years. I'm less sure of the words, which break the flow but advance the story. Need to focus more on them. [B+(***)]

Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra: Harriet Tubman (2007 [2008], Noir, 2CD): One problem with thinking of jazz as America's classical music is tends to make jazz sound more like Europe's classical music. This is especially true when a jazz arranger reaches for the bombast of a large concept, as with this opera. And, so often the case with opera, all that singing can get to be annoying. Still, this holds up relatively well. The default musical tradition is gospel, especially for the vocals. The horns are bright and rowdy, and the big band work is sharp. And you stand to learn a thing or two. B+(**)

Andy Sheppard: Movements in Colour (2008 [2009], ECM): Saxophonist, mostly tenor but plays some soprano here, b. 1957, England. His early work -- four 1988-91 albums on Antilles, originally a dub sub-label of reggae giant Island -- tended to fusion with funk beats, suggesting a possibly more interesting David Sanborn. His discography has been erratic since then, but lately he's been showing up on Carla Bley albums. His ECM debut shows a gentler strain, with guitar (John Parricelli and Eivind Aarset), bass (Arild Andersen), tabla (Kuljit Bhamra) and some electronics (Aarset and Andersen) paving the way. Takes a little while to settle into the groove and let the sax colors flower. A-

The Matthew Shipp Trio: Harmonic Disorder (2008 [2009], Thirsty Ear): I assume this was recorded in '08. Booklet doesn't say, which is par for this label -- I thought about complimenting them for including the record date in the Halvorson/Pavone, as it seemed a breakthrough. This is actually an earlier release. It got lost in the mail and had to be resent, or so the story goes -- actually, same thing happened with Shipp's previous record, Piano Vortex, which I got to so late I wound up skipping, despite the fact that it is a very good record. In any case, this one may be better. Joe Morris on bass and Whit Dickey on drums both stand out, but Shipp does it all, from the simple pacing of "Mel Chi 2" to the rollicking combustion of "Zo Number 2." I often bemoan my difficulties grasping piano trios, but this one just jumps up and grabs you. Not done with it, but figure this grade as a baseline. A- [later: A]

Alfred Schnittke: Symphony No. 9 / Alexander Raskatov: Nunc Dimittis (2008 [2009], ECM New Series): Schnittke was a Russian composer, 1934-1998. This was the last of his nine symphonies, the manuscript reconstructed by Raskatov, given an initial recording by the Dresdner Philharmonie, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. It sounds like . . . a symphony. (What can I say? Masses of violins. Lots of ups and downs, with quiet spots that may mean something in a perfect acoustic environment. Raskatov is a younger Russian composer, b. 1953. don't know much more. His piece fills out the last 16:10 of the record. It's built around texts by Joseph Brodsky and Starets Siluan, with mezzo-soprano Elena Vassilieva and the Hilliard Ensemble joining the orchestra. The vocals do even less for me -- they seem very mixed down, but that could just mean I should turn it up. Quite a bit of documentation with this set -- evidently the label sees it as a big deal. Feels wasted on me. B-

Dave Siebels With Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band (2008 [2009], PBGL): Siebels' home page is titled "Dave's Film Music, Inc." Claims: composer, arranger, keyboardist, producer; arranged and produced 25 albums, scored 35 films, scored 9 TV series, conducted 65 musical variety TV shows; musical director/arranger for 2 musical variety TV specials. Liner notes give special thanks to Pat Boone "for making this album possible" -- indeed, Siebels' chief claim to fame was his concept and production of Boone's In a Metal Mood. All that sounds like work. He may be moonlighting here, but this sounds like fun. The Phat Band is hot and greasy. Siebels composed 7 of 10 songs -- Neil Hefti's "Girl Talk," Stevie Wonder's "I Wish," and Lalo Schifrin's "The Cat" are the covers -- and plays Hammond B3. He rests the band on "Girl Talk" -- just organ, guitar, and drums -- and on two others with Roy Wiegand's trumpet added, providing a break from the blare, but that isn't always a help. B+(**)

Adam Shulman: Patterns of Change (2008 [2009], Kabocha): Pianist, from San Francisco, presumably not the same Adam Shulman seen acting in The Dukes of Hazzard and dating Anne Hathaway, although from pictures on the web they don't look that different -- the pianist, I guess, looks a little glummer. Second album, expanding from quartet to quintet with the addition of Mike Olmos on trumpet/flugelhorn, alongside Dayna Stephens on tenor sax. Mainstream postbop, swings a little, horns have some kick to them. I keep hearing bits of "Dat Dere" in "4th Street Strut." One called "Chopinesque" isn't particularly. B+(*)

Henning Sieverts Symmetry: Blackbird (2007 [2009], Pirouet): From Berlin, Germany, b. 1966, plays bass and cello; label's website claims he has 10 albums under his own name (AMG only lists 3), a total of 75 credits. Wrote 11 of 13 tunes here: the exceptions a medley of the Lennon-McCartney title tune and trad's "Wenn Ich ein Vöglein Wär" and Charlie Parker's "Blues for Alice." Three songs have dedications: to Paul Klee, Arnold Schönberg, and Olivier Messiaen. Interesting group, with John Hollenbeck on drums, Achim Kaufmann on piano, Johannes Lauer on trombone, and Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor sax. A mixed bag, with the harder edged stuff (with Speed on tenor sax, cf. "Gale in Night, Nightingale") quite sharp, the soft ones (e.g., cello-clarinet) much less so. Doesn't help that I've loathed the title cut for decades. B

Asaf Sirkis Trio: The Monk (2007-08 [2008], SAM Productions): Israeli drummer, b. 1969 in Petah-Tikva; left Israel in 1998 for Holland, then France, finally settling in London, where he joined Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble. Trio includes electric bassist Yaron Stavi and guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos. The electric instruments give the record a fusion feel, but upside down, with the drums out front and the chord instruments striving to catch up. Fifth album as a leader -- three with a group called Inner Noise. Sounds like someone to explore further. [B+(**)]

Asaf Sirkis Trio: The Monk (2007-08 [2008], SAM Productions): Drummer-led trio, with guitar (Tassos Spiliotopoulos) and electric bass (Yaron Stavi). Nothing fundamentally different, but one of the sharper guitar trios I've heard recently -- the main difference is that the drums are louder, which I count as a plus. But not just a trio: keyboards (Gary Husband) and extra percussion (Adriano Adewale) sometimes seep in, the former muddying the waters, the latter harder to judge. B+(**)

Harry Skoler: Two Ones (2008 [2009], Soliloquy): Clarinetist, b. 1956 in Syracuse, NY, graduated Berklee 1978, originally inspired by Benny Goodman, later studied under Jimmy Giuffre. Fourth album since 1994, divided between 7 quintet tracks and 8 duos with pianist Ed Saindon. The duets are low keyed and rather pretty, but the larger group is too much of too many bad things: a front line of clarinet and flute, the pianist often switching to vibes, the bass and drums rolling like they're seasick. C

The Joel LaRue Smith Trio: September's Child (2007 [2009], Joel LaRue Smith): Piano trio, with Fernando Huergo on bass, Renato Malavasi on drums. Don't know much about pianist Smith, except that he studied at Manhattan School of Music under Jaki Byard and Barry Harris, and teaches at Tufts, directing their Jazz Orchestra. Debut record. Wrote 7 of 11 pieces, with a strong Afro-Cuban accent, and does an impressive job of carrying it off. Some of the quirkiness of Afro-Cuban jazz is inevitably lost in reducing it to straight piano trio, but he nails it pretty well. B+(***)

Bob Sneider & Joe Locke [Film Noir Project]: Nocturne for Ava (2007 [2009], Origin): Attribution parsing problems here: spine says "Bob Sneider & Joe Locke"; front cover has Sneider and Locke in relatively bright type, "Film Noir Project" in smaller and more obscure type. Locke is one of the 3-4 best known vibes players around. Sneider is less well known: a guitarist, teaches at Eastman School of Music in Rochester (Locke's home town), has 4 previous albums since 2001, including a Film Noir Project called Fallen Angel. I can't think of any recent movie music albums I've liked, but this one is quite nice, with contributions by John Sneider on trumpet, Grant Stewart on tenor sax, and Paul Hofmann on piano, plus Luisito Quintero's extra percussion on top of bass (Martin Wind) and drums (Tim Horner). Subtle. Will keep it open and see what develops. [B+(***)]

Lisa Sokolov: A Quiet Thing (2008 [2009], Laughing Horse): Singer, musical therapist, lay cantor, acompanies herself on piano when working alone. Moved to New York in 1977 -- doesn't mention anything before that. Fourth album since 1993. An audacious, astonishing interpreter: she tears "Ol' Man River" apart line by line to magnify its emotional impact -- her "fear of dying" has never been more palpable; nor has "Lush Life" ever come across as fully felt, the comfort but also the ennui. The group cuts smooth her out, and Todd Reynolds' violin is a plus. But she's most effective solo, and the intensity can be wearing. (Look for "Ol' Man River" on YouTube.) A-

Omar Sosa: Across the Divide: A Tale of Rhythm & Ancestry (2008 [2009], Half Note): Cuban pianist; moved to Ecuador in 1993, then San Francisco, then Barcelona in 1999. Has a dozen or more records since then, but this is the first I've heard, and it's thrown me for a loop. Nothing especially Afro-Cuban to it, even though Roman Diaz dubbed bata drums, congas, and cajon after the fact. Tim Eriksen, with a rather unnotable voice, sings four tracks, with gospel themes and slave roots: "Promised Land," "Gabriel's Trumpet," "Sugar Baby Blues," "Night of the Four Songs." The slow, atmospheric closer, "Ancestors," adds some more talk, not very clear. The other stuff muddles through more than ambles on. Exotic instruments come and go -- kalimba, chigovia, caxixis, chinese flute -- and who knows what's coming out of Sosa's samplers. The cool moodiness strikes me as more appropriate than anything in Wynton Marsalis's slave epics, but still leaves me uncertain and uneasy. B+(*)

Jesse Stacken: That That (2006 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Pianist, b. 1978, based in New York. First album, a piano trio with Eivind Opsvik (bass) and Jeff Davis (drums) -- two names familiar from elsewhere, especially with Kris Davis. I need to hold this one back: didn't seem very interesting the first time through, but figured I didn't hear it clearly enough, and the second play started to click together. Moderately paced, dense, with more than a little dramatic tension. May be on to something. [B+(**)]

Jesse Stacken: That That (2006 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Debut album, piano trio, dense and dramatic, not least thanks to bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Jeff Davis, who also back up Kris Davis. Stacken, however, lacks Kris Davis's main threat -- tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby -- and doesn't make up the deficit on his own. While Stacken can reward close listening, I find more often than not this record slips by unheard. B+(**)

Steam: Real Time (1996 [2000], Atavistic): Just when I feel like I'm tiring, at least of the avant screech and untethered rhythm, this picks me up. Sole album by a short-lived Vandermark group, with Jim Baker on piano, Kent Kessler on bass, and Tim Mulvenna on drums. Liner note writer Jon Corbett argues that it's in and of the tradition, which is neither here nor there. It is more song-structured, with Baker contributing three richly imagined pieces, and Vandermark six (dedications to Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Lyons, Terri Kapsalis, Herbie Nichols, Booker Ervin, and Peter Greenaway). Vandermark is credited with reeds -- some bits even sound like soprano sax, as well as the more usual clarinet and tenor sax. A wide range of feels and looks here, including a reminder that Vandermark was once big on R&B. Baker plays well, and I even dug the bass-drums duet. Originally released on Eighth Day in 1997; reissued in 2000. A-

John Stetch: TV Trio (2007 [2009], Brux): Pianist, b. 1968, has a dozen albums since 1992, this the first I've heard, although I gather from the titles -- Carpathian Blues, Kolomeyka Fantasy, Ukranianism -- that he has some sort of Eastern European interest. This is a trio with Doug Weiss and Rodney Green, running through a dozen TV theme songs, dropping down to solo for "All My Children." Can't say as I recognized a single one of them. Not sure if that's a plus or a minus. B-

E.J. Strickland Quintet: In This Day (2008 [2009], Strick Muzik): Twin brother of saxophonist Marcus Strickland, plays drums, has been an asset since 1999 in his brother's groups as well as with Eric Person, Vincent Davis, Xavier Davis, David Weiss, Ravi Coltrane, Russell Malone, Tom Guarna, and George Colligan. First album, produced by Coltrane, with Jaleel Shaw and Marcus Strickland on saxes, Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and the occasional guest here and there -- Tia Fuller flute, David Gilmore guitars, Pedro Martinez congas, Brandee Younger harp, Cheray O'Neal spoken word, and Yosvany Terry as if they needed another tenor sax. At a moderate pace the saxes melt into that slick postbop harmony I never cared for, but when they break loose even the ace Latin rhythm section is hard pressed to keep up. None of the guest touches strike me as good ideas, except maybe the congas. B+(*)

Mark Taylor: Spectre (2008 [2009], Origin): Plays alto and soprano sax. From Washington state; studied at University of Washington, then Manhattan School of Music, before returning to Seattle. Shows up on more than a dozen Origin records; this is the second under his name. Evidently not the same Mark Taylor of the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band, which has a record on Origin's sibling (farm team?) label OA2. Quartet with Gary Fukushima on piano/Fender Rhodes, Jeff Johnson on bass, Byron Vannoy on drums. Has a sweet tone on alto, and plays well-rounded postbop. B+(*)

Ximo Tebar & Ivam Jazz Ensemble: Steps (2007 [2009], Omix/Sunnyside): Spanish guitarist, b. 1963, seventh album since 1995 (according to AMG, which may be short). I figure him for a Wes Montgomery acolyte, which is reinforced by an original called "Four on Six for Wes." This zips along at Montgomery speeds, but is cluttered by double-dosed keyboards from Orrin Evans and Santi Navalón. Bass alternates between Alex Blake on acoustic and Boris Kozlov on electric. Adds some horns for the opening "Pink Panther," which is kinda cute. B

The Thing: Bag It! (2009, Smalltown Superjazz): Mats Gustafsson's power trio, with Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Gustafsson is a very noisy saxophonist, favoring the baritone most likely for its ugliness, but much faster on tenor or alto. (He's credited here with alto, baritone, and slide sax, but photographed playing tenor.) Best thing this group does is to take a rock song and pound it hard. This starts off with two that qualify: one from The Ex, another from Nude Honeys. Then they lurch into Gustafsson's title thing, which isn't a song at all. In two covers at the end, Ellington gets uppity, and Ayler turns into solemn prayer, channelled through live electronic fuzz. B+(**) [advance]

Rob Thorsen: Lasting Impression (2008 [2009], Pacific Coast Jazz): As I scan through Thorsen's web bio, I'm growing impatient, flashing on Jack Webb, wanting to say: "just the facts, ma'am." Bassist, based in San Diego, spent some time in San Francisco. Old enough he's a little short on top. Website lists four albums, including one attributed to Cross Border Trio, but not including this one. No dates on those. Album rotates musicians in and out, splitting piano between Geoffrey Keezer and Josh Nelson, with Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet/flugelhorn and/or Ben Wendel on tenor sax/bassoon on most cuts. Mostly bebop tunes -- two from Parker, one from McLean, "Giant Steps" from Coltrane -- plus "Smile," "The Man I Love," and four originals that fit in nicely. Bass is noticeable and makes a fine impression -- check his solo on "Cigarones." Castellanos also stands out. B+(**)

Nicolas Thys: Virgo (2008 [2009], Pirouet): Bassist, b. 1968, from the Netherlands, graduated from Hilversum Conservatory. First album, after ten or so side credits since 1998. Quintet, with Chris Cheek (tenor sax), Jon Cowherd (piano), Ryan Scott (guitar), and Dan Rieser (drums). Wrote all of the pieces. They have a light, propulsive feel, helped along by the guitar, with the sax fitting closely to the melodies and the piano straying a bit. B+(***)

3 Play +: American Waltz (2009, Ziggle Zaggle Music): Wound up filing this under pianist Josh Rosen, based on 7 of 8 compositions (the other a group effort). Rosen teaches at Berklee, and as far as I know has no previous discography. Bassist Lello Molinari, who also teaches at Berklee, is also referred to as a cofounder. Group also includes Phil Grenadier on trumpet and Marcello Pellitteri on drums, and two guests show up: Mick Goodrick on guitar and George Garzone on tenor sax. You should recognize Garzone, if not for his relatively thin but notable discography, as a legendary saxophone teacher. I think just about every jazz musician who passed through Boston in the last 30 years credits Garzone. Needless to say, he sounds terrific here. Grenadier and Goodrick do a nice job of polishing the edges, and the pianist holds down the center. Having trouble concentrating on this while trying to write something else, so will hold it back. An intriguing record. [B+(***)]

Charles Tolliver Big Band: Emperor March (2008 [2009], Half Note): Trumpeter, emerged on the avant-garde (or maybe just the far postbop fringe) in the late 1960s, but faded into obscurity in the 1980s, making a minor comeback on the coattails of Andrew Hill's fin de millennium resurgence. I've long admired his 1969 album The Ringer, and hoped to hear more. He finally came back big time in 2007 with a big band album jointly released by Mosaic and Blue Note. I thought it was loud and sloppy, and tagged it as a dud. This live shot with pretty much the same group is also loud, but what seemed sloppy then seems more like rough and tough now. Tenor saxmen Billy Harper and Marcus Strickland stand out among the cast. Not sure what I really think yet, so I'll keep it open. [B+(**)]

Ton Trio: The Way (2008 [2009], Singlespeed Music): Sax-bass-drums trio, more/less based in Oakland, CA. Led by Aram Shelton on alto sax and bass clarinet, with Kurt Kotheimer on bass and Sam Ospovat on drums. Shelton moved to Oakland in 2005 from Chicago, about the time he released the only album under his own name, Arrive (482 Music). Has a couple dozen credits since 2001, some with Chicagoans I recognize, most with groups under my radar, some of which he seems to run. Plays free; has some ideas, interesting but not compelling yet. Bass clarinet has more appeal, probably because it's more unusual, hence distinctive. B+(**)

Gian Tornatore: Fall (2007 [2009], Sound Spiral): Tenor saxophonist, plays a little soprano but not as well. Has a couple of good albums on Fresh Sound New Talent, the first struck me especially favorably (Sink or Swim). This, a quintet with both guitar and piano, less so, although I still like his tone and command. B+(*)

Transit: Quadrologues (2006-07 [2009], Clean Feed): Quartet, band members listed alphabetically: Jeff Arnal (percussion), Seth Misterka (alto sax), Reuben Radding (bass), Nate Wooley (trumpet). Second album on Clean Feed. Don't have credits on songs, which are presumably group improvs. In any case, they play free, the horns jousting and jamming. Has a number of impressive spots, but doesn't sustain the pace consistently. B+(*)

Tribecastan: Strange Cousins (2008 [2009], Evergreene Music): Two guys, John Kruth and Jeff Greene, playing exotic instruments, most I've never heard of -- Greene's include: dutar, fujara, kanun, khamok, koncovka, rebab, tupan, yayli tambur; Kruth's are more numerous but more recognizable, like kalimba, mandocello, sheng, penny whistle, and various oddball flutes. Both columns include strings, winds, and percussion, none (at least among the ones I recognize) preponderant enough to classify either player. Some guests drop in here and there: Jolie Holland (box fiddle), Brahim Fribgane (darbuka, riq), Dave Dreiwitz (bass, pocket trumpet), Matt Darriau (alto sax, clarinet, Bulgarian gaida and kaval), and Steve Turre (shells, trombone). Two covers: one from Don Cherry, the other Sonny Sharrock. Doesn't sound like anything I recognize. Will give it some time. [B+(**)]

Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Anja Lechner/U.T. Gandhi: Melos (2007 [2008], ECM): Piano, cello, percussion. The cello is the sonic center here. Mostly slow, very pretty. Not much percussion. [B+(**)]

Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Anja Lechner/U.T. Gandhi: Melos (2007 [2008], ECM): Let's start with Lechner here. She plays cello, the loudest and least mobile instrument here, which makes her the sonic center, with Tsabropoulos's piano and Gandhi's percussion revolving around her. Haven't found much on Lechner -- basic things like where she comes from [Germany?]. Has the usual classical training -- does any cellist not? Has four albums under her own name, each with "Tango" in the title. This is her third appearance on an ECM album, following Ojos Negros with Dino Saluzzi and Her First Dance with Misha Alperin. I found the bandoneon-cello duets rather thick, liked Alperin somewhat more, but this is the first one that I've heard that really seems to work. Some of the songs come from G.I. Gurdjieff, a name I recall from the philosophy section of bookstores but never paid any attention to. Most are by Tsabropoulos, a Greek pianist on his third ECM album -- from Athens, also classically trained, with a stretch at Juilliard. Gandhi, by the way, was born in Italy -- the U.T. intials stand for Umberto Trombetta. B+(***)

Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington: Bicoastal Collective: Chapter One (2008 [2009], OA2): Tynan plays trumpet and flugelhorn. From Canada, b. 1975, went to UNT, presumably picked up the big band arranging bug there. Third album. Lington plays baritone sax and bass clarinet. Also passed through UNT, on his way from Houston to San Jose, where he teaches. He has a previous quintet album. Ten-piece group, covers the big band bases without massed horn sections. The bulk of the album is taken up by the 7-part "Story of Langston Suite." The horn voicings are often striking, and the whole thing flows effortlessly. I guess jazz is America's classical music. B+(*)

Jeremy Udden: Plainville (2008 [2009], Fresh Sound New Talent): Saxophonist, plays alto and soprano, from Plainville MA (the source of this title), based in Brooklyn. Second album. Starts out in a sly groove, using Brandon Seabrook's banjo and guitar and Pete Rende's pedal steel to hint at country music. Rende also plays pump organ and Fender Rhodes, a layering that Udden's sax builds on -- at least until he breaks loose on "Big Lick," which is set up by RJ Miller's razor-sharp drums. B+(***)

Nicholas Urie Large Ensemble: Excerpts From an Online Dating Service (2008 [2009], Red Piano): B. 1985, Los Angeles, composer/conductor on his first album. AMG lists it as Pop/Rock, meaning they haven't so much as looked at the cover let alone listened to it. On the other hand, it does have a pretty consistent beat, and one voice throughout -- Christine Correa, whom I'm tempted to describe as workman-like because she makes everything she sings sound like work. The Large Ensemble numbers 18 when Chris Speed shows up late for the last two tracks. The texts were collected unedited from dating sites. It's always difficult to wrap music around words not intended as lyrics, which may explain why they feel stilted here -- so much so that my first instinct is to say this sounds like opera. The arranging is often superb, and the solos often stand out -- Bill McHenry's tenor sax most of all. John McNeil produced. Ambitious work. B

Ken Vandermark: Collected Fiction (2008, Okka Disk, 2CD): Two days, four sets, of bass-reeds duets, spread out on two discs, or volumes, one for the day sessions, the other for the night. Package doesn't specify what Vandermark plays: tenor sax and bass clarinet, for sure; probably clarinet, maybe baritone sax. The day bassists are Kent Kessler and Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten. Kessler, who plays in the Vandermark 5 and has appeared in several other groups -- notably the DKV Trio -- is the most rigorously avant of the four bassists. (One clue is that he's the only one with a full album of solo bass.) He tends to get out front and let Vandermark chase him. The others are more supportive and complementary. Hĺker Flaten comes from The Thing, and plays in Vandermark's School Days and Free Fall groups. McBride goes back to Boston days, playing in Spaceways Inc., FME, and Tripleplay. De Joode plays the the Ab Baars trio, which has a recent album and tour with Vandermark. Some differences in style between the three, but the day/night concept overpowers them: Hĺker Flaten's session, like Kessler's, is upbeat and aggressive; McBride slows down to a nice comfort zone, and De Joode gives us the closest thing we're likely to have to a Ken Vandermark Quiet Storm record. All improvs, titles inspired by minimalist sculptor Richard Serra. Somewhat comforting that the takes are numbered and many are high enough in the chain to show they didn't just shovel everything onto the disc. A-

Ken Vandermark/Pandelis Karayorgis: Foreground Music (2006 [2007], Okka Disk): A rare Vandermark plus piano album, a duo, writing credit count split evenly -- off the top of my head, the only others I can think of are the Free Fall and Atomic records with Hĺvard Wiik, occasional encounters with Jim Baker, and No Such Thing, a trio with Karayorgis and missing link Nate McBride. Karayorgis and McBride have a piano trio called Mi3 that scored a pick hit here for Free Advice. Karayorgis is a free player who can hang onto a beat long enough to gig in rock clubs. Still, without McBride (and Curt Newton) providing that pulse, he seems a little lost here, poking and jabbing, trying to provoke Vandermark, who's actually most eloquent when the pianist lays out. Not as in-your-face as the title, or the credit line, or the label, implies. B+(**)

Ken Vandermark: Two Days in December (2001 [2002], Wobbly Rail, 2CD): Two days in Stockholm, although they took a day off between them. Four sets of duets, roughly half a side each, with four names that share the front cover and spine in the same size type as Vandermark. The four are: Raymond Strid (drums), Sten Sandell (piano), David Stackenas (guitar), and Kjell Nordeson (vibes). By this point Vandermark had several albums teamed up with the Aaly Trio, which is to say Mats Gustafsson, and that provides the invites to members of various Gustafsson groups -- Strid and Sandell from Gush, Stackenas from Pipeline, Nordeson from Aaly. Strid opens up aggressively, threatening to provoke a squawkfest, but his section soon slows down into the abstract, giving Vandermark a chance to stretch out. The closing set with Nordeson is similar but even more scattered. The other two sets are more interesting. Sandell takes charge quickly and rarely lets up. Stackenas is more oblique, with a scrawny metallic twang that never quite winds up where you expect it. One of the more consistently inventive Vandermark duo sets. B+(***)

Johnny Varro Featuring Ken Peplowski: Two Legends of Jazz (2007 [2009], Arbors): You'd think if they were going to have two legends of jazz, they wouldn't relegate Peplowski to the "featuring" slot. But then, you'd think if they were going to celebrate legends of jazz, they'd pick a couple more, uh, legendary than Varro and Peplowski. Varro is a good Teddy Wilson disciple, born around the time Wilson was starting out, getting close to 80 now. Peplowski is nearly 30 years younger, which leaves him with less hair than Varro has, and not much darker. He was always the second tier young fogey behind Scott Hamilton -- a good side man, either on clarinet or tenor sax, but never a very inspired leader. He sticks to clarinet here, and plays as fine as ever. Frank Tate and Joe Ascione provide all the backup they need. Very nice work. B+(**)

Ramana Vieira: Lágrimas de Rainha / Tears of a Queen (2008 [2009], Pacific Coast Jazz): Portuguese-American fado vocalist, born in San Leandro, CA, now based in or near San Francisco. Grew up listening to classics like Amália Rodrigues -- strikes me as more deeply traditional than recent Portguese fadistas like Mariza, but part of that is my instinctive reaction to opera. That turned me off from this at first, but she hangs in there, and the group for once sounds utterly authentic. (San Francisco seems to have become a melting pot of truly mediocre world music, hence the "for once.") Wrote five songs, the last two in English: her anthemic "This Is My Fado" and one called "United in Love" that could be retooled for Nashville. B+(*)

Kobie Watkins: Involved (2006 [2009], Origin): Drummer, from Chicago. First record. Has a few side credits since 2001, and calls in some chits here, like Ryan Cohan and Bobby Broom. Wrote 4 of 10, one of those with Howard Mims, who wrote 2 more. Shuffles a lot of musicians in and out, but generally has one or two horns, piano or keyboard, and bass. Broom plays guitar on 3 cuts. Mostly upbeat postbop, well done but not very distinct or especially interesting. B

Frank Wess Nonet: Once Is Not Enough (2008 [2009], Labeth Music): Born 1922, one of jazz's most senior citizens, still going pretty strong. He might not be as well known as he is had he not played more and better flute than any other saxophonist of his generation (which basically means James Moody), or any subsequent generation (except Yusef Lateef, maybe). The flute has made him a consistent poll winner, although I'd take his tenor sax any day -- and submit "Lush Life" here as proof. Still, his real claim to fame was as one of Count Basie's New Testament arrangers, something he reminded us of in 1989 when Concord gave him a new lease and he responded with Dear Mr. Basie -- also credited to Sweets Edison, who provided the Old Testament fire and brimstone. He's still recycling here, but the Nonet is a nice fit for a crack arranger, and being a legend he gets folks like Terrell Stafford, Steve Turre, Ted Nash, and Scott Robinson lining up to play with him. He even has to slide Peter Washington aside to give Rufus Reid a couple of cuts on bass. Plays more sax than flute this time, too. B+(**)

WHO Trio: Less Is More (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Group name is an acronym for Michel Wintsch (piano), Gerry Hemingway (drums), and Bänz Oester (bass). Wintsch is a Swiss pianist, b. 1964, has 16-18 albums since 1998, mostly on Unit and Leo, none that I've heard before. Oester, also Swiss, b. 1966, has one album on Leo plus a dozen or so side credits, many with Wintsch. Hemingway should need no introduction at this point. Very low key affair, which starts to gain some interest once you focus in tightly. B+(**)

Corey Wilkes & Abstrakt Pulse: Cries From Tha Ghetto (2008 [2009], Pi): Hot young trumpet player from Chicago, leading a quintet -- or sextet if you count tap dancer Jumaane Taylor -- with Kevin Nabors on tenor sax, Scott Hesse on guitar, Junius Paul on bass, and Isaiah Spencer on drums. Wilkes is developing into a very strong performer -- paying some interest back on those Freddie Hubbard comparisons. A lot going on here, much of it impressive on the surface, but it's not adding up for me. Neither hint from the group name nor from the title sheds much light here. He could just as well claim an Organic Pulse, and the Cries certainly aren't of anguish, although maybe there's some anger there, or maybe he just hasn't found himself, at least not like he's found his horn. B+(*)

Phil Woods: The Children's Suite (2007 [2009], Jazzed Media): "Inspired by the verses of A.A. Milne" -- some sung by Vicki Doney and/or Bob Dorough, some narrated by Peter Dennis. Woods composed and arranged the music, and plays alto sax in an orchestra he conducts: four reeds, three brass, piano, guitar, bass, drums, four strings. Milne, of course, is best known for Winnie-the-Pooh, which makes an appearance, but I assume woods jumps around, and some things like "Sneezles" even strike me as familiar. Not something likely to appeal to me on any level, with the vocals and the strings especially likely to rub me the wrong way, but much of it is well done -- the sax, naturally, but also the witty narration. B+(*)

Sam Yahel: Hometown (2009, Posi-Tone): Plays piano here, in a trio with Matt Penman (bass) and Jochen Rueckert (drums), but has almost exclusively played organ in the past: five albums since 1998, a couple dozen side credits including Norah Jones and Joshua Redman. Starts with John Lennon's "Jealous Guy," slow, always sounds good. Follows up with Monk, Ellington, two originals, Gilberto, "Moonlight in Vermont," Wayne Shorter, etc. Nice variety, amply supported by bass and drums, lively on the upbeat, touching when they slow it down. B+(**) [advance]

Miguel Zenón: Awake (2007 [2008], Marsalis Music): Alto saxophonist, from Puerto Rico, b. 1976, one of the outstanding players of his generation, a view that was acknowledge when he won a MacArthur "genius grant" in 2008. Mostly a quartet here, with Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Henry Cole on drums. That part is hard to quarrel with, although the range and intensity are hard to grasp. More troublesome are two cuts with a string quartet, and one cut with three extra horns grinding into a noise fest. Need to come back to it later. [B+(**)]

Miguel Zenón: Awake (2007 [2008], Marsalis Music): He explored his native Puerto Rican music to impressive effect on Jíbaro, but doesn't betray a hint of that here, even in a quartet with Luis Perdomo and Hans Glawischnig, who live and breathe that music. Two cuts with strings don't do much for me, but suggest that he might do more in the future. The quartet tracks blow wide open, with one ugly noise blast and a lot of Coltraneish searching. Arguably the best alto saxophonist of his generation, which you can't help but notice, then wonder why this doesn't pan out even more impressively. B+(**)

Carry Over

The following records, carried over from the done and print files at the start of this cycle, were also under consideration for this column.

  1. Arild Andersen: Live at Belleville (2007 [2008], ECM) A-
  2. Donald Bailey: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 3 (2008 [2009], Talking House) B+(***)
  3. Patricia Barber: The Cole Porter Mix (2007 [2008], Blue Note) A-
  4. Jorge Lima Barreto: Zul Zelub (2005 [2008], Clean Feed) A-
  5. Count Basie Orchestra: Mustermesse Basel 1956 Part 1 (1956 [2009], TCB) A-
  6. Michael Bates: Clockwise (2008, Greenleaf Music) B+(***)
  7. Raoul Björkenheim/William Parker/Hamid Drake: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC) A-
  8. Michael Blake/Kresten Osgood: Control This (2006 [2009], Clean Feed) B+(**)
  9. Bo's Art Trio: Live: Jazz Is Free and So Are We! (2007 [2008], Icdisc) B+(**)
  10. Anthony Braxton/Kyle Brenders: Toronto (Duets) 2007 (2007 [2008], Barnyard, 2CD) B+(**)
  11. Anthony Braxton/Milford Graves/William Parker: Beyond Quantum (2008, Tzadik) A-
  12. Wolfert Brederode: Currents (2006 [2008], ECM) B+(***)
  13. Bridge Quartet: Night (2007 [2009], Origin) B+(***)
  14. Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love: Sweet Sweat (2006 [2008], Smalltown Superjazz) B+(**)
  15. Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber: Making Love to the Dark Ages (2008 [2009], Live Wired) B+(***)
  16. Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra: Where or When (2008 [2009], Owl Studios) A-
  17. Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff: Way Out Northwest (2007 [2008], Drip Audio) B+(**)
  18. François Carrier: The Digital Box (1999-2006 [2008], Ayler, 7CD) A-
  19. François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Jean-Jacques Avenel: Within (2007 [2008], Leo) A-
  20. Teddy Charles: Dances With Bulls (2008 [2009], Smalls) B+(**)
  21. Anat Cohen: Notes From the Village (2008, Anzic) A-
  22. Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Proverbs for Sam (2001 [2008], Boxholder) A-
  23. Todd Coolman: Perfect Strangers (2008, ArtistShare) B+(***)
  24. Cosmologic: Eyes in the Back of My Head (2006 [2008], Cuneiform) B+(**)
  25. Curlew: 1st Album/Live at CBGB 1980 (1980-81 [2008], DMG/ARC, 2CD) A-
  26. Lars Danielsson: Tarantella (2008 [2009], ACT) A-
  27. Jamie Davis: Vibe Over Perfection (2005 [2008], Unity Music) B+(**)
  28. Peter Delano: For Dewey (1996 [2008], Sunnyside) B+(***)
  29. Nathan Eklund: Trip to the Casbah (2008 [2009], Jazz Excursion) B+(***)
  30. Craig Enright: La Belleza . . . (2008 [2009], CDBaby) B+(***)
  31. John Ettinger/Pete Forbes: Inquatica (2008, Ettinger Music) B+(***)
  32. Exploding Customer: At Your Service (2005-06 [2007], Ayler) B+(***)
  33. Satoko Fujii Trio: Trace a River (2006-07 [2008], Libra) A-
  34. Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya: Sanrei (2008, Bamako) B+(**)
  35. Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Summer Suite (2007 [2008], Libra) A- [later: A]
  36. Gato Libre: Kuro (2007 [2008], Libra) B+(***)
  37. Stephen Gauci's Basso Continuo: Nididhyasana (2007, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  38. Stephen Gauci's Stockholm Conference: Live at Glenn Miller Café (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD) B+(**)
  39. Bobby Gordon: Plays Joe Marsala: Lower Register (2007, Arbors) B+(***)
  40. Billy Harper: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 2 (2006 [2009], Talking House) B+(**)
  41. Steve Herberman Trio: Ideals (2008, Reach Music) B+(***)
  42. The Ron Hockett Quintet: Finally Ron (2008, Arbors) B+(***)
  43. Adrian Iaies Trio + Michael Zisman: Vals de la 81st & Columbus (2008, Sunnyside) B+(***)
  44. Abdullah Ibrahim: Senzo (2008 [2009], Sunnyside) A-
  45. Ahmad Jamal: It's Magic (2007 [2008], Dreyfus) B+(***)
  46. Darren Johnston: The Edge of the Forest (2007-08 [2008], Clean Feed) A-
  47. Junk Box: Sunny Then Cloudy (2006 [2008], Libra) B+(**)
  48. Nigel Kennedy: Blue Note Sessions (2005 [2007], Blue Note) B+(***)
  49. The Ray Kennedy Trio: Plays the Music of Arthur Schwartz (2006 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  50. Ruslan Khain: For Medicinal Purposes Only! (2008, Smalls) B+(***)
  51. Oleg Kireyev/Feng Shui Jazz Project: Mandala (2008, Jazzheads) A-
  52. David Kweksilber + Guus Janssen (2003-06 [2006], Geestgronden) B+(***)
  53. Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage: Drunk Butterfly (2007 [2008], Clean Feed) A-
  54. Matt Lavelle and Morcilla: The Manifestation Drama (2008 [2009], KMB Jazz) B+(***)
  55. Brad Leali-Claus Raible Quartet: D.A.'s Time (2007 [2008], TCB) B+(***)
  56. Ray LeVier: Ray's Way (2007 [2009], Origin) B+(**)
  57. Daniel Levin Trio: Fuhuffah (2007 [2008], Clean Feed) B+(**)
  58. Luis Lopes: Humanization 4Tet (2007 [2008], Clean Feed) B+(***)
  59. Denman Maroney Quintet: Udentity (2008 [2009], Clean Feed) B+(***)
  60. Branford Marsalis Quartet: Metamorphosen (2008 [2009], Marsalis Music) B+(***)
  61. Mark Masters Ensemble: Farewell Walter Dewey Redman (2006 [2008], Capri) B+(**)
  62. Maybe Monday: Unsquare (2006 [2008], Intakt) B+(***)
  63. Jim McAuley: The Ultimate Frog (2002-07 [2008], Drip Audio, 2CD) A-
  64. Joe McPhee/Paal Nilssen-Love: Tomorrow Came Today (2007 [2008], Smalltown Superjazz) A-
  65. Eric McPherson: Continuum (2007 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  66. Francisco Mela: Cirio: Live at the Blue Note (2007 [2008], Half Note) A-
  67. Andy Middleton: The European Quartet Live (2005 [2007], Q-rious Music) B+(***)
  68. Zaid Nasser: Escape From New York (2007, Smalls) A-
  69. Zaid Nasser: Off Minor (2008 [2009], Smalls) A-
  70. The New Jazz Composers Octet: The Turning Gate (2005 [2008], Motema Music) B+(***)
  71. Larry Ochs/Miya Masaoka/Peggy Lee: Spiller Alley (2006 [2008], RogueArt) B+(***)
  72. The October Trio/Brad Turner: Looks Like It's Going to Snow (2008 [2009], Songlines) B+(***)
  73. Evan Parker/Ingebrigt Häker Flaten: The Brewery Tap (2007 [2008], Smalltown Superjazz) B+(***)
  74. Evan Parker/The Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon (2008, ECM) B+(***)
  75. William Parker Quartet: Petit Oiseau (2007 [2008], AUM Fidelity) A-
  76. Bruno Rĺberg: Lifelines (2008, Orbis Music, 2CD) B+(**)
  77. Rova: The Juke Box Suite (2006 [2007], Not Two) A-
  78. Roswell Rudd: Trombone Tribe (2008 [2009], Sunnyside) A-
  79. Michel Sajrawy: Writings on the Wall (2007 [2009], Ozella) B+(**)
  80. Cynthia Sayer: Attractions (2006 [2008], Plunk) B+(***)
  81. Will Sellenraad: Balance (2007 [2008], Beeswax) B+(***)
  82. Steve Shapiro/Pat Bergeson: Backward Compatible (2007 [2008], Apria) B+(***)
  83. Jim Shearer & Charlie Wood: The Memphis Hang (2008, Summit) B+(**)
  84. Brad Shepik: Human Activity Suite (2008 [2009], Songlines) A-
  85. Idit Shner: Tuesday's Blues (2008, OA2) B+(**)
  86. Ben Stapp Trio: Ecstasis (2007 [2008], Uqbar) B+(***)
  87. The Stone Quartet: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 1 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC) B+(**)
  88. Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii: Chun (2008, Libra) B+(***)
  89. The Thing: Now and Forever (2000-05 [2008], Smalltown Superjazz, 3CD+DVD) B+(**)
  90. Townhouse Orchestra: Belle Ville (2007 [2008], Clean Feed, 2CD) B+(***)
  91. Bebo Valdes & Javier Colina: Live at the Village Vanguard (2005 [2008], Calle 54/Norte) B+(***)
  92. Ulf Wakenius: Love Is Real (2007 [2008], ACT) A-
  93. Cedar Walton: Seasoned Wood (2008, High Note) A-
  94. White Rocket (2008 [2009], Diatribe) B+(**)
  95. Mark Winkler: Till I Get It Right (2009, Free Ham) B+(***)
  96. Yuganaut: This Musicship (2005 [2008], ESP-Disk) b>B+(**)