[JPL] Top Jazz Picks 2007

Philip Booth philipbooth at tampabay.rr.com
Tue Dec 4 21:23:56 EST 2007

I'm with you all the way on Pilgrimage - It's at the top of the lists that 
I'm submitting to several publications this year -- just remarkable playing 
and group interplay, and amazing compositions.
And Terence's CD is on my list, too -- tremendously affecting pieces, 
beautifully played. It would be great to see concert halls/festivals all 
over the country present Terence's group with strings for performances of 
the music from the CD.
Philip Booth

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jae Sinnett" <jaejazz at yahoo.com>
To: <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 4:28 PM
Subject: [JPL] Top Jazz Picks 2007

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> 10. Ryan Cohan - "One Sky" - Motema - Writing, writing, writing...Very 
> intelligent writing. In and in a strange way it makes me think about 
> Ellington in how Duke played the piano like he arranged. There was this 
> unique parallel. I hear this in Ryan's playing. He plays like he writes. 
> Quirky and soulful in spots and played and written with humor. The songs 
> have a forward moving quality to them that keeps me looking forward to 
> what is coming next. Void of predictability from beginning to end and 
> texturally sophisticated... "One Sky" is certainly one of the top picks of 
> the year.
>  9.Jerry Bergonzi - "Tenorist" - I love the openness on this recording. 
> Old school in a way in concept but with very advanced harmonic passages. 
> In the tradition of the classic blowin sessions. Jerry is one of the great 
> improvisers playing jazz today and why he hasn't become one of the marquee 
> saxophonists to the "jazz public" is beyond me. Deep, deep, deep. His 
> sound is huge and and he's one of the few I could sit and listen to just 
> play changes all day. A great recording as well for John Abercrombie. A 
> wonderful fit indeed.
>  8. Antonio Sanchez - "Migration" - One of the things I've never 
> particularly care about the Metheny Group is the top heavy sound. I've 
> never really "felt" the band. Lots of colors and textures and melodic 
> beauty but little beef. Antonio brings a unique sense of time to the group 
> but it's still that Metheny Group sound. That's okay because they have 
> one. Here Sanchez brings home the point that he's considerably more 
> versatile than what you hear from him in that organization. Also, out of 
> the great Latin drummers playing today he's come closest in my opinion to 
> demonstrating a clear understanding of swing... the American groove. The 
> writing in spots is so so but the playing is fantastic.
>  7.  Bob Mintzer Quartet - "In the Moment" - Art Of Life Records - One of 
> the most versatile and complete musicians playing today. Doesn't matter 
> with him....big band, jazz quartet, Yellowjackets...he's always musically 
> interesting. His writing has such clear logic and direction. What gets 
> lost in how you listen to him is the fact that he swings. Swings hard. 
> Phil Markowitz is one of the most underrated pianist playing today.
>  6. Terence Blanchard - "A Tale Of God's Will" - Blue Note - One of the 
> first things I listen for when I put on a new recording is how much does 
> the sound relate to that particular artist. Are they creating an 
> environment that is shaped on their conceptual direction? I think that is 
> the sign of a great artist...one that creates their own avenue of art. 
> Terence has succeeded in doing this. Like Mintzer and Bergonzi, his voice 
> is clearly identifiable. His tone is warm and big and his maturity is 
> evident in his use of space. At times a breathtakingly beautiful recording 
> and certainly one with vision and originality.
>  5. Steve Smith and Vital Information - "Vitalization" - Hudson Music - 
> One of the great drummer/educators and drumming historians playing today. 
> Some of the world rhythmic concepts demonstrated here...mainly from 
> India...are still played with it's roots in the American groove. That 
> familiar and soulful elasticity. The addition of Vinny Valentino puts more 
> of a "jazz" touch in the group. Knowing the perfectionist Steve is...his 
> organization is a thing of study. Perfect balance and variation and while 
> I wouldn't call Steve a composer... the conceptual direction of each piece 
> is built around what he plays.
>  4. Kurt Elling - "Nightmoves" - Concord - Wow...his interpretation of 
> "Body and Soul" is alone worth putting this in my top picks. Extraordinary 
> really. Taking Dexter's solo....singing for almost seven minutes straight! 
> When have we heard something like that? He's the jazz singer of our 
> time...period. Every aspect of his game raises the bar in jazz vocals. 
> Pitch, phrasing, tone, rhythm...etc...doesn't matter. He can sing through 
> anything. If you are listening just from the mechanics position... 
> "Nightmoves" should give any singer a better point of departure in how 
> they deal with approaching the composition.
>  3.  Maria Schneider Orchestra - "Sky Blue" - Artist Share - The thing 
> that every jazz artist strives for...or should...is to establish their 
> individual voice. Maria has done that as a composer and arranger. There's 
> no question when you listen to her music...that it's her. Simply 
> magnificent. Her ability to float through the time is a thing of beauty 
> and her music no doubt requires the top soloists to play it. I'm not sure 
> there is an arranger today that has taken the jazz orchestra in such a 
> different direction. I'm sure that's why she took the "jazz" out of the 
> title because it transcends the pure concept of what is usually expected 
> from the jazz orchestra.
>  2. Jonathan Kreisburg - "The South Of Everywhere" - Mel Bay Records - 
> Well, I never heard of this guy before this recording and it reflects the 
> common dilemma in jazz...great players that few know anything about. His 
> tone, writing, line construction and improvisational ability are at such a 
> high level that he's obviously been out there for many years playing and 
> shedding. I'm personally not a big fan of the standards for dummies 
> recordings that is so pervasive in jazz today but if musicians do one lets 
> use his example of "Stella By Starlight" for approaching it "his" way. 
> While meter changes and harmonic substitutions aren't new with doing 
> familiar material... here with his arrangement he's forcing the musicians 
> to think differently in how they approach it. The high point though for me 
> is his writing and guitar work. Fresh and performed with outstanding 
> musicianship from all involved and beautifully recorded.
>  1. Michael Brecker - "Pilgrimage" - Heads Up - I think any critic that 
> would perhaps pick this as their favorite might have that feeling of some 
> thinking that they are giving him the sentimental vote. Understandable but 
> not the case here. This is simply a brilliant recording...from point A to 
> point Z. Intense, complex, artistic, visionary, profound...everything is 
> here. Then there is that individual voice thing again.... Having 
> established that is one of the most profound statements an artist can 
> make...good, bad or indifferent. Michael was the tenor saxophonist of our 
> time but for some odd reason his writing...in my opinion... didn't get the 
> credit I think it deserved. His writing here is astonishing in its 
> textures, direction and thought. The advantage on "Prigrimage" is that 
> besides the great writing you have an unbelievable level of 
> improvisation... and it's not just about these guys knowing that Michael 
> was sick and them giving their all. They've always played like
> this on his recordings. This is because Michael created that type of 
> environment...he put the ultimate challenge up to them every single time 
> out of the gate. He was beautiful that way...and the musicians loved 
> playing with him. I think he knew what he created here...as did the other 
> musicians involved. It was special. No doubt a masterpiece that will be 
> embraced for years to come and hence...my top pick of the year.
>  Honorable mention:
>  Alvin Queen - "I Ain't Lookin At You"
>  Josh Nelson - "Let It Go"
>  Ron DeSalvio - "Essence Of Green"
>  Rob Lockard - "Parallel Lives"
>  Jackie Ryan - "You and the Night and the Music"
>  New York Voices - "A Day Like This"
>  Jae Sinnett
>  Norfolk, VA
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