Brutality and Revival

The Best Jazz Records of 2001

18. MARC RIBOT Saints (Atlantic)

I understand why Los Cubanos Postizos are the bigger draw, but I'll take the idiosyncratic and mesmerizing solo recitals, of which this is the first since Don't Blame Me. Every taut and quivering string is beautifully recorded as he connects Charley Patton to Duane Eddy in the name of Albert Ayler, burlesques Les Paul, impersonates sitar, koto, dobro, and Monk. Never a dull moment.

19. VIJAY IYER Panoptic Modes (Red Giant)

John Lewis provided the consensus jazz record of the year shortly before joining its lengthy necrology.
photo: Jack Vartoogian
John Lewis provided the consensus jazz record of the year shortly before joining its lengthy necrology.

A gifted pianist with his own distinctive nail-hammering attack, Iyer makes an equally strong impression in the way he regroups his quartet, micromanaging each piece with ostinatos and unison phrasing, especially in tandem with the sanguine saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, all of which says nothing about how open and entertaining the music is.

20. JOHN HOLLENBECK No Images (Blueshift)

This maddening CD makes a 25-minute Martin Luther King sermon on the "drum-major instinct," backed by three blustery trombones and Hollenbeck's drumming, unreasonably affecting. Tenor blowouts by Dave Liebman and Ellery Eskelin provide more conventional ballast.

21. ARCHIE SHEPP AND ROSWELL RUDD Live in New York (Verve)

Not quite the party it was in person, but the equation of boisterous Rudd, restored and plaintive Shepp, and Cyrille-Workman interplay is so poetically involving even Baraka sounds good.

I also admire Steve Turre's TNT (Telarc), Leo Smith's Red Sulphur Sky (Tzadik) and Golden Quartet (Tzadik), Roy Campbell's It's Krunch Time (Third Ear) and Ethnic Stew and Brew (Delmark), the Classical Jazz Quartet's The Nutcracker (Vertical), Cyrus Chestnut's Soul Food (Atlantic), Joe Lovano's Flights of Fancy (Blue Note), William Parker & Hamid Drake's Piercing the Veil (Aum Fidelity), Don Byron's You Are #6 (Blue Note), D.D. Jackson's Sigame (Justin Time), Scott Hamilton's Jazz Signatures (Concord), Hugh Ragin's Fanfare & Fiesta (Justin Time), Pat Martino's Live at Yoshi's (Blue Note), Warren Vache and Bill Charlap's 2Gether (Nagel Heyer), Myra Melford and Marty Ehrlich's Yet Can Spring (Arabesque).

Next time, 2001 singers and reissues.

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