Jazz Consumer Guide: Mocking Traditions, or Joining Them

Plus suave elegance, raw non-beauty, and other works-in-progress

Matt Wilson Quartet
That's Gonna Leave a Mark | Palmetto
Andrew D'Angelo lives and, after a brutal illness, is back, as fierce as ever, facing his alto sax off against Jeff Lederer's tenor. No postbop niceties this time. The drummer has to raise his game just to keep up—and he does. A MINUS

John Zorn
Alhambra Love Songs | Tzadik
A composer's album, like recent work attributed to Bach or Brahms, or, more to the point, like Zorn's own voluminous Filmworks—simple and elegant pieces for a Rob Burger piano trio. In fact, several pieces are dedicated to filmmakers, although the opening Vince Guaraldi dedication frames Zorn's ambitions: popular, as in accessible—not pop, never schmaltz. A MINUS

Honorable Mentions

Maria Muldaur
Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy | Stony Plain
More songs about failing banks and two-timing preachers—the panic is on, but she at least has a plan.

The Godforgottens
Never Forgotten, Always Remembered | Clean Feed
Sten Sandell's organ doesn't trip up the free rhythm, and Magnus Broo's trumpet burns bright.

Anders Nilsson
AORTA Ensemble | Kopasetic
Swedish-American merger: double sax, double bass, double drums, whole lotta guitar.

Anthony Braxton/Maral Yakshieva
Improvisations (Duo) [2008] | SoLyd
Two disc-long sax-piano improvs, the master taking it easy through the paces.

Randy Brecker
Nostalgic Journey | Summit
Sharp trumpet leads on Wlodek Pawlik's suite, his piano trio backed by a Bialystok orchestra that strikes a nice balance.

Timucin Sahin Quartet
Bafa | Between the Lines
Turkish guitarist weaves his way in and around a risk-taking John O'Gallagher sax trio.

Gebhard Ullmann
Don't Touch My Music, Vol. I | Not Two
A 50th-birthday milestone, with Julian Arguëlles and Steve Swell offsetting, and disciplining, the leader's reeds.

Mose Allison
The Way of the World | Anti-
A cool little cluster of perpetual inquisitiveness thinks up modest proposals and turns out all right.

The Nice Guy Trio
Here Comes . . . the Nice Guy Trio | Porto Franco
Mingus meets Weill and other discreet pleasures, mostly trumpet-accordion-bass, with occasional guests.

Jeff Healey
Last Call | Stony Plain
Deeper into trad jazz, dubbing his trumpet and vocals over his roughest, nastiest Eddie Lang guitar, with Venuti-ish violin, too.

Jon Irabagon
The Observer | Concord
MOPDTK slasher won a Monk prize, a contract, and Stan Getz's old rhythm section; he responds by reconstructing the bebop he used to tear apart.

Rodrigo Amado
Motion Trio | European Echoes
His usual sax tour de force, running circles around cello and drums.

Quartet Offensive
Carnivore | Morphius
Punk-fusion quintet, softened with bass clarinet and fuzz guitar.

Abdullah Ibrahim & WDR Big Band Cologne
Bombella | Sunnyside
Fancy how the big band fleshes everything out on its own terms, but Africa runs deep, even with piccolo flute subbed for pennywhistle.

Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls
Seize the Time | Naim
Hard times, clampdowns, freedom through solidarity, even in Nazi USA—Mingus lives, and Max Roach, too!

Ehud Asherie
Modern Life | Posi-Tone
With Harry Allen, a debonair throwback to the 1940s, when modernity meant something.

Greg Burk
Many Worlds | 482 Music
Bouncing, blinking leptons, dancing clusters of taus, discordance that surely can't be mere chaos.

Ben Stapp Trio
Ecstasis | Uqbar
Tony Malaby's tenor sax runs roughshod, but his soprano is the perfect foil for the leader's tuba.

Andrew Rathbun
Where We Are Now | SteepleChase
The new standard postbop quintet, guitar vying with piano in lieu of a second horn, and tenor sax still in charge.

The New Jazz Composers Octet
The Turning Gate | Motema Music
Postbop composers scratching each other's back, bolstered by enough horns to keep everyone flying.

Joey DeFrancesco
Snapshot | High Note
Regroups the original trio he made his rep with, grinding with grooveful guitarist Paul Bollenback.

Linda Oh Trio
Entry | Linda Oh Music
Bassist-led, balanced sound and structure, with Ambrose Akinmusire's trumpet for ear candy.

The Epidemic of Ideas | Thirsty Ear
Rebel souls from Chicago awash with ideas, mostly of the postrock/freebop sort.

Jerry Bergonzi
Three for All | Savant
More tenor talk—simply put, as usual.

David S. Ware
Saturnian | AUM Fidelity
The inevitable solo tenor sax-stritch-saxello album, practice as slow-motion performance.

Deep Night | Gaucho
San Francisco gypsies roast Django-fied oldies in their hot club.

Fernando Benadon
Intuitivo | Innova
String music, a quartet with bass instead of cello, alongside some clarinet and percussion.

Dan Aran
Breathing | Smalls
Soft-touch drummer hosts friends for eclectic postbop exercises.

Ben Neill
Night Science | Thirsty Ear
One-man trumpet-flavored jazztronica, like Nils Petter Molvaer divorced from the jazz moment.

Strange Cousin | Evergreene Music
Cosmopolitan hillbilly music, a Don Cherry passport stamped with Balkan accents.

Houston Person
Mellow | High Note
God blesses the tenor saxophonist who's got his own.

Ralph Bowen
Dedicated | Posi-Tone
Solo tenor sax is the purest voice in jazz, as this one proves with the help of a first-rate mainstream band.

Gebhard Ullmann
Don't Touch My Music, Vol. II | Not Two
A second helping, a bit sloppier and rowdier than the first.

Dom Minasi String Quartet
Dissonance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder | Konnex
Guitar-violin-cello-bass, close enough for cranky avant-chamber music.


The Dark | Origin
Sax-trumpet-piano trio, faint figures unmoved by rhythm. C PLUS

Trombone Shorty
Backatown | Verve Forecast
New Orleans horn line tricked up with synth beats, and bogged down with guest vocals and a stab at grunge. C PLUS

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