Jazz Consumer Guide: Pure Joy and Hard Work

Saxophonists get up to mischief (and engage in a little drama)

Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer | [1986]
Kabell Blackwell was famous as Ornette Coleman’s drummer, carrying on with Don Cherry in Old and New Dreams. Smith is the more rigorous trumpet player, and nearly as Catholic. He’s done lots of solo and duo albums, but Blackwell patiently brings out his best—mesmerizing trumpet, good-natured flute, mbira, and voice. A MINUS

Honorable Mentions

Anthony Braxton 19 Standards (Quartet) 2003 | Leo
The third four-CD helping from the tour, with no signs yet that the barrel even has a bottom.

Profound Sound Trio Opus de Life | Porter
Credit Andrew Cyrille and Henry Grimes for holding this together; Paul Dunmall even gets his bagpipes to behave.

Rob Wagner/Hamid Drake/Nobu Ozaki Trio | Valid
Uneasy in post-Katrina New Orleans, meditating on shock, awe, sham, and shame.

Marcin & Bartlomiej Brat Oles Duo | Fenomedia
Twins, bass and drums respectively, instant rhythm section for anyone passing through Poland, but complete together.

Ben Syversen Cracked Vessel | Self-released
Avant-trumpet trio forgoes bass support for guitar interference.

Billy Fox’s Blackbirds & Bullets Dulces | Clean Feed
Crazy like a maracas player, shuffling three horns, keys, and violin.

Vijay Iyer Tirtha | ACT
With tabla for a taste of India, but Prasanna’s guitar leans west even when Iyer’s piano glances east.

Ernestine Anderson Nightlife | High Note
Two sets straddle her 80th birthday—not a celebration, just working, fortunately with Houston Person.

Sun Ra Arkestra, Under the Direction of Marshall Allen Live at the Paradox | In+Out
The secret to a ghost band that never gets trapped in its past is a past so far in the future we don’t know it’s coming.

Anat Fort And If | ECM
Quiet, supple meditations on Paul Motian, the inscrutable path beyond Bill Evans.

John McNeil/Bill McHenry Chill Morn He Climb Jenny | Sunnyside
Fun and games with obscure bebop gems, with some of that Latin tinge.

Marshall Allen/Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris Night Logic | RogueArt
Sun Ra vet + volatile pianist + sly bassist = avant chemistry.

World Saxophone Quartet Yes We Can | Jazzwerkstatt
Murray and Bluiett celebrate Obama, with Kidd Jordan for Lake’s grit, and James Carter for Hemphill’s soul.

Stephan Crump/James Carney Echo Run Pry | Clean Feed
Bass and piano, the former in the lead, the latter dark and percussive.

Lean Left The Ex Guitars Meet Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo, Volume 2 | Smalltown Superjazz
Another “Chunk of Lung” hits the floor, but Vandermark leaves the guitarist alone for their “Knuckle Cracking Party.”

The Warren Vaché/John Allred Quintet Top Shelf | Arbors
Aging young fogeys advance, reminiscing about the swinging ’50s.

Hugo Antunes Roll Call | Clean Feed
Bassist-composer, double drums, lots of deep rumble and fleeting, flaring reeds.

Harold O’Neal Whirling Mantis | Smalls
Pianist son of Black Panthers in exile goes back to his roots—bebop.

Mike Mainieri Crescent | NYC
Last call for Charlie Mariano, playing a lot of Coltrane tarted up with vibes.

Rich Halley Quartet Live at the Penofin Jazz Festival | Pine Eagle
Haley’s tenor sax and Bobby Bradford’s cornet, blowing free in the wild wild west.

Chris Dahlgren & Lexicon Mystic Maze | Jazzwerkstatt
Walkin’, talkin’ Béla Bartók blues.

Decoy & Joe McPhee Oto | Bo Weavil
World’s freest saxophonist combusts caustically with Hammond B3 trio.

David Smith Quintet Anticipation | Bju’ecords
Postbop quintet, the shape of jazz du jour, with Nate Radley’s guitar anchoring the leader’s crackling trumpet.

James Carney Group Ways & Means | Songlines
Pianist surrounded with distinctive horns: Tony Malaby, Ralph Alessi, Peter Epstein, Josh Roseman.

Kenny Burrell Be Yourself | High Note
Good advice when you’re 78, as is “Let the band help you out.”

Pablo Aslan Tango Grill | Zoho
Roughing up the formalism of old tango chestnuts.

Rafi Malkiel Water | Tzadik
Latin beats, Jewish horns, refreshing when the tide comes in.

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