The Village Voice's Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2014
With so many worthy jazz recordings in 2014 -- from the likes of Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Melissa Aldana, Kris Davis, Ideal Bread, Otis Brown III, Fabian Almazan, Hafez Modirzadeh, and more -- it was, as always, insanely hard to pick a top 10. But decide we did. These are the albums that stood out most in the year in jazz, from duo to big band and between.
10. Tom Harrell TRIP After a stream of must-hear quintet outings, the veteran trumpeter sounds lithe and unencumbered in a sparser setting with no chords. The compositions also ingeniously suit the band: Mark Turner on tenor sax, Ugonna Okegwo on bass, and Adam Cruz on drums. As it happens, the instrumentation is the same on Turner's ECM quartet disc Lathe of Heaven, a serious contender for this list as well.
9. Walter Smith III Still Casual Houston-born tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, 34, gained major seasoning in bands led by Terence Blanchard, Eric Harland, and Ambrose Akinmusire, among others. The quintet on Still Casual, his fourth release, features pianist Taylor Eigsti, guitarist Matt Stevens, and others all but guaranteed to lift Smith's highly melodic writing into the realm of catharsis.
8. Steve Lehman Octet Mise en Abîme Returning to the octet lineup of his 2009 release Travail, Transformation and Flow, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman uses tuba, trombone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, alternate-tuned vibraphone, and rhythm section to conjure sounds of withering complexity and searing groove. Not to be missed: his out-there renderings of Bud Powell and Camp Lo (last time around it was GZA).
7. Billy Childs Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro Albums packed with guest vocalists can either be messy and forgettable, or turn out like this gem from L.A.-based pianist and composer Billy Childs. Every pick, from Renee Fleming on "New York Tendaberry" to Alison Krauss on "And When I Die," manages to capture and even deepen the mystery of Laura Nyro's songwriting. Childs's orchestrations are gorgeous and stylistically adept, and his piano playing wails.
6. Yosvany Terry New Throned King Steeped in the music of his native Cuba, alto/soprano saxophonist Yosvany Terry has contributed greatly to the health of the New York jazz scene since his arrival in 1999. His 2014 release follows an immersion in the Arará culture of Cuba's Matanzas region, known for multilayered, rhythmically intense chants and percussion. Arará, like jazz, stems from the African diaspora, and Terry knows like few others how to give that connection new life.Next Page
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