1. MARILYN CRISPELL: Storyteller (ECM) With help from drummer-composer Paul Motian, the pianist continues her welcome run of lovesome abstractions.
2. CRAIG TABORN: Junk Magic (Thirsty Ear) Taborn brings genuine caprice to the knob-twiddling arts, inventing the least metallic electro-jazz prototype yet.
3. MARIA SCHNEIDER: Concert in the Garden (ArtistShare) Schneider’s orchestral instrument breathes like an organism and churns like a precision machine.
4. ANDY BEY: American Song (Savoy Jazz) His baritone and falsetto are two of jazz’s most lustrous timbres. After several close calls, here’s an album truly worthy of them.
5. REVOLUTIONARY ENSEMBLE: And Now . . . (Pi) The chamber-improv avatars renew their relevance with this vigorous, unsentimental release.
6. DON BYRON: Ivey-Divey (Blue Note) His Lester Young homage avoids gimmickry by relying on Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette—and blowing the roof off the mausoleum.
7. DAVE BURRELL: Expansion (High Two) Inspired by the rhythm team of William Parker and Andrew Cyrille, the probing pianist balances funhouse delirium with beseeching plaints.
8. GONZALO RUBALCABA: Paseo (Blue Note) These days, the piano phenom holds chops in check, which doesn’t keep his New Cuban Quartet from forging slippery, sharp-cornered fusions.
9. JIM BLACK: Habyor (Winter & Winter) Black’s AlasNoAxis band eschews jazz trappings in favor of fuzzy textures and childlike tunes.
10. ICP ORCHESTRA: Aan & Uit (ICP) Misha Mengelberg’s rogues heed the very Dutch impulse of blending avant-garde mayhem with sepiatone swing, while dancing around a dozen good punchlines.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 21, 2004