2018 Jazz Favorites

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve written before about best-of-the-year summaries. And while I haven’t done much writing about music for commercial publications these past 12 months (still mostly focused on health and recovery), I’ve done enough focused listening to document the new releases in jazz that gave me the most pleasure this year. Here they are, in no particular order:

 

Cecile McLorin Salvant “The Window” (Mack Avenue)

Charles Lloyd and The Marvels featuring Lucinda Williams “Vanished Gardens” (Blue Note)

Matt Stevens, Walter Smith III, et al “In Common” (Whirlwind)

Joe Locke “Subtle Disguise” (Origin)

David Virelles “Igbo Alakorin (The Singer’s Grove), Vol. I and II” (Pi)

Carlos Henriquez “Dizzy Con Clave” (Redbros)

Joel Harrison “Free Country Vol. 3 (High Note)

Cannonball Adderley “Swingin’ In Seattle” (Reel to Real)

Aaron Parks “Little Big” (Ropeadope)

Chucho Valdes “Jazz Bata” (Mack Avenue)

Charlie Haden & Brad Mehldau “Long Ago and Far Away” (Impulse)

Jonathan Finlyson “Three Time Round” (Pi)

Keith Jarrett “La Fience” (ECM)

Luciana Souza “The Book of Longing” (Sunnyside)

Wadada Leo Smith “Rosa Parks: Pure Love” (TUM)

Thumbscrew “Ours” and “Theirs” (Cuneiform)

Brad Mehldau “Seymour Reads the Constitution” (Nonesuch)

Jure Purkl “Doubtless” (Whirlwind)

JALC Orchestra “Una Noche con Ruben Blades” (Blue Engine)

Dominique Eade & Ran Blake “Town and Country” (Sunnyside)

Kenyon Harrold “The Mugician” (Legacy)

Andrew Cyrille “Lebroba” (ECM)

Woody Shaw “Tokyo 1981” (Elemental)

Tyshawn Sorey, “Pillars” (Firehouse 12)

Dave Liebman & John Stowell “Petite Fleur” (Origin)

Miles Davis and John Coltrane “The Final Tour” (Legacy)

Aaron Goldberg “At the Edge of the World” (Sunnyside)

Sasha Mashin “Outside The Box” (Rainy Days)

Henry Threadgill “Double Up, Plays Double Up, Plus (Pi)

Joshua Redman/Ron Miles/Scott Colley/Brian Blade “Still Dreaming” (Nonesuch)

Norma Winstone “ Descansado-Songs For Films” (ECM)

Ambrose Akinmusire “Origami Harvest” (Blue Note)

Sons of Kemet “Your Queen is a Reptile” (Impulse)

Allison Miller/Carmen Staaf “Science Fair” (Sunnyside)

Mark Turner/Ethan Iverson “Temporary Kings” (ECM)

Wayne Shorter “Emanon” (Blue Note)

Gregory Porter “Nat “King” Cole & Me” (Blue Note)

Miles Okazaki “Work” (self-produced)

Trygvie Seim “Helsinki Songs” (ECM)

Freebird by Walking Distance featuring Jason Moran (Sunnyside)

Iro Haarla/Ulf Krokfers/Barry Altschul “Around Again” (TUM)

 

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The Three Graces: “Larry Applebaum”

More than 10 years ago, my former boss at work, Michael Donaldson (an inveterate 45 collector), brought me a little something he picked up at a thrift store. It was super rare 45 of a New York-based vocal trio named The Three Graces singing a song dedicated to their latest heartthrob, Larry Applebaum. I was startled to see the title of the recording, issued by Golden Crest in 1960, written by Cy Levitan.

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It has many of the characteristic pop sounds of the day: jangly guitars, sax solo, vocal harmony and several very catchy hooks. It’s taken me many years to find a clean copy, so I’m grateful to Jeff Krulik, Gary Levine and Lee Michael Demsey for tracking it down for me. I now have my new closing theme for my radio show!

 

 

Before & After: Lionel Loueke

 

DSCN9463Benin-born, New York-based guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke returned to DC in late April to play the White House for International Jazz Day. He seemed to enjoy the challenge of this listening session, even taking notes about unfamiliar artists Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sonny Sharrock for follow-up research. The music world was still reeling from the sudden passing of Prince the week before, so we included a track from The Artist in order to learn about his reputation in Africa. Loueke continues to tour internationally behind his recent live trio recording, GAÏA (Blue Note).

 

 

Robert Glasper

“Junior’s Jam” (from Miles Ahead Soundtrack, Columbia/Legacy). Glasper, Keyboard, Keyon Harrold, trumpet, Marcus Strickland, saxophone; Burniss Earl Travis, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums. Recorded in 2015.

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Jazz Singers Exhibit

DSCN8595I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of curating the new Jazz Singers exhibit at the Library of Congress. I’m grateful to all my colleagues in the Music Division and the Interpretive Programs Office for help and support during the months leading up to our Feb. 11 opening. Special thanks goes to Exhibition Director Betsy Nahum–Miller for keeping us focused and on schedule. Betsy and I are now working on a version of the exhibit we’ll send out to Disney Hall in Los Angeles in the Fall.

I’m pleased to report that we got a nice early boost from the New York Times when they posted a preview, then Milenio, the national newspaper in Mexico, weighed in. I was especially pleased when Will Friedwald, who has written several important books on jazz singers, came to Washington to view the exhibit and and for context spent time delving into more of the jazz treasures in our special collections. Will then returned to New York and wrote this insightful, perceptive review for the Wall Street Journal.  Continue reading