Been all about classic jazz this year, hardly listening to anything new. Here’s what in heavy rotation:
Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage. Can’t get enough of this record. Tony Williams drumming is mesmerizing and Freddie Hubbard is blistering and Wayne Shorter is so thoughtful. Love the compositions, love the vibe. Plan on reading his autobiography.
Miles Davis – Miles In The Sky. Hancock on the electric keys for the first time, cameo by George Benson, Miles being Miles, so good. Read great bio on him this year: So What.
Grant Green – Just got hip to him this year. Read his biography, written by his son’s ex-wife, which is awesome. Hilarious stories, tragic jazz figure. Never got the attention that Montgomery or Benson got, but he sought it. Love his lines and grooves. Great anecdotes in the book, all is fair game. Digging his jazz sides more than anything else.
George Benson – All his early, sixties stuff is deluxe. Reading his autobiography at present. Lotsa cats. Love his comment about Grant Green “that guy knew what he was going to play four measures before he played it.”
Joe Henderson – The Milestone Years. Choice stuff. No book to read (yet).
Not necessarily in any order:
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Waited for this record for many years. The songwriting is superb, living up to the bar she set on the last two records. Both structurally and lyrically, the record is full of surprises and bears many repeat listenings. And the production is exquisite, layered. Hope it doesn’t take this long for the next one.
Steve Lehman - Dialectic Fluorescent. Caught Lehman as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival and got hooked on his brand of avant garde jazz. Record on repeat in the car for months, making sense. Love the covers of Coltrane and the tune “Pure Imagination.” In fact, his playing is reminiscent of Coltrane, modal and abstruse. The record is definitely out there, pushing the boundaries of tone, melody, rhythm. Love it.
Father John Misty – Fear Fun. Hat’s off to the producer, Jonathan Wilson, who took these songs, which are good, and helped make them great. Great backing band, great arrangements. Heard one of the songs in Seatac the other day piping through the airport.
Hardcoretet – Do It Live. Local musicians shine on this record. Love how the compositions unfold, morph. Can really hear the dynamics between the players on the tunes.
Lorde – The Love Club EP. Gotta include it, even though “Royals” has been played to death. The rest of the songs on the EP are great. Shout out to Joel Little, responsible for the production.
Not necessarily in any order:
Silian Rail – each/other. Emotive post rock with monster drummer and cool guitar technique. Post rock is often a let down but this is post rock at its best. Hypnotizing, rapturous, brooding and smart as hell.
Field Music – Plumb. Nominated for the Mercury Prize in the UK, this record is pop mastery in the XTC vein and is full of catchy complexity. Led to discovering the rest of their catalog, which is all as good as this.
Kelly Hogan – I Like To Keep Myself In Pain. Exquisitely produced, this is alt-country at its best, with tracks written by Robyn Hitchcock, Vic Chesnutt and other luminaries, all belted out by Hogan with her signature style.
Cataldo – Prison Boxing. Local record here, officially came out in 2011, but only got turned on to it in 2012. Really pretty tracks and deceptively interesting song writing.
Matt Slocum – After The Storm. Heard him at Tula’s during Earshot Jazz and this CD has been in constant rotation in the car. Imminently tasteful.
Hume – Penumbra. Dare you to sing along to this record. You want to, but you just can’t. How can they write such amazing songs that defy predictability listen after listen. The record doesn’t get old. It is filled with drama, intelligence and craft. Love this band. And the name is great too.
Hermit Thrushes – Mystery Ocean. These guys are great. Read the Flotzam review here. And interview here.
Never Not Funny Presents Rock Solid – Okay, this is a podcast and not an album, but goddamn it cracks me up. Check it out via iTunes or download the episodes here.
Wax Fingers – Wax Fingers. Again, fitting in that genre of avant pop, making music that challenges but not just for the sake of challenging. Along with Hume and Hermit Thrushes, who have single handedly made me believe that avant pop is alive and well in 2011.
Morning Teleportation – Expanding Away. This album just continues to grow me. Read the Flotzam review here.
Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist. The second half of this record is off the hook. Production is so lush. A keeper for sure. Read review here.
Wye Oak – Civilian. Heartbreaking. Read the review here.
Kathryn Calder – Bright and Vivid. A really pretty record, lush, very feminine, but in a totally different way than Wye Oak. Read an interview about the record here.
Operation ID – Legs. Local boys! Read the Flotzam review here.
Madlib Medicine Show #10: Black Soul – Officially this came out in 2010, but only just got hip to it, so including it. So good.