SO KILLING:
Our fave jazz discs of 2010

Wow, that was a great year. Yes, that was a killing year.

While we don’t pretend toward comprehensiveness in our listening, we thought it might be of moderate interest to D:O’s absurdly intelligent and good-looking readership to know of some releases that, if you haven’t already heard them, would be worth your valuable time and cents, in our estimation.

So here, helpfully arranged into highly scientific categories, are our favorite 2010 recordings:

BEST “IT HIT US AND IT FELT LIKE A KISS” RECORD:
Little Women. Throat

(AUM Fidelity)
It hurts so good.
Amazon | previously on D:O

GREAT SOLO RECORDS:
Marc Ribot. Silent Films

(Pi)
Music for the movies in your head. Silence not included.
Amazon

Vijay Iyer. Solo
(ACT Music)
Great American music, from Michael Jackson to Duke Ellington to Sonny Blount to Vijay Iyer.
Amazon

Geri Allen. Flying Toward the Sound
(Motéma)
Solo piano inspired by Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock – but the results are unmistakably Allen.
Amazon

David S Ware. Saturnian
(AUM Fidelity)
Fresh off a kidney transplant, Ware strips back and takes it to the next level.
Amazon

DREAMING OF THE MASTERS:
Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley.
Ailanthus/Altissima
(Triple Point Records)
This deluxe package is a must have for vinyl hounds, but what’s really worth fetishizing are the great performances enshrined in the grooves.
previously on D:O

Henry Threadgill. This Brings Us To, Vol. II
(Pi)
The fabulous sequel.
Amazon | previously on D:O

Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell. The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer
(Kabell)
Brilliant melodic duets, rescued out of time, just in time.
Amazon

PICKS OF THE CLEAN FEED LITTER:
Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra. Ashcan Rantings
(Clean Feed)
Big sounds from a big band extraordinaire. Coming to the Loft/Lab series in March!
Amazon

Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey. Paradoxical Frog
(Clean Feed)
Nimble trio music, alternately minimalist and buoyant.
Amazon

Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth. Deluxe
(Clean Feed)
Massive tunes played by a ridiculously talented group, all working toward a common goal. What “jazz” is today.
Amazon

Jason Robinson and Anthony Davis. Cerulean Landscape
(Clean Feed)
Ellingtonia reimagined as sci-fi soundscapes. Distilled beauty.
Amazon

GREAT RECORDS WITH MARY HALVORSON ON THEM:
Mary Halvorson Quintet. Saturn Sings

(Firehouse 12)
Stepping out with horns, building harmonies on top of bent strings and bizarro boogie.
Amazon | previously on D:O

Tom Rainey Trio. Pool School
(Clean Feed)
Amazingly Rainey’s first as a leader. An intimate trio setting that’s both brash and delicate.
Amazon

Ches Smith & These Arches. Finally out of my hands
(Skirl)
Unusual textures in the service of some beautiful melodies.
Amazon

BEST MAKING-THE-OLD-NEW-AGAIN OUTINGS:
Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green. Apex

(Pi)
Outstanding playing spanning generations and continents. Ballads a specialty.
Amazon

Amir ElSaffar and Hafez Modirzadeh. Radif Suite
(Pi)
Middle Eastern modes, classic Ornette Coleman echoes, and “chromodal” improvs all their own.
Amazon

Billy Bang. Prayer for Peace
(TUM)
An ambitious ensemble record that traffics in unabashed beauty and swing. Understated and quietly powerful.
Amazon

BEST COVER ALBUMS THAT WERE SO MUCH MORE:
William Parker. I Plan to Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield

(AUM Fidelity)
The continuum from great R&B to free jazz, made plain.
Amazon | previously on D:O

Ideal Bread. Transmit: Volume 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy
(Cuneiform)
Pushing Lacy’s tunes as far as they can go, and investing them with that 21st century touch.
Amazon | previously on D:O

There were MANY more jazz albums that gave us tremendous enjoyment over the past year, among them: New York Art Quartet Old Stuff, Steve Coleman & Five Elements Harvesting Semblances and Affinities, Matthew Shipp 4D, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman Dual Identity, Mike Reed’s People Places and Things Stories and Negotiations, Mario Pavone Arc Suite T/pi T/po, David S. Ware Trio Onecept, The Bad Plus Never Stop, Chris Schlarb Psychic Temple, Colorlist A Square White Lie, Oluyemi Thomas/Sirone/Michael Wimberly Beneath Tones Floor, Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up Actionspeak, Dawn of Midi First, Kirk Knuffke Amnesia Brown, Vox Arcana Aerial Age…

Of course there are also PLENTY of things that we’re still digesting and/or catching up on, chief among them:  William Parker Organ Quartet Uncle Joe’s Spirit House (also the WP solo jam At Somewhere There), Michael Formanek The Rub and Spare Change, Mostly Other People Do the Killing Forty Fort, Myra Melford’s Be Bread The Whole Tree Gone, Dominic Duvall and Cecil Taylor The Last Dance,  Supersilent 10, Sclavis/Taborn/Rainey Eldorado Trio, The Jazz Passengers Reunited, Asphalt Orchestra s/t, Chicago Underground Duo Boca Negra, &c. &c.

WHAT HAVE WE MISSED? What are your favorites for the year?

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And if all this wasn’t enough fodder for  you, the truly list-hungry would do well to visit Dean Minderman’s meta-compilation of “best jazz of 2010 lists,” at his St. Louis Jazz Notes. And for maximal head-spinning, psychosis-inducing list trauma, the meta-list-to-end-all-lists is at Largehearted Boy. Happy 2011!

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