D:O DOES THE OSCARS
or: Our extremely belated best of 2011

PIGEON
São Paulo Underground
Três Cabeças Loucaras
Cuneiform : 2011

Rob Mazurek, cornet, electronics; Guilherme Granado, keyboards, loops, samplers, percussion; Mauricio Takara, cavaquinhiro, drums, percussion, electronics; Richard Ribeiro, drums.

You’re probably thinking: Isn’t it awfully late for a Best of 2011 list? Don’t most people pick their favorite albums in September now? You’ve got a point. But then again: It’s still plenty timely to do a post about the Oscars!

So with the thought that jazz releases could use a bit of the glamour and red carpet treatment that our culture affords to the movies, we bring you the 2011 Destination: Out Awards – Oscar edition! Consider this post a preview to the official ceremony which will be held this Sunday at the Kodak 24-hour Kiosk in Hollywood, Florida, and televised live on WFMU.

It was another great year for jazz releases – in fact, we’re still catching up! For anyone who doubts that the genre is vital and offers immediacy and daring, check out the 3 minute tune “Pigeon” above from the wondrous São Paulo Underground. Thanks to Cuneiform Records for letting us share this exclusive track with you.

There were so many fine albums released over the past year that we’ve broken our awards into various categories of distinction. Without further ado, here are this year’s prestigious D:O nominees:

Irving Thalberg Memorial Award

This lifetime achievement award is bestowed upon the last releases of two jazz titans. Rather than going out with a whimper, these albums are vital explorations from the fertile final phase of their remarkable careers. 

> Bill Dixon, ENVOI
> Sam Rivers, TRILOGY

   

 

Best Album

Our highly selective picks of the albums that most won our admiration and stayed in heavy roation on our stereos (in no particular order). 

> Berne, Black, Cline, THE VEIL
> Farmers By Nature, OUT OF THIS WORLD’S DISTORTIONS
> Wadada Leo Smith’s OrganicHEART’S REFLECTIONS
> São Paulo Underground, TRÊS CABEÇAS LOUCARAS
> David S. Ware, PLANETARY UNKNOWN
> Muhal Richard Abrams, SoundDance

Berne, Black, Cline, THE VEIL (Crytopgramophone)    Farmers By Nature, OUT OF THIS WORLD'S DISTORTIONS (AUM Fidelity)

Wadada Leo Smith, HEART'S REFLECTIONS (Cuneiform)    Sao Paulo Underground, TRES CABECAS LOUCURAS (Cuneiform)

David S. Ware, PLANETARY UNKNOWN (AUM Fidelity)    Muhal Richard Abrams, Fred Anderson, George Lewis, SOUNDANCE (Pi)

 

Best Original Score

These highly original and accomplished composers who also excel as bandleaders, blending those two roles so artfully that they start to become indistinguishable.

> Tyshawn Sorey, OBLIQUE-I
> Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet, APPARENT DISTANT
> Matana Roberts, COIN COIN, CHAPTER ONE

Tyshawn Sorey, OBLIQUE 1 (Pi)    Taylor Ho Bynum, APPARENT DISTANCE (Firehouse 12)    Matana Roberts, COIN COIN (Constellation)

 

Best Ensemble Performance

Exceptional groups who are particularly noteworthy for their chemistry, passion, and  cohesiveness.  

> Darius Jones Trio, BIG GURL (SMELL MY DREAM)
> Endangered Blood, s/t

Darius Jones Trio, BIG GURL (SMELL BY DREAM) (AUM Fidelity)    ENDANGERED BLOOD (Skirl)

 

Best Solo Performance

Solo recitals leave nowhere to hide. These albums miraculously opened up new territory for their instruments. 

> Matthew Shipp, ART OF THE IMPROVISER
> Craig Taborn, AVENGING ANGEL
> Travis LaPlante, HEART PROTECTOR

Matthew Shipp, ART OF THE IMPROVISER (thirsty ear)    Craig Taborn, AVENGING ANGEL (ECM)    Travis LaPlante, HEART PROTECTOR (Skirl)

 

Best Equal Billing

‘Nuff said.  

> Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp,  COSMIC LIEDER

Matthew Shipp, Darius Jones, COSMIC LIEDER (AUM Fidelity)

 

Best Technical Achievement

Sometimes technique is also content.  

> Peter Evans & Nate Wooley, HIGH SOCIETY
> Dawn of Midi, LIVE
> Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer, RE: ECM

Peter Evans, Nate Wooley, HIGH SOCIETY (Carrier)    Dawn of Midi, LIVE (self-released)    Richard Villalobos, RE: ECM (ECM)

 

Best Document(ary)

It was another strong year for reissues. Some essential albums that never made it to CD finally saw the light of day in remastered deluxe packages that offered plenty of bang for your buck.  

> The Bill Dixon Orchestra, INTENTS AND PURPOSES
> Julius Hemphill, DOGON A. D.
> Marion Brown, GEECHEE RECOLLECTIONS & SWEET EARTH FLYING
> Alice Coltrane,  UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS & LORD OF LORDS
> Pharoah Sanders, VILLAGE OF THE PHAROAHS & WISDOM THROUGH MUSIC

Bill Dixon, INTENTS AND PURPOSES (International Phonograph Inc)    Julius Hemphill, DOGON A..D. (International Phonograph Inc.)

Marion Brown, GEECHEE RECOLLECTIONS & SWEET EARTH FLYING (Impulse!)    Alice Coltrane, UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS & LORD OF LORDS (Impulse!)

Pharoah Sanders, WISDOM THROUGH MUSIC & VILLAGE OF THE PHAROAHS (Impulse!)

 

Special Awards Given at Preshow Ceremony

These albums were awarded trophies at a special pre-show ceremony, hosted by our wives. They are the few adventurous jazz albums that we enjoyed that didn’t make our spouses flee the room, mute the stereo, or spit in our dinner. In fact, our better halves thoroughly enjoyed these albums as well. Achieving this sort of musical common ground is no mean feet, let us assure you. 

> Michael Bates, ACROBAT: MUSIC FOR AND BY DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH
> The Four Bags, FORTH
> Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein, BIENESTAN

 

Michael Bates, ACROBAT (Sunnyside)    The Four Bags, FORTH (NCM East)    Aaron Goldberg & Guillermo Klein, BIENESTAN (Sunnyside)

 

WRITE IN CATEGORIES

Best Foreign (Label):
clean feed 

Clean Feed released so many excellent albums that we weren’t able to keep up this year. What were your favorites of their releases? 

Best Art Direction:
Tzadik 

The always handsomely designed Tzadik label also outpaced our ability to keep up with its riches. What were some of your highlights? 

 

YOU TELL US: What else did we miss?

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6 Responses to D:O DOES THE OSCARS
or: Our extremely belated best of 2011

  1. Gents, no worries with your being late when your repurposing of the Oscar template makes for such an impressive excuse.

    The only Tzadik titles that I heard this year were both from the Nova Express 4tet (Baron, Wollesen, Dunn, and Medeski). Of the two, I preferred the self-titled disc to the Blake tribute. Actually the latter might’ve fared well in your pre-show awards as it was quite accessible– although perhaps too much so. So did Zorn drop anything like Interzone in 2011? Now that was a satisfyingly nasty statement.

    Thanks for another year of music and appreciation. Not sure how I managed to sleep on the São Paulo Underground’s latest, but will strive to quickly make amends.

  2. Great list. Great format. Here’s a couple I might throw in-
    -Rob Mazurek – Calma Gente
    -Peter Evans Quintet – Ghosts
    -Fire! with Jim O’Rourke – Unreleased
    -Foton Quartet – Zomo Hall
    -Satoko Fujii & Min-Yoh – Watershed
    -Thomas Heberer’s Clarino – Klippe
    -Joe Hertenstein, Thomas Heberer, Joachim Badenhorst, Pascal Niggenkemper – Polylemma
    -Scoolptures – White Sickness
    -Farmers By Nature – Out Of This World’s Distortions
    -Julius Hemphill and Peter Kowald – Live at Kassiopeia
    -Undivided – Moves Between Clouds
    -Joe McPhee & Michael Zerang – Creole Gardens – A New Orleans Suite
    Sorry for such a long list. Alot of good stuff in 2011
    Keep up the great work D/O. Keep them FMP’s coming.
    I direct anyone who will actually listen to my rants about this amazing music here to listen and hopefully buy those.
    Thanks,
    jeff

  3. Great list(s). Lots of stuff I agree with, a few choices that left me cold, and a few that I still need to hear.

  4. Harriet Tubman’s cover of “Ascension.”

  5. Some things that I gave multiple spins to this year:

    Aki Takase & Han Bennink-Two for Two

    Aram Shelton’s Arrive-There Was…

    Atomic-Here Comes Everybody

    Available Jelly-Bilbao Song

    Johnston/Shelton/Mezzacappa/Nordeson-Cylinder

    Ellery Eskelin-Trio New York

    Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin-The Ethiopian Princess

    Jason Stein Quartet-The Story This Time

    Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet-System of 5

    Motif-Art Transplant

    Silke Eberhard Trio-What A Beauty Being

    Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman Quartet-Hotel du Nord

  6. Tim Berne – Snakeoil
    Kieran Hebden/ Steve Reid/ Mats Gustafsson – Live at the South Bank

    For Clean Feed: loved BassDrumBone’s “The Other Parade”

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