Monday, December 6, 2021

Notes on Jazz Best of Jazz 2021 : Post Pandemic Jazz Offers a Year of Beauty, Promise and a Look back.

The Year 2021 stubbornly evolved into what is a post-pandemic year for most of us. Miraculous and effective vaccinations effectively conquered the likelihood of getting seriously ill, or even worse, becoming a casualty from the mutating Covid virus. At least the science seems to have it at bay for now. Isolation, masks, and limiting traveling all added to our safety. For artists in all disciplines of the performing arts- music, theatre, dance, film & fine visual arts- the chance to meet safely with collaborators, to record with colleagues, or even to perform to a live and encouraging audience was practically nil and lingered on for an interminably long period. The shutdown was dreadful for most artists. The creative juices are often stimulated by the chance to interact,  collaborate,  inspire with peers, and receive valuable feedback that is best emotionally transmitted by the visceral response of a live audience. Was this pandemic going to be responsible for the total evisceration of the arts? Fortunately, many artists found the isolation that the angst that Covid brought on over the last year and one half became a chance to dig deeper into their creative wellspring. Strangely, we were all the beneficiaries of that self-imposed period that allowed some deep reflection, some serious reevaluation, and in the case of musicians some inspired creativity and brilliance in new music.

As the year of 2021 ebbs to its close, it is a tradition of those of us who review jazz and contemporary music, to select some of the music in the genre that we have heard and found worth noting over this past year. It is impossible to pick a "best of list" since it is a totally subjective opinion and certainly restricted to what this reviewer has been able to carefully listen to over this past year. Acknowledging those inherent limitations I humbly offer this one person's ideas of notable, creative, and often promising music of 2021. I also found some rewarding reissues and historical recordings that are definitely worth a listen. I list the music in no particular order. I know there is much more music that is worth your serious attention, but I hope my list helps you navigate and hopefully introduce to you the plethora of deserving artists who have created some magical music this year. Happy Holidays to all. Listen and have fun.

                                Reissues and Historical Releases: 

Roseanne Vitro: Listen Here  originally recorded in 1982

Roy Hargrove & Mulgrew Miller: In Harmony  recorded in 2006 & 2007: Resonance Records

Harvie S Trio w Mike Stern & Alan Dawson: Going For It: Savant Records recorded live in 1985

Wolgang Lackerschmidt and Chet Baker  w  Larry Coryell, Buster Williams and Tony Williams.  Wolfgang Lakerschmidt Chet Baker Quintet Sessions  recorded in 1979; Dot Time Records

                                        New Issues:

Jakob Bro: Uma Elmo : ECM Records w Arve Hendriken and Jorge Rossy

Chick Corea Akoustic Band: The Akoustic Band Live: w John Patitucci and Dave Weckl: Concord Records

Steve Gadd:  Steve Gadd Band At Blue Note Toyko: w/ David Spinozza, Jimmy Johnson, Walt Fowler, and Kevin Hays:  BFM Jazz

Lyle Mays: Eberhard: OIM

Chris Potter Circuits Trio: Sunrise Reprise: w James Francies and Eric Harland: Self-Produced

Alex Sipiagin: Upstream: w Art Hirahara, Boris Kozlov and Rudy Royston: Posi Tone Records

Lorne Lofsky: This Song is New: Modica Music w/Kirk MacDonald, Kieran Overs and Barry Romberg

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Soundprints: Other Worlds: Greenleaf Music w/ Lawrence Fields, Lind May Han Oh and Joey Baron.

Dave Holland: Another Land: w Kevin Eubanks and Obed Calvaire: Edition Records

Pharoah Sanders w Sam Shepherd and the London Symphony Orchetsra: Floating Points

Kirk Lightsey: I'll Never Stop Loving You: Solo Piano on JoJo Records:

Nnenna Freelon: Time Traveler: Origin Records

Marc Johnson: Overpass: Solo Double Bass ECM

John Daversa Jazz Orchestra featuring Justin Morell: All Without Words

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette : Skyline : 5 Passion Records

Sinne Eeg and Thomas Fonnesbaek: Staying in Touch: Stunt Records

Carlos Henriquez: The South Bronx Story: Self Produced

Kate McGary + Keith Ganz Ensemble featuring Ron Miles and Gary Versace: What to Wear in the Dark: Self-Produced

Mike LeDonne: Mike LeDonne: It's Your Fault: w The Mike LeDonne Groover Quartet +Big Band: Savant Records

Dave Zinno: Dave Zinno and Unisphere :Fetish: Whaling City Sound

Rachel Eckroth: The Garden: Rainy Days Records w Tim Lefebvre, Donny McCaslin, Christian Euman, Andrew Krasilnikov and Nir Felder. 

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios: Songs From My Father: Whaling City Sound

The Baylor Project: Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor : Generations: Be A Light Records

Roberto Magris and Eric Hochberg: Shuffling Ivories: JMood Records

Ross Hammond: It's Been Here All Along: Solo Resonator Guitar: Self Produced 

David Kikoski w Boris Kozlov: Sure Thing: High Note Records

Gabor Lesko: Earthway

Slowly Rolling Camera: Where the Streets Lead: Edition Records

Michael Wolff: Michael Wolff Live at Vitello's: w Mark Isham, Mike Clark, and John B. Williams: Sunnyside 

Jim Snidero: Jim Snidero Live at the Deer Head Inn: w Orrin Evans, Peter Washington, and Joe Farnsworth: Savant Records

Scott Reeves Quintet: The Alchemist: w Russ Speigel;, Mike Holober, Howard Britz, Andy Watson; Origin Records

Chuck Owen and The Jazz Surge: Within Us; Celebrating 25 Years of the Jazz Surge: Mama Records

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