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All About Jazz-New York's Best of 2004

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Winding down a memorable 2004, we at AAJ:NY would like to share some of what sticks out in our ears and minds from this past year in jazz.

Not easy being an indie...

The predominance and growth of independent labels continues. Kudos to the small in budget but immense in quality labels such as Pi, Intakt, Thirsty Ear, Palmetto, OmniTone and many others. What would we do without the little guys?

"Big" clubs unchartered territory...

Of the so-called "big" (i.e. mainstream) clubs of New York, Iridium has led the way in opening up to the more adventurous (and economically chancy) acts. Even the Vanguard has followed suit, diverting from their at times more characteristic and predictable scheduling. Only time will tell of the commitment to jazz' inherent diversity by the recent opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home, Rose Hall.

Envision every week...

The folks behind the annual Vision Festival have gone weekly. The Vision club series presents regular Saturday events in the inimitable Vision tradition which will lead up to their regular May festival.

1s and 2s...less is more

This year has seen an abundance of performances and CD releases of duos. Sunnyside's Kirk Lightsey/Rufus Reid unearthed release from a night at the now defunct Bradley's; Anthony Braxton's double volume duos with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith (Pi Records) and drummer Andrew Cyrille (Intakt); releases by Paul Dunmall/ Paul Rogers (Emanem), Milford Graves/John Zorn (Tzadik), Fred Anderson/Hamid Drake (Thrill Jockey); Kahil El'Zabar/David Murray and sure to make many "Best Of 2004" lists, Charles Lloyd and Billy Higgins' double disc release, Which Way is East (ECM). Merkin Hall's jazz piano duo series, "Monday Nites No Minimum", paired Randy Weston with Rodney Kendrick and Andrew Hill with Jason Moran. Our own series at Cornelia Street Cafï: "1s & 2s: Music for Solo & Duo" is off to a running headstart with sets by trombonist Ray Anderson and his Heavy Metal Duo with tubaist Bob Stewart and multi-instrumentalist/man of all hats, Scott Robinson.

Happy 100th and then some...

Birthday and tribute events were plentiful, from Blue Note's and Jazz Standard's separate Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley and Coleman Hawkins tributes to Iridium's Art Blakey Jazz Messenger reunion to the Centennial Ball at Columbia University's Count Basie night and 92nd Street Y's Fats Waller program which was Dick Hyman's farewell as longtime Artistic Director.

Sing, Sing, Sing...

Jazz in radio charts, Billboard and record sales continues to be predominantly the territory of vocalists, some listenable, many not, with an overwhelming trend of covering modern pop songs in a jazz context and many worse for it. For the fan base of male jazz vocals, there is hope beyond the many mediocre singers out there and that hope's name is Giacomo Gates - the inheritor of the throne left by the late Eddie Jefferson. Of course there are also the warhorses such as Andy Bey, who continues with resurgent interest in his music and his latest album (American Song), and Sheila Jordan.

It took you this long...

The overdue leader debuts by some of jazz' true veterans were plentiful this year, starting with one-time MJQ-er Percy Heath and his A Love Song (Daddy Jazz). Three other releases, perhaps not so coincidentally, were also led by bass players: Cameron Brown's Here and How! (OmniTone), Bob Cunningham's Walking Bass (a reissue of the impossible to find LP on Nilva) and Hillard Greene's solo effort Alone (Soulsearch). Also worthy of mention in this category was drummer and Barry Harris-associate Leroy Williams' Time Is (JazzChild).

What's "jazz" to you?...

A trend has appeared amongst certain musicians decrying the term "jazz" as artificial or limiting. There is a preference to use "creative improvising musician". When someone says they like jazz, it can mean Hank Jones to Cecil Taylor, Lester Young to Peter Brïtzmann, Lionel Hampton to Gunter Hampel, Baby Dodds to William Hooker. Often though you can pretty much imagine exactly what "creative improvised music" sounds like. Perhaps more time should be spent on the playing than worrying about compartmentalizing.

Best of 2004

COMEBACKS

Alice Coltrane

John Handy

Revolutionary Ensemble

Dave Schnitter

Jeremy Steig

BOX SETS
Albert Ayler Holy Ghost (Revenant)
Miles Davis Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis, 1963-1964 (Columbia Legacy)
Dexter Gordon Complete Prestige Recordings (Prestige-Fantasy)

BOOKS

Footprints: The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter Michelle Mercer (Penguin)

Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton Howard Reich/William Gaines (Da Capo)

Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams Tammy L. Kernodle (Northeastern UP)

DEBUTS

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb InTernal ExTernal (Genevieve)

Eric Hofbauer American Vanity (CNM)

Steve Lehman Interface (Clean Feed)

Allison Miller 5 am Stroll (Foxhaven)

Eric Revis Tales of the Stuttering Mime (11:11)

UNEARTHED GEMS

Rashied Ali/Arthur Rhames The Dynamic Duo (Ayler)

Brotherhood of Breath From Bremen to Bridgwater (Cuneiform)

Tubby Hayes Live in London (Harkit)

Thelonious Monk Monk 'Round the World (Thelonious-Hyena)

Patty Waters You Thrill Me (Water)

CLUBS

55Bar

Cornelia Street Cafï

Jazz Standard

Sweet Rhythm

Village Vanguard

NEW TALENT

Rick Germanson

Tanya Kalmanovitch

Judy Bady

Reut Regev

Tyshawn Sorey

REISSUES

Dexter Gordon Bopland: The Legendary Elks Club Concert (Savoy Jazz)

Andrew Hill Dance with Death (Blue Note)

Max Roach/Anthony Braxton One in Two, Two in One (hatHUT)

Wadada Leo Smith The Kabell Years (Tzadik)

Kenny Wheeler Song for Someone (Psi)

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR

Dave Liebman

Joe Lovano

Tony Malaby

Clark Terry

Ken Vandermark

RECORD LABEL

Clean Feed

Intakt

OmniTone

Palmetto

Pi

TRIBUTES

Conrad Herwig/Brian Lynch Que Viva Coltrane (Criss Cross)

Henry Kaiser/ Wadada Leo Smith Yo Miles! Sky Garden (Cuneiform)

Michael Moore Floater: Play The Music of Bob Dylan (Ramboy)

Matthew Shipp The Trio Plays Ware (Splasc(h))

Various Artists Hope is in the Air: The Music of Elmo Hope (Origin)

LATIN JAZZ

Francisco Aguabella Ochimini (Cubop)

Candido & Graciela Inolvidable (Chesky)

Joïo Gilberto In Tokyo (Verve)

Jerry Gonzalez Y los Pirates del Flamenco (Sunnyside)

Sonic Liberation Front Ashï A Go-Go (High Two)

BIG BAND

David Berger and the Sultans of Swing Marlowe (Such Sweet Thunder)

Paul Dunmall I Wish You Peace (Cuneiform)

Kit McClure Sweethearts Project (Redhot)

Bob Mintzer Live At MCG (MCG Jazz)

Maria Schneider Concert in the Garden (Artists Share)

VOCALS

Andy Bey American Song (Savoy Jazz)

Melody Breyer-Grell The Right Time (Blujazz)

Lorraine Feather Such Sweet Thunder (Sanctuary)

Giacomo Gates Centerpiece (Origin)

Madeleine Peyroux Careless Love (Rounder)

SHOWS

The Bad Plus Joe's Pub, January 9th

Clark Terry Village Vanguard, May 6th

Yosvany Terry Jazz Gallery, May 22nd

Jaga Jazzist Knitting Factory, July 6th

Jeremy Pelt's Noise, Tonic (FONT Festival), August 5th

Andy Milne's Dapp Theory Jazz Gallery, August 21

Bill Dixon Baha'i Center (FONT Festival), August 31

Ray Anderson solo Cornelia Street Cafï, October 7th

Pamela Z's "Voci" The Kitchen, October 28th

Cyro Baptista's Beat the Donkey

Jazz At Lincoln Center, October 29th

-David Adler

Herbie Hancock Quartet Blue Note, January 1st

Bennie Maupin Quartet Sweet Rhythm, January 17th

Ran Blake solo Cobi's Place, January 25th

Steve Lacy/Danilo Perez Zankel Hall, February 4th

Fred Van Hove/Johannes Bauer Vision Festival, May 26th

John Handy Quintet Iridium, July 15th

Bill Frisell/Joe Lovano/Paul Motian Village Vanguard, September 2nd

Ray Anderson solo Cornelia Street Cafï, October 7th

Roswell Rudd/The Pentatonics Rubin Museum of Art, October 15th

Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra Village Vanguard, November 1st

-Laurence Donohue-Greene

Marco Cappelli: Extreme Guitar Project

Issue Project Room, January 31st

Peter Brïtzmann's Die Like a Dog Tonic, March 4th

Eugene Chadbourne and Marc Ribot Issue Project Room, March 20th

Michio Yagi and Elliott Sharp Issue Project Room, May 15th

Fred Van Hove/Johannes Bauer Vision Festival, May 26th

Keith Rowe/Christian Fennesz Tonic, May 27th

William Parker Bass Quartet with Charles Gayle Vision Festival, May 31st

Catherine Jauniaux/Marc Ribot/ Ted Reichman/Christine Bard Tonic, August 12th

Le Quan Ninh/Tatsuya Nakatani/Sean Meehan Tonic, September 28th

ICP Orchestra Tonic, October 24th

-Kurt Gottschalk

Herbie Hancock Quartet Blue Note, January 1st

Bennie Maupin Quartet Sweet Rhythm, January 17th

The Fringe Cornelia Street Cafï, March 12th

Hans Koch/Martin Schïtz/Fredy Studer Tonic, April 20th

Connie Bauer/Barre Phillips/Gïnter Baby Sïmmer Vision Festival, May 31st

Wayne Shorter/Herbie Hancock Dave Holland/Brian Blade JVC Jazz Festival, June 25th

John Handy Quintet Iridium, July 17th

Sonny Fortune/Rashied Ali Sweet Rhythm, August 4th

Matana Roberts with Ras Moshe and Tomas Fujiwara Brecht Forum, August 7th

Bill Dixon Quartet NYC Baha'i Center, August 31st

-Andrey Henkin

Three Altos Sweet Rhythm, January 8th

Jeff Tain Watts with Special guest Kenny Garrett Blue Note, February 8th

Butch Morris Bowery Poetry Club, February 16th

McCoy Tyner with Pharoah Sanders and Ravi Coltrane Iridium, May 16th

David Murray and the Gwa-ko Masters/Olu Dara Central Park Summer Stage, June 20th

Jerry Gonzalez Fort Apache Band Fort Greene Park, July 6th

Dafnis Prieto Septet The Jazz Gallery, August 7th

Mulgrew Miller and Wingspan The Jazz Standard, October 28th

Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra Rose Theater, October 29th

Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra Village Vanguard, November 1st

-Russ Musto

NEW RELEASES

Rabih Abou-Khalil Morton's Foot (Enja)

Geri Allen The Life of a Song (Telarc)

Don Byron Ivey-Divey (Blue Note)

The Nels Cline Singers The Giant Pin (Cryptogramophone)

Andrew Hill Jazzpar Octet + 1 The Day the World Stood Still (Stunt)

Steve Lehman Artificial Light (Fresh Sound New Talent)

John McNeil Sleep Won't Come (OmniTone)

Louis Sclavis Napoli's Walls (ECM)

Craig Taborn Junk Magic (Thirsty Ear)

Mark Turner/Larry Grenadier/Jeff Ballard Fly (Savoy)

-David Adler

Dave Douglas/Louis Sclavis/Peggy Lee/Van Der Schyff Bow River Falls (Premonition)

Jeff Johnson Near Earth (Origin)

Charles Lloyd/Billy Higgins Which Way is East (ECM)

Masada String Trio 50th Birthday, Vol. 1 (Tzadik)

Kevin Norton/Bauhaus Quartet Time-Space Modulator (Barking Hoop)

Mario Pavone Boom (Playscape)

Sam Rivers Celebration: Live at the Jazz Bakery in L.A. (Positone-Rhombus)

Dave Schnitter Sketch (Omix-Sunnyside)

John Stetch Exponentially Monk (Justin Time)

Matt Wilson Wake Up! (Palmetto)

-Laurence Donohue-Greene

Fred Anderson/Hamid Drake Together Again (Thirsty Ear)

Art Ensemble of Chicago Sirius Calling (Pi)

Cooper-Moore Cooper-Moore (Fifty Miles of Elbow Room)

Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant Sister Phantom Owl Fish (Ipecac)

ICP Orchestra Aan & Uit (ICP)

Phil Minton/Veryan Weston ... past (Angelica)

The Necks Drive By (ReR)

Keith Rowe/Axel Dïrner/Franz Hautzinger A View From the Window (Erstwhile)

Spring Heel Jack Sweetness of the Water (Thirsty Ear)

Cecil Taylor Quartet Incarnation (FMP)

-Kurt Gottschalk

Francois Carrier Traveling Lights (Enja-Justin Time)

Pierre Favre & Arte Quartett Saxophones (Intakt)

Burton Greene Live at Grasland (Drimala)

Hans Koch/Martin Schïtz/Fredy Studer Life Tied (Intakt)

Charles Lloyd/Billy Higgins Which Way is East (ECM)

Evan Parker/Alex von Schlippenbach/Paul Lytton America 2003 (Psi)

Sam Rivers Celebration: Live at the Jazz Bakery in L.A. (Positone-Rhombus)

Jenny Scheinman Shalagaster (Tzadik)

The Thing Garage (Smalltown Superjazz)

Ken Vandermark Five Elements of Style...Exercises in Surprise (Atavistic)

-Andrey Henkin

Claudia Acuna Luna (MAXJAZZ)

Andy Bey American Song (Savoy Jazz)

John Hicks Fatha's Day (HighNote)

Charles Lloyd/Billy Higgins Which Way is East (ECM)

Joe Lovano I'm All For You (Blue Note)

David Murray and The Gwo-ka Masters Gwotet (Justin Time)

Ralph Peterson Fo'tet Augmented (Criss Cross)

Luciana Souza Neruda (Sunnyside)

Jeff "Tain" Watts Detained: Live at the Blue Note (Half Note)

Larry Willis/Paul Murphy Powers of Two (Mapleshade)

-Russ Musto

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