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Best of / Year End

Dan McClenaghan's 2008 Top Ten

By Published: December 27, 2008
Here are ten of 2008's jazz CDs that charmed and seduced me, or grabbed my lapels and wouldn't let go.

Bobo Stenson

Bobo Stenson
Bobo Stenson
b.1944
piano
Trio
Cantando
ECM Records



A piano trio set of incredible subtlety, depth and beauty, with Swedish pianist joined by bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jon Falt.



Frank Macchia

Frank Macchia
Frank Macchia
b.1958
composer/conductor

Landscapes
Cacophony Records

Tenor Saxophonist Frank Macchia blowing pure and sweet and powerfully in front of The Prague Orchestra in an excellent addition to the "Jazz With Strings" genre.



Brad Mehldau

Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau
b.1970
piano
Trio
Live
Nonesuch Records

This double CD set, recorded live at The Village Vanguard, showcases the Brad Mehldau Trio at it's intricate, interactive best, stretching out in an erudite in the groove atmosphere..



Joe Locke

Joe Locke
Joe Locke
b.1959
vibraphone

Force of Four
Origin Records



Vibraphonist Joe Locke hasn't had the highest of profiles, but his recent work on Origin Records has been garnering him some well-deserved attention.



Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams
b.1948
piano

Songs for a New Century
Origin Records



Jessica Williams pushes her solo piano artistry forward, on a luminous set of songs. She can channel Monk or Art Tatum like nobody else, but here it's just Jessica being Jessica. You feel as if you know a beautiful soul after listening to this.



Natsuki Tamura-Satoko Fujii

Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
b.1958
piano

Chun
Libra Records



Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii work in a variety of ensemble configurations, but their duet discs are particularly enriching listening experiences.



Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams
b.1948
piano

Tatum's Ultimatum
Red and Blue Recordings



Jessica Williams, solo, immerses herself in the spirit of the great Art Tatum, and plays fast, with a joyful momentum. One of her finest recordings.



Nik Bartsch

Nik Bartsch
Nik Bartsch
b.1971
keyboard
's Ronin
Holon
ECM Records



Nik Bartsch's Ronin, with a tight/organic feeling, digs even deeper into its ritual groove music.



Cuong Vu

Cuong Vu
Cuong Vu
b.1969
trumpet

Vu-Tet
ArtistShare



With a wired-up trumpet, electronics and a powerhouse backing, Cuong Vu has created a music that sounds as if it might have soared in from outer space.



Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Anja Lechner/U.T. Ghandi
Melos
ECM Records

Vassilis Tsabropoulos' supple piano, with cellist Anja Lechner's rich and resonant weave, backed by U.T. Ghandi's understated percussion. These are the loveliest of sounds.



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