Bruce Lindsay's Best Releases of 2011

Bruce Lindsay By

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What sort of a year did jazz have in 2011? On the evidence of my Top Ten, a very varied and fascinating one. The human voice did well—Liane Carroll and Kaz Simmons produced beautiful, engaging and honest recordings that stir the emotions in very different ways. Finland did alright too, thanks to superb albums from Iiro Rantala and Verneri Pohjola. And the '50s and '60s also manage to claim two of the Top Ten spots, with retrospectives from Joe Harriott and Jan Johansson that should help to expand the reputations of both musicians. Instruments of the year? Well, the clarinet family might lay claim to that award. It's been a good year for the ursine community as well—who can resist Bears In Cowboy Hats, especially when (ably assisted by Daniel Bennett) they create such a life-affirming mix of jazz and Americana?

So here, in my humble opinion, are ten of the best of 2011:

Daniel Bennett
Peace And Stability Among Bears
(Bennett Alliance)

Arun Ghosh
Primal Odyssey
(Camoci Records)

Jan Johansson
in Hamburg
(ACT Music)

Kaz Simmons
(Fast Awake Records)

Les Doigts De L'Homme
(Alma Records)

Liane Carroll
Up And Down
(Quietmoney Recordings)

Joe Harriott
The Joe Harriott Story
(Proper Box UK)

Iiro Rantala
Lost heroes
(ACT Music)

Verneri Pohjola}
(ACT Music)

Matthew Halsall
On The Go
(Gondwana Records)

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