C. Michael Bailey's Picks for 2004

C. Michael Bailey By

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The end of 2004 is upon us. Curbing my past enthusiasm over another great year filled with superb recordings, I have selected these twelve. This was no mean feat. I am neglecting very fine recordings such as Salvatore Tranchini's Faces and Hiromi's Brain, Art Pepper's harrowing Smack Up was also released with 20-bit remastering and ?Yet none of these have made it to this list. Hey, it is a tough business in jazz to choose the best as the music is performed universally such a high level. Jazz does not offer itself as such an easy target as does popular music. Here is the best music to come my way in 2004?

Skip Heller
(Hyena Records)

Ever since I heard of Career Suicide and Homegoing, I have enthusiastically anticipated the next Skip Heller release? Continue...

Eric Clapton
Me and Mr. Johnson
(Hyena Records)

In the same way that Louis Armstrong was at center of the genesis of Jazz in the 1920s, so was Eric Clapton at the center of the British Blues invasion of the 1960s. Between 1965 and 1970? Continue...

Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington
(Milestone Records)

Thelonious Monk was like a strange butterfly that flew over and through the Be Bop revolution... Continue...

Claudia Acuna
(MAXJAZZ Records)

?Miss Acuna has two previously releases on Verve that have helped establish her as a talent worthy of recognition. Her present recording, Luna, extends that worthiness... Continue...

Pyeng Threadgill
Sweet Home: The Music of Robert Johnson
(MAXJAZZ Records)

About halfway through the nine-minute "Come on in My Kitchen," the listener will realize that Pyeng Threadgill's homage to Robert Johnson, Sweet Home, is not simply a Cassandra Wilson knock off. Continue...

Joan Stiles
Love Call
(Zoho Records)

Okay, so much of the talk of "Latin / Jazz with a New York Vibe.". Pianist, arranger Joan Stiles presents a little big band recital that beautifully interfaces 21st Century harmony approaches with 20th Century Swing Era orchestration... Continue...

Von Freeman
The Great Divide
(Premonition Records)

It is a little bit crazy to consider octogenarian tenor saxophonist Von Freeman paying tribute to anyone considering that he has outlived the vast majority of his peers.... Continue...

Jim Black and AlasnNoAxis
(Winter & Winter Records)

This is not jazz-rock fusion. This is not adult contemporary jazz. For God's sake, this is certainly not smooth jazz..... Continue...

Courtney Pine
(Telarc Records)

Born March 18, 1964 in London, England, Courtney Pine was to emerge in the mid-1980s as the next John Coltrane.... Continue...

Red Priest's Vivaldi
The 4 Seasons
(Dorian Records)

Red Priest is a group of very intelligent period instrument specialists with a red-hot wicked sense of humor..... Continue...

Mark Elf
Glad to be Back
(Jen Bay Records)

?Mr. Elf serves up his trademark quicksilver bop guitar on a collection more heavily seasoned with the guitarist's original compositions than previous recordings..... Continue...

Peter Cincotti
On The Moon
(Concord Records)

Enough of Harry Connick and visions of Sinatra? Continue...

Johanna Grussner
No More Blues
(Naxos Jazz Records)

Honestly, I do not know what thrills me more, the fact that Johanna Gr?'s No More Blues makes a great companion disc to Peter Cincotti's On the Moon or the fact that it is the first Naxos Jazz release in two years.... Continue...

Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts
Wake Up! (To What's Happening)
(Palmetto Records)

Drummer Matt Wilson has been very busy lately. His name has been surfacing lately on recordings by the likes of Bill Mays, Frank Kimbrough and Denny Zeitlin, as well as a member of the either Orchestra and the Herbie Nichols Project?.... Continue...

Don Friedman Trio
My Favorite Things
(441 Records)

My Favorite Things is a class act made up of three class acts. Don Friedman has been recording as a leader or sideman since the mid-1950s and remains woefully underappreciated. His previous 441 recording, Waltz for Debbie , was very well received? Continue...

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