The music keeps moving forward, evolving to higher levels. My search for the best jazz recordings of 2018 led me to these marvelous CDs.
Satoko Fujii Satoko Fujii Solo
A person's sixtieth birthday serves as a milestone, more so in Japanwhere it is referred to as "Kanreki"than elsewhere. Pianist/composer/bandleader Satoko Fujii
celebrated her Kanreki in 2018, by releasing an album a monthno kicking back in the rocking chair for her. Satoko Fujii Solo
, the January edition of her celebration, is an alone-with-the-piano outing, one of her most beautiful and accessible recordings.
Fred Hersch Trio Live In Europe
Pianist Fred Hersch
is so consistently excellent with his recordingsmostly trio and solo setsthat it's getting scary. And he's prolific, offing up an album or two per years. He didn't slack off in 2018, releasing this terrific trio outing followed up by the archival Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
Dave Liebman/John Stowell Petite Fleur: The Music Of Sidney Bechet
It may not be considered hip to be into the music of Sidney Bechet
or any jazz artist who didn't transition into the bebop arena after alto saxophonist Charlie Parker
hit the scene. Saxophonist Dave Liebman
and guitarist John Stowell
take a fresh look at the music of the pioneer Bechet.
Denny ZeitlinWishing On The Moon
This is pianist Denny Zeitlin
at the top of his trio game with bassist Buster Williams
and drummer Matt Wilson
, on a live set brimming with energy, sprinkled with a nuanced and good humored audacity.
Henry Threadgill 14 Or 15 Kestra:Agg Dirt...And More Dirt
Pulitzer prize winner Henry Threadgill
released two albums simultaneously in 2018. Both are worthy of "Best Of The Year" slots." The saxophonist/flutist/composer's focus of his unique vision has sharpened to a fine, gleaming edge..
Danny Green Trio Plus Strings One Day It Will
The Danny Green
Trio stepped up to the top tier with After The Calm
(OA2 Records, 2016), maintained that level of excellence on Altered Narratives
(OA2 Records, 2017), and took another step up with One Day It Will
, for the Danny Green Trio Plus Strings outing.
Thomas Marriott Romance Language
Trumpeter Thomas Marriott
changes pace with this album, stepping away from freewheeling improvisation and robust blowing to immerse himself in "the simple beauty of a well-played melody." It is a change of pacethat pays off handsomely.
Kenny Werner Space
Pianist Kenny Werner
has been making top notch jazz records for a very long time. He seems to have achieved a high plateau with his work for Pirouet Recordsfour releases since 2015. The Space
is a solo piano installment, a minimalist, Zen poem of sound, as beautiful as anything Werner has created.
Hal Galper Quartet featuring Jerry Bergonzi Cubist
Pianist Hal Galper
has been in the process of rounding out a long career with a stint at Origin Records, with eight releases showcasing his rubato style of play, mostly in the piano tro format. For Cubist
, saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi
sits ina perfect fit for Galper's artistic vision.
Pamela Hines Trio The Music Of Richard Whiting
This late-in-the-year release by pianist Pamela Hines
represents an elevation of her artistry to the highest level. A piano trio outing that sparkles with an energetic beauty.
Rich Halley 3 The Literature
Pine Eagle Records
Powerhouse saxophonist Rich Halley
steps away from his freer blowing, highly improvised recordings with a disc featuring music that has influenced him. Tunes from Miles Davis
, Thelonious Monk
, Ornette Coleman
, Charles Mingus
get the raging, roaring Halley treatment, and stand up beautifully.
Steffen Schorn & Zurich Jazz Orchestra Three Pictures
Multiple reedman Steffen Schorn
carved out the best big band album of the year, a swooping, soaring, left of center, accessible outing features two very different, dynamic suites, and more.
Bobo Stenson Trio Contra la Decision
Pianist Bobo Stenson
is a master of the piano trio. This recording stands tall with the best of the year.
Nikita Rafaelov Spirit of Gaia
Gotta Let it Out Records
And lastly, newcomer Nikita Rafaelov
offers up an innovative take on the solo piano genre, inspired by "the circle of life and nature."