The music keeps moving forward, evolving to higher levels. My search for the best jazz recordings of 2019 led me to these outstanding CDs. These are presented in the order in which I discovered them.
Iro Haarla, Ulf Krokfors & Barry Altschul Around Again
Finnish pianist Iro Haarla
immerses herself in the music of Carla Bley
, with an all-star trio. Bassist Ulf Krokfors
and drummer Barry Altschul
help Haarla explore Bley's quirky, off-center tunes in one of the year's most compelling piano trio recordings.
Vijay Iyer/Craig Taborn The Transitory Poems
Pianists Vijay Iyer
and Craig Taborn
join forces on a duet album. Two pianos, alone, no accompaniment, is a rare format. Iyer and Taborn succeed brilliantly, with instant composing, spontaneous arrangements, a deft and gorgeous fluidity of ideas mutating in the moment. Enchanting.
Satoko Fujii/Ramon Lopez Confluence
Pianist Satoko Fujii
didn't sit back and take a break after a busy 2018, a year in which she released a dozen CDs. 2019 has shaped up as a more normal year (for her), with a mere five records. Confluence
, a duo outing with drummer Ramon Lopez
is the loveliest of these, understated and melodican essential Fujii set.
Amina FigarovaRoad To The Sun
Pianist Amina Figarova
uses the sextetflute, trumpet, saxophone and a rhythm sectionas her main means of expression. Here she adds strings on five of the seven cuts, enriching her sound, on perhaps the best album of her career.
Denny Zeitlin Remembering Miles
Sunnyside Record Denny Zeitlin
explores the artistry of trumpeter Miles Davis
in this solo piano album, recorded live at the Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland, California, serving up reimaginings of everything from 1960's "Flamenco Sketches" to 1987's "Tomaas."
David Torn / Tim Berne /Ches Smith Sun Of Goldfinger
ECM Records Records
The most "outside" album on this list, from guitarist David Torn
, saxophonist Tim Berne
and drummer Ches Smith
. It is a wild ride, featuring three twenty minute-plus, magnum opus type tunes that weep, wail and gnash their teeth.
Oddgeir Berg Trio In The End Of The Night
One of the most engaging piano trio dates of the year comes from Norwegian pianist Oddgeir Berg
. His music is modernistic and gregarious, nicely spiced with subtle electronics. Beautiful melodies that won't let go.
Emilio Solla International Jazz Orchestra Puertos: Music From International Waters
Pianist Emilio Solla
enriches the legacy of the tango with his outstanding Orchestra. Big, bold arrangements and gorgeous compositions to carry on the tradition.
Florian Hoefner Trio First Spring
Pianist Florian Hoefner
and his trio immerse themselves in "the ethos of traditional songs and the high lonesome sound of Bluegrass" on this surprisingly fine recordinga blend of jazz and Americana, folk and country. Who'd have thought that would work?
Marc Copland And I Love Her
This one proves, once again, that Marc Copland
is one of the top piano trio players out there. A typically gorgeous set of nicey-chosen jazz standards, a pop song and a pair of especially fine originals, one from Copland and another from his trio's bassist, Drew Gress
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