2004 was a productive one as we introduced several new columns, features, and systems (we call them "centers"). It was a pedal-to-the-metal-bring-on-the-stress kind of year that saw us launch the Jazz Musician Center
, the Contributor Center
, the Upcoming Releases Center
, the Article
& CD Review
Centers, AAJ Live Content
, the "Near You" box (which provides a quick link to local Jazz Clubs
); and just prior to the holidays, the AAJ Store
and the Visual Arts Center
Not all my time was spent "head down" developing new systems and maintaining the site. I was privileged to hear several outstanding releases in the past twelve months and have distilled my master list to a very special eighteen.
I'm always on the lookout for sleepers and this year I was rewarded in the early summer with Moacir Santos's Ouro Negro an epic 2-disc set. Those not familiar with Mr. Santos's work (I wasn't) should investigate.
Now, I don't receive every new jazz release, but I do receive enough to formulate a list of winners that I'd recommend without hesitation.
The CDs listed below represent the crème de la crème of my 2004 listening experience. I even tossed in a handful of honorable mentions for good measure.
Miguel Zenon's Ceremonial (Marsalis Music), Eddie Green's Shades of Green (Dreambox), Mark Isaacs' Keeping the Standards (Vorticity), Brook Sofferman's One Stone, Two Birds (Summit), and Tomasz Stanko's Suspended Night (ECM).