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Publisher's Top Picks for 2004

Michael Ricci By

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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 & RSS, 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.

Steven Bernstein
Diaspora Hollywood
Jim Black
(Winter & Winter)
Vinicius Cantu'ria
Horse and Fish
(Bar None)
Bill Carrothers
Armistice 1918
Dave Douglas
Strange Liberation
Seven Days of Falling
(215 Music)

Charlie Haden
Land of the Sun
Matt Jorgensen
Branford Marsalis
(Marsalis Music)
Enrico Rava
Easy Living
Sangha Quartet
Fear Of Roaming
(Fresh Sound)
Moacir Santos
Ouro Negro
(Adventure Music)

Ted Sirota
Breeding Resistance
(Ninja Tune)
Omar Sosa
(Ot' Records)
Trio Mundo
Rides Again
(ZOHO Music)
Vandermark Five
Elements of Style...
Jacob Young
Evening Falls

Honorable Mention...

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).


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