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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 (Tzadik)
  • Jim Black Habyor (Winter & Winter)
  • Vinicius Cantu'ria Horse and Fish (Bar None)
  • Bill Carrothers Armistice 1918 (Sketch)
  • Dave Douglas Strange Liberation (Bluebird)
  • E.S.T. Seven Days of Falling (215 Music)
  • Charlie Haden Land of the Sun (Verve)
  • Matt Jorgensen Hope (Origin)
  • Branford Marsalis Eternal (Marsalis Music)
  • Enrico Rava Easy Living (ECM)
  • Sangha Quartet Fear Of Roaming (Fresh Sound)
  • Moacir Santos Ouro Negro (Adventure Music)
  • Ted Sirota Breeding Resistance (Delmark)
  • Skalpel Skalpel (Ninja Tune)
  • Omar Sosa Mulatos (Ot' Records)
  • Trio Mundo Rides Again (ZOHO Music)
  • Vandermark Five Elements of Style... (Atavistic)
  • Jacob Young Evening Falls (ECM)

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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