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Publisher's Top Picks for 2005

Michael Ricci By

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What a year for record numbers. All About Jazz reached an all-time high for visitors in October (800,552), published 331 CD reviews in August, and won our fourth consecutive JJA Best Website Concentrating on Jazz award. More importantly, we continued to build the backend systems that will drive the site for the next ten years.

In 2004, we focused on content expansion and delivery. This year we focused on cultivating our readership, and our two new sections—the Visual Arts Center and the Daily Download Center—played a vital role in driving readers back to AAJ every day.

There's still plenty of "heavy lifting" to do though. We plan to kick off the much-anticipated MY AAJ development in January and segue into the Regional Calendar of Events (and event ticketing) in May. Expect additional artist services, a jazz teacher finder (for students), and a download store later the year.

All sounds great, but what about the music?

With my trusty portable player by my side, I listened to thousands of Jazz CDs. And this year, more than ever, I relied on staff suggestions and was exposed to some terrific music as a result. Thanks everyone!

The recordings listed below represent the most memorable in my 2005 listening experience.

Denys Baptiste
Let Freedom Ring!
Tom Christensen
New York School
Terence Blanchard
(Blue Note)
Bebo Valdes
Bebo de Cuba
(Calle 54)
Marc Johnson
Shades of Jade
Dave Douglas

Hendrik Meurkens
Amazon River
(Blue Toucan)
Brad Mehldau
Day Is Done
Uri Caine
(Winter & Winter)
Ben Monder
Roberto Magris Europlane
(Soul Note)
The Necks
Mosquito / See Through
(ReR Megacorp)

Fred Hersch
Leaves of Grass
Pat Metheny Group
The Way Up
Guillermo Klein
Una Nave
(Sunnyside Records)
Jeff Parker
The Relatives
(Thrill Jockey)
Ulf Wakenius
Notes from the Heart
(ACT Music)
Manuel Mengis
Into The Barn

Honorable Mention...

Salvatore Bonafede's Journey to Donnafugata (Cam Jazz), John Hollenbeck's A Blessing (OmniTone), Jeff Baumeister's Useful Music (Wahbo Records), Mark Lockheart's Moving Air (Basho Records), Meat Beat Manifesto's At the Center (Thirsty Ear), and Jerry Granelli's Sandhills Reunion (Songlines).


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