<JohnGabree.com (Some) Writing>

In the soul, r&b and jazz categories, here are some of the best of 2006.
Before we go on, however, I have a question:
If the soul of Sam Cooke passed into Marvin Gaye, where is it now?

> The Maven of Make Out Music: Billy Griffin - Like Water (25 years on the job, and still no respect)
> Beachier Than Thou: Angel - Where Have You Been? (soul man-throwback Angel Rissoff could be the male Norah Jones if Jones had the passion of, say, Teena Marie: suh-weet, mostly, and sometimes hot)
> Philly Redux: Silk - Always and Forever (is this the most eponymous band, ever?)
> Hey, It's The Temps: The Temptations - Reflections (okay, no Eddie Kendricks, no David Ruffin, more like a cover band, it's true, but still slick)
> Romantic Pop: Lenny Welch - It's All About Love (that's right, the voice of Since I Fell for You and the living link to Archie Bleyer)
> Overlooked Soul Classics: The Persuaders - Made To Be Loved (one-hit wonders, maybe, but they made a lot of great music...and still do)
> Grits and Gravy: Chairmen of the Board - All In The Family (this is the music John Fred wanted to make: still funky after all these years)
> Kitchen Sink: Gwen McCrae - Gwen McCrae Sings TK (so hot, so versatile - McCrae morphs through every style from jazz to disco - and who knew Latimore wrote Rockin' Chair)
> Soul-Pop Diva: Roberta Flack - The Very Best of Roberta Flack (she sounds better now than she did in her heyday, for some reason: can it be that the jazz-fueled pop movement has done no more than inure us to pop-smothered jazz?)
> The Jersey Sound: Brunswick Records Top 40 R&B Singles - 1966-1975 (40 memorable tracks by the likes of Jackie Wilson, The Young Holt Trio, Tyrone Davis, Barbara Acklin, Gene Chandler and The Chi-Lites
> Classics Improved by Spontaneity: Motortown Revue: 40th Anniversary Collection (despite the gaseous packaging, great to have live Motown at last - outstanding performances throughout, but disc #4, Motortown Revue Live from 1969 is a must-have, by itself worth the price of entry - the set is a reminder of what a deep bench Coach Gordy had to draw on)
> Motor City Hit Machine: Holland-Dozier-Holland - Heaven Must Have Sent You (64 monsters - 64! who can match that?: (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave, Where Did Our Love Go, Baby I Need Your Loving, Baby Love, Come See About Me, Stop! In The Name Of Love, I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch), Can I Get A Witness, This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You), Jimmy Mack, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera....
> Soul Sophisticate: William Bell - New Lease on Life (what it took three men to do in Detroit, Bell did in Memphis all by his lonesome - if all he wrote was You Don't Miss Your Water, he'd deserve a spot in songwriter heaven, but then there's I Forgot to Be Your Lover and Born Under a Bad Sign and on and on - I still listen to his brilliant 1967 album The Soul of a Bell all the time)
> The God of Motor City: Marvin Gaye - Gold (like most Motown artists, Gaye has more greatest hits albums than he had hits, but this one's pretty thorough)
> Jazz Megaproducer on a Roll: Jason Miles - What's Going On (following his eye-opening explorations of the music of Ivan Lins - a must have; saxophone master Grover Washington, Jr. - this, too; and Weather Report - not so much; and his inspired take on Miles Davis, Miles to Miles, jazz keyboardist Miles scores again with this appreciative collection of classics associated with the aforementioned Mr. Gaye)
> Hidden Treasure: Donna Summer - Gold (hidden in plain site, that is: like that of other soul singers who got mired in disco - think of the great Johnny Taylor - Summer's rep never recovered - or maybe it was that cut with the sounds of fancy shtupping that did her in; whatever, she deserves better...way better)
> Eclectic Soul Pop: Traciana Graves - Tales of a Prodigal Daughter (Harlem-born, French-bred - an improvement over French bread, AfroPop-influenced - in a fairer world you'd hear her album every time you turned on the radio - Graves runs a performance series on the East Coast called Diaspora Soul which gives you an idea where she's coming from)
> Just Another Sam Cooke Wannabe: Aretha Franklin - Live At Fillmore West (Deluxe Edition)  (incredible double album: I was there; now you can be, too)
> Hodge Podge: Natalie Cole - Leavin (covers of Neil Young, Kate Bush, Fionna Apple...not Unforgettable, but not Pink Cadillac, either)
> Great American Songbook, Jazz Division 1: Gladys Knight - Before Me (...and amazingly good: puts the class back in classics)
> Great American Songbook, Jazz Division 2: Diana Ross - Blue (with Dinah Washington in her heart and Oliver Nelson and Benny Golson doing the charts, Ross' solid jazz tracks wipe out the few pop tunes - she should have stayed away from I Love You Porgy, though; luckily for you, with the push of a button, you can)
> Great American Songbook, Jazz Division 3: Smokey Robinson - Timeless Love (former Motown acts find Jazz - or Jazz Adjacent - the way Right-Wing Child Molesters in the U.S. Congress find Jesus...but with a lot more soul)
> Great American Songbook, Boomer Division: Jazz Pop to a Latin Beat: Janis Siegel - A Thousand Beautiful Things (you have to trust me on this one: modern pop songs - Nellie Mckay, Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega - to a Latin American beat plays a thousand times better than it reads on paper, plus I've always found Janis Siegel terminally lame before this)
> Great American Songbook - Jazz at the Pops: Jazz Vocalists: Hear and Now (contemporary material on disc 1 and jazz standards on disc 2, 36 in all, from Little Jimmy Scott, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln and Ernie Andrews to Diana Krall, Kurt Elling, Kevin Mahogany and Cassandra Wilson, with a little Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt and Norah Jones thrown in for marketability; plus the proceeds benefit jazz education)
> Great American Songbook, an Elegy: Paul Motian and Trio 2000+1 - On Broadway, Vol. 4: Or the Paradox of Continuity (anybody who thinks youth is an advantage in jazz will not find confirmation of that notion in the fourth volume of standards by the great timekeeper Paul Motian and another of his brilliant pickup bands. The first of his Broadway series to feature a singer, the too seldom heard Rebecca Martin, finds the 75-year-old drummer joined also on piano by a favorite co-conspirator, the erratic Masabumi Kikuchi with whom he did compelling tributes to Edith Piaf and Kurt Weill)
> The Betty Carter Award for Obsessive Devotion to Emotional Truth: Cassandra Wilson - Thunderbird (without Wilson's adventuresome and passionate jazz explorations of the blues, folk and pop catalogs, there would be no Norah Jones - this release, with ever-astonishing T-Bone Burnette at the controls, is her richest and most accomplished yet)
> Retro Houston Soul: Trudy Lynn (with Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra) - I'm Still Here (Lynn first recorded too late to capture the attention she deserves, but she is a master of the raw style that bridges the gap from juke blues to soul ballads - think Peggy Scott-Adams; Calvin Owens was B.B. King's musical director for years - "Blues Party" is right)
> Boomer Eclectica: Ray Parker Jr. - I'm Free (guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and hitmaker's angst-ridden new album is no masterpiece, but as affecting as hell; his Yes, Dear)
> DooWop Gets Funky: Charles Wright - Finally Got It Wright (proving you can't keep a soul man down)
> The Return of the First Lady of Southern Soul: Candi Staton - His Hands (back from Jesusland, her formidable pipes intact, Staton presents a sweet-soul set mostly of country tunes by the likes of Merle Haggard, Red Simpson and Will Oldham that put you in mind of her early hits, such as Stand by Your Man and In the Ghetto; just got this from YourMusic.com and playing it night and day)
> Neo-Soul: Wendell B. - Good Times (file between Luther Vandross and Will Downing)
> Great American Songbook, Smooth Soul Division - Acid and Silk: Maysa - Sweet Classic Soul (beautifully produced covers of hits by the likes of Rose Royce and Teddy Pendergrass, as good or better than the originals, by a great performer who has never connected commercially - five albums, five labels about says it all)
> Soul Food Recipe o' the Day:  Hil St Soul - SOULdified (lead vocalist Hilary Mwelwa can sing anything: classic soul, smooth jazz, up-tempo funk, gospel, whatever, plus she can write - the future of smooth soul is safe, at least on the other side of the pond)
> Memphis Soul, Over Easy: Jackie Payne Steve Edmonson Band - Master Of The Game (harking back to the halcyon days of Willie Mitchell and Hi Records)
> Southern Fried Erotica: Ms. Monique - Soul Sessions: Chapter 1 (smooth and sassy - Millie Jackson updated, and you have to love the optimism of that "Chapter 1")
> Great American Song Book, Blues Division: Linda Hopkins - The Living Legend LIVE! (always riveting on stage, Hopkins is sizzling -- at 82! -- in these performances of blues classics - Evil Gal, Stormy Monday, Drown in My Own Tears - at Catalina Bar & Grill, backed by Michael Konik & His Tasty Band - must be trial living up to a designation as a, no, The Living Legend, but the seasoned Hopkins still has game)
> Hip Hop Muddies the Waters: Boo Boo Davis - Drew, Mississippi (on this themed outing, his fourth, arranged and produced by Nu Blues' Ramon Goose, who btw lays down solid slide and finger-picked guitar in the process, singer-harmonica virtuoso Davis finally secures his footing, piling modern soul influences on the foundation of South Side-style blues)
> Blues As It Is Played Now: Ronnie Baker Brooks - The Torch (a lot of cuts and a lot of guest stars - in this case, Jellybean Johnson, Jimmy Johnson, Eddy Clearwater, Willie Kent, Al Kapone, J.W. Williams, Michael Bland, papa Lonnie Brooks - is ofttimes a sign of desperation, and Brooks fils has been too long overlooked, but The Torch is mostly a fine survey of the blues as it's played today, despite the singular silliness of the title tune)
> Dirty Blues - like dirty martinis or dirty rice not dirty movies: Billy Jones - tha' Bluez (eccentric indie blues guitarist - note: he calls it bluez, so you know it's a conceptual thang, Jones is worth searching out live the next time you're in the Bay Area)
> Doo Pop: One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found (120 cuts, by everyone from the Shangri-Las, Barbara Lewis and Maxine Brown to Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon and The Toys, with nary a hit in sight)
> Cold Sweat: Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury - (after 4 years of silence in a label dispute, the John Fogertys of rap - okay, I'm just trying to piss you off - are mad as hell and every bit as brilliant as they were on their debut Lord Willin' an eon ago)
> Coke-Rap: Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Clipse might have started it, but Mr. Killah, a Wu-Tang Clan alumnus, brings it to a head with wildly imaginative storytelling, ragged soul singing and potty-mouthed rhymes)
> Political Avant-Garde Jazzed-Up Rock: Bobby Previte - Coalition of the Willing (the unique and virtuosoistic Previte matches the power organ of Jamie Saft and the guitar magic of the equally eclectic Charlie Hunter to come up with an album that can stand comparison with his great collection of mighty miniatures, The 23 Constellations of Joan Miró)
> Jazz Spirituality, Affirmative Action, and a Great Bass Line: Paradise - Jazzfunkhiphopoetry ("hip-hop-a-tree"?: jeezis - luckily, talent trumps political correctness)
> Post-Bop Communism: Spirit of Life Ensemble - Little Oasis (the Jersey City-based aggregation is a "multicultural collective"- think of the socio-political soul of Ozomatli in the straight-ahead body of Cannonball Adderley)
> AltJazz Spirituality: SounDoctrine - Endurance: A Soundtrack to a Non Existent Movie ( I know: the concept, the title, the band's name, the typography...it all sounds pretty dire, but this funky fusion outing is compelling and infinitely listenable)
> Slow Jamz: Rob and Tha Soul Brother - Show Some Luv (disc 1 is an "old school house party in a box;" disc 2 is jazz-fusion at its most palatable)
> Nu-Jazz Funk: The Rebirth - This Journey In (up-to-date throwback to the classic soul-band: or maybe it's Earth Wind and Fire reborn in the age of hip-hop)
> Get Yo' Funk On: Seven Eleven - Live In Paris (real drums, real bass, real chicken-scratch guitar, real honkin' horns...and rap: Trouble Funk updated...sort of)
> Empowerment, Responsibility and Redemption: Eugene IV - Starving Artist (in the world of Indie Hip-Hop, Atlanta saxman Mr. IV is a pioneer - like Traciana Graves and Trudy Lynn and Sharon Jones and Maysa and Angel Rissoff and Billy Griffin, he belongs on the friggin' radio, so call KCRW now, or for that matter, Starbucks, where it is an article of faith that all music comes only from the 60s or the 90s)
> Raw Funk: What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (91 tracks deep and five hours long!, this multi-artist, 4 cd set mines renowned, legendary, little-known, rare, not-to-say obscure grooves from the vaults of Atlantic-Atco and Warner Bros. -- not only hard-to-find Wilson Pickett, Bar-Kays, Curtis Mayfield, and Earth Wind & Fire, but unreleased Aretha Franklin, trippy 6ix's I'm Just Like You and Stanga's Little Sister, stark Hard Times by my old pal Baby Huey with the Baby Sitters; and the Meters as Rhine Oaks doing Tampin' - to soul what punk is to rock and roll)
> Southern Fried Funk: Southern Fried Funk (lemme say it again, southern fried funk, mostly N'Orlins: Allen Toussaint, Lee Dorsey, Z.Z. Hill, Eldridge Holmes, David Batiste, Chuck Carbo, Jewel Bass...)
> Jazz-Pop: Ginetta's Vendetta - La Dolce Vita ( see what you can achieve with a pocket trumpet if you know how to blow? On stage Ginetta plays hot, sings cool, looks phenomenal - if you spot the name on a marquee in Vegas, go! Unfortunately, can't find this album anywhere - if you do, lemme know)
> Laid-Back Post-Bop in a Modal Groove: The Bennie Maupin Ensemble - Penumbra (he's on your Bitches Brew and Headhunters albums; maybe after this you'll remember his freakin' name)
> Smooth Sax R&B:  Steve Cole - True (call Cole when you can't get David Sanborn, and why not? Avis is just as righteous as Hertz)
> The Gold Standards: Geri Allen - Timeless Portraits And Dreams (keyboard mastery backed by such mainstream heavyweights as Ron Carter and Jimmy Cobb; also last year: Zodiac Suite: Revisited, a beautiful reading by Allen with Buster Williams on bass and Billy Hart and Andrew Cyrille on drums, of the legendary set of compositions by Mary Lou Williams)
> Journeyman Genius: Billy Hart - Quartet (speaking of Billy Hart, check out this focused, driving set featuring the drummer's working band, pianist Ethan Iverson, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and bassist Ben Street playing mostly Hart originals)
> Post-Bop Mainstream if ever there was: Onaje Allan Gumbs - Remember Their Innocence (one of the great collaborators in jazz, keyboardist-producer- arranger-songwriter Gumbs had an even better album last year, the live Return to Form; you want 'em both)
> Post-Bop DIY: Eric Person - Reflections (a "best of" chosen by the artist himself, and fit intro to Person's sax, not hurt by some great trumpet work by Dave Douglas)
> Blues & Bop: Dave Douglas - Meaning and Mystery (his personnel inspired by legendary 1968 Miles Davis Quintet, the gifted and indefatigable Douglas leads his quintet, with Uri Caine on Fender Rhodes, through a beautiful set of Douglas originals, paced by Donny McCaslin's glistening tenor solos)
> Jazz Vocals with a Neo-Soul: Frank McComb - 1995 Bootleg (an unreleased album by pianist and vocalist McComb)
> Yeah, G for Gritty: Andreas Grosskopf - File Under: G (but saxman Grosskopf stirs smooth vocalizing by Charlotte Karlstedt into his funk goulash)
> World Jazz - yich!:  Lee Ritenour - Smoke 'N' Mirrors (never been much of a Ritenour fan - I know, my bad, but this cheerful, star-studded romp is exceedingly easy on the ears if not excessively hard on the noggin)
> World Jazz - yeah!: Winard Harper Sextet - Make It Happen (the exception that proves the jewel, this exploration of African and Afro-Caribbean rhythms is a riveting seventy-eight minutes of jazz)
> Jazz as Folk Music: Esperanza Spalding - Junjo (bassist Spalding is joined by Cuban sidemen, pianist Aruan Ortiz and drummer Francisco Mela, making her warm acoustic bass and airy wordless vocals the main ingredients in a scruptious musical cubano)
> Redemptive: Trio Beyond - Saudades (I usually find John Scofield's funk vamping tedious, but here, in the company of Larry Goldings' keyboards - organ and Wurlitzer electric piano - and Jack DeJohnette's skins, in a live tribute to the late drummer Tony Williams, he finds the perfect setting)
> Straight-No-Chaser, With A Bite: Paul Samuels - Speak (saxman Greg Osby's here, too, so you know the music is a mix of edgy and accessible)
> Rocking Jazz: Don Byron - Do The Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker (Byron, a dabbler in every variety of jazz and jazz-adjacent music - think klezmer - plays homage to the greatest r&b honker of all time)
> Yakety Sax, Parenthetically: King Curtis - Live At Fillmore West (Deluxe Edition)  (there's a reason he's on every record made between 1958 and 1971)
> Jazz-Funk Meets Progressive Rock: Vernon Reid and Masque - Other True Self (I go back and forth between thinking this is pretty good and thinking it's crap; your take may depend on how much pretense you can tolerate at one sitting w/o tossing your Jagermeister)
> Soul Groove Hodgepodge: Chico Hamilton - 6th Avenue Romp (befitting a drummer in his mid-80s who's done it all, this album dishes out everything from mainstream jazz to an unlikely stew of electronica, zydeco and driving bossa nova)
> The Beat Goes On: Charles Lloyd - Sangam (more drums - Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain and Lloyd's regular percussionist, Eric Harland, although the leader himself - in case you're old enough to have forgotten, Lloyd is the Forest Flower: Live in Monterey guy from your stoner dorm years - plays everything from tenor and soprano to flutes, tarogato (a reed instrument from Hungary that resembles a mournful soprano sax), piano, as well as some percussion - you'll find yourself thinking of Rollins and Coltrane: how bad is that?)
> Two Peas in a Pulao: Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa - Raw Materials (altoist Mahanthappa and pianist Iyer, Indian-Americans both, are as intimate and sympathetic as a pair of Siamese twins)
> Familiar but Fab: Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau - Metheny Mehldau (two jazz names somewhat familiar to pop audiences, versatile guitarist Methany and sublime pianist Mehldau bridge, no erase the generation gap in a scintillating collection of quartet and duo magic)
> Local Legend: Houston PersonYou Taught My Heart to Sing (one of the great treasures of L.A.jazz, Person will blow you away with this collaboration with the swinging ivorist Bill Charlap, himself criminally under-appreciated, a masterful demonstration of the continuing virtues of mainstream jazz)
> Swing to Soul: Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra - MTO Volume 1 (versatile trumpeter Bernstein's nonet is inspired by Depression-era recordings of territory bands brought up to date, Walter Page's Blue Devils Meet Mingus, so to speak - no anachronisms here, though, and you owe it to yourself to hear trombonist Clark Gayton's wild solos)
> Post-Modern Keyboard Mastery: Keith Jarrett - The Carnegie Hall Concert (a surprise from the second most tendentious living jazz legend - playful, melodic and, most important, succinct)
> Jimmy Giuffre Lives: The Source - The Source (gorgeous, ambitious, inventive, lyrical, energetic collaborative contemporary music by saxophonist Trygve Seim, trombonist Ųyvind Brękke, drummer Per Oddvar Johansen, and bassist Mats Eilertsen - does there not seem to be an extraordinary number of drummers and trombonists featured on this list?)
> Art School: Andy Biskin - Trio Tragico (am I going soft? - there was a time when anything smacking of chamber jazz - Third Stream, whatever - would have sent me screaming toward the exit, but the mesmerizing interactions of clarinetist Andy Biskin, trumpeter Dave Ballou and bassist Drew Gress made me wonder if I should have paid more attention to those Shorty Rogers bloviations to which I gave such short shrift lo those many years ago)
> Gas Chamber: Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet - Way Out East (normally I'd say, be afraid, be very etc., but these compositions by keyboardist Horvitz for piano, trumpet, cello, and bassoon create the opportunity for improvised music of the highest order)
> Serious Fun: Bob Brookmeyer and the New Art Orchestra: Spirit Music (okay, this will be the last art-jazz mentioned in today's lecture, but it has to be admitted that few composer-arrangers - Ellington?, Stan Kenton? - have used the large ensemble better than trombonist Brookmeyer whom decades of practice have taught how to make serious music swing)
> Cold Logic: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Solo (dense, virtuoistic, intellectual to the point of passionlessness, Rubalcaba's piano is one of the towering voices in contemporary jazz)
> Smart and Hot: Edsel Gomez - Cubist Music (Latin jazz pianist Gomez leads an incredible band - including variously on reeds Don Byron, David Sanchez, Miguel Zenon, Greg Tardy and Steve Wilson - through a set of carefully imagined, fired-up explorations of "cubist" ideas, whatever that means)
> Finger-Poppin' Time: Roy Hargrove - Nothing Serious (the rock-solid New Lion Hargrove, playing trumpet and flugelhorn with his working band - Justin Robinson, alto and flute; Ronnie Matthews, piano; Willie Jones III, drums; Dwayne Burno, bass; plus on three cuts the great 'bonist Slide Hampton - offers rousing mainstream hard bop with Latin seasonings)
> The Future of Jazz (Like So Much Else) Rests on Europe: Tineke Postma - For the Rhythm (the title belongs on another outing for a drummer, but Postma is a Dutch alto and soprano player and composer who creates gorgeous, swinging, up-to-date mainstream jazz)
> Getting There Is Half the Fun: Tomasz Stanko Quartet - Lontano (Miles-ish Polish trumpeter Stanko and pals, starting to loosen up, finally, after years of playing together, and prodded by the warm keyboard commentaries of Marcin Wasilewski, generate freely improvised music as gorgeous as it is cerebral)
> Laid back: Manu Katche - Neighborhood (the Afro-French drummer Katche, who's worked with Peter Gabriel, Afro-Celt Sound System, Al DiMeola, Sting, Youssou N'dour, Jan Garbarek - I guess there's a thread there somewhere - is keeping time here for a dynamite group that includes Stanko and Garbarek on horns, backed by Wasilewski and bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz from Stanko's band - although Katche's a delicate player, the addition of Garbarek gives this release muscle)
> Free Jazz for People Who Think They Don't Like Free Jazz: Eric Friedlander - Prowl (doubtless inevitable that a cellist will have a varied career, it's not surprising that Friedlander's cv extends from Marin Alsop's Concordia through Joe Lovano and John Zorn to Courtney Love's Hole - here music of profound improvisational intensity is performed with remarkable grace by group that includes Andy Laster on alto and
clarinet, Stomu Takeishi on electric bass, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi)
> Structured Free Music: Nels Cline - New Monastery (L.A.guitar virtuoso Cline and a lineup unusual to the point of weird - Ben Goldberg, clarinets; Bobby Bradford, cornet; Andrea Parkins, accordion; Devin Hoff, bass; Scott Amendola and, on twocuts, Alex Cline, drums - use the compositions of keyboard genius Andrew Hill to launch a set that is at once free form and formal, wild and disciplined, challenging and engaging, serious and fun, and endlessly rewarding)
> Before we get to the best of the 2006 best, Golden Oldies like Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall and the boxed set Miles Davis' The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 would make the best list of whatever year they were released - did these even come out in 2006?; I'm not sure, but who cares?)

And now, taking the bronze (and talk about your oldies by goodies):
> Misbehavin': Fats Waller - If You've Got To Ask, You Ain't Got It (master of slide piano, brilliant improviser, great songwriter - "Ain't Misbehavin," "Honeysuckle Rose" - vocalist nonpareil, and Entertainer of the Year - any year; 3 cds make it expensive, but it's worth every penny, 'cause it'll never be off your player: if you buy only one record this year, blah blah blah...)

Building now...:
> Quiet Daring: Andrew Hill - Time Lines (the very same Mr. Hill, undeservedly obscure musicians' musician, highly creative and technically gifted pianist, composer and leader, delivers the umpteenth groundbreaking album in a career stretching back to the 60s, this one enhanced by the sound of the too-little-heard bass clarinet, here in the able hands of saxophonist Greg Tardy)

And the winner is:
> Jazz Master Returns: Ornette Coleman - Sound Grammar (the Free Jazz pioneer's first album in a decade, recorded when the saxophonist was 75 years old, is the jazz record of the year: the quartet this time includes son Denardo Coleman on drums and two bassists, Greg Cohen mostly plucking and Tony Falanga mostly bowing; hard to recall how much outrage this exuberant, lyrical, blues-soaked innovator once inspired - this is soul music and music for the soul
[postscript: if the latter wasn't enough, Pat Methany has re-released one of the great albums from the Coleman canon as Song X: Twentieth Anniversary, adding six new tracks and remixing the original eight - Ornette Coleman rocks!


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