‘JazzTimes’ Top 50 Albums

'JazzTimes Magazine' recently released their Top 50 albums review list, which gives insight into some great musicians and pieces.

Ambrose Akinmusire. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org.


JazzTimes Magazine
January/February 2015 has released its top 50 albums of the year. 

Every year, JazzTimes Magazine does its Reader’s Poll results, and this year’s top album is no surprise! Well, at least to those who follow jazz! I will quote a brief excerpt from the reviewer just to give the reader a birds-eye view of the album, followed by my thoughts on the review itself. As a musician, there times I feel that reviewers don’t give quite the objective view, although the review itself might be considered good.

JazzTimes Magazine, like many other music trade periodicals, conducts reader polls to help get an overall look at the market and assess what is moving in terms of listenership. JazzTimes Magazine has calculated 40 top new releases also and 10 top “historical/reissue” recordings.  I have included the top five albums below:

  1. Sonny Rollins: Road Shows volume 3 (DOXY/OKEH). Leave it to Sonny Rollins to have something of a big year without putting the horn in his mouth on a concert hall stage even once. All three installments of his Road Shows have topped this poll.” According to Even Hoga, who reviewed this album, Sonny Rollins is “our greatest living Jazz musician, so when he releases an album, an aggregate of serious jazz observers will judge it the greatest jazz recording of the year.” Well, I don’t know if he is our greatest living musician, because drummer Roy Haynes is 90 and is still drumming up a storm.
  2. Ambrose Akinmusire: The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier To Paint (Blue Note). His third album, according to his review, is “Unabashedly arty, Akinmusire’s third album is his ‘composer’ record.  He doesn’t play it safe either. Throughout, the high, clear, crying tone of the leader’s horn penetrates the band and is dead on.” said Michael West. My thoughts are, why should he play it safe? If you are trying to make that musical statement that counts, go for the gusto. You are out there to go to the cutting edge.
  3. Jason Moran: All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller (Blue Note). According to Brad Farberman, “Generally speaking, who needs another tribute project? But Moran’s All Rise is a necessity, simply because he-with help from co-producer/vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello-funks up Fat music with such soul and spirit.” Now, interpreting one of the all-time masters of stride piano is a task in itself. But, I can clearly say, if one has the chops, by all means knock yourself out. When you take on a musical challenge such as Fats Waller’s music, you better be up to the challenge and nothing less.  As far as speaking of giants, here is a giant indeed.
  4. Mark Turner Quartet: Lathe of Heaven (ECM). I like this review! I have heard Mark Turner’s music many times, although I have yet to see him live. But from what I have heard, this review by Evan Hoga is right on the money: “Saxophonist Turner is so egalitarian as a player and composer that his selflessness is his defining trait as a bandleader. Lathe of Heaven, his leader debut for ECM and first album under his own name since 2001, puts top-flight talent-trumpeter Avashi Cohen, bassist Joe Martin and  drummer Marcus Gilmore-to smart, soulful and empathetic use.” Turner can play some mean horn! He can turn a prestisimo presto into a musical journey down the highway into a leisurely drive on a country road. The man is just an awesome musician. I think the original review does him Justice.
  5. Steve Lehman Octet: Mise En Abime (PL). Another review by Brad Farberman seems to give just a bit of edge to this review as he states the album’s “crooked drum grooves spooky vibraphone and the leader’s sweet but unsettled alto saxophone, this eight-piece makes fuzzy, funky music that seems  to have dropped from outer space.” I have not heard this album yet, but based on what I just read, you can bet I will make a point to listen to it real soon.

I like music that seems to be from outer space because it makes me feel good. Feel free to check out the rest of JazzTimes Magazine’s Top 50 list for some great new music!

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