Rons' Top 10 for 2009

It is summer again, which means put on your sun block every day; pick up (or download) a few good books; load – or download – some new music, and cool out. Here are some choices for the music. You are on your own for the eBooks:

Gary Burton/Pat Metheny – Quartet Live (Concord Jazz)
This is Gary Burton playing with a frequent collaborator (PM), Pat’s exceptional drummer, Antonio Sanchez, and the iconic patek philippe replica electric bassist Steve Swallow, who goes back four decades with Gary and three with Pat. As expected, the rhythm section is very solid and the main guys are splendid. This recording at Yoshi’s in Oakland is mainly a GB-type show, so the tunes are not marathons, with the exception of the final track, Metheny’s tour de force “Question and Answer,” which left me breathless. This is my pick for Best Jazz CD of 2009.

Branford Marsalis – Metamorphosen (Marsalis Music)
Why the Germanic spelling for metamorphosis, Branford? Never mind, that’s OK, just keep playing like this. Over the last decade, with no personnel changes, the band has grown together and has produced six exceptional recordings. I am not sure where or if a metamorphosis is occurring, but… whatever. There are two compositions by each of the other players (pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts), but only one by Branford, the quirky and catchy “Jabberwocky.” Monk’s “Rhythm-A-Ning” rounds out this exceptional CD.

Giovanni Mirabassi – Out of Track (Discograph)
Giovanni is a veteran Paris-based Italian pianist, little known in the U.S. and mostly influenced by Enrico Piernunzi, a classical-jazz fuser, and also Keith Jarrett, I would say. This man plays a LOT of piano and the trio is empathic and strong, especially drummer Leon Parker (best known to the followers of Jacky Terrasson), who is a master cymbal colorist. The entire CD is captivating and melodic, but in no way an exercise in technique a la Eldar. Mirabassi makes the melodies sing and swing. Check him on YouTube first panerai replica.

Yaron Herman – Muse (Laborie Records)
This is a young Israeli pianist also living in Paris, who is a superb composer as well as a player. This CD is mostly trio with bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Gerald Cleaver, but there are also a few tracks with the Quattuor Ebéne (string quartet), but the strings are quite subtle. Less ebullient than Mirabassi, Herman nevertheless has a great deal to say and has a sophisticated musical vocabulary. Cleaver is gifted and gets deep into the rhythm. This is not hard-swinging music, but very compelling, nonetheless.

Keith Jarrett – Yesterdays (ECM)
It is hard to go wrong recommending the Standards Trio after about 25 recordings by Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. These records are never fancy or bizarre, which is their charm. Familiar tunes played expertly and improvised from start to finish as perfectly as if written out. Jarrett plays melodically, creatively, with a time feel that is nonpareil, the best since Bill Evans. This never gets old, although some of the material in recent recordings is head-scratching. No collection is complete without all Keith Jarrett recordings, so get this one, too.

Bob Mintzer Big Band – Swing Out (MCG Records)
No one does big bands better than Bob Mintzer, a superior tenor saxophonist, composer, and arranger. Now that he lives in L.A., he has formed a West Coast band to go with his East Coast band of first-call musicians (heard on this CD). Bob composed six of the nine tunes and arranged all of them, as usual. The title, as Mintzer replica watches explains in the liner notes, conveys both the emphasis on “swing” and the implication that “out” means beyond the usual. This album does in fact swing beyond the usual.