Redwood Jazz Alliance

Top Picks for 2007

Five RJA board members agreed to pick their favorite albums of 2007; Thomas Fossier demurred, claiming to have listened only to 30-year-old jazz all year long. Some picked 10; others more. Most ranked their choices only under protest (well, okay: under pressure from North Coast Journal columnist Bob Doran; see "The Hum" for December 20, 2007). Top honors, determined by a slightly arcane calculus, went to the album(s) that garnered the greatest number of highest rankings. The collective placings are as follows--though we've also decided to bore you with the full results further down:

  1. (tie) Chris Potter 10, "Song for Anyone" (Sunnyside) and Chris Potter and Underground, "Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard" (Sunnyside).
    The former is chamber music-like, with flute, clarinet, bassoon and a string trio. The latter is funk- and rock-influenced postbop with a bass-less quartet. What they have in common is Potter's brilliant improvisations on tenor and soprano saxes and bass clarinet.
  2. Maria Schneider Orchestra, "Sky Blue" (Artist Share). Her greatness as a composer became apparent a couple of CDs ago. This disc is filled with music that’s lovely at first listen and grows increasingly rich and deep with repeated hearings.
  3. Enrico Rava Quartet, "The Words and the Days" (ECM). One of the giants of post-Miles trumpet playing, Rava has been dubbed “Italy’s gift to jazz.” Lively, gorgeous music from an all-Italian group.
  4. Michael Brecker, "Pilgrimage" (Heads Up). On his final recording, the late great tenor saxophonist gets some old friends (Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnette) to play all-star sidemen for an album of urgent, swinging originals.
  5. Trio M (Myra Melford-Mark Dresser-Matt Wilson), "Big Picture" (Cryptogramophone). These three share much more than an initial. Terrific composers and brilliant players all, their interplay is what really makes this album shine.
  6. (tie) Dave Douglas & Keystone, "Moonshine" (Greenleaf) and Dave Douglas Quintet, "Live at the Jazz Standard" (Greenleaf). The first (and most recent) disc reconvenes Douglas's funked-up silent-film band for an even more daring session than the eponymous debut from two years ago; the second--a double album culled from an epic six-night stand a year ago at New York City's Jazz Standard--may be the last testament of a powerhouse quintet.
  7. Kenny Werner, "Lawn Chair Society" (Blue Note). The Humboldt County favorite and friend of the RJA gets ever more adventurous: Werner rounds up some young lions (Dave Douglas, Chris Potter, Scott Colley, Brian Blade) and colors his passionate lyricism with touches of freaky electronics.
  8. Joshua Redman Trio, "Back East" (Nonesuch). Redman always seems to play his best in the trio format. On this disc, he takes Sonny Rollins' classic album "Way Out West" as a starting point, but his originals (some which go as far east as India) are at least as good.
  9. David Binney & Edward Simon, "Oceanos" (Criss Cross)
  10. Carla Bley, "The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu" (Watt/ECM)

Honorable Mentions:

The Full Monty:

Dan Aldag:
1) Maria Schneider Orchestra: Sky Blue (ArtistShare)
T2) Chris Potter 10: Song For Anyone (Sunnyside)
T2) Chris Potter: Follow the Red Line-Live (Sunnyside)
3) Charles Mingus Sextet: Cornell 1964 (Blue Note)
4) Joshua Redman: Back East (Nonesuch)
5) David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground (Justin Time)
6) Joan Stiles: Hurly-Burly (Oo-Bla-Dee Music)
7) Marty Erhlich and Myra Melford: Spark! (Palmetto)
8) Michael Brecker: Pilgrimage (Heads Up)
9) Uri Caine Ensemble: Plays Mozart (Winter and Winter)
10) Trio M: Big Picture (Cryptogramophone)

Michael Eldridge:
T1) Chris Potter 10: Song for Anyone
T1) Chris Potter and Underground: Follow the Red Line
2) Maria Schneider Orchestra: Sky Blue
T3) Dave Douglas and Keystone: Moonshine
T3) Dave Douglas Quintet: Live at the Jazz Standard
4) Donny McCaslin: In Pursuit
5) Jason Lindner Big Band: Live at the Jazz Gallery
6) Joshua Redman Trio: Back East
7) Carla Bley: The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu
8) Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake, From the River to the Ocean
9) Miles Okazaki, Mirror
10) David Binney & Edward Simon, Oceanos

(and a million or so honorable mentions:)
Ralph Alessi & This Against That: Look
Claudia Quintet: For
Anat Cohen: Noir
Scott Colley: Architect of the Silent Moment
Marty Ehrlich-Myra Melford: Spark
Harris Eisenstedt: All Seeing Eye + Octets
Kahil El’Zabar: Transmigration
Drew Gress: The Irrational Numbers
Tom Harrell: Light On
Jewels & Binoculars: Ships with Tattoo’d Sails
David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground
Antonio Sanchez: Migration
Brad Shepik: Places You Go
Helen Sung: Sungbird
Trio M: Big Picture
VA: The Harlem Experiment
Kenny Werner: Lawn Chair Society

Eric Neel:
T1) Chris Potter 10: Song for Anyone
T1) Chris Potter and Underground: Follow the Red Line
2) David S. Ware Quartet: Renunciation
3) Robert Glasper Trio: In My Element
4) David Binney & Edward Simon, Oceanos
T5) Dave Douglas and Keystone: Moonshine
T5) Dave Douglas Quintet: Live at the Jazz Standard
6) Maria Schneider Orchestra: Sky Blue
7) Terrence Blanchard: A Tale of God's Will
8) James Carney Group: Green-Wood
9) Chicago Underground Trio: Chronicle
10) Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions

Michael Quam:
1. Michael Brecker - "Pilgrimage"
2. Enrico Rava Quintet - "The Words and the Days"
3. Muhal Richard Abrams, "Vision Toward Essence"
4. Kurt Elling - "Nightmoves"
5. McCoy Tyner - "Quartet"
6. Kenny Werner - "Lawn Chair Society"
7. William Parker and Hamid Drake - "Summer Snow"
8. Ethnic Heritage Ensemble - "Hot 'N Heavy"
9. Bobby Few - "Lights and Shadows"
10. Dee Dee Bridgewater - "Red Earth"

David Stacey:
1. Enrico Rava. The Words and the Days. ECM.
2. Trio M. (Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, Matt Wilson). The Big Picture.
3. Kenny Werner. Lawn Chair Society. Blue Note.
4. John Scofield. This Meets That. Universal.
5. Harris Eisenstadt. The All Seeing Eye + Octets. Poo-bah Records.
6. Luciana Souza. The New Bossa Nova. Verve.
7. Carla Bley. The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu. Watt ECM.
8. Abram Wilson. Ride! Ferris Wheel to the Modern Day Delta. Dune
Records/The Orchard.
9. Carl Saunders. The Lost Bill Holman Charts. Mama Jazz Foundation/AMG.
10. Marty Erhlich and Myra Melford: Spark! (Palmetto)

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