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Top Ten

JazzChicago's Top Jazz Albums of 2008

It's that time of year again - a chance to go back and listen to the best recordings of the the year again. Obviously, I didn't get to hear everything I wanted - Vijay Iyer's "Tragicomic," Danilo Perez' "Across the Crystal Sea," "The Exploding Star Orchestra with Bill Dixon" and Patricia Barber's "The Cole Porter Mix" were some I didn't get my hands on for various reasons (review copy "in the mail?" Hey you snooze, you lose!). But of the albums I did receive - and despite how good that Dafnis Prieto release is - in the end there really was no contest: David Sanchez' "Cultural Survival" was the clear winner.

In awarding the top slot to Sanchez, it brings up the question: is it possible for a Grammy-nominated album to be underrated? In this case, the answer is yes. Not only is "Cultural Survival" the best "Latin Jazz" album, it is the best overall Jazz release of the year in my humble opinion. Some critics insist that Sanchez is a mere Coltrane wannabee and that his "pretty" tunes fail to carry the weight of his intended subjects (ie: the legacy of slavery), but that seems to me to be overthinking the matter. The proof is in the music: the actuality is the compositions transcend the program and the playing enthralls the open-minded listener. The balance between the experimental and the beautifully melodic is achieved here in a recording that helped make 2008 memorable.

Cultural Survival
#1 - David Sanchez
"Cultural Survival"

Taking the Soul for a Walk
#2 - Dafnis Prieto
"Taking the Soul for a Walk"
Epic Journey Vol. I & II
#3 - Adam Niewood
"Epic Journey Vol. I & II"
#4 - Marc Copland
Gary Peacock, Paul Motian

"New York Trio Recordings Vol.2 - Voices"
Music Box Ballerina
#5 - Matt Ulery's Loom
"Music Box Ballerina"
Appearing Nightly
#6 - Carla Bley & Her Remarkable Big Band
"Appearing Nightly"
Change of Scenery
#7 - Peter Paulson Sextet
"Change of Scenery"
Blues Twilight
#8 - Richard Boulger
"Blues Twilight"
Nordic Disruption
#9 - NYNDK
"Nordic Disruption"
#10 - Hans Glawischnig

#11 - Arturo O'Farrill - "Song For Chico"

#12 - Peter Erskine, Tim Hagans & the Norbotten Big Band - "Worth the Wait"

#13 - Donny McCaslin - "Recommended Tools"

#14 - Geof Bradfield - "Urban Nomad"

#15 - Roger Kellaway - "Live at the Jazz Standard"

#16 - Kelly Brand Sextet - "The Door"

#17 - Marcin Wasilewski Trio - "January"

#18 - Miguel Zenon - "Awake"

#19 - Emilio Solla Y Afines - "Conversas (Al Lado Del Agua)"

#20 - Mark Prince - "Fraction of Infinity"

Other Notable 2008 Recordings

Corey Wilkes -"Drop It"
Aaron Parks - "Invisible Cinema"
blink -"The Epidemic of Ideas"
Rave Tesar Trio -"You Decide"
Jim Trompeter -"Wakefulness"
and -"Live at the Green Mill"
Mary Fettig -"Brazilian Footprints"
Shawn Maxwell -"Originals II"
Bryan Beninghove -"Organ Trio"
Avery Sharpe -"Legends and Mentors"
Tony do Rosario -"The Welcoming"
Todd Coolman -"Perfect Strangers"
Marilyn Mazur & Jan Garbarek -"Elixer"
Bill Stewart -"Incandescence"
Anna Estrada -"Sonanda Vuelos"
Ketil Bjornstad & Terje Rypdal -"Life in Leipzig"
Dave Askren -"Trio Nuevo Plus"
Sam Sadigursky -"The Words Project II"
Grazyna Augusik & Paulinho Garcia -"Andanca"
Frank Catalano -"Bang"

Song of the Year: David Sanchez - "La Leyenda del Canaveral"
Runner Up: Carla Bley - "Appearing Nightly at the Black Orchid"

Jewel in the Lotus

ReRelease of the Year
Bennie Maupin
"The Jewel in the Lotus"

Runner up: Enrico Rava - "The Pilgrim and the Stars"
Although not technically a "rerelease" - these two previously unreleased recordings should be noted:

Shirley Horn - "Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival"
Art Blakey - "Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival"

Dee Alexander
2008 Chicago Jazz Artist of the Year
Dee Alexander

Runner Up:
Orbert Davis

The Awakening
2008 Concert of the Year
Ken Chaney's "The Awakening" Reunion

Other Great 2008 Concerts

Dee Dee Bridgewater at Jazz Fest 2008
Orbert Davis' Nelson Mandela Tribute at Millenium Park
8 Bold Souls with Dee Alexander at Jazz Fest
Orbert Davis at Hyde Park
Joshua Redman and Braford Marsalis at Symphony Center
Mingus Big Band at Jazz Fest
Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble at Millenium Park
Ornette Coleman at Jazz Fest
Donny McCaslin at the Green Mill
Sonny Rollins at Millenium
Marcin Wasilewski at the Morse Theatre
Dee Alexander and Maggie Brown - Tribute to Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone and Dinah Washington at Kennedy-King College
Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Harris Theatre

Check out 2007's Top 10 CDs

Check out other recent CD reviews

Check out other recent concert reviews

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