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Jason Moran Tops Spinner's Best Jazz of 2010

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Thursday December 09, 2010

From Spinner

Best Jazz Albums of 2010
By: Tad Hendrickson

For the music obsessed, every year has a musical identity that’s colored by the new albums and songs that receive steady play on our various devices. I generally love doing these year-end things because it gives me a chance to go back to pieces that jumped out at the time. More than that, it’s interesting to see how the music ages – some stuff sounds better now than it did at the time, other stuff that sounded great in April seems positively flat in December, and then there’s the music that sounded great when it came out and now sounds as good, if not better. These 10 album all fall into the last category.

It’s worth noting that this year seems to be overwhelmed by pianists, not just because Jason Moran (pictured) is No. 1 but also because of great albums from Matthew Shipp, Fred Hersch and Keith Jarrett. More than that, Moran’s sideman work on Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green’s ‘Apex’ and Craig Taborn’s on Michael Formanek’s ‘The Rub and Spare Change’ are as good as anything they’ve done on their own. There are two solo albums here in the shape of Shipp and Marc Ribot, as well, which I believe is a first for my year-end list. I should also point out that a majority of these artists skew under 40 and still play out in the clubs and at festivals, so go see them if you have the chance. Enjoy the list, and let me know what you think!

1. Jason Moran, ‘Ten’ (Blue Note)
No surprise here. The pianist and his long-running trio return with the next great chapter from one of this era’s important jazz figures. I’ve always enjoyed my share of Monk, and Moran brings it here on ‘Crepuscule with Nellie,’ which has the same playfulness of the original while also smartly going back to Monk’s roots in stride piano and the blues. Add to this several strong originals, a tune by his mentor Jaki Byard, as well as a few experiments using pieces by modern classical composer Conlon Nancarrow, and you’ve got yourself a classic.

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