Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Albums of the Year 2010

The paradox of the end-of-year-lists :

The basic questions are 
  1. how can you compare apples and oranges?
  2. is it even fair to rank art in stupid lists, since it is all so very subjective?
  3. isn't this creating a competition where there is none (or is there?)
 On the other hand,
  1. we all love lists
  2. it highlights great albums and artists again for the great music they offered us in the course of the year
  3. it enables fans to compare lists and discuss the music and share ideas

Anyway, here is my list, in inverse order of review, but no ranking in terms of preference :

This is not a big surprise, since these are the albums that received a 5-star rating this year. Yet, looking at it now, it is quite balanced, with musicians from all over the world, with various approaches to music, some very strongly based in the jazz tradition, others more in free improv and beyond, some very innovative listening experiences (see the Happy New Ears Award), some more romantic, others quite abstract.

The real question is then, to which albums did I listen most?

Without a doubt that was Elliptical West, possibly on the same level as The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer, with Hera coming close to that. You may wonder when I did all this, but I listened to those albums at least thirty times.

In terms of labels, Clean Feed, No Business and Not Two are again among the best in the free and avant jazz genre.

The best re-issues of the year are without a doubt Amalgam - A Prayer For Peace and Irene Schweizer Trio & Dewan Motihar Trio - Jazz Meets India and of coures Mark Charig's Pipedream.

The year will also be remembered for the sad passing away of several jazz greats : Bill Dixon, Fred Anderson, Marion Brown, Harry Beckett and Noah Howard. We will remember them and their legacy.

Despite this sad news, it was again a fantastic year for free music. May creativity be even stronger next year, and hopefully we will hear many new voices or new and captivating "sound stories" from the old voices.


© stef

4 comments:

polish jazz said...

Thank you stef! I appreciate a lot your work. So many valuable opinions. So many recordings which I would never listen if I did not read about them on your blog. My best wishes for New Year 2011 :-)))

Guy said...

there are several albums on your list that also made it onto mine, which in a way seems reaasuring. "epileptical west" was also one of my most played albums this year. what a blast it is, each time again.
thanks for the reviews and the tips, it's been, once again, a valuable source of information

Jeff said...

Great list Stef. As far as re-issues go I would like to throw into the arena - Henry Threadgill:
Complete Novus/Columbia Recordings (#247)
http://www.mosaicrecords.com/prodinfo.asp?number=247-MD-CD.
I can't stop listening to this box set. Mosaic really put out a gem w/ this one.
The beauty of it is that between the Air and solo stuff I only had a couple of these records. This set pretty much filled in the holes in my own Threadgill collection. Now I have most of his recorded output.
A big thanks to Mosaic for releasing these amazing recordings from this, one of the great composers/musicians of our generation.
Also Stef,
your sight is one of my favorite websites PERIOD!
So much valuable info and reviews.
hopefully the blog continues in one form or another.
Many thanks to you for opening my eyes (and ears) to so many great recordings and also keeping me in touch w/ the great free jazz/improvised music community which I have truly missed since moving away from Chicago to a place not so versed in newer/improvised/free music forms.
All the best in the new year Stef!!
Sincerely,
jeff

Pete said...

....and not forgetting the sad loss of Willem Breuker. So much good music, so little time....