Ellis Marsalis – Whistle Stop (1994)

NICK DERISO: This album effectively reminded us that New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis was still a hat-tipping, oh-so-swinging piano man — something the thoughtful, often romantic playing on his 1991 “Heart of Gold” release and then “Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 3” with trumpet-playing son Wynton, couldn’t have hinted at. This cat, you’re reminded, can cook. Ellis sat in withRead More

Jim Hall – Dedications and Inspirations (1994)

Jim Hall displays an extraordinary warmth here, expanding upon his terrific 1984 duo collaboration with bassist Ron Carter on Concord, “Live at the Village West.” This is where Hall was perhaps always headed, even while he established himself as an ace sideman in associations with legends like Ella Fitzgerald (on the famous “Ella in Berlin” concert for Verve), then downsizedRead More

Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Miles Davis- Birth of the Cool, Vol. 2 (1992)

NICK DERISO: Volume 2 gives an idea of how considerable a wake the 1940s Miles Davis Nonet left. Taking its name from Davis’ legendary 1950 recording, this welcome, if belated, compilation scoops up all of the Capitol cuts from the early ’50s by two of the nonet’s most important disciples, Shorty Rogers and his Giants and the Gerry Mulligan Tentette.Read More

Ryan Blotnick – Music Needs You (2008)

The twenty-something jazz guitarist from Maine named Ryan Blotnick is rapidly emerging as a force to be reckoned with. He first got mentioned in this space a few years ago as a member of a really good global party band called Akoya Afrobeat. Right about the same time that P.D.P came out, Blotnick released his own album — his firstRead More

James Moody – Young at Heart (1996)

NICK DERISO: A weighty recording from a player who should have been long gone, on a subject that shouldn’t afford such texture. Saxophonist James Moody’s “Young at Heart,” aptly titled, is a shower of invention from out of the clear blue, this burst of romanticism from an aging bebopper that stands as the best-ever instrumental album featuring songs associated withRead More

Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Made in New Orleans: The Hurricane Sessions (2007)

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, perhaps the very face of New Orleans music, shoulders a heavy burden on “The Hurricane Sessions” in trying to convey the sweeping emotions surrounding Katrina. So much happened away from those familiar wooden benches at 726 St. Peter St. in the dusty room known as Preservation Hall. In fact, that’s why this record almost neverRead More

Delfeayo Marsalis – Pontius Pilate's Decision (1992)

NICK DERISO: That year’s best Marsalis record wasn’t from Wynton, Leno’s then-sidekick or Pops. It was this debut album from pianist Ellis Marsalis’ fourth son Delfeayo, the bone player and now-famous jazz producer. Delfeayo’s first stint on the other side of the mixing board is stirring and obtuse, a near-perfect blend of pillow-case smooth Wynton and angular, explorative Branford. ThisRead More

My All-Star CD's of 2007: The Alternates

by S. Victor Aaron What a year it’s been for a baby boomer like me. We’ve seen strong fresh offerings from stalwarts like Paul McCartney, John Fogerty, America, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, Jean-Luc Ponty, John Mellencamp and yes, even the Eagles. What’s more, the old stuff pulled from the vaults for the first time from luminaries like NeilRead More

Terence Blanchard – The Malcolm X Jazz Suite (1992)

NICK DERISO: The task here was turning sweeping orchestral themes from trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s score for Spike Lee’s epic bio into a piece that not only holds together — but also comes across like a true jazz recording. Blanchard’s effort is a triumph, something memorably better than the original film’s music in its dedication to searing emotion then subtle meloncholyRead More

Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie – Max + Dizzy, Paris (1990)

NICK DERISO: What an enveloping, unforgettable experience: Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and drummer Max Roach, then bop’s most visible surviving pioneers, performing as a duo in a completely improvised concert. Neither had ever recorded a more free-form album, yet still there remains a deep affection for what came before — and what a treasure it was, what came before. Fifty yearsRead More