David "Fathead" Newman – House of David (1993)

NICK DERISO: Take some time with this one, which underscores the impressive contributions of a guy who first blew us away backing up with bluesman ZuZu Bollin, later came to fame playing a sideman’s role with Ray Charles, made some bold moves in jazz — then settled into R&B and pop-influenced fusion. This two-disc anthology does a good job ofRead More

Duke Ellington – The Great London Concerts (1963)

NICK DERISO: When Duke Ellington strolled out on stage for this 1958 date, it had been 25 years since he’d previously appeared in Europe. Still, though he was kept away by a war and a drawn-out dispute between the U.S. and Brit’s musicians unions, you could say Ellington had made quite an impression with that earlier 1933 show in London.Read More

Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Harry Edison and Clark Terry – The Trumpet Kings Meet Joe Turner (1974)

NICK DERISO: One of those all-star dates that bridges genres, even generations, “The Trumpet Kings” is an amalgamation of so many concurrent joys that it’s a wonder this Pablo release ever got made. We have out front one Big Joe Turner, a 6-2, 300-something pound Kansas City belter known as the Boss of the Blues — and one capable ofRead More

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)

Delfeayo Marsalis – Pontius Pilate’s Decision (1992)

The year’s best Marsalis record wasn’t from Wynton, Leno’s then-sidekick or Pops. Instead, it was pianist Ellis’ fourth son Delfeayo Marsalis.