Joe Lovano and Us Five – Cross Culture (2013)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsNLlhogny0&w=500&h=305] I expected Joe Lovano, after an association dating back to 1981, to offer tribute to Paul Motian — the legend who died just two months before the saxist began Cross Culture. Instead, Lovano begins with a sun-drenched burst of joy.

Adam Larson – Simple Beauty (2013)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP-eth9DdxQ?list=UUCGRvsOHlPsH1VRxdJOsdiQ&w=420&h=315] The debut album from any hard-working jazz musician is a reason to celebrate for all jazz fans because it signals that another practitioner of the art form is adding in some way to its rich and storied recorded history.

Something Else! sneak peek: Matthew Shipp – Greatest Hits (2013)

I know what you’re thinking — How the hell can a guy have a Greatest Hits record when I’ve never heard of him??!! Well, that’s what I used to think about Gino Vannelli until…OK, I still think that about Gino Vannelli.

On Second Thought: Charlie Haden – Rambling Boy (2008)

On Second Thought: Charlie Haden – Rambling Boy (2008)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4k_InRXP-g&w=500&h=305] It’s maybe a little too easy to toss around words like “revolutionary,” but that word certainly applied to the early Ornette Coleman Quartet. There was nothing like it at the time, and the music became ground zero for the free jazz movement.

One Track Mind: Patricia Barber, “Smash” (2013)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ughyl0WTOBU&w=420&h=315] When I listen to Patricia Barber sing, I think of her not so much as a jazz singer than as a poet reciting her work, with the depth and feeling that only the originator of that work can deliver.

Jordon Richardson’s Top Albums for 2012: Jazz

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPtBOpq4v1E&w=500&h=305] With another year gone, the time for lists is upon us. I’ve already toiled over my list of favorite metal albums and my list of pop/rock/whatever albums, so the unenviable task now falls to identifying 2012’s favorite jazz records.

Michael Blake – In The Grand Scheme Of Things (2012)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB7aWTFGcuI&w=420&h=315] Vancouver native and saxophonist Michael Blake came back to this Canadian city after residing in NYC for a quarter century, and brought home a wealth of ideas with him.

Ratchet Orchestra – Hemlock (2012)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk7NPU9jF3E&w=420&h=315] Jazz performed by large orchestras make up a big, important part of the history of jazz but the kind of big bands that get me fired up the most are ones who break from convention and behave like a rowdy, small band.

Notable 2012 deaths in music: Dave Brubeck, Dick Clark, Don Cornelius, Levon Helm, Jon Lord

Notable 2012 deaths in music: Dave Brubeck, Dick Clark, Don Cornelius, Levon Helm, Jon Lord

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOi0tC00Luc&w=500&h=305] We stop today to remember those who left the world of music in 2012, from Dave Brubeck and Dick Clark to Levon Helm and Ronnie Montrose.

Jeremy Udden – Folk Art (2012)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di2EmyzCmdw&w=420&h=315] As one of jazz’s more restless saxophonists of his generation, Jeremy Udden has moved from the “melodic jazz-rock” of his Torchsongs ensemble to the country/folk-inflected jazz of Plainville.