Traditionally, magazines and websites offer a Top Ten of the “best” recordings from the past year. But we quickly realized that this was not going to work. There were just way too many great recordings released this year. So we decided to go with a top twenty. However, as we were down to the final cut there were two recordings that we felt had to be included with the others we chose. So we decided to go with 21 selections. So here, presented in no particular order of preference, are our Top Twenty-One Favorites (or “faves”) of 2010. We loved them all and many others not included among this group.
Trio of OZ
The O is drummer Omar Hakim and the Z is pianist Rachel Z. They’re joined in a trio setting by bassist Maeve Royce for some fantasic covers of a range of tunes. Great stuff! Check out our review here.
Babatunde Lea – Umbo Weti
An incredible tribute to Leon Thomas and an incredible live set at Yoshi’s. A fantastic band here, featuring Patrice Rushen on piano, Ernie Watts on saxophone, Gary Brown on bass and the spirited Babatunde Lea on drums and percussion, with powerful vocal work by Dwight Tribble. Check out our review here.
Esperanza Spalding – Chamber Music Society
Esperanza deserves credit for following her musical heart and not doing the expected and giving birth to Chamber Music Society. With the help of Gil Golstein she produced a beautiful recording that pushes the envelope of classical music. Check out our review here.
Gregory Porter – Water
An amazing voice. Fantastic debut for a very impressive talent. Porter earned a Grammy nomination for this project. We wish him a long career, for his benefit, and ours!
Check out our review here.
Charles Lloyd – Mirror
The venerable master saxophonist continues at his best. Mirror is one of his best featuring first class musicianship from pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.Check out our review here.
Gerri Allen & Timeline – Live
Joining tap and jazz in a live recording sounds like a tough feat, but Gerri Allen, with the help of her band, managed to make it work and produced an excellent recording. Check out our review here.
Geof Bradfield – African Flowers
Inspired by a tour of African countries, Geof Bradfield composed this excellent suite of music. He’s joined by Ryan Cohan among others. Really enjoyable work. Check out our review here.
Myron Walden – In This World : What We Share
This was one part of Myron Walden’s In This World series. Both are great recordings, but we got to know this one quite well last summer. Beautiful music. Check out our review here.
Tineke Postma – The Traveller
It’s always great to discover a new talent and music that’s interesting and demands to heard, this was the case with Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma and her recording. Another great young composer.
Cindy Blackman – Another Lifetime
In the spirit of her friend and mentor, Tony Williams, drummer Cindy Blackman celebrated with a boundary-pushing project on this one. Powerful drumming and great guitar work from Mike Stern among others. Check out our review here.
Mike LeDonne – The Groover
LeDonne produced a real big city jazz record with this one. True to it’s name, this one is a groovefest, with saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein and Joe Farnsworth on drums.
Tia Fuller – Decisive Steps
Following her excellent debut release a few years ago, Decisive Steps continues saxophonist Tia Fuller’s musical ascendency. Solid compositions and musicianship made this one to love.
Ian Carey Quintet – Contextualizin’
Another solid band out of the Chicago area. Ian and the Quintet have a nice sound that can appeal to musiclovers across the jazz spectrum and beyond. Check out our review here.
Ever the musical explorer, violinist Regina Carter drew from the inspiration of field recordings of Ugandan worshippers to create this project. She even makes it swing. Check out our review here.
Greta Matassa- I Wanna Be Loved
Greta was one of the many nice discoveries of 2010. Greta Matassa has a tremendously powerful voice, combine that with great tunes and you’ve got a recording worth hearing. Check out our review here.
Christian Scott – Yesterday You Said TomorrowOn his third studio effort, Christian Scott continues to innovate with the trumpet. One gets the feeling that Miles Davis would be doing much of what Scott is doing if he were among us today. Check out our review here.
Dana Hall – Into The Light
Great compositions and performance from the talented Chicago-based Dana Hall made this one we really liked a lot. Check out our review here.
Mary Stallings – Dream
Vocalist Mary Stallings just gets better with each outing. We love hearing every note she sings. Pianist Eric Reed does a great job, as always, arranging the notes. Check out our review here.
Helio Alves – Musica
Pianist Helio Alves was kind of a late discovery, but well worth it. It’s just a pleasure to listen to this recording. Check out our review here.
Violinist Christian Howes was another great music revelation. In the tradition of Stuff Smith, he’s another wonderully swinging violinist. Great performances and with Robben Ford! How can you go wrong?!
The Mason Brothers – Two Sides, One Story
The Mason Brothers have a wonderful blend of sound. Terrific musicianship on this effort. Check out our review here.