Jazz Consumer Guide (17):

These are the prospecting notes from working on Jazz CG #17. The idea here was to pick an unrated record from the incoming queue, play it, jot down a note, and a grade. Any grade in brackets is tentative, with the record going back for further play. Brackets are also used for qualifying notes: "advance" refers to a record that was reviewed on the basis of an advance of special promo copy, without viewing the final packaging; "Rhapsody" refers to a record that was reviewed based on streaming the record from the Rhapsody music service; in this case I've seen no packaging material or promotional material, except what I've scrounged up on the web. In some of these cases there is a second note, written once I've settled on the grade. Rarely there may be an additional note written after grading.

These were written from Apr. 7 to Aug. 4, 2008, with non-finalized entries duplicated from previous prospecting. The notes have been sorted by artist. The chronological order can be obtained from the notebook or blog.

The number of records noted below is 291. The count from the previous file was 240 (before that 259).

The Cannonball Adderley Sextet: In New York (Keepnews Collection) (1962 [2008], Riverside): Starts with the leader explaining that they've made a bunch of live records in San Francisco, but hadn't done one in New York before because they didn't think the audience was hip enough. However, now it turns out that the matinee audience passed muster, so they figure they'll give it a try. The sextet swings effortlessly, but their slickness leaves a greasy aftertaste, and tenor sax man Yusef Lateef's forays into exotica, including bits on oboe and flute, seem out of place. B

Nat Adderley: Work Song (1960 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection): Cannonball's little brother plays a lean, unpolished cornet, backed by a group that straddles Bobby Timmons' funk-groove piano and Wes Montgomery's slickened blues guitar. The irresistibly catchy title cut makes this a minor hard bop classic. A-

Jason Ajemian: The Art of Dying (2007 [2008], Delmark): Bassist, from Chicago, part of the Chicago Underground consortium. Has a trio called Smokeless Heat with Tim Haldeman on tenor sax and Noritaka Tanaka on drums, but for most of the album this group is expanded to include Jamie Branch on trumpet, Matt Schneider on guitar, and/or Jason Adasiewicz on marimba. Mostly short, intimate free exchanges -- 14 such cuts, only 2 over 5:00 -- followed by a 23:54 radio shot. [B+(**)]

Jason Ajemian: The Art of Dying (2007 [2008], Delmark): Chicago Underground bassist, leads a trio Smokeless Heat with Tim Haldeman on tenor sax and Noritaka Tanaka on drums. For the studio sessions here the trio is expanded to a sextet, giving the composer more options and the musicians less. They try interesting things, but it sounds rather pro forma. At least until the last cut, a 23:54 radio shot with just the trio, no clutter, everyone sharp as tacks. B+(*)

Ambrose Akinmusire: Prelude (2008, Fresh Sound New Talent): Trumpet player. Not clear whether he was born in Nigeria or Oakland, CA -- Wikipedia supports both claims -- but he grew up in California, attended Manhattan School of Music, got his masters from USC, and is now based in Los Angeles. First album, with Walter Smith III on tenor sax, Aaron Parks on piano, Chris Dingman on vibes, bass, drums, some guests. Some vocal bits muddy the surface, but the trumpet is bright and crisp, and the rest is fashionably postbop. B+(*)

The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet: Stompin' the Blues (2007 [2008], Arbors): Allen is one of my favorite tenor saxophonists, and his collaboration with guitarist Cohn (Al Cohn's son) continues to be fruitful. The medley of "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "Spring Is Here" is especially delightful. Still, this record doesn't quite deliver on its promise. One problem is that "special guest" Scott Hamilton, who pretty much invented the "young fogey" genre, never seems to mesh well with Allen: the two distinctive tones don't fit together nicely, and when they trade lines Allen may be too deferential. Hamilton only appears on three cuts here, but seems to influence more. Or maybe it's a weakness in Allen's originals (4 of 10, more than usual), including the title cut, which doesn't stomp nearly hard enough. On the other hand, the other "special guest" is a solid contributor throughout: trombonist John Allred. B+(**)

JD Allen Trio: I Am I Am (2008, Sunnyside): Proof that my eyes are shot to shit, although I could try blaming the typography, which at worst is illegible and even at large sizes sows confusion. But it doesn't reflect well on my brain either. Since I got this I had it filed under unknown Jo Allen. Finally it dawned on me that we're talking J.D. Allen. I should have realized that immediately, or no later than when I played the record. Allen's a tenor saxophonist, from Detroit, b. 1972 (AMG sez 1974), broke in with Betty Carter, won some prizes for his 1996 debut, and has stood out everywhere he's played since then. This is basic sax trio, riding on the leader's tone and dynamics, which are classic. Hype sheet starts by comparing him with Joe Henderson. That's a good start, although I wouldn't go on to call him "the Tenor of our Time." But it was stupid on my part to have forgotten about him. B+(***)

Jorge Albuquerque/Marcos Amorim/Rafael Barata: Revolging Landscapes (2005 [2008], Adventure Music): Bass, guitar, drums, respectively, from Brazil, recorded in Rio de Janeiro. Soft mood music, tightly strung. Writing credits are divided between Albuquerque and Amorim. I've run across Amorim before, and he's always impressed. This seems more subdued, with the more prominent bass slowing down and flattening out the guitar. Not that that's a complaint. B+(**)

Eric Alexander Quartet: Prime Time: In Concert (2007 [2008], High Note, CD+DVD): Straight-laced tenor saxophonist, the very model of a modern mainstream player, with a broad tone and plenty of energy. I've long admired his work, citing his Dead Center in an early Jazz CG, but he's slipped up quite a bit the last couple of years -- Temple of Olympic Zeus also made JCG, but as a dud. This one is a return to form, probably because the parameters are so straightforward, and the rhythm section -- David Hazeltine on piano, John Webber on bass, Joe Farnsworth on drums -- is perfectly suited to the task. Haven't watched the DVD, which looks to be the same session, in different order, with two extra songs and a longer version of "Nemesis." [B+(**)]

Steve Allee Trio: Dragonfly (2008, Owl Studios): Pianist, from Indianapolis, six albums since 1995. AMG lists him as crossover jazz. I've only heard this and the previous trio album Colors (2007), and he strikes me as a mainstream bebopper, and a pretty good one at that. His "Dedication Suite" strings together pieces dedicated to Bill Evans, Thad Jones, and Oscar Peterson. Saxophonist Rich Perry joins the Trio on three cuts. The first two the sax rises magisterially out of the piano base. The last is a piece of slick funk called "Hip Factor" where the sax is just extra grease. B+(**)

Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Little Things Run the World (2007 [2008], Palmetto): Another Flash-only website. An advance copy with little information; e.g., credits like "Michael Blake (sax on selected tracks)"; no recording date (AMG gives Aug. 17-18, 2007); no song list (AMG doesn't have one either, but I picked up one from Palmetto website; no catalog number (AMG has one but it looks wrong). Presumably Allison wrote all the pieces, since that's something he does. Also, like Gress, he's one of the major bassists of his generation -- not as much session work, but a stronger record as a composer. "Man Size Safe" is a song title as well as the first indication of a group name. Group includes Ron Horton on trumpet, Steve Cardenas on guitar, Michael Sarin on drums, and Blake more or less. Allison was part of a group that called itself the Jazz Composers Collective (along with Horton and Blake, Frank Kimbrough and Ted Nash). They all do sort of left-of-center postbop, but Allison seems to get more kick out of his melodies. This is interesting, thoughtful stuff, but I'll hold off until I know more. [B+(**)] [advance]

Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Little Things Run the World (2007 [2008], Palmetto): The liner notes show a broad thinker -- the title piece a tribute to Gaia hypothesis bacteria, the group name more immediately concerned with Dick Cheney. A-

Misha Alperin: Her First Dance (2006 [2008], ECM): Ukrainian pianist, currently based in Norway. Has a couple of well regarded ECM albums from 1995-97, but little since. Everything in ECM's current batch (well, except for the Evan Parker) can be viewed as some sort of chamber music, but this one most of all. Unorthodox trio, with Arkady Shilkloper on French horn and flugelhorn and Anja Lechner on cello -- a combination that doesn't produce much momentum. [B+(*)] [advance]

Esmée Althuis/Albert Van Veenendaal: The Mystery of Guests (2006-07 [2008], Evil Rabbit): Don't know anything about Althuis, who plays alto sax, c-melody sax, and "blackophone" (total Google search count: 2). Always a bad sign when Google's "I Feel Lucky" website for a musician is tomhull.com. Van Veenendaal is a Dutch pianist I've taken an interest in -- his trio album Predictable Point of Impact is one of the few genuinely exciting piano trio albums to have appeared in the last few years. This is nominally a duo, leaning toward the saxophonist, who while not especially distinctive hangs doggedly in whatever game he finds himself in. As the title suggests, there are guests: Han Bennink (drums) on 3 cuts, Wilbert de Joode (double bass) on 4, Joost Buis (trombone, lap steel guitar) on 3, and Corrie van Binsbergen (guitar) on 2. B+(**)

Louis Armstrong All Stars: Live in Zurich, Switzerland 18.10.1949 (1949 [2007], TCB): Previously unreleased, presumably a live concert recording, pretty much the usual set, jumpin' those good ol' good 'uns. All Stars indeed: Jack Teagarden (trombone, vocals), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Earl Hines (piano), Arvell Shaw (bass), Cozy Cole (drums), Velma Middleton (vocals). Two vocals each by Teagarden and Middleton. Hines get a long intro to "Honeysuckle Rose" and holds court for "Fine and Dandy." Bigard gets a feature on "High Society." Pops MC's, sings a few, and plays his usual spectacular trumpet. Nothing new if you've heard The Complete Town Hall Concert (1947) or the All Stars' half of The California Concerts -- 4 CDs from 1951-55 that are never less than magnificent. B+(***)

The Joe Ascione Quartet: Movin' Up (2007 [2008], Arbors): Drummer, b. 1961, third album as leader (first was a tribute to Buddy Rich), plus 60 or more side credits, including membership in Frank Vignola projects Travelin' Light and the Frank and Joe Show (he's Joe). Quartet includes Frank Tate on bass, John Cocuzzi on piano and vibes, and Allan Vaché on clarinet, an interesting and somewhat whimsical lineup, especially when the vibes are in play. Mostly tunes from Gershwin and Porter, with some oddities thrown in -- "The Aba Daba Honeymoon," "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah's Got Rhythm." "Norwegian Wood" usually makes me gag, but he almost gets away with it. B+(*)

Albert Ayler/Don Cherry/John Tchicai/Roswell Rudd/Gary Peacock/Sunny Murray: New York Eye and Ear Control (1964 [2008], ESP-Disk): Ayler's record, but all names are on the cover (Murray's misspelled) and all are notable: the four horns churning tumultuously, with Ayler's tenor sax reaching for the sacred, and Rudd's trombone plumbing the profane. B+(*)

Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark: Goofy June Bug (2007 [2008], Wig): Vandermark needs no introduction, at least here. Baars is Dutch, b. 1955, plays tenor sax, clarinet, and here tosses down some shakuhachi. Baars has been around, playing with most of the wild cards of the Dutch avant-garde -- Misha Mengelberg (in and out of ICP Orchestra), Guus Janssen, Cor Fuhler, Terrie Ex, as well as others when he gets the chance: Michael Moore, Roswell Rudd, Sonic Youth. I don't find any previous encounters with Vandermark, although Vandermark dedicated a song to him back on Burn the Incline (2000). The trio adds bass and drums, Wilbert de Joode and Martin van Duynhoven, if you're keeping score. This waxes and wanes, interesting both in tenor sax brawl and clarinet wooing modes. [B+(**)]

Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark: Goofy June Bug (2007 [2008], Wig): Without going back to count, I'd guess there are at least a dozen records out where Vandermark just drops in to jam with some other more/less established group -- the Aaly Trio, the Gold Sparkle Band, and Zu are a few cases that pop to mind, with Aaly (that is, Mats Gustafsson) good for 3 or 4 records. Most of those groups are already well endowed in saxophones, but Vandermark nearly always manages to add something, often muscle. Still, the offhandedness of these encounters is self-limiting: they mostly sound like Vandermark jam sessions, which while full of creative sparks aren't exactly in short supply. This one is more varied than par, with clarinets as well as tenor sax (and a bit of shakuhachi from Baars), but also seems more scattered: Baars is more of an eclectic than an avant-gardist, and this shows up in his preponderance of pieces. Interesting guy, but I don't think he's managed to pull off a really convincing album yet. B+(**)

Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (2006 [2008], ECM): Norwegian pianist, has 6 previous albums on ECM and Emarcy with groups Oslo 13, Magnetic North Orchestra, and Batagraf. This one is solo piano, 19 pieces organized into 3 Chapters and an Epilogue. Played this several times and haven't connected with it yet. Some parts are unusual sonically, and the spacing and ordering can be interesting given enough attention. [B]

Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (2006 [2008], ECM): Solo piano, four chapter, nineteen pieces counting the epilogue, velocities ranging from slow to slow, sparse sketches you have to reach for. I don't dislike it, especially as background, but don't quite know what to do with it either. B

Barnyard Drama: I'm a Navvy (2005 [2006], Barnyard): Toronto group, second album, not counting five volumes of Christmas Singalong. Core group pairs drummer Jean Martin with vocalist Christine Duncan, adding guest guitarists Justin Haynes and Bernard Falaise this time. Blindfolded, I'd call this experimental rock: most beats are steady, often rifflike simple, although Martin's electronics can amble. Duncan's vocals range from art-abstract to Lydia Lunch softened by Portishead, but rarely cohere into songs. The guitars are a plus. Can't find the booklet, one more reason to hold this back. [B+(**)]

Barnyard Drama: I'm a Navvy (2005 [2006], Barnyard): Toronto group, experimental rock, at best sounds like Captain Beefheart with, oh, Lydia Lunch singing -- singer's name is Christine Duncan. Jean Martin, who has some more jazz-oriented releases, is the drummer, plus there are two guitarists. A cut called "Sigh, Me Good" is built around a monster bass riff (no bass credit, so who knows?) with a lot of scattered electronic noise that almost cancels the effect. B+(*)

Nik Bärtsch's Mobile: Ritual Groove Music (2000-01 [2006], Ronin Rhythm): After A-listing Bärtsch's two ECM albums, I asked for some history and got a big package of self-released CDs. I then put them off, needing to concentrate on new releases clamoring for my attention. But I wound up playing more Bärtsch than anything else the last two weeks, so figured I should start with them as I try to get Jazz Prospecting going again. Mobile is the precursor to Ronin, but basically the same group, with the leader's piano augmenting the drums and percussion, and Don Li's bass clarinet/alto sax available for backdrop. All pieces are titled "Modul" and numbered, with two offered in a second take. Most are based on small, repeated rhythmic figures -- most attractive when there is some velocity and/or volume, although sometimes he used quiet to set up a ringing bell or the blast of marimba that startlingly launches one piece. B+(***)

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Randori (2001 [2006], Ronin Rhythm): Despite the name change from Mobile to Ronin, still a quartet, trading the bass clarinet/sax and marimba in for bass and shakers. That narrows it down a bit, and the pieces -- especially the three part "Modul 8,9" -- stretch out in repetitiveness. Nothing much wrong with that, least of all when something comes along to rock the boat. B+(**)

Nik Bärtsch: Piano Solo (2002 [2006], Ronin Rhythm): Subtitled Ritual Groove Music 3. I usually regard solo piano as underdressed, and didn't expect much from a pianist whose calling card is rhythm, but the album is a revelation. First thing is that the "no overdubs, no loops, all sounds are purely acoustic" motto on the first two Ritual Groove Music albums is gone here. Bärtsch dubs percussion onto his piano, and a lot of it sounds bass-like, wherever that may be coming from. Most pieces are repeated from the first two albums. They hang together and maybe even grow a bit with the simpler arrangements. The new one is called "Modul TM" -- based on Lennie Tristano's "Turkish Mambo." A-

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Live (2002 [2006], Ronin Rhythm): Volume 4 of Ritual Groove Music, with the same Ronin quartet lineup as Vol. 2 (Randori): Bärtsch on piano, Fender Rhodes, and DX-7; Björn Meyer on bass; Kaspar Rast on drums; Andi Pupato on percussion. No overdubs, no loops, of course. Six "Modul" pieces, the shortest clocking in at 9:17, the longest at 15:50. The live context liberates them to expand on the minimal frameworks, and the experience pays off. The quartet meshes but not mechanically so much as chemically. A-

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Rea (2003 [2006], Ronin Rhythm): Back to the laboratory, with the bass/drums/percussion group. The five "Modul" pieces are new, with numbers in the 18-26 range. Again: simple, seductive rhythmic features, fleshed out with bass groove, with a hint that the piano is more improvisatory. Nothing flashy or startling, but this 5th volume of Ritual Groove Music settles comfortably into a new plateau. At this plateau, it's hard to make value judgments on Bärtsch's albums: it's all moderately wonderful, and moderation seems to be as much a defining trait as anything else. This gets a slight edge because it is so near perfect -- among other things it starts out modestly and sneaks up on you until the final piece pulls it all together. I'd hestitate to conclude that this slight perfection makes it a better record than the later ECMs (Stoa and Holon) that I rated lower -- and may ultimately have to bump up now that I'm getting over seeing Bärtsch's limits as limits. A

Nik Bärtsch's Mobile: Aer (2003 [2006], Ronin Rhythm): This makes Ritual Groove Music 6, a return to the group lineup from the first album, with Mats Eser on marimba/percussion and Sha (aka Stefan Haslebacher) replacing Don Li on bass clarinet/alto sax. The lineup adds some zip and color, but otherwise the same sort of beatwise pieces, ending a shade down where Rea ended a step up. A-

Jamie Baum Septet: Solace (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Flautist, originally from Connecticut, studied at New England Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music, now based in New York. Fourth album since 1992. Composed everything, with her flute often taking a back seat to the group. Didn't expect much, but two performances struck me before I had any idea who was in the band: the opening trumpet (Ralph Alessi) and piano throughout (George Colligan -- also plays some razzling Fender Rhodes). Alto/baritone saxophonist Douglas Yates also plays notably. Four-part "Ives Suite" sit in the middle, with an RFK speech sample kicking off the "Questions Unanswered" movement. Too many classical moves for my taste, but so many surprising turns I may be selling it short. B+(*)

Nicolas Bearde: Live at Yoshi's: A Salute to Lou (2007 [2008], Right Groove): Singer, fourth album since 1997. Started in church in Nashville. Did a year in college, a stint in the Air Force, would up in San Francisco. Acted a bit. Got involved in Bobby McFerrin's "Voicestra" in 1986. The Lou in the title is Lou Rawls. I don't know Rawls well enough to be able to tell you how "The Girl From Ipanema" or "God Bless the Child" fit in, or even the mess of Gamble-Huff songs. It does seem like jazz singers should be able to work more with soul standards, and this is a solid step in that direction. B+(*)

Sylvia Bennett: Songs From the Heart (2007 [2008], Out of Sight Music): Singer. Biography is nebulous and evasive: born in Italy, raised in Philadelphia. MySpace page, with just 4 friends, claims she is based in Key Biscayne and has topped 60. Doesn't look it. Has a couple of credits from the late 1980s with Lionel Hampton, and a previous album from who-knows-when with Boots Randolph. This one features "The Three Tenors": Randolph, Ed Calle, Kirk Whallum. No recording date(s), but Randolph died in 2007. Well worn standards: "Embraceable You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "My Funny Valentine," "Since I Fell for You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Ain't Misbehavin'" -- that's juts the first half. I wouldn't brag about those tenors, but they can all play in this league, and Whallum is especially imposing (not the first time he's surprised me on someone else's record). The singer is up to the songs, too. Reminds me of someone else who's assumed her surname (presumably unrelated), but he hasn't turned in an album this consistent in decades. B+(**)

David Berger Octet: I Had the Craziest Dream: The Music of Harry Warren (2008, Such Sweet Thunder): Arranger/conductor, took his label name from the Duke Ellington album. This is the fourth of his albums I've heard, and by far my favorite, not just because he roped Harry Allen and Joe Temperley into the Octet, although that certainly has something to do with it. Warren's music holds up pretty well sans vocals. B+(**)

Jerry Bergonzi: Tenor Talk (2008, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, from Boston, b. 1950, 25 albums since 1982, mainstream player with a minor in Coltrane, teaches at New England Conservatory, about as dependable as any saxophonist around. Third album on Savant. Judging from the titles -- Tenor of the Times, Tenorist, now Tenor Talk -- all they ask him to do is blow. Still, the series keeps getting better. His "European band" -- Renato Chicco on piano, Dave Santoro on bass, Andrea Michelutti on drums -- crackles, and Gonz lives up to his nickname. Possibly his best ever. A-

Will Bernard/Andrew Emer/Benny Lackner/Mark Ferber: Night for Day (2007 [2008], Bju'ecords): Cover and spine just list last names, as if that's all the hint one needs. Drummer Ferber and guitarist Bernard are in my mental index, but not bassist Emer or pianist Lackner. All but Ferber write songs, as does someone named Strayhorn. File it under Bernard, whose primacy isn't just alphabetical. Although Lackner wrote more pieces, Bernard's guitar lines run away with them. B+(*)

Gene Bertoncini: Concerti (2005 [2008], Ambient): Veteran guitarist, one of the better players from a generation where swing was the highest compliment -- Bucky Pizzarelli is comparable, a little better known. However, he bit off too much of the wrong stuff this time. One problem is that the sound drowns in strings, with his guitar and David Finck's bass wrapped around a traditional string quartet. The other problem is the song selection: a medley of Chopin and Jobim, another of Rodrigo and Chick Corea, a couple of Cole Porter chestnuts, and the always dreadful "Eleanor Rigby." C+

Raoul Björkenheim/William Parker/Hamid Drake: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC): DMG is Downtown Music Gallery, a small record shop on the Bowery that looms large for anyone in the US (and possibly elsewhere) interested in free jazz. Their weekly newsletter is more than a little verbose, but essential for anyone trying to track what's new and interesting (especially since the demise of Jazzmatazz, a fallen project that someone really should pick up and get going again). DMG's owners have some sort of relationship with John Zorn and the Stone. At one point in 2006 they "currated" a series of concerts, and for their trouble have been allowed to release at least two of them. Vol. 1 we'll get to in due course, but the personnel here beat it to my CD player. Björkenheim is a Finnish-American guitarist, b. 1956 in Los Angeles, based in New York, but has done most of his recording in Helsinki -- with UMO Jazz Orchestra, and in his own groups, Krakatau and Scorch. I've heard very little by him, but I've really liked what I've heard -- an album with Lukas Ligeti called Shadowglow made an early Jazz CG. Parker and Drake need no introduction. They're all over the record, dynamic engines of enormous variety and vitality, the only surprise being a stretch where Parker switches to shawm (an ancient double reed precursor of the oboe) and instead of just farting around plays with Rahsaan-like intensity. Otherwise, the guitarist tries to keep out front, with intense hornlike leads. Not his most interesting mode, but strong enough to stay in the game. A-

Ketil Bjørnstad/Terje Rypdal: Life in Leipzig (2005 [2008], ECM): Norwegian pianist, b. 1952, not sure how many records, but at least a dozen since 1990, some recordings since 1973; also has written 20-some books, mostly novels. Guitarist Rypdal is better known, a major figure at ECM since 1970; trends toward fusion, although he can also wax lyrical, and has produced a good deal of aural wallpaper. Duets, reprising several pieces from The Sea, a 1994 album by a quartet of the same name, a superset. Rypdal's riffs dominate the sound here in one of his more robust performances. The piano mostly adds rhythm, a fair trade. [B+(**)]

Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Season of Changes (2008, Verve): Drummer, from Shreveport, LA, has two previous Brian Blade Fellowship albums on Blue Note (1998-2000), which is how this advance was listed. Blade has a long and prominent side credit list since 1994 -- Brad Mehldau, Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman, Mark Turner, Ryan Kisor, David Berkman, Wayne Shorter, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Wolfgang Muthspiel (a duo I like a lot, Friendly Travelers). This has a slick postbop sound, mostly running on Jon Cowherd's keyboards -- Cowherd wrote 3 of 9 songs and co-produced -- thickly coated with Kurt Rosenwinkel guitar. Saxophonists Myron Walden and Chris Thomas show up intermittently, adding some more conventional jazz moves, even a little bite. B+(**) [advance]

Walt Blanton: Monuments (2006 [2008], Origin): Plays trumpet, based in Las Vegas, evidently teaches at UNLV, has two previous albums. This is a trio with Tony Branco on piano and John Nasshan on drums, also Las Vegas based. Improv set, free jazz, not so far out but holds your interest, full of little surprises. At least I'm surprised -- needs another play. [B+(***)]

Paul Bley: Closer (1965 [2008], ESP-Disk): Not sure exactly where this fits in the marital chronology, but this is built on first wife Carla Bley's compositions (7 of 10), and ends with second wife Annette Peacock's "Cartoon," with one of the pianist's ("Figfoot") and one by Ornette Coleman ("Crossroads"). Adding to the incestuousness is bassist Steve Swallow, who if memory serves wound up as Carla Bley's third husband. As far as I know, percussionist Barry Altschul has no further involvement. One of the high points in Bley's distinguished discography: deft, light, almost jaunty, largely attributable to the songs but all three players pull it off. He returned to Carla Bley's songs several times in the future, and recorded whole Annette Peacock albums as well, but none match this first menage à trois. A-

Paul Bley: About Time (2007 [2008], Justin Time): Solo piano. I'm not sure whether Bley or Keith Jarrett holds the record for the most solo piano albums. Probably depends on how you count Jarrett's marathons. Bley's records are more modest. This one starts with a thoughtful meander, the 33:28 title track. Then adds a quite charming 10:25 "Encore." B+(*)

Jane Ira Bloom: Mental Weather (2007 [2008], Outline): Can't say much for my "mental weather" here, having played this three times and formed no opinions. Bloom plays soprano sax, and is one of the few and best known specialists, a postbop player staying clear of the instrument's avant-garde paradigms. Quartet with Dawn Clement on piano/Fender Rhodes, Mark Helias on bass, Matt Wilson on drums. Seems interesting, but hasn't clicked yet. [B+(*)]

Jane Ira Bloom: Mental Weather (2007 [2008], Outline): Soprano sax specialist, plays pretty in front of a quartet that sometimes seems to be in revolt -- especially when the tempo picks up and bassist Mark Helias takes charge. Those are the most interesting moments here, but they are broken up by slow spots, where the weather turns balmy -- pleasant enough. B+(**)

Boston Horns: Shibuyu Gumbo (2008, Boston Horns): I only count two horns -- tenor/baritone saxophonist Henley Douglas Jr. and trumpeter Garret Savluk -- occasionally reinforced by guest trombone: hardly a Tower of Power, although the rhythm section -- Jeff Buckridge (guitar), Ben Zecker (keyboards), Craig Weiman (bass), Peter MacLean (drums) -- are up to snuff. The other guest of note is local Boston bluesman Barrence Whitfield on four tracks, like "Givin' Up Food for Funk" and "A Real Mother for Ya." The funk starts thick but wears thin; the vocal help but not enough. B

Geof Bradfield: Urban Nomad (2007 [2008], Origin): Cf. Glenn White for his problematic taste in websites. Saxophonist. Lists tenor first, but record starts with soprano. Second album. From Houston, now based in Chicago. Name and sound somewhat familiar from Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls -- I still like an album they did in 2003 called Breeding Resistance, one of my first Jazz CG picks. Quartet here, with Ron Perrillo on piano, Clark Sommers on bass, George Fludas on drums. Wrote 6 of 9 songs, with covers from Harry Warren, Thad Jones, and Dizzy Gillespie ("Con Alma"). I like him quite a bit when he opens up on tenor. B+(*)

Brazilian Trio: Forests (2007 [2008], Zoho): Strange to name your group that. Brazil is a large country, and its place in the international music business is ever larger -- by most accounts, the second largest music market after the US. There must be dozens of Brazilian trios of note. Moreover, it's becoming increasingly clear that there is no typical Brazilian music: there are numerous indigenous styles, plus fusions with just about every manner of music from around the world, so what should we take the label to mean? (Other than that most Americans don't know diddley about Brazilian music?) On another level, the principals here have names which are recognizable -- at least I recognize them, which doesn't quite qualify them as household names -- so they have no need to lurk behind this cover. Indeed, the label shows a hint of recognizing this in that they list the names (albeit in small and poorly contrasting type) on the front cover: Duduka Da Fonseca (drums/percussion), Helio Alves (piano), Nilson Matta (bass). All write pieces (as well as Messrs. Lins, Pascoal, and Nascimento). Didn't expect much when I dropped this in, but Alves is as fluent in Bud Powell as in samba, and Matta feeds him an especially strong rhythm track in "Paraty." Will play it again. [B+(***)]

Georg Breinschmid & Friends: Wien Bleibt Krk (2008, Zappel Music): Austrian bassist, b. 1973, based in Vienna. AMG lists him twice, once under classical, again under folk. Don't know about that, but his jazz project list includes: Pago Libre (not a founder, but on a recent record), Christian Muthspiel Trio, a trio with Beni Schmid (violin) and Stian Carstensen (accordion, both present here), a duo with Thomas Gansch (trumpet, also here), a duo with Agnes Heginger (vocals, also here), and a Charles Mingus homage sextet. Project here uses several of those groups plus a few extra guests. Five songs have vocals, including a funny one mostly in English. The instrumental pieces are mostly done with bass and two violins (3 cuts) or bass-violin-accordion (4 cuts); the only horn is Gansch's trumpet (2 cuts); no drums. Some waltz and tango pieces. Very Germanic, albeit with a fanciful sense of humor. B+(**)

Bridge Quartet: Day (2007 [2008], Origin): First album by group: Alan Jones (drums), Tom Wakeling (bass), Darrell Grant (piano), Phil Dwyer (tenor sax). Jones (from Portland, OR), seems to be the leader, but the group is built to showcase Dwyer (from British Columbia) -- "Bridge" is a Sonny Rollins reference, and Dwyer's likely to be happy with all the Rollins comparisons he can gather. Grant is by far the better known player; he has a relatively small role here, expertly done. Mainstream, but brash, loud, wide open, a mother lode of tenor sax. B+(**)

Howard Britz: Here I Stand (2007 [2008], Tee Zee): Bassist, born in England in 1961, moved to US in 1991, passing through Boston (Berklee, New England Conservatory) and Philadelphia before settling in Brooklyn in 1998. Bop quintet with David Smith on trumpet/flugelhorn and Casey Benjamin on alto sax. Sometimes sounds standard, sometimes postbop, sometimes they even swing a little, or work in a little Latin boogaloo. Don't think much of the horns, but the pianist blows me away. George Colligan. Not the first time that's happened. B [advance]

Bobby Broom: The Way I Play: Live in Chicago (2007 [2008], Origin): Chicago guitarist, b. 1961, sixth album since 1995 (the first of two on Criss Cross), plus more records with Deep Blue Organ Trio. Trio, with Dennis Carroll on bass, Kobie Watkins on drums. Front cover photo is tightly cropped around guitar, and that sums up the album. Plays within Wes Montgomery's framework, but more tightly wound. Set is a mix of standards and bop tunes, most of the former well known from the latter, but none played to type. He meant this as a showcase, and that's what he got. B+(*)

The Peter Brötzmann Octet: The Complete Machine Gun Sessions (1968 [2007], Atavistic): Roughly speaking, this is where Europe's jazz avant-garde takes off, building a tradition rooted in brutal cacophony, disjointed rhythm, and cartoonish irreverance. The three saxophonists went on to major careers: Evan Parker, Willem Breuker, and Brötzmann. They turn these long pieces into free fire zones, blaring in unison siren wails, splitting off to scratch through the dirt and the rubble. Two bassists: Peter Kowald and Buschi Niebergall. Two drummers: Han Bennink and Sven-Ake Johansson. One pianist: Fred Van Hove. Each has his own mind, but the piano is especially worth tracking. Original LP ran 37:08. CD reissue added two alternate takes, and now this edition adds a third take of the title piece, done live with extra saxophonist Gerd Dudek. Still fits on one CD, but it's an awful lot to sit through. B+(**)

The Amazing World of Arthur Brown: The Voice of Love (2007 [2008], Zoho Roots): One of the few causes celêbres I flat out missed in the 1960s -- AMG's "similar artists" list includes Jimi Hendrix, HP Lovecraft, Syd Barrett, and Carl Palmer; I had sort of been under the impression he was the English Dr. John, but maybe I'm confusing him with Jethro Dull. Anyway, he's hardly Amazing any more -- sort of a blues rocker with a little folkie twang in the guitar. One hoedown song had enough mustard on it I thought I might not be able to dismiss him out of hand. But then the next song came on. B

Brownout: Homenaje (2005-07 [2008], Freestyle): Austin, TX group, with Adrian Quesada and Beto Martinez (guitars), Greg Gonzalez (bass), Gilbert Elorreaga (trumpet), Josh Levy (baritone sax), Len Gauna (trombone), Johnny Lopez III (drums), Matthew "Sweet Lou" Holmes (congas), some guest timbales and shekere. Horns and percussion signify Latin, but the beat is straightforward, more funk than anything else. Quesada has moved on to form Grupo Fantasma and work with Ocote Soul Sounds. B

John Butcher/Torsten Muller/Dylan van der Schyff: Way Out Northwest (2007 [2008], Drip Audio): Recorded in Vancouver by local drummer van der Schyff. Butcher is an English avant-garde saxophonist, plays tenor and soprano here. Has a PhD in theoretical physics (thesis: "Spin effects in the production and weak decay of heavy Quarks"). He has a long list of records, and is well known to anyone who reads The Penguin Guide more assiduously than The Bible, although few others are likely to have even heard of them. I've only heard three albums myself, nothing I much cared for, but hardly a representative sample. Müller (umlaut omitted here) is a bassist, b. 1957 in Hamburg, Germany, but since 2001 based in Vancouver. Müller has no albums of his own, but pops up all over the place, a notable common denominator here being his relationship with the late trombonist Paul Rutherford, to whom this record is dedicated. This is pretty rough free music, very democratic, or maybe I mean anarchic. One thing I rate avant records on is their crossover potential, and this clearly fails on that account. On the other hand, sometimes I like something perversely difficult I chuck my normal standards. This gorgeous ugly mess may be one of them. [A-]

John Butcher/Torsten Muller/Dylan van der Schyff: Way Out Northwest (2007 [2008], Drip Audio): Vancouver label, two local musicians, a guest saxophonist from the UK who is a big name in very small circles. First pass I was blown away by this ugly free-for-all, but in returning to it I find myself less charmed. Butcher gets a lot of unorthodox sounds out of his saxes -- tenor and soprano -- but the clicks and pops could just as well come from bass or drums. B+(**)

Chris Byars: Jazz Pictures at an Exhibition of Himalayan Art (2007 [2008], Smalls): Booklet folds out into a small poster with said artwork, including a Buddha sculpture and a pair of masks, evidently on display at the Rubin Museum of Art (on Oct. 26, 2007, anyway). Byars is one of the best of the Smalls neo-boppers, at least when he sticks to tenor sax in his quartet with pianist Sacha Perry. This moves a bit out of his comfort zone, with no piano and two extra horns: John Mosca on trombone, James Byars on oboe and english horn. (From the photo, I'd guess James Byars is his father -- something in the bio about coming from a family of unnamed Juilliard-trained musicians.) The extra horns add a lot of harmonic filigree which I found off-putting at first -- a typical postbop move. Byars' own solos remain deep in the bebop tradition, and they hold the extras in check. B+(**)

George Cables: Morning Song (1980 [2008], High Note): Archive tape, recorded at Keystone Korner in San Francisco, only the year specified, but probably two separate dates. Four songs are done by a quartet, with Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Cables (piano), John Heard (bass), and Sherman Ferguson (drums). The other six cuts are solo piano. The latter are densely figured, intense. I've only heard a couple of Cables' albums, don't have much of a feel for him as a leader or soloist, don't have an opinion how well they stack up. I'm much more familiar with him as an accompanist, especially with Art Pepper, which was his main gig at the time. Pepper's albums with Cables are among his greatest. Henderson has rather limited range on trumpet, but opens up delightfully with Cables' ebullient swing. B+(*)

Caribbean Jazz Propect: Afro Bop Alliance (2008, Heads Up): Cover adds: featuring Dave Samuels. Plays vibes and marimba; also wrote 5 of 9 songs, all of the originals. Group has horns at full big band strength, with -- how unusual these days -- none of the sax players doubling on flute. The Latin rhythm is omnipresent but indistinctive, a layered foundation, perhaps to set up the vibes that often vanish in the mix. B-

The Paul Carlon Octet: Roots Propaganda (2008, Deep Tone): Carlon plays tenor/soprano sax and flute, mostly in Latin frameworks that dig deep into African (e.g., Yoruba) roots. I first noticed him in tresero Benjamin Lapidus's group Sonido Isleño. He also looms large in Grupo Los Santos, whose Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea probably ranks as my favorite Latin jazz record of the last year. Second Octet album, after 2006's Other Tongues. Group has five horns, including double trombones, plus piano-bass-drums. Guests include Christelle Durandy (vocals, 3 cuts) and Max Pollak (does what he calls "rumbatap" on 1 cut). Interesting stuff, but oddly hit-and-miss. B+(**)

Ralph Carney/Ira Cohen: The Stauffenberg Cycle (2007, Paris): Cohen is another poet, b. 1935, spent the early 1960s in Morocco, publishing the "exorcism magazine" Gnaoua, hanging with Paul Bowles, writing The Hashish Cookbook. He has a voice with a big, friendly grin built in. Carney's main instrument is sax, and he plays it more than on the Creely disc. Also some clarinet, and more stringish country stuff. B+(***) [advance]

Ralph Carney/Robert Creeley: Really!! (2007, Paris): Cover lists the poet Creeley in big print on top, adding "with music by Ralph Carney" in small print at the bottom. The words don't leave a lot of space for music, which Carney generally keeps discreet, on occasion slipping in a little countryish string music. B+(**) [advance]

James Carter: Present Tense (2007 [2008], Emarcy): Prodigiously talented saxophonist, playing soprano, tenor, and baritone here, plus bass clarinet and flute; made a huge impact when he first appeared, but has recorded infrequently since 2000, with two pretty good live albums and two pretty bad studio ones. This is another studio one, another more/less major label, with no obvious big concept, just a mix of swing/bop pieces (Django Reinhart, Gigi Gryce, Dodo Marmarosa) and originals, big gestures that don't seem to fit very well. I've often thought that he should record more frequently for smaller labels, and this is just more evidence. E.g., I'd love to hear him do a whole album on baritone, or for that matter on bass clarinet; if he wants to play goddamn flute, what the hell, do a whole flute album. Do that Don Byas tribute he's been hinting at for years, or for that matter a Gigi Gryce tribute. And give some thought to his old mentors, Julius Hemphill and Frank Lowe -- he's totally lost his avant edge, at a time when the other 3/4 of his old Detroit quartet are busy playing with Sam Rivers. I haven't given up on this one yet, but after 3-4 plays it has its limits. He's not the sort of guy who sneaks up on you; he's a heavyweight, gotten used to pulling his punches. [B+(**)]

James Carter: Present Tense (2007 [2008], Emarcy): This record has been fairly well received, as well it should be. Carter is a remarkable talent, and any time you bother to pay him some attention is likely to be rewarded. Still, I can't tell you how many times I've played this record and not bothered to listen. With its Django Reinhardt and Gigi Gryce covers, quietstorm and hot club originals, it sounds like a pastiche of his past work. It does reassure me that his baritone rep isn't unfounded, but I still suspect he's playing a lot of the low stuff on tenor. He adds some flute here, which isn't bad but has opportunity costs. Pianist DD Jackson offers notable support, but doesn't get enough time either. Rodney Jones has some moments on guitar. I'm less impressed with trumpeter Dwight Adams, who riffs energetically but adds little. B+(***)

Frank Catalano: Bang! (2008, Savoy Jazz): Tenor saxophonist, from Chicago, born circa 1980; cut a couple of previous albums for Delmark, at least one as a teenager. Has a patent on a sampling keyboard gadget that attaches to a saxophone. Has a loud, boisterous sound, reminiscent of the 1950s honkers. Upbeat songs wear funk on their sleeves, with titles like "Bang!," "Soul Burner," "Shakin'," "Damn Right," "Funky Dunky," "Night Moves." B+(**)

Don Cherry: Life at Café Montmartre 1966: Volume Two (1966 [2008], ESP-Disk): Sloppy seconds in Copenhagen, with Gato Barbieri's tenor sax sparring with the leader's trumpet over the fractured field of Karl Berger vibes, playing such complex Cherry compositions as "Complete Communion" loose and short-handed. Doc is better this time, confirming that this set was recorded Mar. 31, 1966, and that Volume One came from Mar. 17, 1966 -- dates that line up with previous LP releases on Magnetic. Berger's vibes here are so scattered they're comic. Bo Stief plays bass, Aldo Romano drums. B

Yoon Sun Choi/Jacob Sacks: Imagination: The Music of Joe Raposo (2008, Yeah-Yeah): Singer, originally from Toronto, now based in New York. Second duo album with pianist Sacks. Raposo was a songwriter, did a lot of TV work, a lot of offbeat stuff -- Spike Jones was an influence -- died in 1989 at age 51. The notes cite his "unique blend of depth and playfulness," but the music doesn't bear that out. The piano accompaniment is short and arch, the vocals arch and arty. B-

Antonio Ciacca Quintet: Rush Life (2008, Motéma): Italian pianist; b. 1969, Wuppertal, Germany; graduated G.B. Martini Conservatory of Contemporary Music in Bologna; moved to Detroit, and is currently based in New York. Fifth record since 1996. Hard bop quintet lineup, with Joe Magnarelli on trumpet and Stacy Dillard on tenor sax, both players who can command a solo. The pianist is less distinctive, but steers the group capably. B+(*)

Gerald Cleaver: Gerald Cleaver's Detroit (2006 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Drummer, from Detroit, based in Brooklyn (where this, despite its title, was recorded). Second album, plus 50-60 side credits. I mostly associate him with the avant-garde, since I've often run into him on records by Matthew Shipp, Roscoe Mitchell, Charles Gayle, Joe Morris, Mat Maneri, and Rob Brown. But he also shows up on more conventional postbop fare, including records by his group here: Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), JD Allen (tenor sax), Andrew Bishop (soprano/tenor sax, bass clarinet), Ben Waltzer (piano), Chris Lightcap (bass). (Actually, I don't see Pelt in his credits list.) Some flashy hornwork here, strong moments, although it's a little de trop for my taste. (Too bad he couldn't get his mentor, Detroit's patron saint Marcus Belgrave, instead of Pelt.) B+(*)

Dawn Clement: Break (2007 [2008], Origin): Pianist, from Seattle, sings some, somewhat awkwardly, but can be effective. Has a previous album, Hush, and appears on albums with Julian Priester and Jane Ira Bloom. Trio with Dean Johnson on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. I'm unconvinced one way or another about the piano, which strikes me as serious but studiously mainstream. Johnson and Wilson offer dependable support. B+(*)

CNY Jazz Orchestra: Then, Now & Again (2007 [2008], CNY): Big band, organized by the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation, based in Syracuse, NY, under the musical direction of Bret Zvacek. I've never heard of any of the musicians here, or for that matter of Zvacek, who wrote 2 of 10 pieces and arranged several others. They all seem very capable, with respectable solos and solid ensemble work. More modernist than swing, although they can. My package says "CD/DVD Collector's Edition," but only has CD (not that I'm complaining). B+(*)

Ornette Coleman: Town Hall, 1962 (1962 [2008], ESP-Disk): Three cuts with the trio -- David Izenzon on bass, Charles Moffett on percussion -- that in 1965 cut At the Golden Circle, Stockholm, both volumes highly recommended. This is less essential but unmistakable, more for folks who can never get enough. Sandwiched in the middle is a 9:17 string quartet, Coleman's first recorded glimpse of his harmolodic chamber music. It is something else again, classical music in form, but not in smell. B+(***)

Nick Colionne: No Limits (2008, Koch): Smooth jazz guitarist, sixth album since 1994. Sings a little. Not that good at it, but the occasional vocal seems to give some purpose to the ubiquitous and most undifferentiated guitar-bass-keyboard groove. B-

Tim Collins: Fade (2004-07 [2008], Ropeadope): Vibraphonist, based in New York. AMG lists 4 previous records, only one of which shows up on webpage discography. This one lists Charlie Hunter (electric bass) and Simon Lott (drums) on cover as featuring, but also credits alto saxophonist Matt Blostein and a full range of string players (two violins, viola, cello, acoustic bass). Album has some snap to it, but there doesn't seem to be much to distinguish the fast riffing from the fusion padding. B

Sheila Cooper: Tales of Love and Longing (2006 [2007], Panorama): Singer/alto saxophonist, originally from Canada, now based in New York, working in a cozy little duo with Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer. Third album. My "pre-release copy" only identifies Panorama as the label, but it looks like this has been picked up and reissued (or will be -- don't have date) by Candid. Songs, including one original, tend to be slow and torchy, her voice capable and assured but not all that remarkable. I do, however, love the sound of her saxophone in these tight settings. B+(*)

Marc Copland: Another Place (2007 [2008], Pirouet): Where Tim Hagans' Alone Together was arguably more centered on Copland, the record with the pianist's name up front is at least as much the work of front-line replacement guitarist John Abercrombie. Hagans wrote no songs to Copland's four; here Abercrombie pens three to Copland's two. Drew Gress repeats at bass. Billy Hart replaces Jochen Rückert at drums. Where Hagans' trumpet seemed to ice the cake, Abercrombie's guitar is much more sinuously intertwined. Copland has been turning out well-regarded records at least since 1990, but I missed him until I started working Jazz CG, and still haven't heard any of his early work. But since 2004 I've heard five and they're all rock solid -- including a previous one with Abercrombie called Brand New. B+(***)

CRAM: For a Dog (2008, Broken): Dutch band, name follows first-name initials for musicians: Corrie van Binsbergen (guitar), Rutger van Otterloo (soprano/baritone/tenor sax), Arend Niks (drums), Mick Paauwe (babybass). Carlo de Wijs plays organ on three tracks; Hein Offermans plays double bass on two of them. I filed this under van Binsbergen for writing 7 of 13 tracks (Niks 4, Paauwe 2, plus 1 track by Chris Abelen -- trombonist, who van Binsbergen has played with). Some strong guitar runs, with rough sax accents; not really fusion or avant, but some combination. B+(**)

Dominique Cravic et les Primitifs du Futur: Tribal Musette (2007-08 [2008], Sunnyside): It's tempting to view this French cabaret group through the prism of their famous cover illustrator and sometime mandoline player, R. Crumb. Like the Cheap Suit Serenaders, guitarist Cravic's band is firmly planted in the past, its embrace of primtivism rooted in the romantic view of anthropology, with a little sci-fi for the future. For me it works not for its longing for other times so much as how disarmingly and charmingly French it all sounds: the accordions, marimba, clarinets, "musicale saw," "finger snapping," rhythm guitar, voices ranging from cigarette-stained poetasting to sweet chorales. Where we tend to think of world music as anything-but-ours, in France the view seems to be everything-including-ours. A-

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (2007 [2008], ECM): One of the major jazz pianists of our times, working mostly on the avant-garde, including a long run with Anthony Braxton's Quartet and numerous independent albums on obscure labels until ECM urged her to slow down and develop a quieter, more meditative side. I found her last ECM album, The Storyteller, nothing short of enchanting. This one is harder to gauge, for the obvious reason that it's solo, and as such requires too much attention span. No swing or boogie, and little noise; deliberately fragmentary, with long, chamberish lines, artfully plotted. [B+(**)]

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (2007 [2008], ECM): Solo piano, rather far removed from her early avant-garde exploits -- clearly, she's on her best behavior. Also seems more self-organized than her other well-behaved ECM albums. I'm tempted to recommend it as a puzzle, but not having any idea what the answer is I could be way off base. B+(**)

Alexis Cuadrado: Puzzles (2007 [2008], Buj'ecords): Bassist, from Barcelona (Spain), based in Brooklyn where he was a founder of Brooklyn Jazz Underground. Two previous albums on Fresh Sound New Talent. Wrote all pieces, using a quartet of sax (Loren Stillman), guitar (Brad Shepik), bass, and drums (Mark Ferber), with trombone (Alan Ferber) on three cuts, organ (Pete Rende) on one. Underground is less an attitude in jazz these days than a state of existence. Cuadrado plays moderate postbop, close to where the mainstream would flow if it did, but he's a sensible composer, and his bass helps lift the band. Shepik has several especially fertile stretches here. B+(**)

Dapp Theory: Layers of Chance (2008, Contrology/ObliqSound): Quintet, led by pianist Andy Milne, with Loren Stillman (alto sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet), Christopher Tordini (electric and acoustic bass), Sean Rickman (drums, percussion), and John Moon (vocals, aka percussive poetry). Second album. A couple of guests, including a Becca Stevens vocal that doesn't help. Moon's poesy is another matter, giving the rhythm section something firm to get under. Stillman is quite impressive in this context, both leading on alto sax and coloring in with his other instruments. B+(**) [advance]

The Roger Davidson Trio: Bom Dia (2007 [2008], Soundbrush): Pianist, cashed in his classical training to specialize in Latin music, or more specifically here in Brazilian. Trio is augmented by guest percussionist Marivado dos Santos. Bright and bouncy. B+(**)

Jamie Davis: Vibe Over Perfection (2005 [2008], Unity Music): Singer, hooked onto the Basie ghost band, and does a terrific Joe Williams impersonation. Second album that I've heard: I slightly prefer the previous It's a Good Thing, probably because the songs are first choice, but this is very close. He's one of the few jazz singers still working in the KC blues shouter mold, and possibly the best. Shelly Berg helms the massive orchestra this time. Mrs. Joe Williams contributes a blurb. B+(**)

Kris Davis: Rye Eclipse (2007 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Canadian pianist, based in New York since 2002, has three albums now with this superb quartet, each showing advance. Group includes Jeff Davis (drums; from Colorado, presumably not related), Eivind Opsvik (bass), and Tony Malaby (tenor sax). The early albums immediately appealed for Malaby's distinctive edge. The pianist is developing a similarly rugged approach -- not just offsetting block chords, but in a piece like "Wayne Oskar" she leads off with intriguing abstractions then backs off as Malaby slips in to finish off her thoughts. A-

Hamilton de Holanda & André Mehmari: Continuous Friendship (2007 [2008], Adventure Music): Brazilians; de Holanda, b. 1976, plays mandolin; Mehmari, b. 1977, plays piano. Both have several previous albums -- de Holanda's more easily accessible on the US-based Adventure Music label. I'll take their word about the friendship, but it sounds to me like there is a lot of tension in these encounters, but maybe they're just intense (not the same thing as discordant). Impresive, but also wearing, and a little thin, as duos often are. B+(**)

Michael Dessen Trio: Between Shadow and Space (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Nice new packaging for this batch of Clean Feed releases: a thin cardboard fold-out sleeve with a clear plastic liner for the disc. Dessen plays trombone and computer. Studied at Eastman School of Music, University of Massachusetts, UC San Diego; teaches at UC, Irvine. Has several academic papers, including two on Yusef Lateef. Second album, not counting four with group Cosmologic. Trio includes Christopher Tordini on bass, Tyshawn Sorey on percussion. Free trombone over a dense and intriguing brew of bass, percussion, and whatever. B+(**)

Toumani Diabaté: The Mandé Variations (2008, World Circuit/Nonesuch): Mali's most famous and best traveled kora player, working solo, remarkably plumbing his string instrument for melody -- sometimes two lines -- harmonics and rhythm. It may well be a tour de force, or at least a complement to Bach's variations on harpsichord, but the limited options impart a certain sameyness you have to meet more than half way to keep up with. B+(**)

Ramón Díaz: Unblocking (2007 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Drummer, originally from the Canary Islands, based in Barcelona, runs a hard bop quintet that last time out (Diàleg) I compared favorably to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Same group, a little more varied, with one "trad." piece, a slow bit, and some Fender Rhodes separating this from the 1960s. Blakey would have loved to have worked with the front line here -- saxophonist Jeppe Rasmussen, trumpeter Idafe Pérez -- and also with pianist José Alberto Medina (who has good records on his own). But he would think that the drummer should be a bit louder. B+(***)

Bill Dixon: 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (2007 [2008], AUM Fidelity): Recorded in concert at Vision Festival XII. No idea what Darfur has to do with it. Nor any idea what the big band was searching for, given that their sound is no surprise: an elaboration and variation on a dozen other notorious free jazz phalanxes. Seven brass (including tuba), six reeds (including bassoon, counted once), bass, cello, drums, vibes (or sometimes more drums). The slow stuff wavers menacingly; the ensemble work is unruly, with one piece ("Sinopia") hitting gale force. Impressive on its own non-negotiable terms. B+(***)

DJ Logic/Jason Miles: Global Noize (2008, Shanachie): Keyboardist Miles is a smooth jazz studio hack who has lately taken to attaching himself to respectable bodies of work -- Ivan Lins, Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye -- to little or no gain, but his networking on Soul Summit: Live at the Berks Jazz Fest! paid off with a pleasurable set of retro soul, and this collaboration with turntablist DJ Logic, aka Jason Kibler, folds a wide range of guests into a mix of exotica that is subtly shifting rather than garish. Advance listed Miles first; final copy moves Logic up front. Billy Martin and Cyro Baptista help with the beats, which are hard to pin down to any locale smallerthan global. Karl Denson, MeShell Ndegeocello, Herb Alpert, Vernon Reid, John Popper, Bernie Worrell, Christian Scott, get props on the front cover, as well as "and others" -- Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist James Genus, and tabla whiz Suphala are other names I recognize, but the vocalists are beneath my radar. B+(*)

Bryan Doherty Band: Rigamarole (2007 [2008], Origin): Bassist (electric, I think), based in Chicago, can't find any bio info, but he lists Jaco Pastorius first on his MySpace influences list. First album, sextet, with guitar (John McLean), Fender Rhodes (Marcin Fahmy), drums (Michael Raynor), percussion (Javier Saume), and tenor sax (Louis Stockwell). Basically a fusion joint, with clean lines and some grit in the sax. B+(*)

Armen Donelian Trio: Oasis (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Pianist. Born in Queens, of Armenian descent, father from Turkey, mother born in US with roots in Syria; graduated from Columbia in 1972. Has a dozen albums going back to 1980. This is a trio, with David Clark on bass, George Schuller on drums. Six originals, two covers -- "Sunrise, Sunset" appeals to me most because the regular up-and-down lines frame so much variation. Rest needs more time. [B+(**)]

Dave Douglas & Keystone: Moonshine (2007 [2008], Greenleaf Music): I don't doubt for a moment that Douglas is brilliant, but often find that he is either over my head or beyond my ken. As near as I can tell, he does two things here: especially on the first half, he concocts postbop so tricky it puts classical music to shame; and he returns to his electronics experiments, mostly as coloring, but DJ Olive finally gets the upper hand with "Kitten." One piece in the lurch is called "Flood Plane," with a Bush sample mumbling something about terrorists as Douglas conjures the lost spirits of New Orleans over Olive's scratching. Relatively small group, with Marcus Strickland taking over the sax spot, and Adam Benjamin on Fender Rhodes. Interesting, but after four plays I'm still stumped. [B+(**)]

Dave Douglas & Keystone: Moonshine (2007 [2008], Greenleaf Music): Still can't say all the results are in, but I've been dazzled enough to make the call. The new saxophonist, Marcus Strickland, lives up to his illustrious predecessors -- Chris Potter and Donny McCaslin. Still, the hottest horn on the record is the leader's trumpet, reminding everyone why he wins all those polls. You can chalk the front line up to sheer virtuosity, but interesting stuff is happening in the engine room as well. Douglas has dabbled with electronica for several years, but DJ Olive's scratching and Adam Benjamin's Fender Rhodes have finally clicked. A-

Droppin' Science: Greatest Samples From the Blue Note Lab (1966-74 [2008], Blue Note): With Alfred Lion and Francis Wolf departing, the legendary label foundered, adrift in quasi-commercial soul jazz with languid beats that I suppose have been sampled from time to time -- no details here, just another attempt to turn sows' ears into silk purses. C+

Scott DuBois: Banshees (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Guitarist, b. 1978, based in New York. Recorded two previous albums with Dave Liebman on Soul Note. This group consists of Kresten Osgood on drums, Thomas Morgan on bass, and Gebhard Ullman on tenor/soprano sax and bass clarinet. One thing I've noticed lately is that some saxophonists seem to get much sharper with a guitar guiding them along. I've heard half-dozen or so albums by Ullman, respect his ambitions as a free player, but until now I've never really seen him hold it all together before. The Luis Lopes is another like this, but DuBois is much more out front -- his solos tend to be short but they strongly reinforce the pieces. Played this half-dozen times and it keeps gaining on me. A-

Tayor Eigsti: Let It Come to You (2008, Concord): Pianist, b. 1984, touted as a child prodigy, cut his first album at 16, was picked up by Concord for his third, and now this is number four. Last record impressed me enough (in a manner of speaking) that I flagged it as a Dud. This one is better, with two good cuts: "Timeline" rips out of the box and ends with some smashing tenor sax, but that's just Joshua Redman; "Caravan" is even faster, with piano and percussion chasing Julian Lage's guitar. Eigsti can play, and the fast stuff gives him a chance to show off. His slow stuff is ordinary, but "Portrait in Black and White" works nice after the "Caravan" romp. Where he falls down is when he tries to write -- the four cuts packed away at the end, including a "Fallback Plan Suite." B

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: Live in Zurich, Switzerland 2.5.1950 (1950 [2007], TCB): Another newly released live shot, picking up Ellington's Orchestra at what is generally considered to be a relatively low point. Relatively is the key word there. The trumpet section strikes me as nearly no-name (at one point Ellington introduces "one of the world's great trumpet players": Ernie Royal; Ray Nance -- misspelled Roy -- isn't the only one I've heard of, but is the only one I'd think of for an all-time Ellington list), and Lawrence Brown is the only standard on trombone (where's Juan Tizol?). On the other hand, kudos for filling the vacant tenor sax chair with Don Byas, whose feature here is a high point. And Johnny Hodges, whose split from Ellington during this period is often seen as critical, made the trip, along with Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, and dependable Harry Carney. Mixed bag of songs, with more covers than expected -- "How High the Moon" (featuring Byas), "St. Louis Blues" (sung by Nance), "S'wonderful," and a retooling of "Frankie & Johnnie" (credited to Ellington). Kay Davis takes the wordless vocal to "Creole Love Call." Set closes with "The Jeep Is Jumpin'," with Hodges resplendent. Sound is so-so; kind of hard to get it right with this group. Not a lot of live Ellington from this period, so it has some historical interest, and sometimes transcends even that. B+(***)

The Steve Elmer Trio: Fire Down Below (2008, Steve Elmer): Pianist, b. 1941, not a professional for most of his adult life, but put a trio together in 2006 and recorded an album called I Used to Be Anonymous. This is his second, with Hide Tanaka on bass, Shingo Okudaira on drums. I found a note explaining that Elmer's Wikipedia page had been deleted for lack of notability. That I tried looking him up strikes me as notability enough. Mainstream bopper, has a fierce attack and tries to keep it fun. B+(*)

Empty Cage Quartet: Stratostrophic (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): California-based free jazz quartet, led by Jason Mears (alto sax, clarinet) and Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn) -- composition count slightly favors Mears -- backed by Ivan Johnson (double bass) and Paul Kikuchi (drums, percussion, electronics). Tiner claims half a dozen albums as leader, but most are in groups like this one, or at least have other name on the marquee. He also has a longer list of side credits, including Industrial Jazz Band. Mears has a namespace clash with an English metal guitarist and an Australian brass band conductor. As near as I can tell, this Jason Mears was born in Alaska, studied at Boston University and California Institute for the Arts, has side credits with Vinny Golia and Harris Eisenstadt. Also looks like same group has recorded as MTKJ. The horns have scattered moments here but don't leave a coherent impression. I suspect they're being tied down by the compositions, especially when the pieces go slow. B+(*)

Wayne Escoffery and Veneration: Hopes and Dreams (2007 [2008], Savant): Title cut, with Joe Locke's marimba trailing a huge, sweeping tenor sax lead by Escoffery, is choice, the sort of thing that doesn't compare too shabily to Sonny Rollins. Second song backs off a lot, a slot postbop tone thing with Tom Harrell added. The infrequent barnburners are far more appealing, although Locke has interesting takes either way. B+(*)

Bill Evans: Portrait in Jazz (Keepnews Collection) (1959 [2008], Riverside): The first flash of one of the most famous piano trios in jazz, matching Evans with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. I always find Evans difficult -- well, except for Sunday at the Village Vanguard -- so I may be going with the consensus too readily, but LaFaro's bass lines sing, and Motian putters inventively. A-

The Alon Farber Hagiga Sextet: Optimistic View (2006 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Israeli band, led by soprano saxophonist Farber; hagiga means celebration. Has a previous FSNT album by the Hagiga Quintet: nice record, as is this one. Loose rhythm with middle eastern (and possibly Latin) touches, a second horn in Hagai Amir's alto sax; piano and guitar aiding the flow. B+(**)

Scott Fields Freetet: Bitter Love Songs (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Guitarist, sort of Chicago's answer to Derek Bailey, although I wouldn't swear on that, since for me one of the main things they have in common is that I've never made much sense out of either. This is a trio, recorded in Germany, with Sebastian Gramss on double bass and João Lobo on drums. Title isn't obviously reflected in the music, but it sure is in the song titles: "Yea, sure, we can still be friends, whatever"; "Go ahead, take the furniture, at least you helped pick it out"; "My love is love, your love is hate"; "Your parents must be just ecstatic now"; "I was good enough for you until your friends butted in"; "You used to say I love you but so what now." Liner notes hit even harder. Not sure where the music comes from -- sublimated anger? -- but it seems uncommonly focused, for once. [A-]

Scott Fields Freetet: Bitter Love Songs (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): I've played this record a lot on the road the last month, and it's never let me down. The avant-guitarist has a tendency elsewhere to diddle in abstractions, but he plays with remarkable logic here -- bitterness must focus the mind. The Freetet adds bass and drums, bulking up the sound and punctuating the emotions. A-

Fieldwork: Door (2007 [2008], Pi): Trio, superstars in my book: Vijay Iyer on piano, Steve Lehman on alto sax, Tyshawn Sorey on drums. All write, with the prolific Sorey owning slightly over half. Each piece is then collaboratively developed. Most threaten to fly apart but somehow cohere -- the closer, "Rai," is one where every stray impulse reinforces the structure. The others, well, I'm having a tough time following them all. Group's previous record was a Pick Hit. I'm pretty sure this isn't, but not sure by how much it misses, or why (other than what they're doing is very difficult). [B+(***)]

Fieldwork: Door (2007 [2008], Pi): Easy last time to treat this as Vijay Iyer's group, but alto saxophonist Steve Lehman has moved even more front and center, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey wound up writing the majority of the pieces. In many respects, Iyer functions more like a bassist, steadying the rhythm and filling out the sound, taking few solos. The last cut, Lehman's "Rai," remains the prize for its dynamism, but other tracks are nearly as exciting, and the slow stuff doesn't lose interest or its sense of danger. I held Iyer's excellent Tragicomic back from JCG(17), so (18) looks like his day. A-

Fight the Big Bull: Dying Will Be Easy (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): Richmond, VA big band (well, nonet), led by guitarist Matt White, who writes the songs but tends to get drowned out by the six horns, especially the dual trombones. Rough and tumble, not quite free, but loud and noisy. On a lark, I checked out a couple of YouTube videos, which are badly shot and even more roughly played, although the recognizable line to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is amusing. Album with Ken Vandermark is reportedly in the works. B+(*)

Chris Flory: For You (2007 [2008], Arbors): Guitarist, b. 1953, played with Benny Goodman 1978-83, with Scott Hamilton from 1978 to at least 1989. Has half-dozen albums since 1993, one of many players who started on Concord and wound up on Arbors. Quintet with Dan Block (tenor sax), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Mike LeDonne (organ), and Chuck Riggs (drums). Like many swing-oriented guitarists, he tends to drop into rhythm when someone else is playing, which is kind of a waste behind the predictable LeDonne. The album fares best when Flory gets a clean lead. The horns aren't very pushy either, but are usually a plus. B+(**)

Al Foster Quartet: Love, Peace and Jazz! (2007 [2008], Jazz Eyes): Live set, recorded at the Village Vanguard. At the end Foster introduces everyone, thanks the crowd for supporting jazz, then explains that peace, love, and jazz are all one needs to live. One thing I've noticed in writing this blog is that there's an exceptional bond between jazz and peace. I keep pushing peace issues in the most political posts here, but that hardly seems out of keeping with jazz: Foster's sort of spontaneous outburst is merely par for the course. Foster is one of the younger drummers from the hard bop era. Born 1944, he broke in with Blue Mitchell around 1965, and has worked steady ever since -- AMG's credits list goes to three pages, with Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones (in what was called the Great Jazz Trio), just a few of the names that jump out at me. Not much under his own name, but he wrote 3 of 6 songs here -- the covers comes from Mitchell, Davis, and Wayne Shorter. He's playing with young guys here, well tuned to his wavelength: Eli Degibri on various saxophones, Kevin Hays on piano, Douglass Weiss on bass. Degibri had a Fresh Sound New Talent record in 2006 that wasn't ready for prime time, but he's looser and more confident here. Happens a lot with Foster. B+(**)

Lori Freedman & Scott Thomson: Plumb (2007 [2008], Barnyard): More avant duets. Freedman plays clarinets, opening with the bass clarinet. Thomson plays trombone. The two horns offer a limited palette of sound, and the lack of rhythm instruments leaves them jarringly naked. Freedman is somewhat familiar from her work with Queen Mab. Don't know/can't find much on Thomson, but I figure him for a Roswell Rudd fan -- where Freedman came out of the box aiming for Braxtonian ugly, Thomson's first solo was laced with understated wit. Both are worth remembering, although you have to be pretty hard core to stick with this -- someone who reacts ecstatically to such solo classics as Anthony Braxton's For Alto and Paul Rutherford's The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie. In that case, this may double your fun, but I can't guarantee it. B+(*)

Paolo Fresu/Richard Galliano/Jan Lundgren: Mare Nostrum (2007 [2008], ACT): Fresu's trumpet and flugelhorn finally got an ear when Carla Bley tracked him down last year. This is a good chance to hear more. Lundgren's piano is a little short on rhythmic push, but has to do. At least he punctuates the lushness of Galliano's accordion. Not quite prepared to deal with this right now. Wouldn't be a bad idea for me to revisit Bley's record, either. [B+(***)]

Paolo Fresu/Richard Galliano/Jan Lundgren: Mare Nostrum (2007 [2008], ACT): Trumpet, accordion, bass. Fresu finally got some attention when Carla Bley's group tracked him down. Otherwise, he's mostly been buried on small Italian labels. He provides intricate decorations on top of Galliano's eurofolk accordion, which determines how far and how fast this record goes. B+(**)

Bill Frisell: History, Mystery (2002-07 [2008], Nonesuch, 2CD): A major jazz guitarist with a checkered history, comparable to Dave Douglas not least in how his muse can stray in directions I'm ill prepared to follow, or that he occasionally pulls off a miracle anyway. The bulk of this sprawling set is built around a string section -- Jenny Scheinman violin, Eyvind Kang viola, Hank Robets cello, Tony Scherr bass -- suggesting chamber jazz, something polite and formal, with touches of the postbop classical modernism he sometimes flirts with, much as he fiddles with recreating American folklore. It's a relief when Greg Tardy (tenor sax, clarinet) cuts loose, but it's hardly ever tedious with just the strings. There's much too much going on here to digest in a single sitting -- for some reason Nonesuch never sends me Frisell's records, although they're generous with the rest of their catalog -- so take this grade with a grain of salt. A- [Rhapsody]

Satoko Fujii Trio: Trace a River (2006-07 [2008], Libra): This is easier for me to relate to than mainstream piano trios, like the recent Marc Copland records. The crashes are good for an adrenaline rush, and the quiet runs just bid time until all hell breaks out again. Drummer Jim Black takes these twists and turns with exceptional relish. Bassist Mark Dresser is often inscrutable and impenetrable, but his breaks can hold your attention, and he can push a beat as hard as anyone. Fujii can make earthshaking noise and still play fine figures in the cracks. Not sure it all holds together, but it's a thrill when it does. A-

Fulminate Trio (2007 [2008], Generate): Drummer Michael Evans, bassist Ken Filiano, guitarist Anders Nilsson. Evans and Nilsson write, so I figure them for the pecking order. Filiano is a first-call bassist, with an uncanny knack for showing up on records that are better than you'd expect. Evans lists a lot of stuff I've never heard of on his discography, going back to 1981, nothing under his own name. Nilsson is a guitarist I like a lot. He seems to be struggling to stay within the framework here, rather than busting out. The tension works more often than not, but I wouldn't mind something more. B+(**)

The Joel Futterman/Alvin Fielder/Ike Levin Trio: Traveling Through Now (2007 [2008], Charles Lester Music): Avant-garde group, likes to bring the noise, and does so a little too often and too loud for my taste. Fielder is a drummer who goes back to the early Chicago AACM. Futterman is a pianist who takes Cecil Taylor seriously. Levin is a saxophonist who can play along in this crowd: mostly tenor here, but his bass clarinet may be more interesting because it dampens the tendency to squawk. I've heard three albums by this trio. That I've rated them with declining grades may have more to do with my patience than the music. At best, an exciting, vibrant group that can knock you out of your expectations. B+(*)

Ricardo Gallo Cuarteto: Urdimbres y Maranas (2007 [2008], Ladistrito): Colombia pianist, b. 1978 in Bogotá, attended University of North Texas from 1999, later moving to Stony Brook. Second album. The quartet is a piano trio plus extra percussion -- a Colombian group, recording in Bogotá. Combines some chamberish semiclassical stretches -- I'm reminded of Michel Camilo -- with trickier Afro-Cuban rhythmic feats, where the rest of the group makes their strongest impression. B+(*)

Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets: A Ride to the Other Side . . . of Infinity (2007 [2008], Owl Studios): Plays trumpet and flugelhorn, b. 1965 in Chicago. Spent 1991-96 in the Basie ghost band, but basically he's a hard bopper -- AMG's similar artists list is {Blanchard, Marsalis} and "influenced by" runs from Fats Navarro to Nat Adderley, missing no one, with Kenny Dorham at the top of the list -- I'd be tempted to lead with Blue Mitchell. His Jazz Prophets sextet includes brother Vincent Gardner on trombone, Rob Dixon on tenor sax, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Rodney Whitaker on bass, Donald Edwards and Kevin Kaiser on drums and percussion -- a hot group with a rich, classic sound. Second album. I'm impressed, but don't see where this goes beyond where it's already been. B+(**)

Laszlo Gardony: Dig Deep (2008, Sunnyside): Hungarian pianist, based in US since 1983, teaches at Berklee, has 8 or so albums. Piano trio, with John Lockwood on bass, Yoron Israel on drums. Loud, clear, mostly sharply rhythmic pieces, pretty much what a standard mainstream piano trio should be. B+(**)

Amos Garrett: Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield (2008, Stony Plain): Blues guitarist-singer, born 1941 in US but moved to Canada at age 4, currently based in Alberta. Has a dozen or so albums since 1980, many side credits where he's valued for subtle, elegant guitar solos. Voice is deep and starchy white, not an obvious fit for a batch of Percy Mayfield songs. But the horn charts help, the guitar sly and subtle, and gradually the songs carry the singer along. B+(*)

Gato Libre: Kuro (2007 [2008], Libra): Trumpet player Natsuki Tamura write the songs here, so figure this as his group, with wife Satoko Fujii forswearing her explosive piano for accordion. The others are Kazuhiko Tsumura on guitar and Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass. Group has a couple of past albums, including the Europe-tour-themed Nomad which made my A-list. Tamura tends to be more conventional than Fujii. In particular, he likes simple, straightforward melodies, and doesn't mind pulling them from folk sources. The European themes work nice with the accordion, but here he seems unfocused, slipping in Japanese bits, then not developing them. Some rough spots, some sweet spots. B+(*)

The Jeff Gauthier Goatette: House of Return (2008, Cryptogramophone): Violinist, b. 1954, based in Los Angeles, had a couple of records on 9 Winds before he founded Cryptogramophone in 2000. This is his third record since. Quintet, with Nels Cline on guitar, David Witham on piano, Joel Hamilton on bass, Alex Cline on drums. Sort of avant-fusion, basically prog rock tweaked into funny shapes -- similar to the Todd Sickafoose record (trading the horns for violin), or various records by the Cline brothers. B+(*)

Tobias Gebb & Trio West: An Upper West Side Story (2008, Yummy House): Drummer-led piano trio, with Neal Miner on bass, Eldad Zvulun on piano. Drummer Gebb wrote the 4 originals, arranged the rest. He keeps a slightly metallic beat going through most of the record, lifting it a bit above the piano. Two guests expand the music: tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm appears on four cuts, vocalist Champian Fulton on two (one in common). Both are pluses. [B+(***)]

Alex Graham: Brand New (2007 [2008], Origin): Alto saxophonist, based in Michigan (Music Director at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in the summer, Royal Oak in winter). Sixth album since 1995, a sextet with Jim Rotondi (trumpet), Steve Davis (trombone), David Hazeltine (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass), Carl Allen (drums), all well known names. Songs include standards, originals, pop tunes from the Stylistics and Isleys. The pieces vary in interest quite a bit. The postbop harmony is something of a turnoff. B

Enrico Granafei: In the Search of the Third Dimension (2008, Miles High): One man band, plays hands-free chromatic harmonica, acoustic guitar, and sings a little -- album cover makes a big point: "this was recorded with absolutely no overdubbing." I suppose that's meant to be impressive as performance, but it's not much of a virtue in the world of recorded music. The harmonica is his strong suit, but it is rather limited as a lead instrument, the hands-free technique possibly limiting speed and range. His guitar is accompaniment, good for adding a bit of rhythm, but not much more. His voice is even more limited. B

Grand Pianoramax: The Biggest Piano in Town (2008, ObliqSound): Keyboards/drums duo, with Swiss pianist Leo Tardin in the lead role, Deantoni Parks on drums (replaced by Adam Deitch on one cut). A fairly minimal concept, dressed up with guest rappers and vocalists, most notably Mike Ladd on "Showdown" -- the bookend that both opens and closes the disc. B [advance]

Tony Grey: Chasing Shadows (2008, Abstract Logix): English bassist, also plays keyboards, b. 1975 Newcastle, graduated from Berklee in 2001, something of a protégé of John McLaughlin, plays with Hiromi's Sonicbloom. Fusion album, long groove pieces variously decorated -- Dan Brantigan trumpet, Elliot Mason bass trumpet/trombone, Bob Reynolds soprano/tenor sax, Gregoire Maret harmonica, Lionel Loueke guitar -- none setting a dominant tone, although Maret is the most distinctive. Hiromi plays pianon on one cut, but most of the keyboard work goes to Oli Rockberger. B+(*)

Grupa Janke Randalu: Live (2007 [2008], Jazz 'n' Arts): Bodek Janke, percussion; Kristjan Randalu, piano. Randalu comes from Estonia. His parents were classical pianists. He studied in Germany and England, then came to New York (Manhattan School of Music) in 2003. Currently splits time between New York and Germany, teaching in Karlsruhe. Sixth album since 2002 (first I've heard). Janke is Polish, b. 1972, based in New York, "a cultural commuter between the USA, Kazakhstan, Russia, Poland and Germany," with a wide range of folk and world as well as jazz influences. This flows well, is consistently engaging; may be a little more percussive without a bass, but doesn't seem lacking. First rate, but one I haven't pinned down yet. [B+(**)]

Grupa Janke Randalu: Live (2007 [2008], Jazz 'n' Arts): Polish percussionist Bodek Janke plus Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, based these days in New York and/or Germany, in a duo that runs on rhythm, in a set ending with enthuasiastic applause. B+(*)

Rigmor Gustafsson: Alone With You (2007 [2008], ACT): Swedish vocalist, b. 1966, sings in English, has half a dozen albums, first one I've heard. Starts off with a soaring pop ballad, "In My World" -- pretty awful. She wrote all the songs, sometimes getting help with lyrics. Better when it gets jazzier, better still when the band takes the lead, but that's not a good sign in a vocalist's album, even if you're Betty Carter -- and this band isn't that good. B-

Charlie Haden: The Best of Quartet West (1986-96 [2007], Verve): A steady-flowing sampler from five albums, catching the legendary bassist at his most sentimental, with Lawrence Marable's light touch on the drums, Alan Broadbent's luxurious piano, and Ernie Watts' crooning tenor sax -- elegantly simple, even when Broadbent's string arrangements or an out-of-place vocal sample complicate things. I would start with the nostalgic Haunted Heart, although some people find the appearance of Billie Holiday in this company unsettling. B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Tim Hagans: Alone Together (2007 [2008], Pirouet): Trumpet player. Most sources describe him as hard bop, but he's had a rather checkered career, ranging from jazztronica to big bands to that giveaway Freddie Hubbard tribute album. This quartet is about as straightahead as he's ever come, and all the better for it. Much credit goes to the rhythm section, aka the Marc Copland Trio, with Drew Gress on bass and Jochen Rückert on drums. They're superb on their own, and Hagans ices the cake. Starts with four Copland songs; ends with three standards. B+(***)

Larry Ham: Just Me, Just You (2007 [2008], Arbors): Subtitle: Arbors Piano Series, Volume 17. Pianist, b. 1954, played with Lionel Hampton (1986-87) and Illinois Jacquet (1990-95); more recently appeared on several Scott Robinson records. Second album, after debuting in 2007. This one's solo. Mostlys tandards, a couple of originals, a calypso, one from Bud Powell. No complaints -- just doesn't quite break the ice. B

Scott Hamilton & Friends: Across the Tracks (2008, Concord): Sorting out the last duds this cycle, I thought I should check Concord's recent roster to see what they weren't sending me. Aside from Telarc/Heads Up, which have been pretty steady, I did get Taylor Eigsti, but I haven't seen any trace of: Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, David Benoit, James Hunter, Incognito, Sergio Mendes, Scott Hamilton, or David Sánchez. I don't much care about the front of that list, but Hamilton and Sánchez are two saxophonists I'm definitely interested in. Sánchez did one of the best Latin jazz records I've ever heard (Obsesion, back in 1998), and Hamilton has been a perennial favorite: the first and in many ways the best of the swing-oriented "young fogey" players to come up around 1980. His last two records made the Jazz CG A-list (Back in New York and Nocturnes & Serenades). This isn't as strong: a very relaxed set with Gene Ludwig on organ and Duke Robillard on electric guitar. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Long Ago and Far Away: Kelly Harland Sings Jerome Kern (2006-07 [2008], Origin): Singer, presumably based in Seattle, MySpace page says she's 57, which would mean b. 1950 or 1951. Second album according to AMG; third according to her website, although there's also a hint of a long-lost record on Epic with Charlie Daniels. This one could not be more straightforward. The Kern songbook is redoubtable. Support from Bill Mays on piano and Chuck Deardorf is all she needs. Her voice and delivery are unaffected and charming. B+(**)

Brian Harnetty: American Winter (2007, Atavistic): A musician from Ohio, teaches at Kenyon College. This record is built around Berea College's sound archives, a 75+ year collection of Appalachian field recordings, radio programs, and oral history. Some are sung, bringing out the twang of deeply felt voices. Some are just interviews, old stories. A bit of radio broadcast focuses on the WWII draft. Most have been augmented with musical flourishes, mostly percussive. Seems like a highly repeatable formula, but for now it sounds unique. Harnetty's discography lists 17 items since 2003, mostly self-released, this the only one on a label I've heard of. AMG files this as folk, but it's pretty avant for that. [A-]

Joel Harrison: The Wheel (2008, Innova): This is the third record in the last couple of days by a guitarist working with a string quartet -- an idea that I basically dread, but the first two (Bill Frisell, Ulf Wakenius) came off quite successfully, not least because they cheated convention. Harrison, however, flies straight into the teeth of the framework, writing "a five movement suite for double quartet and guitar" -- one quartet is the standard set of strings, the other a piano-less postbop lineup with Ralph Alessi (trumpet/flugelhorn), Dave Binney (alto sax), Lindsay Horner (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums). The latter quartet actually sounds promising, but I didn't notice any horns first play; rather, there was an overgrown jungle of aggressive, menacing strings. At least this avoids the usual jazz-with-strings clichés: the modernism is brusque enough I'm reminded of the Stan Getz album Focus, but this is more unruly, and I've never had any doubts about the horn on Focus. This is the sort of album that leaves me with unresolved questions that don't promise to be worth the trouble to sort out. B+(*)

Coleman Hawkins: The Hawk Flies High (1957 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection): Makes it look easy, too, lifted by warm brass from Idrees Suleiman and J.J. Johnson, soaring over a rhythm section that layers Hank Jones bebop on Jo Jones swing, swooping and diving and snatching the listener's attention with surprisingly effortless grace; only complaint is sometimes Hawk makes it look too easy. A-

Conrad Herwig: The Latin Side of Wayne Shorter (2007 [2008], Half Note): Trombonist; b. 1959 Lawton, OK; graduated from North Texas; based in New York. I'm way behind the learning curve on him, tending to regard him as a latin specialist -- he's best known for having done this same "Latin Side" treatment to John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and has a second Coltrane volume called Que Viva Coltrane -- but most of his 17 albums (starting from 1987) look to be mainstream, mostly on Criss Cross. Seven-piece band, with Brian Lynch trumpet, Ronnie Cuber baritone sax, Luis Perdomo piano, Ruben Rodriguez bass, Robby Ameen drums, Pedro Martinez congas. Eddie Palmieri drops in for the last three cuts -- a shot of adrenalin, not that Perdomo needs any help. This goes a lot deeper than just dressing up Shorter's tunes with congas, but still feels a bit like an exercise. B+(**)

Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Beyond Standard (2008, Telarc): Japanese pianist, full name Hiromi Uehara, b. 1979, came to Berklee 1999, has five US albums since 2003, all on Telarc, where she's angling for a big audience with some fancy fusion footwork. It's been hit and miss so far, but she gets some mileage out of these standards, most impressively an uproarious take on "Caravan." The band includes Dave Fiuczynski on guitar, Tony Grey on bass, Martin Valihora on drums. Some things lost me along the way, but at best the guitar can be spectacular. Ends with the fastest "I Got Rhythm" I've ever heard. [B+(**)]

Maurice Horsthuis: Elastic Jargon (2007 [2008], Data): One thing I've found is that there's usually an exception to any generalization one might make. By now, you know how much I hate the sound of massed violins, how lame I find classical string quartets, maybe even how estranged I feel from so much advanced contemporary composition (or whatever you call it -- maybe only because I get so little opportunity to follow it). Even at best I figure those things are projects, something that, given more exposure and understanding, I might some day learn to sort of like, a little bit at least. But here's an exception: all strings (4 violins, 2 violas, 3 cellos, double bass, and electric guitar), a very limited pallette with a lot of sawing back and forth, but it's really flowing, with waves of ideas, crashing and bubbling. Need to hold it back as a sanity check. Horsthuis plays viola. He's part of Amsterdam String Trio, which has at least four albums. He's also played with Misha Mengelberg's ICP Orchestra back in the 1980s; also with Han Bennink and Maarten Altena. Group name could be Maurice Horsthuis' Jargon, in which case album name might be Elastic. [A-]

Wayne Horvitz and Sweeter Than the Day: A Walk in the Dark (2007 [2008], [no label]): Pianist, b. 1955 in New York, now based in Seattle. Has a substantial discography since 1981. Sweeter Than the Day was a 2002 quartet album that has retained its shape as a group in a couple of later albums, with Timothy Young's guitars complementing Horvitz's piano, Keith Lowe on bass, and Eric Eagle on drums. Nice record, Horvitz likes a steady beat, and the guitar adds something. B+(**)

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet: One Dance Alone (2007 [2008], Songlines): Interesting take on the chamber jazz concept, using an unusual mix of instruments: cornet (Ron Miles), bassoon (Sara Schoenbeck), cello (Peggy Lee), piano (Horvitz). Horvitz has been known to bury his piano in his compositions, or even to dispense with it completely, and he doesn't appear to lead here. More like walk along with the flow, such as it is -- with no drums or bass this doesn't move much. Nonetheless, the group's previous record, Way Out East surprised me with an Honorable Mention; this one doesn't make so strong a mark, but its modest, somber assurance is notable. B+(*)

Freddie Hubbard & the New Jazz Composers Octet: On the Real Side (2007 [2008], 4Q/Times Square): Hubbard's early 1960s, both as a leader and especially as a sideman, made up one of the great individual stretches in jazz history -- hard bop, postbop, avant-garde, he could and did do it all. But after about 1965 he started to thin out, with a couple of superb fusion albums in 1970 (Red Clay, Straight Life), even less after 1980, a rare comeback in 1991 (Bolivia), then he literally blew his lip out in 1992 and that was that. This is his first album since then, produced and carefully shepherded by David Weiss. Not clear how much Hubbard plays. He's credited with flugelhorn, with Weiss on trumpet and a lot of firepower in the group -- three saxes plus guest Craig Handy on three cuts, Steve Davis on trombone, guest Russell Malone on one cut, piano, bass, and drums. Compositions are all by Hubbard. Haven't checked to see if any are new, but they all have arranger credits -- mostly Weiss, Davis on one, bassist Dwayne Burno on two. Weiss is a crack arranger, and if you're into that sort of thing, these pieces are crisp and snappy. I find that it leaves me wondering about the leader. B

Fernando Huergo: Provinciano (2006 [2008], Sunnyside): Argentine bassist, from Cordoba, graduated from Berklee in 1992, teaches there and at Tufts. Website claims over 100 albums, 9 as leader -- most of the latter are in groups, like the Jinga Trio or Quintet, the Jazz Argentino Band, the Toucan Trio. Credits include multiple albums with Guillermo Klein and Nando Michelin. This strikes me as a cross-cultural mixed bag, the distinctively Argentinian twist on Latin jazz presumably extending beyond the occasional spots where tango threatens to break out. Otherwise, it rises and sinks on the strength of Andrew Rathbun's tenor sax and the weakness of Yulia Musayelyan's flute. Mike Pohjola has good stretches on piano. May be a sleeper. [B]

Dick Hyman/Chris Hopkins: Teddy Wilson in 4 Hands (2006 [2007], Victoria): Hyman's been around forever, but while most jazz musicians try to establish their own sound, he's a scholar and a chameleon, the guy you'd go to if you wanted to sound just like any stride pianist you can name. The notes here say that he's soon coming out with "an encyclopedic CD-ROM" called Dick Hyman's 100 Years of Jazz Piano. He's the obvious choice to do it all. Also mentions that he has three duo-piano albums with Ray Kennedy, Bernd Lhotzky, and Chris Hopkins. The only one I've heard is the one Hopkins sent me. Hopkins was born in 1972 in Princeton, NJ, but grew up and lives in Germany (Bochum, near Düsseldorf; American father, German mother). Another swing kid, he cites a stellar list of influences from James P. Johnson to Johnny Guarnieri (Waller, Smith, Basie, Stacy, Hines, Wilson, "many others"; Ellington must be among the latter, but I don't hear much that reminds me of Tatum). Five cuts are solos, twelve duets. Normally I react to solo piano as too sparse, and to duo piano as too much of too sparse, but these pieces are utterly charming. The secret, of course, is Wilson. I wonder how many younger jazz fans even recognize the name compared to other names on the influences list. Part of the problem is that a big chunk of Wilson's discography is now routinely reissued under his singer's name, Billie Holiday, but his trios and solos have lapsed into obscurity as well. This record brings Wilson's abundant charms back into focus. A-

Adrian Iaies Trio + Michael Zisman: Vals de la 81st & Columbus (2008, Sunnyside): Iaies is an Argentine pianist; b. 1960, Buenos Aires; has 7 CDs since 1998, including a couple with a group called Tango Reflections Trio. Haven't heard any before, but it seems to be a safe bet that virtually all of them have a strong tango interest. Trio includes Pablo Aslan, who has a strong tango catalog of his own, on bass, and Pepi Taveira on drums. Zisman plays bandoneón; b. 1981, Buenos Aires, still based there, not the same as the San Francisco-based mandolinist of the same name. Two cuts add Juan Cruz de Urquiza on trumpet. Don't think I can suss this out right now. I'm a sucker for tango, and in that this delivers, plus something more, to be determined. [B+(***)]

Industrial Jazz Group: Leef (2008, Evander Music): Cheap cardstock wallet packaging, back cover printed white on yellow (glad I was able to lift the credits and track list elsewhere), full liner notes promised on website but not available yet. Started this while driving around Detroit, but popped it out after a few "what is this shit?" minutes. I've played and enjoyed a couple of Andrew Durkin's group's records in the past, but wasn't prepared for this sharp swerve into Zappa-land. (Actually, I flashed on Brecht/Weill cabaret first, which may have been the initial idea -- but Zappa does get a name check.) I've avoided it ever since, only putting it on when there was nothing else left to unpack from the travel case. Played it twice. First, if you bracket the vocal stuff, the musical performance is stellar. Industrial Jazz has always been a catchphrase in search of a concept -- e.g., the analogy to Industrial Rock never fit -- but Durkin has finally managed to squeeze all individuality out of the big band without sacrificing idiosyncrasy. Hard to imagine anything but a machine managing that, or exhibiting such spurious complexity just because it's possible to gear it that way. Clearest case is "Bongo Non Troppo," working off a relatively simple Latin riff, but there's more in "Howl" and "Fuck the Muck" (at least until the voices appear). The vocal stuff is more scattered -- skit and shtick, a bit of "Fuck the Muck" choir, and two legit songs (both optimistically reprised in radio edits at the end): "The Job Song" (on the Brechtian end) and "Big Ass Truck" (more Zappaesque). In Christgau's CG scheme a couple of these named pieces would be Choice Cuts. I don't do that because I'm still stuck in the old-fashioned rut of trying to swallow records whole. B+(*)

Jon Irabagon's Outright! (2007 [2008], Innova): Alto saxophonist, has done some good work lately, appearing on a pick hit (Mostly Other People Do the Killing) and another featured disc (Jostein Gulbrandsen) from the latest Jazz Consumer Guide. This one goes for overkill, starting with cover pics of masses of arm-waving fans -- I could see him moving the people but drawing them is another matter. A lot of talent here: three-fourths of Kris Davis' quartet -- Davis on piano/organ, Eivind Opsvik on acoustic bass, Jeff Davis on drums -- plus Russ Johnson on trumpet and Irabagon. Two cuts expand the group up toward big band mass. I don't much care for the horn duet at the beginning, but there are interesting bits throughout, including a MOPDTK-style assault on "Groovin' High." B+(*)

Anne Mette Iversen: Best of the West + Many Places (2006-07 [2008], Buj'ecords, 2CD): Bassist, from Denmark, now based in Brooklyn, that's all I know. Quartet includes John Ellis (tenor and soprano sax), Danny Grissett (piano), and Otis Brown III (drums). On the first disc (Best of the West) they are joined by the string quartet 4 Corners; on second disc (Many Places) they appear on their own. Strings aren't my thing, but they provide a dreamy backdrop to the sax -- I'm reminded of Winter Moon, Art Pepper's lush masterpiece; while Ellis isn't as transcendent, he's rarely played this inventively -- and hold their shape on their own. Ellis opens up even more on the stringless disc. [B+(***)]

Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery: Bags Meets Wes! (Keenpews Collection) (1961 [2008], Riverside): With Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones, and Philly Joe Jones. Jackson swings as always, but Montgomery and Kelly rarely break out of the background, subtle moves that set up the vibes but never upstage them. B+(**)

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Lil' Tae Rides Again (2007 [2008], Hyena): Tulsa group, mainstays are keyb player Brian Haas and bassist Reed Mathis, with newcomer Josh Raymer taking over the drums slot. Not sure what producer Tae Meyulks actually did, but there are various electronics undercurrents, and that seems to be his bag. Minor groove pieces, various ambiences, nothing dislikable or compelling. B+(*)

Bob James Trio: Explosions (1965 [2008], ESP-Disk): Some years ago when I was just starting to get systematic about jazz history, one of the most useful guides I found was The Gramophone Jazz Good CD Guide (I'm referring back to the 1995 edition). Most of its choices are unimpeachable. A few of the surprises, like Willis Jackson's Bar Wars, are wonderful. One of the few idiosyncratic choices I never bothered tracking down was this record. James moved into pop jazz shortly after this early effort, making scads of records under his own name and as part of Four Play. I've heard very few of them -- at best them give the impression of a more or less talented guy slumming. This sounds more like the work of the session's bassist, Barre Phillips, who acquits himself particularly well with some austere arco bass, among other things. The drummer is Robert Pozar, and two tracks have mixed tape sounds which Gordon Mumma and Robert Ashley (copy says "Bob Ashley") contributed to. Not all that explosive, but curiously abstract, oddly interesting. Not a masterpiece; just one of those odd cult items good for a conversation piece. B+(***)

Guus Janssen: Out of Frame (2008, Geestgronden): Dutch pianist, avant-garde, b. 1951, AMG credits him with 7 albums and 14 more credits since 1986, but his website shows almost twice that many. I like his trio album Zwik a lot. This one is solo, which makes it tougher, especially over the long haul. The piano here is loud and percussive, and some pieces -- notably one called "Toe-Tapping Tune" -- have the hands split so far apart they could be duets. B+(**)

Jessica Jones Quartet: Word (2005 [2008], New Artists): Family act -- husband Tony Jones plays tenor sax, as does his better half, who also plays piano and writes most of the songs. With bass and drums, they can be moderately edgy. But most of the record is turned over to daughter Candace Jones, who alternates between dry torch songs and reciting poetry from Arisa White and Abe Maneri. The album has an appealing home-crafted feel, but makes you wonder how far they could stretch if they tried. B+(**)

Stanley Jordan: State of Nature (2008, Mack Avenue): Another well-known guitarist, one I've paid even less attention to than Metheny -- I have him filed under pop jazz, which may or may not be fair. Jordan had a run on Blue Note 1984-90 with at least one gold record, but hasn't recorded much since. Not much info to go with this advance copy: no musician credits, although Charnett Moffett, David Haynes, and Kenwood Dennard are somewhere, and there is something about Jordan playing guitar and piano simultaneously. Piano is fairly prominent on some pieces, including Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" and the quasi-classical "Healing Waves." Some of the guitar is quite elegant -- don't have an ear for his famous "tapping" method, which doesn't seem much in play. Mix bag of pieces, ranging from Latin to Mozart. Might as well wait for more info. [B+(*)] [advance: Apr. 22]

Matt Jorgensen + 451: Another Morning (2007 [2008], Origin): Seattle drummer, b. 1972. Fifth album since 2001, fairly even mix of originals, band contributions (saxophonist Mark Taylor, keyboardist Ryan Burns; nothing from bassist Phil Sparks), and covers (Joe Henderson, Lennon/McCartney, Neil Young). Burns plays Fender Rhodes, organ, and Moog -- various slices of fusion and soul jazz. Taylor mostly plays alto, with a sweet, skinny sound that I'm ambivalent about. Album sort of lies back, waiting for you to come to it. Can't say as I've given it a fair shot. B

Junk Box: Sunny Then Cloudy (2006 [2008], Libra): Another Satoko Fujii trio, with the leader on piano, husband Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, and John Hollenbeck doing percussion. A previous album called Fragment, released in 2006, made my A-list. This one has its amazing moments, but it also has plenty of rough stretches. One highlight is Tamura's eloquent lead on "Soldier's Depression," rising then fading against Hollenbeck's fractured martial drums. On the other hand, the next song starts off with a trumpet tantrum; after blowing itself out, Fujii has a promising bit of dramatic piano, but then that fades into what I can only guess is Tamura doing something obscene. Hollenbeck seems up for anything, and there's a lot of that. B+(**)

Lindha Kallerdahl: Gold (2006 [2008], ESP-Disk): Swedish vocalist. Album spells first name Lindah in two prominent locations, including the spine, and Google prefers Lindah, but her website and MySpace page both prefer Lindha. (I've also seen Linda several places.) Born 1972, studied in Stockholm, has mostly worked with avant-gardists: Mats Gustafsson, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Jaap Blonk, Ikue Mori. Plays some piano, but most of this is solo voice: sharp, shrill, jumps around an astounding range, sometimes with remarkable control, more often with wild abandon. I find it rather hideous, although "All of Me" made me smile, and "Body & Soul" might have had I figured it out earlier. C+

Kassaba: Dark Eye (2007, CDBaby): Group, quartet, seems to be based in Cleveland. Group has two pianists, Candice Lee and Greg Slawson, who alternate, doubling on percussion. Bassist Chris Vance and saxophonist Mark Boich also have percussion credits (they claim "25 exotic percussion instruments"). Lee is originally from Edmonton (Alberta, that's Canada), but got her music degrees at Cleveland Institute of Music. Vance hails from Buffalo, the rest from Cleveland, although Boich studied at Berklee -- another George Garzone student. They claim inspiration from jazz, classical, and world music. The loose world beats are beguiling, especially when Boich blows abstractly against the grain. The closer, "Hin Rizzy," makes their classical case -- feels kinda static to me, like Bach. [B+(***)]

The Spencer Katzman Threeo: 5 Is the New 3 (2006 [2008], 6V6): Guitarist, based in New York, first album, a trio with Keith Witty on bass and Dave Sharma on drums and tabla. Studied with Bill Frisell, Dave Fiuczynski, others. Covers include Brendan Benson and Neutral Milk Hotel. Nice sound, well thought out, enjoyable; not sure how far to go beyond that. B+(**)

Grace Kelly/Lee Konitz: GraceFulLee (2008, Pazz Productions): Kelly was born 1992, Wellesley MA, Korean parents, original name Grace Chung. She cut her first record at age 13; at 16, she now has four. I can't recall ever being impressed by a prodigy, and it's going to take me a while to swallow this. For one thing, 7 of 10 songs pair her up with arguably the greatest alto saxophonist since Johnny Hodges (most days I'd say Art Pepper, and sometimes I'm tempted by Anthony Braxton, or for sheer guts Ornette Coleman or Jackie McLean, but never consensus favorite Charlie Parker). She's not in their league, or anywhere close, but her three leads slip by graciously enough. Five cuts use a full band, and they are stellar: Russell Malone on guitar, Rufus Reid on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums. [B+(**)]

Katie King: Harry's Fight (2007 [2008], OA2): Singer, from Eugene OR, moved to Seattle in 1990, fifth album since 1993. Not the UK-born jazz/standards singer who's worked the US east coast (Florida to the Catskills), or any of an astonishing number of other Katie Kings scattered about. Title cut is full of jazz references, with a rousing Chris Flory sax solo. That's the first of three originals. She also tackles three Beatles songs, plus one by Paul Simon -- things I never recommend going near, but she handles them meticulously, and Flory helps out. Also pieces from Nine Simone and Abbey Lincoln, plus some more standard standards. B+(*)

Guillermo Klein/Los Gauchos: Filtros (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1970 in Argentina, attended Berklee 1990-94, moved on to New York. Los Gauchos is his big band, a mix of Latin players and other New York talents, including some players with substantial discographies of their own: Miguel Zenon, Chris Cheek, Bill McHenry, Ben Monder. Over a half-dozen albums, he's developed into an expansive and inventive arranger -- I'm tempted to compare him to Maria Schneider, but not being a big fan of either that may be too tongue-in-cheek. Still, the Monkish "Vaca" here is pretty irresistible, a good track to check out. Wish he wouldn't sing. B+(**)

Kirk Knuffke Quartet: Bigwig (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Trumpet player, originally from Denver, now in New York. First album, with Brian Drye doubling the brass on trombone, Reuben Radding on bass, Jeff Davis on drums. Fairly free. I like the brass dynamics. B+(*)

Lee Konitz-Ohad Talmor Big Band: Portology (2006 [2007], Omnitone): Konitz came in #3 in Downbeat's Hall of Fame ballot last year, behind recently deceased Andrew Hill and Michael Brecker (who got in on the popular ballot) and ahead of still ticking (actually, like Konitz, still working) Hank Jones. Unless someone important dies, he should be next in line. (Jackie McLean, embarrassingly, wasn't even on the ballot when he died, then lept to the top of the list.) It's taken him a long time, but he's never been anywhere near the mainstream. Early on he was way ahead of his time -- looking back I'm tempted to call his 1949-50 Subconscious-Lee the first great postbop album -- and even when time caught up he remained sui generis. Even in the middle of a big band built for camouflage it's trivial to pick him out. On the other hand, don't know much about Ohad Talmor, who is here billed as conductor, arranger, musical director, and co-composer. He was born in France of Israeli parents, grew up in Switzerland, moved to New York in 1995. Plays tenor sax in his own groups, but works more as arranger/director in projects with Konitz and Steve Swallow. I dudded his Swallow project record. Haven't heard his previous work with Konitz. This one makes use of an extant big band from Portugal, Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, which I've previously on an album with Chris Cheek that I also disliked. So I'm inclined not only to credit this to Konitz but to give him extra credit for degree of difficulty. Or maybe I should save it for another spin. [B+(**)] [advance]

Lee Konitz-Ohad Talmor Big Band: Portology (2006 [2007], Omnitone): Cover shows three dozen or so doors of various sizes, shapes, and designs -- portals, each of which presumably leads to a distinct space. Don't know what, if anything, that has to do with the music. Aside from the featured alto saxophonist, the group is Portugal's Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos. The compositions are credited to Konitz and Talmor; the arrangements to Talmor. Intriguing music, but there are spots that sound a bit off. B+(**) [advance]

Steve Lacy: The Forest and the Zoo (1966 [2008], ESP-Disk): Two 20-minute pieces, "Forest" and "Zoo," cut live in Buenos Aires with South Africans Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo on bass and drums; the soprano sax great is in classic squeaky form, but the real jolt to the memory here is trumpeter Enrico Rava -- genteel and laconic of late, he snatches these pieces like a pit bull and never lets go. A-

Benjamin Lapidus: Herencia Judía (2007 [2008], Tresero): Born 1972 in Hershey, PA; moved to New York in 1980s, got into Latin music, playing Cuban tres and Puerto Rican cuatro, eventually forming an interesting Latin band, Sonido Isleño. This record explores traditional sephardic music as it spread surrepetitiously through the Spanish Caribbean. This has a folkie feel that seems more proper and more dated than klezmer, while the Latin accents are similarly muted. B+(**)

Pete Levin: Certified Organic (2008, P Lev): Keyboard player, b. 1942, brother of bass guitarist Tony Levin, who has a substantial career mostly in prog rock (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel). Pete got started playing synths for Gil Evans circa 1973. He's played some organ at least since 1990, lately specializing. Mostly organ-guitar-drums trio, with various playmates, some extra percussion, and a bit of Erik Lawrence sax -- best thing here, by a big margin. The guitar is pretty mixed, and the organ doesn't stand out much. B

David Liebman/Roberto Tarenzi/Paolo Benedettini/Tony Arco: Negative Space (2005 [2008], Verve): Liebman refers to his group as "this wonderful trio" and they don't let him down. But he's the star, and they're playing his book -- the record rises and falls on that. Despite Liebman's eminence, it seems that he's never moved out from the shadows of his heroes: Miles Davis and John Coltrane. More Coltrane here, especially his rowdy take on the familiar "Afro Blue." B+(**)

Luis Lopes: Humanization 4Tet (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Don't know much about Lopes -- a couple of google matches appear to be false positives. This one plays guitar, is probably Portuguese, wrote all the pieces on his first album. The other players are slightly more well known: Aaron Gonzalez (double bass) and Stefan Gonzalez (drums) are sons of trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez. Rodrigo Amado is a Portuguese tenor saxophonist who's put together a number of solid albums, both under his own name and with Lisbon Improvisation Players (which has been known to include Gonzalez père). Amado's full-voiced honking dominates here, but a section where the guitar leads takes on much the same melodic shape, so I figure the guitarist is always pushing this music along even when he's not conspicuous. Another clue is that this is probably Amado's strongest outing yet, mostly because he rarely gets a chance to let up. B+(***)

Lionel Loueke: Karibu (2007 [2008], Blue Note): Guitarist, born in Benin, moved to Côte d'Ivoire, then to Paris, then to Boston (Berklee), then to California (Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz), now seems to be based in Bergen County, NJ. He's appeared in quite a few credits since 2001, including some relatively high profile ones -- Terence Blanchard, Charlie Haden (Land of the Sun), Herbie Hancock (The River: The Joni Letters). This is a trio with bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth -- mostly: he also picks up a pair of distinguished guests, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, one cut together, one more each. Mixed bag, especially when he sings, but the closer "Nonvignon" is my favorite track here, and he sings on it -- reminds me of pennywhistle jive. [B+(*)]

Frank Lowe: Black Beings (1973 [2008], ESP-Disk): The short middle piece is solo tenor sax, thoughtful and intriguing. The two long pieces sandwiched around the solo are screamers, with Joseph Jarman on second noisemaker, wailing and shrieking spastically around Lowe's meatier riffs. I've found myself upgrading several of these reissues, not least because I've gotten better at handling the sheer noisiness of the 1960s-1970s avant-garde (the Brötzmann and Ayler reissues are two cases in point, up from B/B-). I'm a big fan of Lowe's, so I expected the same here, and indeed I find my reaction is more nuanced. Still, I don't see any reason to nudge my grade this time. There's some interesting stuff here, but I find Jarman downright oppressive. The two long tracks had been edited to fit on LP sides, and restored to original length here. The violinist, originally credited as The Wizard, is identified as Raymond Lee Cheng. Lowe started playing with Billy Bang a year later, so it's reasonable to wonder if they're the same, but they don't sound anywhere close. The bassist is young William Parker, who went on to corner the market for this type of thing, playing with Charles Gayle and David S. Ware. He's hard to follow, but seems to do the job. I've never heard of drummer Rashid Sinan, but he has some good spots. B-

Gene Ludwig Trio with the Bill Warfield Big Band: Duff's Blues (2008, 18th & Vine): Ludwig plays organ. He was born 1937, started on piano, met Jimmy Smith in 1957, switched to organ. The other Trio members are Bob DeVos (guitar) and Rudy Petschauer (drums). Warfield plays trumpet. No credits for the rest of the Big Band, but there must be a mess of them: they play big and loud, with the requisite swing, tending to drown out their guests. B+(*) [Aug. 12]

Gabi Lunca: Sounds From a Bygone Age, Vol. 5 (1956-78 [2008], Asphalt Tango): Even now, nobody would go so far as to claim that Ceausescu's Romania harbored a golden age of pop music, but the German label Asphalt Tango has compiled five volumes without a slip, music no one else seems to have had a clue about. (Buda Musique's Éthiopiques series has done something comparable, but is more hit and miss.) Gypsy lautari music, with accordion and violin and cimbalom, mostly consumed at weddings, only rarely recorded. Lunca was the more refined of two major female singers -- the earthier Romica Puceanu got her props back on Vol. 2. A-

Carmen Lundy: Come Home (2007 [2008], Afrasia): Vocalist, b. 1954, 10th album. Writes most of her songs. (Liner notes attribute several collaborations to "C Lundy" -- presumably her, but could be her well-known bassist brother Curtis Lundy, who plays here.) Has a distinctive voice, on the deep side, with a precise, studied manner reminiscent of Carmen McRae -- her take on "Nature Boy" is a good example. Strong piano help from Anthony Wonsey and Geri Allen. B+(*)

The Malchicks: To Kill a Mockingbird (2007 [2008], Zoho Roots): English blues-rock group, duo actually, with vocalist Scarlett Wrench and George Perez on guitars, banjo, bass, with some extra studio help -- drums, anyway, plus Phil May (Pretty Things) and Arthur Brown add some backup vocals. Songs are as stout as "Boom Boom," "House of the Rising Sun," "I Got My Mojo Working," "Baby, Please Don't Go." The female voice provides a slight twist on a genre firmly rooted in Eric Bourdon's testes. Finishes with a Leonard Cohen song, proving that history ambled on past the 1960s. B+(**)

Phil Markowitz: Catalysis (2006 [2008], Sunnyside): Pianist. Several sources cite his 37 year career, but don't give a birthdate. Only his 4th album since 1980. Side credits go back to 1973, notably: Chet Baker, Red Rodney, Phil Woods, Al di Meola, Bob Mintzer, David Liebman, Joe Locke, both Saxophone Summit albums. Piano trio with Jay Anderson and Adam Nussbaum, solid players. I like it well enough, but like a lot of good mainstream piano it doesn't push the buttons that make me want to write about it. B+(*) [July 15]

Ellis Marsallis Quartet: An Open Letter to Thelonious (2007 [2008], ELM): In the early days Monk was notoriously difficult to play -- I'm tempted to argue that on his first records even he had trouble playing himself. Now everyone can play him just fine. QED. B

Wynton Marsalis: Standards & Ballads (1983-98 [2008], Columbia/Legacy): Not just standards, given one original from Citi Movement. Not all ballads either, though mostly sluggish; only 8 of 14 tracks come from his generally excellent Standard Time series, so not really a sampler thereof -- in fact, nothing from Vol. 6: Mr. Jelly Lord. One vocal track is incongruous here, but organic to the Tune In Tomorrow soundtrack, the rest of which is better than anything here, possibly excepting the lovely "Flamingo." B

Jean Martin/Colin Fisher: Little Man on the Boat (2007, Barnyard): More free, idiosyncratic duets, this time more of a mish mash as both rum the gamut of instruments: Martin's credits are drums, keyboards, trumpet, loops, bass; Fisher's tenor sax, guitars, bass, banjo, voice. Fisher is another Toronto denizen, with three albums as I Have Eaten the City and two as Sing That Yell That Spell. Scattered moments are interesting, but it isn't clear what holds them together. B+(*)

Jean Martin/Evan Shaw: Piano Music (2007, Barnyard): Following front cover; spine says Martin & Shaw but website says Evan Shaw and Jean Martin. Barnyard Records is a Toronto label -- sent me four records, three featuring drummer Martin (seems likely the label's his show). Shaw's an alto saxophonist, grew up in New Brunswick, based in Toronto. These are duets, free jazz, presumably improvs, with no piano audible anywhere. I like this sort of thing quite a bit, but it hasn't yet risen much above par. One cut adds a rap, or something spoken like that. B+(**)

The Bennie Maupin Quartet: Early Reflections (2007 [2008], Cryptogramophone): Maupin plays bass clarinet, tenor sax, soprano sax, alto flute. Born 1940, made his mark with Miles Davis on Bitches Brew and in Herbie Hancock's 1970s fusion bands. Has a relatively short list of records under his own name, starting with 1974's ECM entry, The Jewel in the Lotus -- touted by many, but I'm not a big fan. He cut this one in Poland, presumably last year, with a local group I don't recognize. It's all over the place, with fractal spots intriguing in their minimalism, sometimes stretching out and soaring away, other times awash in schmaltz. Pianist Michal Tokaj is worth singling out. But two cuts with vocalist Hania Chowaniec-Rybka spoil it for me, but much else is of interest.. B

Louis Mazetier: Tributes, Portraits and Other Stories (2007 [2008], Arbors): Vol. 18 in Arbors Piano Series, a set of solo piano showcases for mostly obscure, mostly old-fashioned pianists. Mazetier was born 1960 in Paris. He's played in the French trad jazz group Paris Washboard, and recorded a couple of albums under his own name for Stomp Off. Stride pianist, starts off with a sparkling take on James P. Johnson's "You've Got to Be Modernistic." Contributes 10 originals out of 22 songs. B+(**)

Marilyn Mazur/Jan Garbarek: Elixir (2005 [2008], ECM): Finished cover shows Mazur's name above title in white, with Garbarek's below white title in black -- a little more pecking order than my credit suggests. I'm not familiar with Mazur's previous work. I was under the impression that she's a vocalist, but there are no vocals here, and sources agree that she is primarily a percussionist, with other credits including vocalist, pianist, and dancer. She plays a wide range of percussion instruments -- the list starts with marimba and ends with various metal utensils. Her pieces are varied miniatures, some solo, most accompanied by Garbarek's tenor sax, soprano sax, or flute -- spare, elegant, often flat out gorgeous. The one record I've played in the last two weeks Laura complimented then asked me who it was. Not the first time that's happened with Garbarek. In fact, it's happened so often I had to laugh before telling her. [A-]

Marilyn Mazur/Jan Garbarek: Elixir (2005 [2008], ECM): Many short pieces framed by unusual percussion -- Mazur's kit reads: marimba, bowed vibraphone and waterphone, hang, bells, gongs, cymbals, magic drum, log drum, sheep bells, Indian cowbells, udu drum, various drums and metal-utensils. Most are interesting, and the metallic bits are especially striking. Garbarek is a sensitive duettist, skillfully working his tenor and soprano sax, and flute, around Mazur's contours, and at his best is as hypnotic as a snake charmer. B+(***)

Liz McComb: The Spirit of New Orleans (2001 [2008], GVE/Sunnyside): Gospel singer, grew up in Cleveland, spent much of her early career in Europe, returning to the US in 2001. Her New Olreans album picks up some horns and fancy rhythm, not deploying them consistently. Helps when it's there, but doesn't matter much when it isn't: she powers her way through every song -- four she wrote, the rest as trad as "Old Man River" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and "Happy Working for the Lord." Christian music's gotten so lame and dumb lately I've been avoiding it. I'd like to say this is the old time religion, but it's just the old time gospel music -- plus occasional horns and fancy rhythm. A-

Tom McDermott and Connie Jones: Creole Nocturne (2007 [2008], Arbors): McDermott's an old timey pianist, b. 1957 in St. Louis, moved to New Orleans in 1984 and made himself at home. Scattered discography includes a 1981 New Rags on Stomp Off; 1995 Tom McDermott and His Jazz Hellions on Jazzology; a a flurry of releases c. 2003 on STR Digital including a foray into Brazilian called Choro do Norte and one on Latin New Orleans called Danza, with Evan Christopher. Jones is an older cornet player. Don't know much about him, but there's a photo here of him on stage with Jack Teagarden and Don Ewell in 1964, and he shows up later with McDermott's Jazz Hellions and the Crescent City Jazz Band. Jones sings two songs with a gravelly voice -- a McDermott original called "I Don't Want Nuthin' for Christmas" is charmingly modest. Title cut is Creolized Chopin. Closer is "King Porter Stomp." Sparse, as duets tend to be -- bass and drums would fill out the sound and move things along. B+(*)

Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath: Eclipse at Dawn (1971 [2008], Cunneiform): As Ronnie Scott observes in his band intro, South Africa is a good place to be from. McGregor's exiles with their township jive melodies are joined by an equal number of English avant-gardists, the sounds repressed by apartheid amplified into the cacophonous noise of freedom. A live set from Berlin, not the clearest or the most exhilarating of performances -- the 1973 Travelling Somewhere was justly Cuneiform's first choice in bringing this remakable band back to our attention. B+(*)

Robin McKelle: Modern Antique (2007 [2008], Cheap Lullaby): Singer, second (or maybe third) album, remind me of a moderately annoying pop (or maybe soul) singer I can't quite place, but I find it impossible to hate competent versions of fare like "Comes Love," "Day by Day," "Cheek to Cheek," "Lullaby of Birdland," and "Make Someone Happy." B-

John McLaughlin: Floating Point (2008, Abstract Logix): New label. Back cover says: "File under: Jazz/Rock." McLaughlin has been returning to his fusion roots lately, playing a lot of guitar synth as well as old-fashioned electric. Core band here adds keybs, bass guitar, drums. Most cuts add a little extra, usually something picked up from his studies in India: Shankar Magadevan's voice, U Rajesh's electric mandolin, Naveen Kumar's bamboo flute, Debashish Bhattacharya's Hindustani slide guitar, Sivamani's konokol, Niladri Kumar's sitar. Most make for minor exotica, but they're just along for the ride. Good news is that McLaughlin hasn't moved this fast in years. What's questionable is why we should care. B+(**)

John McNeil/Bill McHenry: Rediscovery (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): McNeil is a veteran trumpet player; McHenry a relatively young tenor saxophonist. Both mainline boppers, McNeil particularly keyed to west coast cool. The rediscoveries are mostly bop era pieces, 1940s-1950s, including George Wallington, Wilbur Harden, Russ Freeman, and Gerry Mulligan. Each contributes an original, McNeil to open, McHenry to close. B+(**) [May 6]

Andy Middleton: The European Quartet Live (2005 [2007], Q-rious Music): OK, this is weird: next up after Saxophone Summit, I pick a CD almost at random -- well, I discarded two singers first -- and get a saxophonist whose website starts off with praise from Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, and David Liebman (also John Abercrombie). Biography is patchy. Plays tenor sax, maybe a little soprano. Based in New York City, maybe also in Austria (although the record label is in Germany). Has an American Quartet as well as this European Quartet, but the latter includes drummer Alan Jones, who hails from Portland. Has two previous albums on Intuition (2000-02), one earlier one from 1995; played in a group called the Fensters back in 1991. Figure him for postbop: he's not very far out of the mainstream, but he has an arresting sound and some fancy moves. Pianist Tino Derado helps out. Will give it another shot. [B+(***)]

Miles . . . From India: A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis (2007 [2008], Times Square/4Q, 2CD): Can't find the paperwork on this one either. I finally surmised that this is an advance copy, but it came in a jewel case with enough of a booklet to sort out the rudiments. Album concept: Yusuf Gandhi and Bob Belden. Arranged by: Bob Belden and Louiz Banks. Produced by: Bob Belden. I filed it under Belden, but he doesn't play on it. The songs are by Miles Davis, excepting the title track by John McLaughlin (who evidently produced it independent of Belden). I count 35 musicians, none on all tracks. Some Davis alumni pop up: Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman, Michael Henderson, Marcus Miller, McLaughlin, Pete Cosey, Mike Stern, Jimmy Cobb. Also a bunch of Indian musicians: Badal Roy (tabla), U. Srinivas (mandolin), and Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax) among the few that I recognize. Wallace Roney plays some trumpet. Looks like at least some of the group will be touring, at least to New York and San Francisco. The fusion has many appealing moments, with Kala Ramnath's violin most effective at extending and relocating the melodies. Don't much care for the scattered vocals. [B+(**)] [advance: Apr. 15]

Miles . . . From India (2007 [2008], Times Square/4Q, 2CD): Got the final packaging, which is a nice double fold-out thing with a 16-page booklet tucked away. No artist name on spine, but front cover says "Produced by Bob Belden" below the title and "A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis" above. Concept is to round up a bunch of Davis veterans, mostly from the 1970s (although Jimmy Cobb and Ron Carter go back further), mix in a bunch of Indian musicians (American alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa is a plausible ringer; Badal Roy and U. Srinivas are among the better known natives). Of course, they needed a trumpet also, hence Wallace Roney. Although the band is touring, the record itself was pieced together in multiple sessions with various combinations. One notable exception is John McLaughlin, who only appears on one cut, the title track, the only one not from Davis. A mix of good and bad but mostly obvious ideas -- I could have done without the chants which hold it too close to India. Miles always preferred to move on. B+(**)

Doug Miller: Regeneration (2005-06 [2008], Origin): Bassist, originally from Bloomington, IN; studied under John Clayton, a connection to Ray Brown; moved to Indianapolis, then to New York, then to Seattle in 1987. First album under his own name, although he co-founded a big band called Big Neighborhood which has a couple of records, and has 25-30 side-credits since 1990. Miller wrote all of these pieces, which seems to be the point here. I find it hard to judge new mainstream jazz compositions -- they're so tightly bound within convention they hardly ever sound new. The odd thing here is how they vary the lead instrument -- sometimes trumpet or flugelhorn, tenor or soprano sax, or even flute, all wielded by the same Jay Thomas. Dave Peterson also does double duty on guitar and keyboard, with Phil Parisot's drums limited to four cuts. I suppose that's one way to make the bass the focal center, but it's still not clear enough for me. Still, some interesting stuff here. B

Blue Mitchell: Blue Soul (Keepnews Collection) (1959 [2008], Riverside): Trumpet player, made ends meet in R&B groups from Earl Bostic to Ray Charles, played hard bop with a soulful polish, both on his own records and with Horace Silver; a classy sextet with Curtis Fuller on trombone, Jimmy Heath on tenor sax, and Wynton Kelly on piano, they can cook, but shine even more on the slow ones. A-

Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners (Keepnews Collection) (1956 [2008], Riverside): The title cut was so unconventional none of 25 studio takes nailed it, so the record was famously pieced together after the fact; you can still sense the fear and awe the band, including young Sonny Rollins, felt in facing Monk's tunes -- a solo piano cover of "I Surrender Dear" comes as blessed relief, but turns out every bit as brilliant. A

Wes Montgomery: Incredible Jazz Guitar (1960 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection): Not really -- despite his overwhelming influence on two-thirds of the jazz guitarists who followed in his wake, at best he was a subtle craftsman with natural swing on basic blues; nowhere is that more clear than on this elegant quartet with Tommy Flanagan's piano as delectable as the guitar. A-

Michael Moore Trio: Holocene (2004-05 [2008], Ramboy): Album doesn't list Moore's instrument(s), but figure clarinet and maybe a bit of alto sax. The trio includes Guy Klusevcek on "accordeon" and Eric Friedlander on "'cello" -- don't know what the point is, but the open single quote on the latter, instead of apostrophe, is a plain old fashioned typo, probably the work of Microsoft Word's auto-substitute programming for quotes. The instrumentation is soft and plodding. There is no rhythm section driving anything -- maybe a different accordionist, like Richard Galliano, or a different cellist, like Fred Lonborg-Holm or Moore's old Clusone chum Ernst Reijseger, might have picked up the slack. As chamber music it's not without its interesting points. The choice cut is "Trouble House," which does move a bit, and reminds me of Moore's Jewels and Binoculars work. B+(*)

Stanton Moore Trio: Emphasis on Parenthesis (2007 [2008], Telarc): Fusion drummer, has done some good stuff, notably Garage A Trois, Outre Mer (2005, with Skerik and Charlie Hunter). Trio mates Will Bernard (guitar) and Robert Walter (organ, keyboards) have also put out consistently solid work, but this time they all sort of melt down together, with ordinary grooves and little sonic range or variety. B-

Gary Morgan & PanAmericana!: Felicidade (Happiness) (2007 [2008], CAP): Twenty-piece big band, plays Brazilian music, with pieces by Jobim, Pascoal, Jovino Santos Neto, and others, including five by Morgan. Morgan was born in Chile, moved to Canada very young, played saxophone, later switched to bass. Studied at Berklee in 1980, but he seems already to have immersed himself in Brazilian music. Moved on to New York, where PanAmericana is based, although he also leads another orchestra based in Toronto. He's not in the personnel list here. For that matter, few (if any) of the musicians here are Brazilian. I don't have much feel for bands like this: when they're cruising they make for pleasant but uninteresting background music, when they slow down they get clumsy. Second album for the group. B-

Sal Mosca Quartet: You Go to My Head (2001-06 [2008], Blue Jack Jazz): Pianist, studied under Lennie Tristano, recorded in Lee Konitz's group in 1949, recorded spottily over the years, often with Konitz, Warne Marsh, or here with Jimmy Halperin -- a saxophonist who sounds like one of the family. Mosca died in 2007 at age 80, so this is a memento as well as a very late showcase, covering standards like "How High the Moon" and the title track, standards like "Scrapple From the Apple" and "Groovin' High," and an appropriate non-standard: "Sub Conscious-Lee." [B+(***)]

Sal Mosca Quartet: You Go to My Head (2001-06 [2008], Blue Jack Jazz): Private recording sessions from the late pianist's studio, the sort of thing that becomes precious only after we know the supply is limited. Mosca was a Lennie Tristano disciple, and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Halperin is an adroit stand-in for Warne Marsh or Lee Konitz (each author of a song here). But the Gershwin pieces and "How High the Moon" are standard fare for any jazzman with a little stride in his swing, and the Parker and Gillespie pieces are almost as time worn. Still, a lovely piece of work. B+(***)

Moss (2008, Sunnyside): Eponymous group album, the group consisting of five vocalists: Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan, Kate McGarry, and Luciana Souza. Ben Wittman produced, plays drums and some keyboards. Other musicians include Keith Ganz and Ben Monder on guitar, Tim Lefebvre on bass, and Eldridge on piano. Kinhan is best known from New York Voices. The rest have solo catalogs that have never appealed to me, with the exception of Bleckmann, whose sweet, angelic timbre has on occasion been put to interesting ends (cf. Las Vegas Rhapsody: The Night They Invented Champagne). As long as Bleckmann reigns here the layering is oddly intriguing, and at least the Neil Young and Joni Mitchell songs hold up to the treatment (the Mitchell less so). C+

Doug Munro: Big Boss Bossa Nova 2.0 (2007 [2008], Chase Music Group): Guitarist, based in New York, claims 10 albums since 1987 (AMG knows about 7 of them). I looked at this and filed it under pop jazz, which is unfair. At least I didn't misfile it under Brazilian -- he'll never be confused with Charlie Byrd, let alone Luis Bonfa or Baden Powell or Ricardo Silveira. Trios with bass and drums, very straightforward. Four originals, six covers -- mostly bop-era (Monk, Rollins, Shorter, Hubbard, Corea). Has some Spanish licks; fairly dense, clean sound, good beat. B+(*)

David Murray/Mal Waldron: Silence (2001 [2008], Justin Time): Duo, recorded in October 2001, a little more than a year before Waldron passed on Dec. 2, 2002. Three Waldron songs, the title cut from Murray, three more (Sammy Cahn, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington). Not sure how to rate Waldron's performance here; Murray runs rings around him, but that's just Murray -- expansive, bracing, sometimes gorgeous (especially on bass clarinet). Both artists have excelled in duos before: Waldron with Marion Brown; Murray on several occasions, my favorite being the ballad set Tea for Two with George Arvanitas on Fresh Sound -- more of an Oscar Peterson-type player. This is much more dry. [B+(***)]

New York Art Quartet (1964 [2008], ESP-Disk): One-shot avant-garde group, at least until they reunited for a 35th Reunion record, but an important item in trombonist Roswell Rudd's discography -- he dominates the rough interplay with alto saxist John Tchicai, while percussionist Milford Graves is at least as sparkling; the sole artiness is the cut that frames a poem, but it too is a signpost of the times, "Black Dada Nihilismus," by Amiri Baraka. A-

Bill O'Connell: Triple Play (2007 [2008], Savant): Pianist, b. 1953, from New York, teaches at Rutgers, specializes in Latin jazz, having broke in with Mongo Santamaria, although he probably comes out of a more conventional bop background. This is a trio with Dave Valentin on flute and Richie Flores on congas, both adding something distinctive to the idiosyncratic piano in the center. B+(*)

Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada: The Alchemist Manifesto (2008, ESL Music): I gather that Ocote Soul Sounds is an alias for Martín Perna, also involved in Antibalas and, more peripherally, TV on the Radio. Perna mostly plays flutes, although his credits include baritone sax, guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion, vocals. Quesada comes from Grupo Fantasma, which I have another CD from somewhere in the queue. He plays guitar, bass, keyboards, drums percussion, etc. Various guests: horns on the opener, "The Great Elixir"; bata drums, bongos, keyboards, coros. More techno than jazz, more rockish than Latin, too marginal to spend more time with. B+(*)

Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra: Song for Chico (2006 [2008], Zoho): Chico, of course, is Chico O'Farrill, the pianist-leader's late father, an important big band arranger from the 1950s until his death in 2001. The son has never made much of an impression on me, and it doesn't help that family franchises are justly held in such low esteem these days. However, starting with "Caravan" (an easy mark) this goes through the paces and does everything it needs to do: the horns blare, the rhythm percolates; nothing new, but it's loud, fast, full of marvels. B+(**)

Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar (2007 [2008], World Circuit/Nonesuch): Formed in 1970, one of Senegal's major bands, stylistically they span Youssou N'Dour's mbalax revolution, preserving more Congolese guitar and Cuban feedback and less of the tricky rhythms. Newly recorded, but the songs date back to their 1970s heyday and even further. Less instantly compelling than their 1982 classic Pirates Choice or their 2002 comeback Specialist in All Styles, but equally hard to nitpick. A-

Evan Parker/The Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon (2008, ECM): Large group, like those of Parker's other ECM efforts, in what sounds a bit like a revival of Globe Unity Orchestra, or maybe Barry Guy's LJCO -- Guy is present here, part of the European side of the Transatlantic Art Ensemble. The Americans are led by Roscoe Mitchell, whose large group efforts are also relevant here. Long and scattered, often ornery, the sax noise limited to alto and soprano, with clarinet and flute, trumpet (Corey Wilkes), strings (violin, viola, cello, two basses). Craig Taborn has interesting moments in piano. Not coherent enough for a tour de force, but several interesting diversions. [B+(***)]

William Parker: Double Sunrise Over Neptune (2007 [2008], AUM Fidelilty): Recorded live at Vision Festival XII, three long pieces built around repeated bass riffs that the conductor farmed out to Shayna Dulberger, and a short bridge. With sixteen musicians, favoring strings (two violins, viola, cello, bass, guitar or banjo, oud, the leader's doson'ngoni) which elaborate the themes over horns (trumpet, three saxes, whatever "double reeds" Bill Cole plays), with vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay trading off against the latter. Oh, also two drummers, Gerald Cleaver and Hamid Drake. Whereas Parker's large groups in the past, like his Little Huey Orchestra, tended to go unhinged, this all flows together marvelously. Even a bit of wildness near the end of the second piece, which seems inevitable once you unleash saxophonists Rob Brown and Sabir Mateen, holds tight. The singer runs close to the edge of the high-pitched squeak that east (or southeast) Asian opera is prone to, but never slips over. A remarkable piece of work. A

Joanna Pascale: Through My Eyes (2008, Stiletto): Standards singer, from Philadelphia, listed as 24, second album. The songs are all carefully dated from 1934-56 -- supposedly she has 400 songs from 1920-60 in her repertoire. Nothing notably innovative about this or her approach, but she handles them well, the band supports her, and saxophonist Tim Warfield is a treat. B+(**)

Paradigm: Melodies for Uncertain Robots (2008, Ropeadope): Band, formed in 2004 by jazz students at University of Louisville: Brian Healey (keyboards), Jonathan Epley (guitar), Myron Koch (sax), Will Roberts (bass), Evan Pouchak (drums). Website says "creates anthems for the subconscious . . . providing a soundtrack to the movie that is life." Not sure that it is healthy to think of life as a movie, especially to write music on that basis. B-

John Patton: Soul Connection (1983 [2008], Just a Memory): Organ player, 1935-2002, sometimes credited as Big John Patton. Had a good run at Blue Note in the 1960s, with Let 'Em Roll (1965) a standout. Recorded rarely thereafter. This, cut in Switzerland, is his only album between 1969 and 1993. The group includes Grant Reed (tenor sax), Grachan Moncur III (trombone), Melvin Sparks (guitar), and Alvin Queen (drums). Sounds like boogaloo with brains, with Sparks consistently in the groove, and Moncur interesting even when out of it. B+(**)

Nicholas Payton: Into the Blue (2007 [2008], Nonesuch): Very mild-mannered funk album. Kevin Hays barely registers a pulse on Fender Rhodes. Bass, drums, and percussion are barely on board for the ride. Payton's trumpet has never been so subdued. I can't imagine they're not doing it on some purpose, but can't imagine what the purpose might be. Some kind of quiet storm for ascetics? Payton croons a tune, too. It's like he's been hypnotized into thinking he's Chet Baker. Maybe that's the idea, but he's even more indirect. [B-]

Nicholas Payton: Into the Blue (2007 [2008], Nonesuch): Choice cut: "The Charleston Hop (The Blue Steps)" -- short, funky trumpet jabs over a fractured hand drum beat, with nothing else to muck things up. Rest of the album has plenty of muck, mostly in Kevin Hays' keyb and the synths Payton has been dabbling with. He plays languidly for much of the album. Also tries singing one song, in a voice that I can only describe as a Chet Baker parody. B

The Michael Pedicin Quintet: Everything Starts Now . . . (2007 [2008], Jazz Hut): A/k/a Michael Pedicin Jr. Born 1945, plays tenor sax. Father was a musician, but he don't have any details, other than Jr. saying that father introduced him to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, etc. Most likely the father recorded as Mike Pedicin (b. 1917, Philadelphia, band leader, played alto sax): Bear Family has a 1955-57 collection by Mike Pedicin Quintet called Jive Medicin -- AMG likens it to Bill Haley. Jr. has several albums out since 1980. Lives in NJ now, but this one was recorded in Philadelphia, with Johnnie Valentino on guitar, Mick Rossi on piano, Chris Colangelo on bass, Michael Sarin on drums: a strong group that carries the album -- Valentino and Rossi have albums I've recommended in the past -- setting up the saxophonist. [B+(***)]

The Michael Pedicin Quintet: Everything Starts Now . . . Scantly-recorded tenor saxophonist from Philadelphia, his father a Bill Haley-like rocker during the 1950s. Mainstream sax group, backed solidly and sumptuously by Johnnie Valentino on guitar, Mick Rossi on piano, Chris Colangelo on bass, and Michael Sarin on drums -- all players I recognize. A throwback to the sort of things Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster used to knock off in the 1950s. B+(***)

Peloton: Selected Recordings (2007, Parallel): The peloton is a large cluster of bicyclists in a race -- as Wikipedia puts it, "the peloton travels as an integrated unit, like birds flying in formation." Album cover has an axle with spokes pointing out, presumably from a bicycle. I'd never heard of the word, but I ran across a number of music groups using the name, everything from San Francisco shoegazers to Finnish cartoon jazz. This particular group describes itself as Scandinavian but claims "peloton" means "fearless" in Finnish. Trumpet (Karl Strømme), sax (Hallvard Godal), guitar (Petter Vågan), keyboards (Steinar Nickelsen), drums (Erik Nylander). They live up to their teamwork concept: lead shifts are frequent and brief, the pace ranging from slow and moody uphill to fast and dangerous downhill. Godal is also in Fattigfolket, a group I remember liking. B+(**)

Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. III: The Croydon Concert, May 14, 1981 (1981 [2008], Widow's Taste, 2CD): A hot set with a group -- Milcho Leviev on piano, Bob Magnuson on bass, Carl Burnett on drums -- Pepper toured often but recorded rarely with. He calls them his favorite group, and they repay the compliment -- there seems to be no end to wondrous tapes from his last years. A-

Perez: It's Happenin' (2007 [2008], Zoho): Name seems to be Diana Perez, although the first name is hard to come by. Born New York, moved to Los Angeles at 17, spent 10 years in Europe, wound up in New York. Third album. Despite her heritage (Cuban-Irish mother, Puerto Rican father) there's nothing Latin here, not even the obligatory Jobim or the optional "Perdido." Voice is plain, unaccented, with a depth and lustre that emerges after the fact. Songbook is a mix of standards ("Blame It on My Youth," "In the Wee Small Hours," "Detour Ahead") and vocalese (Annie Ross on "Farmers Market," Giacomo Gates on "Milestones"). Band is about as straight as they come: Jed Levy (tenor sax, flute), Ron Horton (trumpet), Steve Davis (trombone), David Hazeltine (piano), Nat Reeves (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums). They're strong enough to lift this out of the ordinary. B+(**)

Houston Person/Ron Carter: Just Between Friends (2005 [2008], High Note): So easy, but the sort of set you -- or at least I -- can't help falling in love with. My present quibble is that I suspect Person of holding back so as not to overwhelm the bass -- Carter even gets a fair amount of solo room. Songs they scarcely had to look up: "How Deep Is the Ocean," "Blueberry Hill," "Darn That Dream," "Lover Man," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "Always," like that. [A-]

Enrico Pieranunzi: As Never Before (2004 [2008], CAM Jazz): Featuring Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, stealing the focus away from the all-star piano trio with Marc Johnson on bass and Joey Baron on drums. The pianist is more into lush fills than in setting the pace. Wheeler's trumpet is elegiac, but a bit dull. The rhythm section never gets a chance to break into a run. If I sound disappointed, it's because I expect a lot from players who have done so much in the past. B+(**)

Poolplayers: Way Below the Surface (2006 [2008], Songlines): Cooly conceived, barely stated, minimal without any of the repetition that makes minimalism. I filed this under Norwegian trumpet player Arve Henriksen because he's made a habit of such records -- he may be the least splashy trumpet player in jazz history. The other group members are Benoît Delbecq (piano, bass station), Lars Juul (drums, electronics), and Steve Argüelles (Usine, delays, Sherman filter -- don't know what any of those things are, but he's usually credited with drums/percussion). Don't know what to make of it all -- sort of a mood thing that charms within its limits. B+(*)

The Pretty Things: Balboa Island (2007, Zoho Roots): British invasion reject from the 1960s, had a reputation as too hard, too low down, too dirty for Hullabaloo and Shindig, which was probably true but less than a crowning achievement. Went prog around 1970 with a Who-ish rock opera, no more successfully than their first phase. Staged another unsuccessful comeback in the late 1970s, aided by pub rock, punk rock, and Led Zeppelin, none of which helped. They're still around, still sounding pretty much like they always did, which with 40 years of perspective now looks a lot like the Aynsley Dunbar Retalliation, the real roots band for these inveterate punters. On the other hand, this is about as strong and a good deal more solid than any album they've turned in. They've never been much good at timing. B+(*)

Bobby Previte & the New Bump: Set the Alarm for Monday (2007 [2008], Palmetto): Drummer/composer, has 30 or so albums since 1985, recently including fusion experiments with Charlie Hunter as Groundtruther and Coalition of the Willing. New Bump's name may refer back to his 1985 album Bump the Renaissance, although the lineup isn't very similar. Original group: tenor sax, french horn, piano, bass, drums; new group: tenor sax (Ellery Eskelin), vibes (Bill Ware), bass (Brad Jones), drums (Previte), with guests on trumpet (Steve Bernstein) and percussion (Jim Pugliese). Piero Scaruffi describes Bump the Renaissance as "a bizarre compromise between ECM's baroque jazz and Frank Zappa's nonsensical rock." This sounds like anything but. Most pieces are notable for their flow, with the vibes and drums leaping over one another. Eskelin is an inspired choice, especially when unleashed to find his own path over the rhythm. [A-] [advance]

Dafnis Prieto: Taking the Soul for a Walk (2008, Dafnison): Cuban drummer, made a big splash when he showed up in New York in 1999. I no longer have any doubts about his talent, but still haven't gotten the hang of his music -- mostly Afro-Cuban with those weird sharp rhythmic shifts, way too complex for my taste. But he manages his horns well here -- saxophonists Peter Apfelbaum and Yosvany Terry blend nicely on the relatively straight "Until the Last Minute," and Avishai Cohen's trumpet impresses. I may get the hang of it eventually. [B+(*)]

Public Record (2006-08 [2008], High Two): Group from Philadelphia, lists six members, including two guitarists (Gareth Duffield, Greg Pavlovcak), two drummers (Ted Johnson, Matthew Lyons), bass (Brent Bohan), and alto sax (Hilary Baker). Can't really classify them: the beat is rockish and they like dance tempos, but they're not that danceable nor do they push many pop buttons. Their Myspace page has a mosaic of influences which shows they're astute record collectors -- some covers that jump out at me: Aztec Camera, Lee Morgan, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Big Youth, Bohannon, James Brown, Au Pairs, Can, Clash, EPMD, Impressions, Bob Marley, Go-Betweens, Stereolab, Faces, Al Green, Slits, Fairport Convention, Fela, Public Enemy, Alton Ellis, Joy division, Otis Redding, Getachew Mekurya. My eyes aren't good enough to be sure of some others, and a couple don't ring any bells at all. List is notably short on jazz for a sax-led instrumental group. Also too electic to synthesize into a coherent artistic focus. B

Pam Purvis: I Had a Ball (2007 [2008], Progressive Winds): Singer, grew up in Louisiana and Texas, started singing in New Jersey in 1974, married saxophonist Bob Ackerman. Fifth album under her name, plus three more/less under Ackerman, including one on Cadence Jazz. She has a broadly satisfying voice with a little twang -- on a piece like "On and On" she reminds me a bit of early Maria Muldaur. This varies a lot by song, with her pass at "Ode to Billie Joe" downright annoying, except for a nice sax solo by Ackerman. B

Alvin Queen: Jammin' Uptown (1985 [2008], Just a Memory): Hard bop drummer, b. 1950 New York, credits list suggests he's spent a lot of time in Europe, with Kenny Drew a regular. Cut several albums in the 1980s; not much since then, although I liked a 2006 album, I Ain't Looking at You, quite a lot. This old one is bright and bubbling, but I don't much care for it. Terence Blanchard (trumpet) and Manny Boyd (tenor/alto/soprano sax) are often over the top -- I don't often mind flat-out jamming, and Blanchard in particular can play, but I don't get the point either. John Hicks (piano) and Robin Eubanks (trombone) do nice work when the pace breaks and they get shots to solo. Drummer is fine at any speed. B

Ed Reed: The Song Is You (2007 [2008], Blue Shorts): Age 78, second album, had a life that included four stretches in San Quentin and Folsom, the sort of places you could pick up a band in with someone like Art Pepper on alto sax. The band here is the Peck Allmond Sextet, with the leader playing trumpet, tenor sax, flute, cornet, and clarinet. The songs throw back to the 1950s -- could be the Sinatra songbook, but somewhat more biased toward Ellington. Reed fits the Sinatra model well enough -- mellower than the brash young Sinatra, smoother and more elegant than the older one. B+(**)

Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog: Party Intellectuals (2008, Pi): Guitarist, has many projects including the Albert Ayler tribute band Spiritual Unity and the Cubanos Postizos (Prosthetic Cubans). This group, named for a French expression ("chien di faïence") for "frozen with emotion" ("like bristling dogs the moment before they fight, or lovers immobilized in one another's gaze"), is a postpunk power trio, with Shahzad Ismaily on bass and synths, Ches Smith on drums, with all vocals. Music is fierce enough. Not sure how well the songs hold up, or whether it matters. [B+(**)] [advance: June 24]

Pete Robbins: Do the Hate Laugh Shimmy (2007 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Alto saxophonist. Website describes what he does as "brooklyn prog-modern (post)jazz." B. 1978, moved to New York 2002. MySpace page lists Tim Berne and Lee Konitz at top of list of influences. Two previous albums, the one I'm familiar with on Playscape (Waits & Measures) comes closer to bearing that out. This one doesn't. The keyboards and guitar are soft and moody, and the horns (including Jesse Neuman on trumpet and Sam Sadigursky on tenor sax, clarinet, and bass clarinet) rarely rise above that. Must be that "prog-modern (post)jazz" thing he's looking for. B

Duke Robillard: A Swingin' Session With Duke Robillard (2008, Stony Plain): Blues guitarist-singer, founder of Roomful of Blues, sustainer of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, has a couple dozen albums on his own. I've never figured him for anything more than a good natured journeyman, and ultimately I doubt this record breaks the mold. On the other hand, it hits my predisposed pleasure points so consistently I don't care how short the artistic stretch is. The bluesiest song ("Them That Got") is swung and sung with a wide grin and a light touch, while the more upbeat songs from "Deed I Do" to "Just Because" to "They Raided the Joint" dance on jazz springs with horns that give the whole room a richly burnished lustre. Will probably get slotted at a high HM to leave more space for the serious jazz -- this is just fun. A-

Claudio Roditi: Impressions (2006 [2008], Sunnyside): Trumpet player, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, b. 1946, moved to US in 1970 to study at Berklee, on to New York in 1976. I tend to think of him as a dependable sideman, but he has about 20 albums under his own name, starting from 1984. Leans toward hard bop -- one of his best regarded albums is a Lee Morgan tribute. Cut this in Rio with a local band I don't recognize: Idriss Boudrioua on alto and soprano sax, Dario Galante on piano, Sergio Barroso on bass, Pascoal Mereilles on drums. The rhythm sways to the local beat, but the program is straight out of jazz mainstream, including four Coltrane tunes. B+(*)

Sonny Rollins: Freedom Suite (1958 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection): A trio with Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach -- the latter credited with trumpet on a back cover typo. The 19:37 title cut seems a little subdued, tentative as if freedom is still uncertain. Same could be said for the side of standards, expanded with redundant bonus cuts, but they're just tapping into his sentimental side, and it's easy to feel sentimental about him. B+(***)

Wally Rose: Whippin' the Keys (1968-71 [2008], Delmark): Pianist, born 1913 in Oakland, CA, died 1997; played in Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band during the 1940s, later with alumni bands led by Bob Scobey and Turk Murphy. During the 1950s Rose developed (reverted?) into a ragtime specialist, with a 1958 Good Time Jazz record of Rag Time Classics the centerpiece in his discography. This reissues two later albums, Rose on Piano from 1968 and Whippin' the Keys from 1971. More than half of the songs have "rag" in the title. The others are nearly as old-timey -- "St. Louis Tickle," "The Kangaroo Hop," "Elite Syncopations," "Pickles & Peppers." B+(*)

Jordi Rossy Trio: Wicca (2007 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Drummer, first attracted attention in Brad Mehldau's trio. First album under his own name, and for a change this time he plays piano, in a trio with Albert Sanz on organ and RJ Miller on drums. The piano-organ combination is unusual and comes off even odder here given that Sanz is the more skilled pianist. He doesn't settle into the bass register to support the piano; more like he sets up the basic texture of the music which Rossy merely decorates. Still, it has a bright, sunny allure. Title cut adds trumpet and tenor sax, a big plus. B+(*)

Thom Rotella 4tet: Out of the Blues (2007 [2008], Four Bar Music): Guitarist, b. 1951 in Niagara Falls, NY; went to Ithaca College, then Berklee 1970-72, and on to Los Angeles. Has 10-12 albums -- his early (1987-96) ones on DMP seem to count as smooth jazz. This is respectably postbop, with Montgomery-influenced lines, piano (Llew Matthews or Rich Eames), bass (Luther Hughes), drums (Roy McCurdy). Nice. B+(*)

Alison Ruble: This Is a Bird (2008, Origin): Singer, based in Chicago, first album. Voice seems to trail the band and the songs; nothing wrong with it, but she doesn't grab you, nor leave you with a strange aftertaste. Band has some strong points: Jim Gailloreto takes interesting solos on soprano sax, and John McLean is a pretty supportive guitarist. Songs by Bacharach/David and James Taylor rub me both ways; ones by Rodgers/Hammerstein do neither. B

Roswell Rudd Quartet: Keep Your Heart Right (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): This reproduces the lineup and two songs from one of my all-time favorite albums, Rudd's Flexible Flyer (1974). That album included Hod O'Brien on piano, Arild Andersen on bass, and Sheila Jordan singing -- Rudd seems to have an aversion to drummers, even when he's playing African music. This time it's Lafayette Harris on piano, Bradley Jones on bass, and Sunny Kim singing -- not a fair comparison, especially pitching any singer up against the incomparable Jordan. More songs this time -- close to all the songs Rudd ever wrote lyrics to. Terrific trombone -- making me wish that was more the focus. Even here, the two repeats stand out. Maybe the others will kick in. [B+(**)]

Roswell Rudd Quartet: Keep Your Heart Right (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): New album of (mostly) old songs, the few the great trombonist managed to write lyrics for. They're set up for Sunny Kim, the first singer he's used since he rediscovered Sheila Jordan for two 1973-74 albums, Numatik Swing Band (shamefully out of print, as is the rest of the JCOA catalog), and Flexible Flyer (also out of print, as is most of the rest of the Freedom catalog; all the more shameful given that it is one of my all-time favorite albums). Unfair for anyone to have to walk in Jordan's shoes, but I'm not sure I'd think much of Kim in any case. To her credit, she fares best on two songs Jordan sung on Flexible Flyer, ably negotiating the same tricky phrasing; elsewhere she ranges from competent to not. Piano and bass do little, and I still wonder what Rudd has against drums (or drummers). The trombone is glorious. B+(*)

Sãlongo (2007, DBCD): Group name "is an expression from Zaire meaning: We come together to create something beautiful out of love." Diacritical mark over 'a' varies by typographer -- a macron on cover, a tilde in website text. Group is from New York, a septet (plus guest keyboardist Uli Geissendoerfer) described as Afro-Cuban/Brasilian. The rhythm section fits that description; the saxes are hard boppers Teodross Avery (tenor) and Bruce Williams (alto, flute), with leader Eddie Allen on trumpet. Allen has a little bit of everything in his discography: Mongo Santamaria, conservatives like Houston Person and Cyrus Chestnut, AACM types like Muhal Richard Abrams and Lester Bowie, odds and ends like Bobby Previte and Rabih Abou-Khalil. Haven't heard any of the four records under Allen's name, which look to be mainstream (Anthony Wonsey is on a couple). This sets out a very likable Latin groove, with slick but not overly brassy horn work, and nice piano breaks from Hector Martignon. B+(**)

David Sánchez: Cultural Survival (2007 [2008], Concord Picante): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1968 in Puerto Rico, eighth album since 1994, first not on major label Columbia. I don't really consider him a Latin jazz specialist, although his 1998 roots album Obsesion was all Latin and nothing short of glorious. He belongs to the Coltrane branch of the jazz mainstream, not far removed from Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, and Ravi Coltrane, and at least on their level. The 20:31 closer, "La Leyenda del Cañaveral," stands out as one of the major works of this group. The smaller pieces will need more study. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Sten Sandell/Mattias Ståhl: Grann Musik (Neighbour Music) (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Sandell plays piano, sometimes prepared. He tends to be abstract, sometimes turning out long, dramatic lines that strike me as grandstanding. Ståhl plays vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel -- instruments that produce tones that fit neatly within the crevices of the piano. They almost fit as one, which is an accomplishemt but not necessarily a plus. B

Saxophone Summit: Seraphic Light: Dedicated to Michael Brecker (2007 [2008], Telarc): The last such summit was so dominated by Michael Brecker that I filed it under his name, although the reason could just as well have been that I hated the record, had never cared for Brecker's records, and therefore figured they belonged together. The other pillars were Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman: the former an unimpeachable giant of the era, the latter a fine tenor saxophonist who spends most of his time these days annoying people with his soprano sax. But Brecker's gone now, so I filed this one under Liebman, figuring he'd be the squeak wheel. In any case, the dedication to Brecker here is pro forma. His shoes were easily filled by Ravi Coltrane, especially given that the songbook focuses on his old man. Booklet has no credits beyond the horns, but a group photo hints that the piano is Phil Markowitz, bass Cecil McBee, and drums Billy Hart. Randy Brecker adds his trumpet to the finale. Not much to say about this exercise. It never gets embarrassing like its predecessor, even when the flutes arrive (Coltrane is a saving grace here, with one soprano cut, the rest on tenor). While mostly competent, there are occasional strong moments, including a strong finish on three John Coltrane space elegies, which even Liebman takes on tenor. B

Christian Scott: Anthem (2007, Concord): New Orleans trumpet player. Young -- don't have a birthdate, but website claims he's 22, Wikipedia says he graduated from Berklee in 2004, something doesn't add up. Nephew of alto saxophonist Donald Harrison. Second album. First one came out last year in a cluster with pianist Taylor Eigsti and singer Erin Boheme which tempted me to label them the Mod Squad. Scott had the most talent then, and he has more now, but first pass through I don't care for this record at all. Seems to me like he's invented the jazz analogue to heavy metal. Aside for "Like That" near the end, the music here is all heavy sludge: loud drums, immobile bass, keyb gumbo. The only saving grace is that it provides deadened surfaces to scratch with his trumpet or cornet or soprano trombone or flugelhorn. Part of this may be explained by his Katrina theme, which may have brought sludge and waste and decay to mind. Still, I should hold this back for another play. "Like That" lightens up and is rather pleasant. And the closing, "post diluvial" version of the title track, features a biting tirade from Brother J of X-Clan. He's reaching, and my initial distaste may not be the final word. [B-]

Christian Scott: Anthem (2007, Concord): This does lighten up a bit in an agreeable piece called "Like That," but the first half-plus is buried in heavy sludge -- an obvious metaphor for flooded New Orleans, the young trumpeter's home town. B-

Sha's Banryu: Chessboxing Volume One (2007 [2008], Ronin Rhythm): Namewise, Sha sounds like Switzerland's answer to Skerik. Both play reeds in fusion-like settings, but that's about as far as the comparison goes. Skerik plays tenor sax and likes to honk; Sha plays alto and a lot of bass clarinet, and tends to fill in background vamps -- more so on Nik Bärtsch's records, of course, but even here. Born 1983; given name Stefan Haslebacher; has played with Bärtsch since 2004, first in Mobile then in Ronin. Banryu is, like Ronin, another Japanese reference, described as: "the dragon ready for jumping, lets everything come up and roll by, while not loosing its tension and posture at any moment and ready to strike anytime." Sha's songs all have three-digit zero-filled titles, like "012" and "031." The title suggests he intends to work inside the box, but that the box isn't going to be overly simple or ultimately all that constraining. Pianist Mik Keusen enforces strong similiarity to Bärtsch's records -- if anything, the piano is more prominent here. Bassist Thomas Tavano and drummer Julian Sartorius are role players, but the fifth group member, vocalist Isa Wiss, is a change. She comes out singing on the opening "012," but later on tends to merge her scat into the groove. The latter rarely works, but is mostly seamless here. B+(***)

Paul Shapiro: Essen (2007-08 [2008], Tzadik): Group's full name: Paul Shapiro's Ribs and Brisket Revue. Shapiro plays sax and clarinet and sings, although probably less than Cilla Owens and Babi Floyd, who take on all ten songs. Lots of Yiddish, titles like "Tzouris" and "Oy Veys Mir" and the new title piece (with guests Steven Bernstein, Frank London, and Doug Wieselman). Sophie Tucker revivalism. And two Slim Gaillard songs, just to show you how far over the top they're willing to go. A-

Elliott Sharp: Octal Book One (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Guitarist, lots of obscure albums. AMG considers him avant-garde rather than jazz, evidence that he fits nowhere. This is solo, played on something called a "Koll 8-string electroacoustic guitarbass": has a stinging acoustic sound with occasional effects. Interesting sounds, short bursts, odd twists. Not much more. B+(*)

Elliott Sharp/Scott Fields: Sharfefelder (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): From Fields' notes: "This is what happens when you kid around." Two avant guitarists, both with long discographies, including some together. Chemistry can do amazing things. It can also leave you with nothing but an incoherent mess. More of the latter here. B-

Avery Sharpe: Legends & Mentors: The Music of McCoy Tyner, Archie Shepp and Yusef Lateef (2007 [2008], JKNM): Three sections, each starting with a Sharpe original, followed by two pieces written by the subject. Sharpe is a bassist, born 1955, has 6-8 albums under his own name, a substantial list of credits, starting with Shepp's Attica Blues Big Band, 25 years with Tyner, and a stretch with Lateef in the early 1990s that includes one called Tenors of Yusef Lateef & Archie Shepp -- hard to find on Lateef's YAL label, but one of the great sax jousts of all time. The band here features John Blake on violin, Joe Ford on reeds and flute (Lateef, you know), Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano, Winard Harper on drums. Gumbs is a pretty good Tyner substitute, and the first section swings hard. Shepp is a tougher nut to crack, but Lateef's spaciness opens things up again. The violin is a nice touch. Usually don't expect much from tributes, but this one is growing on me. [B+(**)]

Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra: Harriet Tubman (2007 [2008], Noir, 2CD): Bassist, b. 1966 Alabama, currently based in San Francisco. Sixth album since 1997, mostly with his MSJO big band. This one takes its inspiration from Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), a Maryland slave who escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. She worked guiding slaves north to freedom, served with the Union army as an armed scout and spy (liberating 700 slaves in one operation), and was later a women's suffrage activist. The music swings, the horns bright and rowdy, as impressive as any big band work I've heard in several years. I'm less sure of the words, which break the flow but advance the story. Need to focus more on them. [B+(***)]

Mark Sherman Quartet: Live @ the Bird's Eye (2008, Miles High, 2CD): Vibraphonist, b. 1957, eight record since 1997. I've heard a couple, and they're pretty good, but my immediate reaction on seeing a 2-CD live set is that's way too much. Turns out it's just more of the same thing, which is a fast, loose, effortlessly swinging, endlessly listenable group -- Allen Farnham on piano, Dean Johnson on bass, Tim Horner on drums. B+(*)

Shot x Shot: Let Nature Square (2007 [2008], High Two): Trivia: type "shot x shot" into google and it returns: 1 shot x shot = 1.96783571 × 10-9 m6. No idea what that means, but typographically the 'x' in the group name is a multiplication sign, so I figure they're somehow related. Philadelphia group: two saxes (Bryan Rogers on tenor, Dan Scofield on alto), bass (Matt Engle), and drums (Dan Capecchi). Almost everyone writes (Rogers missed out this time). Second album. Free jazz, rocks abstractly. The two saxes don't diverge as much as similar sax/trumpet groups, which may be why their stuff blurs a bit. Two good solid albums. Someday a great one? B+(***)

Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell: Stride Piano Duets: Live in Toronto, 1966 (1966 [2008], Delmark): Ewell was a stride pianist, 1916-1983, born Baltimore, lived much of his adult life in Florida. Recorded several well-regarded records, especially for Good Time Jazz in the late 1950s, but more often accompanied other leaders: Bunk Johnson in the 1940s, Jack Teagarden 1956-62. He's a valuable, underrated player -- a precursor to Ralph Sutton and Dick Hyman. Smith, of course, was one of the originators of the stride piano style. He was born in 1893 or 1897 (accounts differ), and died in 1973. Full name is worth repeating: William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith -- Bertholoff was his father's name, Smith his stepfather's. I've always assumed that "The Lion" became part of his canonical name to distinguish him from the brilliant (but these days mostly forgotten) alto saxophonist Willie Smith. I can't figure out who plays what, and don't much care -- any weakness you might be tempted to attribute to the elder is readily compensated for by his understudy. Smith tries singing twice; he can't, but he's such a charming rogue you won't mind. B+(**)

Todd Sickafoose: Tiny Resistors (2007 [2008], Cryptogramophone): Bassist, probably more electric than acoustic but plays both; originally from San Francisco, now based in New York. Third album. Has a substantial number of side credits since 1998, including Jenny Scheinman, Tin Hat, Ani DiFranco. I figure this as a fusion album, one of those big, sweeping prog things, loud, powerful, always listenable, sometimes interesting. Alan Ferber's trombone stands out among the horns. DiFranco plays some electric ukelele. B+(*)

Martial Solal Trio: Longitude (2007 [2008], CAM Jazz): French pianist, born in Algeria in 1927, has recorded regularly since the early 1950s, giving him a discography that rivals contemporaries like George Shearing, Marian McPartland, and André Previn, maybe even Dave Brubeck and Hank Jones -- I'm way behind the learning curve on him, and piano isn't a particularly strong suit, but he certainly ranks with the major jazz figures of his lifetime. Nearing his 80th birthday, he remains dazzling on this record, with François Moutin on bass, Louis Moutin on drums. [B+(***)]

Emilio Solla y Afines: Conversas (Al Lado del Agua) (2007 [2008], Fresh Sound World Jazz): Solla is a pianist from Argentina, now based in New York. Fourth album; second with Afines. Solla also plays in Pablo Aslan's Avantango. A previous album is called Suite Piazzollana, further evidence of tango heritage. Group here features Gorka Benitez on tenor sax and flutes, Carlos Morera on bandoneon, David Gonzalez on double bass, David Xirgu on drums. The tango influence is hushed here, with the wide mix of pieces leaning towards the lush -- Benitez often sounds gorgeous. Some guests complicate things, including a crooning vocal by Xavier Casellas. B+(*)

Esperanza Spalding: Esperanza (2008, Heads Up): Born 1984, grew up in Portland OR, schooled at Berklee, based in New York, plays double bass and sings. Second album, moving up to a bigger label and out toward pop, her vocals more prominent. She's getting attention with this move -- AllAboutJazz points out her "talent, youth, training and outrageously good looks" -- but from where I sit it's more like she's running away. There is some solid jazz here: the band is built around pianist Leo Genovese and drummer Otis Brown, with occasional guets adding things -- Donald Harrison's two alto sax spots make a big impression, Ambrose Akinmusire's trumpet only slightly less so. Her Brazilian twist on "Body and Soul" is a choice cut, but her scat is neither here nor there, and her voice isn't all that notable -- this could be edited down to a pretty bland nu-jazz album. She does help herself out on bass. B+(*)

The Gust Spenos Quartet: Swing Theory (2007 [2008], Swing Theory): By day Spenos is a neurologist in Indianapolis; by night he plays old-fashioned tenor sax. He has some clever math to explain swing. More importantly, he has a rhythm section that make it work -- Marvin Chandler on piano, Frank Smith on bass, Kenny Phelps on drums. He also taps some guests here: Eric Schneider, who claims four years experience with Earl Hines and two with Count Basie, adds alto sax and clarinet; Everett Greene sings two songs; and Wycliffe Gordon plays trombone and sings one more. The vocals probably limit how high I can go on this, but I love the basic sound enough to keep listening. [B+(***)]

The Gust Spenos Quartet: Swing Theory (2007 [2008], Swing Theory): The Indianapolis neurologist has work up some math formulae I don't fathom, but his band, augmented with guest stars like Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Schneider, and vocalist Everett Greene 2 songs; Gordon takes 1) understand him perfectly. Note the cover, although it's more likely that the faces in the classroom taught the teacher -- even the one that looks like Einstein. A-

Spoon 3: Seductive Sabotage (2007 [2008], Evil Rabbit): Dutch group, with pianist Albert Van Veenendaal and bassist Meinrad Kneer, who've recorded more as a duo, and vocalist Jodi Gilbert -- also credited with "little instruments, live sampling." I gather that Gilbert originally hails from California, but works out of Amsterdam, shrouded in the anonymity of groups (The Voice Is the Matter, Rasp/Hasp). She wrote most of the lyrics here, and makes sounds beyond them. The short pieces have an operatic art-song feel, demanding more focus than I can really muster. The bass and (more or less prepared) piano take focus as well, the results often fascinating. B+(**)

Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes (2008, Thirsty Ear): John Coxon and Ashley Wales built up their brand name as DJs mixing techno, but parts of their hearts and/or brains were more attached to free jazz, resulting in a series of inconsistent, sporadically fetching records. The big names here are saxophonist John Tchicai and trumpeter Roy Campbell, with other oddities packed in like Orphy Robinson's vibes, J. Spaceman's guitar, and the leaders' samples. Doesn't add up, but now and then threatens to. [B] [advance]

Jesse Stacken: That That (2006 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent): Pianist, b. 1978, based in New York. First album, a piano trio with Eivind Opsvik (bass) and Jeff Davis (drums) -- two names familiar from elsewhere, especially with Kris Davis. I need to hold this one back: didn't seem very interesting the first time through, but figured I didn't hear it clearly enough, and the second play started to click together. Moderately paced, dense, with more than a little dramatic tension. May be on to something. [B+(**)]

The Stance Brothers: Kind Soul (2008, Ricky Tick): They call this a "garage jazz" group. Based in Helsinki, Finland. Group members: Isiah Stance (vibes, keyboards), Dwayne Stance (bass, guitar), Byron Breaks (drums, percussion). I don't believe those names either. Everything but a George Duke song was written by a Teddy Rok, also listed a producer (aka Teppo Mäkynen, which sounds more like it). Certainly listenable, the vibes giving it an extra shot of jangliness, but not clear why anyone should bother. B

Stebmo (2008, Mount Analog): Stebmo is Steve Moore, b. 1976, Seattle pianist/trombonist. The name more/less follows the pattern of bluesman Kevin Moore, aka Keb' Mo'. Album is produced by Tucker Martine, and many of Martine's regular clients make a showing: Matt Chamberlain (drums, loops), Todd Sickafoose (bass), Eyvind Kang (viola), Doug Wieselman (clarinets, guitar, banjo), Martine himself (percussion). Martine's circle, sometimes together as Mount Analog, offer an appealing take on fusion, and this is no exception. B+(*)

Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: A Calculus of Loss (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): Stein is 31, plays bass clarinet, studied at Michigan-Ann Arbor, is based in Chicago, has appeared on Keefe Jackson's Project Project and Bridge 61 (a Ken Vandermark group). Trio here, with Kevin Davis on cello, Mike Pride on percussion. Free jazz. The instruments tend to soften the edges, so you're left with more form than fury. Band named for Stein's grandfather, a New York locksmith known as Izzy. B+(*)

The Stein Brothers Quintet: Quixotic (2007 [2008], Jazzed Media): Two saxophonists, Asher Stein on alto, Alex Stein on tenor, with Mferghu on piano, Doug Largent on bass, and Joe Blaxx on drums, and a couple of guests adding trumpet/trombone on 3-4 cuts. Based in New Jersey. Both Steins studied at University of North Carolina. First album. Cite Barry Harris as an influence. Conventionally boppish, sounding most like those cool jazz groups trying to harmonize a pair of saxes. Not something I find very interesting, but well done. B+(*)

Michael Jefry Stevens Quartet: For the Children (1995 [2008], Cadence Jazz): Pianist. Born 1951 in New York; moved to Florida at age 8, back to New York at 20, to Memphis some time after 1995. Discography gets going around 1990 with groups led by Mark Whitecage and Dave Douglas (The Mosaic Sextet). Not sure how many -- his steadiest gig has been the Fonda/Stevens Group, which gets filed under bassist Joe Fonda. This is part of "The Cadence Historical Series": previously unreleased tapes of some historical significance. The quartet is fronted by saxophonist David Schnitter, with Dominic Duval (bass) and Jay Rosen (drums). The pieces are a mix of avant and familiar, including blues and a waltz. Stevens slips in and out without leaving a firm impression. Sound is less than perfect. B+(**)

Bill Stewart: Incandescence (2006 [2008], Pirouet): One of the top mainstream drummers of his generation. Also claims credit for all of the compositions here, which is lays out in an unusual trio: with Kevin Hays on piano, Larry Goldings on organ and accordion. Soul jazz groups generally let the organ double as piano and bass, so you can think of Goldings holding down the bass role when Hays is in the lead, but you won't recognize him. Only on his lead cuts, like the opening "Knock on My Door," does he sound like his exuberant old self. Hays is sharp as a razor, of course. But in the end I tried to just focus on the drummer. Can't say as I got much that way, but it didn't lower my estimation of him either. B

The Stone Quartet: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 1 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC): Group name comes from the venue, although none of the principals are especially associated with it, nor for that matter with each other. Rather, this looks like a supercollider experiment dreamed up by DMG honcho Bruce Lee Galanter: let's smash some quarks together and see if any muons emerge. Top quark is Roy Campbell Jr. (trumpet, flute); bottom Joelle Leandre (bass); charm Marilyn Crispell (piano); strange Mat Maneri (viola). Even in such close proximiity, they tend to keep to themselves. B+(**)

Rave Tesar Trio: You Decide (2006 [2008], Tesar Music): Piano trio, with Kermit Driscoll on bass, Bill Tesar on drums. Pianist is based in New Jersey. First album, although he has side credits and production work going back to 1988, mostly prog rock -- Tirez Tirez, Annie Haslam. First impression was how bright and chirpy the piano sounds, especially when he picks up some speed and swings a little. B+(**)

The Michael Thomas Quintet: It Is What It Is (2006, JazHead Entertainment): Trumpeter, b. Las Vegas, attended Grambling (inspired by the marching band, caught the jazz bug there), spent some time in upstate New York, moving to DC in 1993. Third album from group. Quintet is conventional trumpet, tenor sax (Zach Graddy), piano (Darius Scott), bass (Kent Miller), drums (Frank Williams IV), with Buck Hill guesting for a second saxophone. Hard bop with a gooey soul jazz center -- includes two takes of "Candy" in case that wasn't abundantly clear. Trumpet has a nice, soulful sound. Neither saxophonist does much. B

Wayman Tisdale: Rebound (2008, Rendezvous): Former NBA forward, mostly a second-tier star, averaged 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds per game over 12 years (1985-97). Started his second career as a pop jazz bassist in 1995, past prime but before he retired from basketball, with an album called Power Forward. This is his 8th -- 1st I've heard. Bass groove is funky enough, but that only goes so far, so Tisdale piles on the guests -- the usuals like Dave Koz and singers like Marvin Sapp. The exception is a Barry White piece, with the deep croak vocal credited to Toby Keith. I wouldn't call it a choice cut, but it's a good one to tease your friends with. B

Tone Dialing: Rigop Me (2006 [2008], Evil Rabbit): Dutch group. Leader is probably Jorrit Dijkstra, saxophonist by trade, plays lyricon, analog synthesizer, and loop machine here. The others are Paul Pallesen (guitar, analog electronics) and Steve Heather (drums, percussion, sampler). The lyricon is an analog wind synthesizer, which Dijkstra feeds into the Cjewan analog synth. Early on this sounds like dronish electronic music with scattered percussion. The fourth cut, "yoxia me," picks up a beat and is quite attractive. B+(**)

Sumi Tonooka Trio: Long Ago Today (2004 [2008], ARC): Piano trio, with Rufus Reid on bass, Bob Braye on drums. Pianist was born 1956 in Philadelphia, father African-American, mother Japanese (from Washington state, interned during WWII), works using mother's name. Fifth album since 1990, or earlier -- Francis Davis wrote about her in In the Moment, describing a session with Reid and Akira Tana she recorded in 1984 but couldn't find a label for. All originals, except for one Cole Porter tune. State of the art postbop, hard for me to nail down, but I'm impressed with how the pieces build and move. B+(***)

Cy Touff & Sandy Mosse: Tickle Toe (1981 [2008], Delmark): Tough (1927-2003) played bass trumpet. He grew up in the Chicago neighborhood that produced Lee Konitz and Lou Levy, which may have given him a "west coast" jazz connection even though he lived his whole life in Chicago. Mosse (1929-1983) played tenor sax, taking Lester Young as his model. He was born in Detroit; moved to Chicago in 1955, and on to Amsterdam in the 1970s. An easy-going swing/bop session, something for the curious to remember them by. B+(**)

Steve Turre: Rainbow People (2007 [2008], High Note): Poll-winning trombonist, also plays conch shells (and sometimes wins polls for that as well), on his 13th album. I've heard most of them, and like most of what I've heard, but I've never managed to characterize his sound -- how many ways can you spell eclectic? -- and I still don't have a clue what the shells sound like. With Sean Jones (trumpet), Kenny Garrett (alto sax, 4 tracks; note Charlie Parker cover), Mulgrew Miller (piano; note McCoy Tyner cover), Peter Washington (bass), Ignacio Berroa (drums), Pedro Martinez (percussion, 1 track, note Latin move). Starts with the strong title track, and pulls off various surprises after that. Liked it more the first play. [B+(***)]

McCoy Tyner: Fly With the Wind (1976 [2008], Milestone/Keepnews Collection): A symphony of sorts, tempestuous but wildly scattered including some of those dull atmospheric spots, performed by a massive string orchestra plus harp, wind instruments limited to oboe and flutes, a rhythm section with Ron Carter and Billy Cobham frantically struggling to keep up with the pianist. B

Larry Vuckovich Trio: High Wall (2007 [2008], Tetrachord Music): Pianist, b. 1936 in Yugoslavia, came to San Francisco in 1951, studied with Vince Guaraldi, settled into the local jazz scene. Reminds me of the second generation of bebop pianists, with long, expansive lines, bright, bouncy undertow. Several bass/drums combinations, some with extra percussion. B+(**)

Ulf Wakenius: Love Is Real: A Tribute to Esbjörn Svensson (2007 [2008], ACT): Swedish guitarist, b. 1958, has a dozen or so albums since 1992, mostly mild-mannered, likable affairs. Has played with Oscar Peterson from 1997 to the pianist's death. Last album our was shaped as a tribute to Keith Jarrett -- its simple elegance turned into one of the most pleasing albums I've heard in many years. This one looks like it suffers from Second System Complex -- when at first you succeed, try something grander and riskier -- but it comes together marvelously. The string quartet (name: radio.string.quartet.vienna) provides a groundswell of rich textures, discreet use of guest horns (trumpeters Til Brönner and Paolo Fresu on one cut each, trombonist Nils Landgren on another) shifts the focus around, and someone named Eric Wakenius -- I'd guess the leader's son -- grafts on an electric guitar solo from another generation. The fancy stuff works because the core quartet -- Lars Jansson (piano), Lars Danielsson (bass, cello, effects), and Morten Lund (drums, cajon, percussion) -- is so solid, and because Svensson's songs have some snap, crackle and pop to them. A-

Torben Waldorff: Afterburn (2008, ArtistShare): Danish guitarist, attended Berklee 1984-88, seems to be based in New York now, but bio isn't very clear. Cut two records 1999-2004 for Swedish label LJ, and two since then with ArtistShare. Don't have a good sense of his guitar, but that's mostly because his band is so obtrusive -- or maybe I just mean tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin. I've never cared much for McCaslin's records, but he's always been a technically astounding player. He's all over this record. The rest of the band aren't shy, either. Cover has several pictures of Waldorff's grandmother, née Lore Woger -- dancing on the front, playing alto sax on the back. [B+(***)]

Wayne Wallace: The Nature of the Beat (2008, Patois): Trombonist, b. 1952 San Francisco, studied at San Francisco state, privately with Julian Priester and Bobby Hutcherson, later at La Escuela Nacional in Havana. Plays Latin jazz -- the song labels also read: Latin funk, Cuban funk, Timba funk, Orisha jazz, cha cha, and bolero -- fronting a large band with lots of brass and percussion, and a herd of guest vocalists. The latter move the album into pop territory, which isn't a plus when they tackle a song like "Serpentine Fire." No such complaints about the trombone solos -- wish there were more. B

Robert Walter: Cure All (2007 [2008], Palmetto): Don't have recording date, but website has a 2007-10-03 news item saying: "Robert has just completed recording his next record it is scheduled to come out early next year." I figure that is this. Walter plays soul jazz/funk licks, mostly on Hammond B-3. He cut a record a couple years back called Super Heavy Organ which pretty much lived up to its title. For this trio, the organ isn't so heavy, and he switches to piano on occasion -- its percussive sound sharpens up those funk licks. Seventh album, first with a name label. B+(*) [advance: June 15]

Walter "Wolfman" Washington: Doin' the Funky Thing (2008, Zoho Roots): Blues singer, b. 1943 in New Orleans, broke in as a guitarist for Johnny Adams. Ninth record since he graduated to leader status with Wolf Tracks in 1986, breaking a drought since 2000. The title funk grack is the best thing here, split in two pieces to bookend the record. Makes me think he's out to revive his career by tearing a page from Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Might as well: he doesn't have the voice or timing to follow Howlin' Wolf. B

Marcin Wasilewski Trio: January (2007 [2008], ECM): Piano trio. Group drew first notice as three-fourths of Tomasz Stanko's "young Polish quartet." Beyond three albums with Stanko, and a couple with Manu Katché, this is the trio's second album on their own. Top line of the album also names bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz. First song is followed by a stretch of five covers: Gary Peacock, Ennio Morricone, Prince, Stanko, Carla Bley. The covers sustain the melodicism, but what really carries the album is its measured logic and attention to detail. [B+(***)]

Bobby Watson: From the Heart (2007 [2008], Palmetto): Alto saxophonist, from Kansas, b. 1953, has a long list of notable recordings, including several postbop classics for the Red label in Italy in the mid-1980s, followed by a scattering of albums for majors Blue Note and Columbia. I tend to think of him as underrated, but by now he's pretty well known -- reminds me of a baseball player named Bob Watson who put together a long, very consistent career where he was the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best first baseman in the league but hardly ever got invited to the all-star game. Sextet album, something he likes to do, with trumpet, piano, vibes, bass, and drums. The way trumpeter Leron Thomas shadows Watson turns me off -- the two tones mesh into one excessively brassy sound. Piano-vibes has a similar effect, but the sound isn't so annoying, and Warren Wolf (vibes) puts on a pretty good show. Upbeat, expansive stuff -- hard to hate, although that was my first instinct. B

The Wee Trio: Capitol Diner Vol. 1 (2007 [2008], Bionic): Nice name concept for a Brooklyn-based vibes (James Westfall), bass (Dan Loomis), drums (Jared Schonig) trio. Westfall was born 1981 in Houston, and has an album under his own name. He and Loomis write three songs each here; the other four come from Kurt Cobain, Isham Jones, Sufjan Stevens, and Thelonious Monk. Small sound, but I particularly like the sparseness and the way the drummer shifts against time. B+(***) [Sept. 8]

Mark Weinstein: Straight No Chaser (2008, Jazzheads): Flautist, has a dozen or so albums, mostly Latin and Brazilian. This is more mainstream postbop, a quartet with Dave Stryker's guitar prominently featured; Ed Howard plays bass, Victor Lewis drums. I'm not much of a flute fan, don't really see the point. B

Shea Breaux Wells: A Blind Date (2007 [2008], Ultimate): Singer, from Sonoma County, CA, second album, mixes standards with vocalese, plus one original. I often pull series of stylistically related records off the shelf, but coming after Perez this one is pretty uncanny. What was I saying about Jobim being obligatory? Here's "Corcovado" again. Almost as eery is the closer: Ellington-Tizol's "Caravan" here, Ellington-Tizol's "Perdido" there. The Miles Davis cut here is "All Blues" here vs. "Milestones" there. For vocalese, Wells picks Jon Hendricks lyrics to "Night in Tunisia" and "I Remember Clifford." Wells is making somewhat more obvious choices, especially when you factor "Blue Skies" in. Her band is equally stellar: the rhythm section hails from the generation Perez's mainstreamers grew up emulating: George Cables, Billy Hart, Cecil McBee. The horns are a cut more aggressive: David Weiss on trumpet and (especially) Craig Handy on sax/flute. Neither singer offers her age, but I figure Wells is younger and feistier, with more up front in her voice, but less aftertaste. Pretty close to a wash. B+(**)

Paul West/Mark Brown: Words & Music (2007 [2008], OA2): Two guys with common names and short, uncertain paper trails. Both play piano, write and sing songs. Based in Seattle. Both sport gray hair, although West looks to be a score older -- something in here about his 70th birthday. Wikipedia has an entry on a poet Paul West (b. 1930) who has 16 fiction titles, 4 poetry collections, and a pile of nonfiction, mostly lit stuff from Byron to Robert Penn Warren. Probably not the same guy. AMG lists 18 Mark Browns. The one in bold is an English choral music producer, most certainly not the same guy. West has a couple of previous albums on Origin/OA2. Haven't figured out which voice is which, but they are distinct, albeit loosely associated in the Mose Allison/Bob Dorough vein. A couple of lyrics to jazz classics like "Groovin' High." Originals lead off with "Laugh to Keep From Cryin' Blues," which is typical, although they can get soft and sentimental as well. B+(**)

Kenny Wheeler: Other People (2005 [2008], CAM Jazz): Plays trumpet/flugelhorn, from Canada, a significant figure in the English avant-garde from c. 1970 although never known for his fire, recorded an impressive series of mild-mannered composer-centric albums for ECM, has been quite prolific on CAM Jazz over the last 4-5 years. This, like most of his albums, pairs him with pianist John Taylor, a collaborator and kindred spirit from way back. The other musicians here are the four members of the Hugo Wolf String Quartet, none named Hugo Wolf. So this is another horn-with-strings thing, a genre that has rarely failed to disgust -- Warren Vaché's Don't Look Back was the latest one I've flagged down. This one is, well, not so bad. The strings hew closely to Wheeler's compositional concept, which often turns them into a fairly neutral backdrop. Taylor is splendid at stitching it all together, while Wheeler is often eloquent and/or poignant, if not very dynamic. B+(*)

Glenn White: Sacred Machines (2007 [2008], OA2): Dynamod Web Portals website -- first one I've seen that doesn't let us Flash-o-phobes view an HTML version. I realize that musicians like Flash because it makes it relatively easy to inundate browsers with music, but as far as I'm concerned it's still evil, a source of numerous bugs and glitches, and flat out annoying. But more than anything else, it represents a specific wrongheadedness towards the web. The generic coding in HTML put all the focus on content -- in an ideal world HTML writers will produce worthwhile content because that's all HTML is good for. Flash, on the other hand, is all about experience, which is to say, about the designer trying to control us browsers. So White's website is useless. From other sources, we know a little bit about him: b. 1973, originally from Phoenix; played around Denver, Boston, Kentucky, Alaska; now lives in New York. Put out a self-produced album in 1999; producer on this one is Dave Binney. Plays tenor sax, with a strong, foursquare tone, some authority on the solos. Writes, 6 of 7 on this sextet with Jamie Baum's flutes, Roberta Piket's keyboards, Patrick Hay's guitar, Gary Wang bass, Jeff Hirshfield drums. Postbop; fancy where I'd rather hear him blow. Has a future. Hope he fixes that website. B

Corey Wilkes: Drop It (2007 [2008], Delmark): Hot young trumpet player in Chicago, b. 1979, moved into Lester Bowie's Art Ensemble of Chicago slot (big shoes to fill there); also Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Exploding Star Ensemble, and various other Roscoe Mitchell projects. First album. Wants to show his range; also his hip-hop generation cred, so this is long on funk, most blatantly when Dee Alexander comes in to sing "Funkier Than a Mosquita's Tweeter" -- song lives up to its billing. Arty touch at the beginning with Miyanda Wilson reciting Langston Hughes spoken words about some trumpet player, with Wilkes swaying softly in the background. Stong sax: not sure if it's Chelsea Baratz or Kevin Nabors (who split tenor duties) and/or Jabari Liu (on alto) -- not familiar with any of those. Fun record; need to see how high it goes. [B+(***)]

Jessica Williams: Songs for a New Century (2008, Origin): Pianist, b. 1948 Baltimore, moved to San Francisco 1977, currently resides somewhere in Washington. I count 36 albums. No idea how many are solo piano like this one, but it's more than a few, maybe as many as a dozen. I've heard 7: my favorites are Jessica's Blues and In the Key of Monk, but that just be because they're the easiest to follow. I've never been disappointed, and regard her as one of the major mainstream jazz pianists of the last 30 years. If this one falls short in my pecking order, it's for lack of propulsion -- she's working in colors here, drawing out moods. From the booklet: "There is no doubt that, existentially at least, 9-11 was an orange, D minor event. It looked that way to me. It sounded that way to me. Its place in my heart is coded in that color. I had never before thought that orange could be a color of unimaginable sadness and grief. But it stayed that way for me until quite recently. I suppose I was grieving,and just just for the victims and heroes of 9-11. I was grieving for America, for the very idea of America." This album represents an optimistic turn for her. I can almost hear it. B+(**)

Mary Lou Williams: A Grand Night for Swinging (1976 [2008], High Note): Got her start playing church organ on her mama's lap. Turned pro at age 6, and hit the road at 12. Cut her first records at 17 in 1927, really making her mark in the 1930s as pianist-arranger for Andy Kirk's Kansas City big band, going on to write extended works like The Zodiac Suite. Picked up bebop almost as naturally as she took to swing, and after a long hiatus reappeared in the 1970s as the hippest old lady in the business. This is just a live set caught in Buffalo, her trio mostly playing covers, a nice showoff spot for drummer Roy Haynes, the title cut reprised. It's all dazzlingly alive, spirit-lifting -- maybe all that praying paid off. Ends with a bit of interview, you won't mind hearing more than once. A-

Cassandra Wilson: Loverly (2007 [2008], Blue Note): She fits roughly into the line of deep-voiced jazz divas extending from Sarah Vaughan to Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln, although she's neither as deep nor as jazzy as any of those. Her initial notices with New Air and M-Base never really panned out as distinctive or interesting. Until now, much of her reputation has been due to her attempts to update the songbook, incorporating newer material where most jazz singers stray little from cabaret. But the most striking songs here are decidedly old: a smooth flowing "Caravan" and a no-longer-quite-trad "St. James Infirmary." Behind them are more conventional standards, a "Lover Come Back to Me" or a "The Very Thought of You," as well as other old songs that still fit, like "Boom Boom." The band, with Marvin Sewell, Jason Moran, Lonnie Plaxico, and Herlin Riley on most cuts, doesn't stand out, but stays with the flow. I think it's the best album she's ever done. A-

Norma Winstone: Distances (2007 [2008], ECM): English vocalist, b. 1941, cut a well-regarded record in 1971 (Edge of Time), but more often worked with others: Michael Garrick; Mike Westbrook; John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler in the group Azimuth. AMG counts nine records under her name. This one, like her 2002 Chamber Music (Universal) puts her in front of Glauco Venier (piano) and Klaus Gesing (soprano sax, bass clarinet). Hard to characterize her as a singer: she has a calm, stately voice, seemingly unaffected by the vogue of jazz singers emulating horn players. Gesing is consistently a plus here, especially when he lifts up one of the many slow pieces. Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" is a choice cut, but maybe that's just because it's easiest to relate to. B+(**)

Ben Wolfe: No Strangers Here (2007 [2008], MaxJazz): Bassist, born in Baltimore MD, raised in Portland OR; worked with Harry Connick Jr. from 1989, Wynton Marsalis from 1994, Diana Krall from 1998 -- side credits favor singers about 2-to-1. Composes and arranges, with five albums under his own name since 1997. Says this is the one he always wanted to do, which you can believe because there's so much kitchen sink in here. He has Greg Hutchinson on drums, but still brings in Tain Watts for a cut; he has Marcus Strickland on tenor/soprano sax, but still taps Branford Marsalis twice. Terrell Stafford drops in for a couple of tracks on trumpet. At least he has the good sense to stick with pianist Luis Perdomo. Also has a string quartet which seeps out of the mix when the horns don't scare them off. Chalk it up to postbop excess. But as Mingus showed so often, nothing is really excessive so long as you can key on the bassist. B+(**)

Eri Yamamoto: Duologue (2008, AUM Fidelity): Pianist, from Japan, in NY since 1995, notably working with superbassist William Parker. Has a previous fine piano trio on AUM Fidelity, and evidently has a batch of three more 2007 albums on Jane Street that I haven't heard (haven't heard of the label either). Don't have info on this, but I gather these are duets, matching her piano with drums (Federico Ughi or Hamid Drake), bass (Parker), or sax (Daniel Carter). Each of the pieces are interesting, and they don't seem to scatter excessively, as this format is wont to do. Drake and Parker are especially worth focusing on. [B+(***)] [June 24]

Alon Yavnai: Travel Notes (2008, ObliqSound): Pianist, b. 1969 Israel, moved to Costa Rica in 1990, on to US in 1993, studying at Berklee and winding up in New York. Works in a duo with Paquito D'Rivera, as well as in this trio with Omer Avital (bass, oud) and Jamey Haddad (drums). Thoughtful, with a nice dynamic rhythm, the sort of thing that may grow on me. [B+(**)] [advance]

Yellowjackets: Lifecycle (2008, Heads Up): Popular jazz group, been around since 1981, basically a quartet with Bob Mintzer (reeds), Russell Ferrante (keyboards), Jimmy Haslip (bass guitar), and Marcus Baylor (drums) -- augmented here with guitarist Mike Stern, "featuring" on the cover, "special guest" in the booklet. Mintzer knows his bebop, so he can turn on a good jazz impression whenever he feels the need. Ferrante and Haslip know their funk, so Mintzer usually doesn't have to -- not that any of them are above cruising through the motions. Stern is a fusion guitarist who can point to Miles Davis on his résumé. I'm not sure what he's doing here. The only time I retain consciousness is when Mintzer plays, and I'm not talking about when he's whistling on his EWI. B-

Jacob Young: Sideways (2006 [2008], ECM): Norwegian guitarist -- American father explains the unusual name. Previous album, Evening Falls, was an elegant HM. This one follows suit, probably the same quintet, with Mathias Eick on trumpet and Vidar Johansen on tenor sax/bass clarinet. Seems a little more subdued. [B+(*)]

Carlos "Zingaro"/Dominique Regef/Wilbert DeJoode String Trio: Spectrum (2004 [2008], Clean Feed): A bit from the liner notes (Rui Eduardo Paes): "Violins were forbidden in the 'Machine Gun' years, when 'classical instruments' were seen as symbols of a closed, authoritarian, and hierarchic music system. Even today, there's suspicion. European musicians in the new 'free' music came out of both the classical and jazz traditions but, influenced by the turbulent political climate, rejected their origins." Maybe that's an avant-garde thing, although my impression has long been that the line between avant-jazz and avant-classical has never been clearly drawn in Europe -- e.g., the relationship between Cornelius Cardew and AMM. While there are plenty of bad examples of small and large string groups backing jazz musicians, violin soloists in jazz are more likely to draw on folk fiddle or on the raw noisiness of the instrument -- the Velvet Underground's viola was as ear-opening as anything specifically within a jazz context. I suppose the reason this comes up with Zingaro is that he does have the Euroclassical background and tends to get slotted in avant-classical as much as jazz. Still, this is in no sense a polite piece of chamber music. DeJoode plays bass, but Regef fills the middle ranges with hurdy gurdy, providing buzzes and drones that suggest electronics. Three long pieces, complexly varied textures, with an uncomfortable bite to the sound that never really gets monotonous. Most sources skip the quotes around Zingaro, which may be a nickname or stage name -- Carlos Alves seems to be the given name, although sometimes this just appears as Carlos Zingaro Alves (with or without quotes). He has at least 16 albums since 1989; haven't heard any others, but I've run across him in side roles. This gained enough traction the second play I'm holding it back for a third. [B+(***)]

James Zitro: Zitro (1967 [2008], ESP-Disk): Percussionist, worked with Sonny Simmons, got a free shot on the label that bragged "the artist alone decide" and turned out an energetic but unexceptional free jazz blast, a sextet with Alan Praskin and Bert Wilson on noisy saxes and Warren Gale riffing high on trumpet. B

ZMF Trio: Circle the Path (2005 [2007], Drip Audio): ZMF stands for Jesse Zubot (violin), Jean Martin (drums), Joe Fonda (bass). Label describes them as international: Zubot is from Vancouver, Martin from Toronto, Fonda is well known on the avant-garde in New York. Zubot is also involved in the rockish Fond of Tigers group, and he runs the label, which has branched out beyond his own work -- a few more items are on my shelf, including a new John Butcher album, and he seems to have something by Leroy Jenkins in the pipeline. Other than that, don't know much about him. This is avant, by turns aggressive and moody. Martin wrote one piece, Fonda three, Zubot four. The only outside credit is to Anthony Braxton. Didn't catch enough of it first time through, but will play more. [B+(***)]

Carry Over

The following records, carried over from the done file at the start of this cycle, were also under consideration for this column.

  1. Howard Alden and Ken Peplowski's Pow Wow (2006 [2008], Arbors) B+(***)
  2. Susie Arioli Band: Live at Le Festival International de Jazz de Montreal (2006 [2008], Justin Time, CD+DVD) B+(**)
  3. Joe Beck & John Abercrombie: Coincidence (2007 [2008], Mixed Media) B+(**)
  4. Louie Bellson & Clark Terry: Louie & Clark Expedition 2 (2007 [2008], Percussion Power) B+(***)
  5. Jerry Bergonzi: Tenorist (2006 [2007], Savant) B+(***)
  6. Cindy Blackman: Music for the New Millennium (2008, Sacred Sound, 2CD) B+(**)
  7. Carla Bley: The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu (2007, Watt) B+(**)
  8. Paul Bley: Solo in Mondsee (2001 [2007], ECM) B+(**)
  9. Ryan Blotnick: Music Needs You (2007 [2008], Songlines) B+(***)
  10. Bo's Art Trio: Live: Jazz Is Free and So Are We! (2007 [2008], Icdisc) B+(**)
  11. Peter Brötzmann/Peeter Uuskyla: Born Broke (2006 [2008], Atavistic, 2CD) B+(***)
  12. Rob Brown Trio: Sounds (2006 [2007], Clean Feed) B+(**)
  13. Cannon Re-Loaded: An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley (2006 [2008], Concord) B+(**)
  14. Evan Christopher: Delta Bound (2006 [2007], Arbors) B+(**)
  15. Joe Cohn: Restless (2006 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  16. Marc Copland: New York Trio Recordings, Vol. 2: Voices (2006 [2007], Pirouet) B+(***)
  17. Lars Danielsson & Leszek Mozdzer: Pasodoble (2006-07 [2007], ACT) B+(***)
  18. Kenny Davern/Ken Peplowski: Dialogues (2005 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  19. Tom Dempsey & Tim Ferguson: What's Going On? (2007 [2008], City Tone) B+(**)
  20. Alessandro D'Episcopo Trio: Meraviglioso (2005 [2007], Altrisuoni) B+(**)
  21. Dave Douglas Quintet: Live at the Jazz Standard (2006 [2007], Greenleaf/Koch, 2CD) B+(***)
  22. Bill Easley: Business Man's Bounce (2007, 18th & Vine) B+(***)
  23. Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings & Plays Bill Evans (2007 [2008], Blue Note) B+(***)
  24. Mike Ellis: Chicago Spontaneous Combustion Suite (2000 [2008], Alpha Pocket) B+(**)
  25. Mike Ellis: Bahia Band (2005 [2008], Alpha Pocket) A-
  26. The Engines (2006 [2007], Okka Disk) B+(**)
  27. Erik Friedlander: Block Ice & Propane (2005 [2007], Skipstone) B+(***)
  28. Stephen Gauci's Basso Continuo: Nididhyasana (2007, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  29. Dennis González NY Quartet: At Tonic: Dance of the Soothsayer's Tongue (2003-04 [2007], Clean Feed) B+(**)
  30. Bobby Gordon: Plays Joe Marsala: Lower Register (2007, Arbors) B+(***)
  31. Grupo Los Santos: Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea (2007, Deep Tone) A-
  32. Frank Hewitt: Out of the Clear Black Sky (2000 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  33. Lauren Hooker: Right Where I Belong (2006 [2007] B+(***)
  34. Charlie Hunter Trio: Mistico (2007, Fantasy) B+(**)
  35. Jason Kao Hwang/Sang Won Park: Local Lingo (2006 [2007], Euonymus) B+(**)
  36. Vijay Iyer: Tragicomic (2007 [2008], Sunnyside) A-
  37. Jon-Erik Kellso: Blue Roof Blues (2007, Arbors) B+(***)
  38. Nigel Kennedy: Blue Note Sessions (2005 [2007], Blue Note) B+(***)
  39. The Ray Kennedy Trio: Plays the Music of Arthur Schwartz (2006 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  40. Omer Klein/Haggai Cohen Milo: Duet (2006, Fresh Sound New Talent) B+(**)
  41. Omer Klein: Introducing Omer Klein (2007 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  42. The Klobas/Kesecker Ensemble: No Gravity (2007 [2008], KKEnsemble) B+(**)
  43. Joachim Kühn/Majid Bekkas/Ramon Lopez: Kalimba (2006 [2007], ACT) B+(***)
  44. Steve Kuhn Trio: Live at Birdland (2006 [2007], Blue Note) B+(***)
  45. Steve Kuhn: Pastorale (2002 [2007], Sunnyside) B+(***)
  46. David Kweksilber + Guus Janssen (2003-06 [2006], Geestgronden) B+(***)
  47. Mário Laginha Trio: Espaço (2007, Clean Feed) B+(**)
  48. Steve Lehman Quartet: Manifold (2007, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  49. Lisbon Improvisation Players: Spiritualized (2006, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  50. Mat Marucci-Doug Webb Trio: Change-Up (2006 [2007], CIMP) B+(***)
  51. Kate McGarry: The Target (2007, Palmetto) B-
  52. The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: First Flight (2006 [2007], Summit) B+(**)
  53. Eric McPherson: Continuum (2007 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  54. Ravish Momin's Trio Tarana: Miren (A Longing) (2006 [2007], Clean Feed) B+(***)
  55. Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (2006 [2007], Winter & Winter) B+(**)
  56. Dave Mullen and Butta: Mahoney's Way (2006 [2007], Roberts Music Group) B+(**)
  57. Jovino Santos Neto: Alma do Nordeste (Soul of the Northeast) (2008, Adventure Music) B+(**)
  58. Maceo Parker: Roots & Grooves (2007 [2008], Heads Up, 2CD) A-
  59. Steve Reid Ensemble: Daxaar (2007 [2008], Domino) A-
  60. Barbara Rosene and Her New Yorkers: It Was Only a Sun Shower (2007, Stomp Off) B+(**)
  61. Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Avatar (2007 [2008], Blue Note) B+(**)
  62. Felipe Salles: South American Suite (2006 [2007], Curare) B+(***)
  63. Bernardo Sassetti: Unreal: Sidewalk Cartoon (2005-06 [2007], Clean Feed) B+(**)
  64. Cynthia Sayer: Attractions (2006 [2008], Plunk) B+(***)
  65. Matthew Shipp: Piano Vortex (2007, Thirsty Ear) A-
  66. Matt Shulman: So It Goes (2006 [2007], Jaggo) B
  67. Speak in Tones: Subaro (2003-04 [2005], Alpha Pocket, 2CD) B+(**)
  68. Sun Ra: The Night of the Purple Moon (1964-70 [2007], Atavistic) B+(***)
  69. Sun Ra: Some Blues but Not the Kind That's Blue (1973-77 [2007], Atavistic) A-
  70. Territory Band-6 With Fred Anderson: Collide (2006 [2007], Okka Disk) B+(***)
  71. Giulia Valle Group: Danza Imprevista (2006 [2007], Fresh Sound New Talent) B+(**)
  72. Frank Vignola: Vignola Plays Gershwin (2006 [2007], Mel Bay) B+(***)
  73. Aaron Weinstein & John Pizzarelli: Blue Too (2007 [2008], Arbors) B+(**)
  74. The Willie Williams Trio: Comet Ride (2007, Miles High) B+(**)
  75. Dan Willis: Velvet Gentlemen (2003 [2006], Omnitone) B+(***)
  76. Saco Yasuma: Another Rain (2006 [2007], Leaf Note) B+(***)
  77. Libby York: Here With You (2007 [2008], Libby York Music) B+(***)