Jazz Consumer Guide (18):

These are the prospecting notes from working on Jazz CG #18. 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 Aug. 4 to Dec. 22, 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 293. The count from the previous file was 291 (before that: 240, 259).

Rabih Abou-Khalil: Em Português (2007 [2008], Enja): It looks like the German label Enja finally has a US distributor (Allegro), so we may start seeing their records in a more timely and complete fashion. (For the last several years they've had a deal where Justin Time selectively reissued their records.) Enja has been home to Lebanese oud player Abou-Khalil since 1988, with at least 10 records. They've all had very distinctive packaging: cardboard foldout cases with metallic ink. This one, with its purple background and jeweled fishes, is a beauty. Abou-Khalil started with his native Arabic music, which flows readily into jazz due to their joint emphasis on improvisation, but over the years he's moved fluidly through the realms of European folk musics -- Morton's Foot (2004) is an especially good example. Here he goes whole hog into Portugal, setting out an album totally dominated by Ricardo Ribeiro's vocals. I would have preferred more instrumental space, maybe a horn beyond Michel Godard's occasional tuba. The best thing here is the way the oud weaves through the whole tapestry. 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+(**)]

Eric Alexander Quartet: Prime Time: In Concert (2007 [2008], High Note, CD+DVD): After a stretch of three or four lousy records -- including his Temple of Olympic Zeus dud, and his part in David Hazeltine's The Inspiration Suite, a record that's only barely escaped my duds list -- this is a return to form. He's a powerful mainstream sax player, and he charges straight ahead through everything here. Hazeltine, John Webber, and Joe Farnsworth provide their usual solid support. The whole thing, and then some, is also on the DVD, if you're into that sort of thing. B+(**)

Rashied Ali/Charles Gayle/William Parker: By Any Means: Live at Crescendo (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD): By Any Means is probably meant to be the group name, but the principals are listed on the front cover, top to bottom as above (that would be alphabetically), and their names go further toward explaining what this is or why anyone should care. This is the same trio that recorded, under Gayle's name, Touchin' on Trane back in 1991 -- one of those Penguin Guide crown albums. So it's a little disconcerting that this gets off so awkwardly at first -- even more so that Parker is the odd man out. Ali gets 3 of the first 4 pieces; Gayle the other one and the next 3; Parker recovers on his own 3-song second disc stretch, ending with a group improv. The sound isn't all that sharp. The moves are unexceptional for these guys -- Gayle at full speed is quite a treat, but he's been there and done that many times before. B+(*)

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]

Misha Alperin: Her First Dance (2006 [2008], ECM): Was a very slow one, with piano, cello, and French horn or flugelhorn for a little coloring. Extremely understated, but generates an almost hypnotic allure, without suspecting as much. B+(**) [advance]

The Stephen Anderson Trio: Forget Not (2008, Summit): No recording date. AMG thinks this was released in 2004, but booklet refers to later events, and cover is copyright 2008. A lot of google noise on Anderson's name, but as best I can figure he studied at UNT, got a Ph.D., and teaches at UNC-Charlotte. Plays piano. This is his first album, although he plays on a couple of albums under bassist Lynn Seaton and one with drummer Joel Fountain. Wrote 7 of 8 songs here, the exception "For Sentimental Reasons." Jeff Eckels plays bass, Fountain drums. Solid stuff, thoughtful, logical, forceful -- he's not shy about power chords. Extensive liner notes, with lots of references to clasical composers. B+(**)

Angles: Every Woman Is a Tree (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Sextet, file under Swedish alto saxophonist Martin Küchen, who wrote all the pieces, produced the album, wrote the liner notes, etc. Group includes two more horns: Magnus Broo on trumpet, Mats Äleklint on trombone. Also vibes (Mattias Ståhl), bass (Johan Berthling), drums (Kjell Nordeson). Six pieces, titles reflect war (or antiwar) themes. Takes a while to brew, but the mulitple hornplay really takes charge in the third cut, "My world of mines," and the group rarely flags thereafter. [B+(***)]

Roy Assaf & Eddy Khaimovich Quartet: Andarta (2007 [2008], Origin): Two Israelis, who met by chance in New York and found they fit. Assaf plays piano; Khaimovich bass. The quartet fills out with Robin Verheyen on sax and Ronen Itzik on drums, but Verheyen sits out a couple of cuts to make way for Roy Hargrove on trumpet. Postbop with a dash of world groove. B+(*)

Asaf Sirkis Trio: The Monk (2007-08 [2008], SAM Productions): Israeli drummer, b. 1969 in Petah-Tikva; left Israel in 1998 for Holland, then France, finally settling in London, where he joined Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble. Trio includes electric bassist Yaron Stavi and guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos. The electric instruments give the record a fusion feel, but upside down, with the drums out front and the chord instruments striving to catch up. Fifth album as a leader -- three with a group called Inner Noise. Sounds like someone to explore further. [B+(**)]

Chet Baker: Chet in Chicago (1986 [2008], Enja): With the Bradley Young Trio -- Young on piano, Larry Gray on bass, Rusty Jones on drums -- plus tenor saxophonist Ed Peterson on three cuts. The fifth volume of Enja's Chet Baker Legacy series, sweeping up the previously unreleased leftovers from a long and notable career. Sprightly piano, fine trumpet, and Baker whisking his way through his umpteenth "My Funny Valentine." B+(**)

Patricia Barber: The Cole Porter Mix (2008, Blue Note): Advance copy, had it a long time, played it a couple of times in the car, and was itching to get along with it. First impression was that Barber's down-and-out voice and demeanor was a poor match for the supremely buoyant Porter. She literally tackles ten Porter tunes, blocking them, wrassling them to the ground, rubbing dirt in the wounds. They're slower and smokier than ever before. Neal Alger's guitar is the dominant instrument, working the same vein, but five songs have tenor sax solos which break the mold -- there's nothing depressive about the way Chris Potter plays here. Three originals thus far seem more for flow than competition. Looking forward to a final copy. [B+(***)] [advance, Sept. 16]

Patricia Barber: The Cole Porter Mix (2007 [2008], Blue Note): She takes Porter as a fellow modernist aesthete and drags him into a world where modernity's future has dimmed: the songs are slower, sadder, hazier -- flippant irony giving way to ambiguity. But the guitar-driven music is, if anything, even more art deco elegant. Chris Potter's tenor sax breaks grab you every time, then fade into the smoke. A-

Jeff Barone: Open Up (2008, Jazzed Media): Guitarist, b. 1970 Syracuse, NY; studied at Ithaca College and Manhattan School of Music; based in NYC; second album. Most of the cuts here are in a group with Ron Oswanski on organ and Rudy Petschauer on drums, so much so that the record often falls into a slick groove bordering on smooth. There are horns, too, which ultimately prove superfluous, although Joe Magnarelli opens on trumpet like it's his own album. I like the exceptions better, including a solo piece called "Quiet Now." Ends with an alternate take of "Falling in Love With Love" which holds up better than the main take, possibly because it's set off from the flow, or maybe because it comes off less cluttered. B

Jorge Lima Barreto: Zul Zelub (2005 [2008], Clean Feed): Portuguese pianist, b. 1949. I've seen a note that credits him with several books and 16 records, mostly working through groups: AnarBand (1972), Conceptual Music Association (Associaçao Música Conceptual, with Carlos Zingaro, 1973), Telectu (with Vitor Rua, since 1982). Also listed in a "classical composers database" -- good chance some of his work is classified as postclassical avant whatever. AMG knows about three records (including one Telectu), plust side credits with Raimundo Fagner, Derek Bailey, Carlos Bechegas. This is solo piano plus sound effects. The 45:12 "Zul" is accompanied by "radio SW" -- a source of common tuner sweep noise. For the 30:10 "Zelub" he uses "4 cd players." The latter are lower key and offer less contrast in a slightly slower, but still remarkable, piece. The former is quite wonderful. The piano as a brittle sound, something I associate with prepared pianos, but there's nothing in the notes about that, and the effect is less pronounced. A-

Kenny Barron: The Traveler (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): First time through I was getting ready to slam this when a track with guitarist Lionel Loueke caught my ear -- reminded me that my favorite Barron record paired him with another guitarist, Mino Cinelu, Swamp Sally (1995, Verve). Loueke appears on three cuts here: one a duo with the pianist, two augmenting the trio, one of those with vocalist Gretchen Parlato. Another pass highlights some other points, but they remain scattered. Ann Hampton Callaway's vocal is nuanced, but Grady Tate's isn't. Parlato isn't a plus. Loueke fairs better with the trio than in the duo, which I score heavily for Barron. Soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson's three pieces improve on rehearing. I can't say whether I'd like Barron's trio better without the distractions, but here they come as a relief. And Barron closes with a fine solo on Eubie Blake's "Memories of You." B+(**)

Michael Bates: Clockwise (2008, Greenleaf Music): Bassist, composer, grew up in Canada, played in hardcore and punk bands before settling into jazz. Has three albums, some attributed to Michael Bates' Outside Sources, although Bates is the only one on all three albums. (Actually, my copy, with no mention of Outside Sources, has a different cover from the one shown on the band's website and Myspace page. The label's website shows my cover.) Pianoless quartet this time, with Russ Johnson on trumpet, Quinsin Nachoff on sax or clarinet, and Jeff Davis on drums. It's worth the trouble trying to focus on bass/drums, which provide the foundation for all the free-flying sparks. B+(***) [Sept. 8]

John Beasley: Letter to Herbie (2008, Resonance): Pianist, b. 1960 in Louisiana. Toured with Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard in the 1980s, cut a couple of crossover albums on Windham Hill, scratched out a living doing ad jingles and filmworks. Plays Fender Rhodes and synth as well as piano. Mostly Hancock songs, with two originals and one by Wayne Shorter. Christian McBride, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Roy Hargrove get their name on the front cover as "featuring" while Steve Tavaglione, Michael O'Neill, and Louis Conte don't. Emphasizes Hancock's hard bop side over his fusion moves, which is probably for the best. B+(*)

Bryan Beninghove: Organ Trio (2007 [2008], CDBaby): No hint he made any effort to think up a label name, but it's in the catalog at CDBaby. Tenor saxophonist (credit just: Saxophone), originally from suburban Baltimore, studied at William Paterson University (Wayne, NJ), now based in Jersey City. First record, didn't put much thought into the title either: just exactly what it claims, a trio with Kyle Koehler on Hammond B-3, Don Williams on drums. Wrote 4 of 9 songs; no obvious pattern to the covers. Everyone pumps hard, plays heavy. Reminds me of Willis Jackson. Evidently Beninghove has other projects, but he's pretty convincing in this one. B+(***)

Judith Berkson: Lu-Lu (2006 [2008], Peacock): Singer, based in Brooklyn, no more bio available. First record, solo, plays piano/Wurlitzer. Four originals, five covers, 38:11 total, which is really quite enough. Slow and arty, with little of special interest, although the closing "Some Enchanted Evening" did something -- more haunted than enchanting, but something. C+

Will Bernard: Blue Plate Special (2008, Palmetto): Guitarist. Seemed to have an interesting take on postbop postfusion, but since he signed with Palmetto he's settled into a light funk groove which is buoyed mostly by working with competent artisans like John Medeski and Stanton Moore. Closes with a sweet "How Great Thou Art." B [advance]

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: We Are MTO (2005 [2008], Mowo!): Different label, otherwise they could have called it MTO Volume 2. Bernstein's downtown big band is a spinoff from his work on Robert Altman's Kansas City film, basically an attempt to update the blues-based swing bands that toured around Kansas City in the 1920-30s. Or, at Bernstein puts it in explaining the title cut: "Don Redman meets Funkadelic at Count Basie's summer home by the lake." Old songs from Redman, Basie, and Fats Waller -- a nasty, strung-out "Viper Song"; also obscurities from Cecil Scott and Preston Jackson, a gritty "Makes No Difference," a hymnal "All You Need Is Love." Vocals on most pieces by guitarists Matt Munisteri and/or Doug Wamble. Violin by Charlie Burnham. Even better are the horns, which clash just enough to remind you that this is post-avant-garde swing. A- [Later: A]

Gene Bertoncini & Roni Ben-Hur: Smile (2008, Jazz Foundation/Motéma): Guitar duets. Bertoncini is older (70), swing-oriented, has a light touch that works well in intimate settings. Ben-Hur is much younger but possibly as well known, with 6 albums since 1997. Starts with "Killing Me Softly, seems like a faux pas to me. Otherwise, the sort of intricate interplay you'd expect. B

Emily Bezar: Exchange (2008, DemiVox): Singer, keyboardist, from San Francisco or Berkeley, has 5 albums since 1993, maybe more. AMG has her as Alt Pop/Rock, likening her to Kate Bush -- the vocal resemblance is obvious, although I find Bezar a little more idiosyncratic at times, more arch at others, and overall much less interesting. C

Adam Birnbaum: Travels (2008, Smalls): Pianist, first album. Group is nominally a quartet, but saxophonist Sharel Cassity is rarely to be heard. Postbop, I suppose. Bright and sharp, but runs on. B+(*)

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+(**)]

Ketil Bjørnstad/Terje Rypdal: Life in Leipzig (2005 [2008], ECM): Duo, recorded live during the Leipziger Jazztage, which has some effect in pumping up the volume of the sound somewhat harshly. Rypdal's guitar sometimes sounds a little violinish. Bjørnstad's piano cuts through that, adds some rhythm, but never quite takes charge. B+(*)

Art Blakey and the Giants of Jazz: Live at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival (1972 [2008], MJF): Not a happy period in the drummer's career, but he plays with great physicality here, leading a ragtag crew of superstars in what could pass as a Jazz at the Philharmonic blowout; Roy Eldridge, Clark Terry, Sonny Stitt, and Kai Winding are natural jousters who offers great excitement but no surprises; the mystery is left to the troubled pianist in one of his last performances, but Thelonious Monk comps engagingly and takes a nice feature on "'Round Midnight." B+(***)

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+(***)]

Walt Blanton: Monuments (2006 [2008], Origin): Trumpet player; front cover also names Tony Branco (piano) and John Nasshan (drums). All are based in Las Vegas, and play free jazz -- not real far out, but open enough to keep you off guard. B+(*)

Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band: Appearing Nightly (2006 [2008], Watt): Aside from daughter Karen Mantler on organ, a pretty standard big band configuration: four trumpets, four trombones, five reeds, piano, bass, drums. Half or more are well known names, mostly with lengthy associations with Bley: Lew Soloff, Gary Valente, Wolfgang Pushnig, Andy Sheppard, Julian Argüelles, Steve Swallow, Billy Drummond. The layering is impeccable, and she make especially good use of the trombones. B+(***)

The Complete Arista Recordings of Anthony Braxton (1974-80 [2008], Mosaic, 8CD): I'll write more about this soon, but on first pass this half lives up to my memories and expectations, which include the notion that it's historic enough that we should grin and bear the other half. I got to this set rather late, so the story has been rehearsed many times recently. As jazz was in near free-fall in the 1970s -- icons from both the first and second generation of jazz stars were dying off or dropping out (Armstrong, Ellington, Hawkins, Powell, Coltrane, Monk), important labels were failing, the audience was going pop happy with Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan -- Braxton emerged as the enfant terrible of the Chicago avant-garde. Against the tide, ex-Colombia Records honcho Clive Davis made several moves to jazz up his new Arista label: importing the Freedom label from France, repackaging the Savoy catalog, and signing Braxton, who was given free hand to release nine albums. Eventually, Arista's jazz interests waned, the borrowed catalogues wandering off elsewhere, the Braxtons banished from print. Since then, Braxton has released a couple hundred albums, none on anything remotely resembling a major label. Few people, even among jazz fans and critics, have heard more than a few of them -- I can only claim 28 of them -- and he takes so many risks it's hard to not run into a few sour tasting ones along the way. Still, for the handful of folks who were discovering jazz just about the moment Braxton took center stage, he was nothing short of a revelation. (I've long wondered whether my generally blasé reaction to Charlie Parker was the result of getting to Parker after I had adopted Braxton and Ornette Coleman.) So I've been looking forward to this box since it was announced -- my only disappointment is that Sony/Legacy didn't do the deed themselves. (Back when Sony merged with BMG, which had previously snarfed down Arista, I urged my publicity contacts there to reissue Braxton -- but the corporation evidently had higher priorities, like Barry Manilow.) The first three albums here are the most user-friendly: New York, Fall 1974 and Five Pieces 1975 managed to be heady and fun at the same time, a formula scaled up to hurricane force on Creative Orchestra Music 1976, most obviously with his irresistable take on John Phillips Sousa. Braxton never again made music so tempting to a wider audience. With one exception, the rest of the albums went small, which left the abstract music full of rough edges: Duets 1976 with Muhal Richard Abrams; For Trio, with Henry Threadgill and Douglas Ewart swapping reed instruments and percussion; The Montreux/Berlin Concerts, with a George Lewis duet and scattered small groups; Alto Saxophone Improvisations 1979, a more civil solo sax album updating his notorious For Alto (1969); and For Two Pianos, with Frederic Rzewski and Ursula Oppens playing a long Braxton score. For the exception, Braxton went huge -- hell, he redefined huge: For Four Orchestras squared off four 39-piece orchestras on "Opus 82" -- at the time all of Braxton's compositions had diagrammatic titles although now they're easier to keep track of with numbers -- sprawling over three LPs, now filling up the last two CDs here. The latter is, relatively speaking, a throwaway, but it's pretty listenable after all these years. A-

Anthony Braxton/Milford Graves/William Parker: Beyond Quantum (2008, Tzadik): Five pieces, named "First Meeting," "Second Meeting," etc. The "Fourth Meeting" is the most immediately compelling -- probably just the straightest and most accessible. Braxton plays "saxophones": alto is his preferred tool, and he's one of the most dexterous and expansive alto saxophonists ever, especially when he doesn't have to navigate his own contorted compositions. He plays sopranino toward the end; probably others, but he gets such a wide range of sound out of alto I could be wrong. Graves is a little-recorded percussion legend, adding some vocalizing and other strange effects here and there. Parker is a massively-recorded bass legend. Much food for thought all around. A- [Rhapsody]

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+(***)]

Randy Brecker: Randy in Brasil (2006 [2008], MAMA): The surviving Brecker Brother. Has a checkered, mostly fusion-oriented, solo career, but pops up in other contexts, like the Mingus Big Band. Not sure how much Brazilian music he's done in the past, but he was married to Eliane Elias, which certainly counts for something. This one was cut in Brazil, produced by keyboardist Ruriá Duprat, with a local band including guitarist Ricardo Silveira. Two originals, plus a lot of Djavan, Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, and João Bosco. Flows well, and the trumpet is competent, but nothing stands out. B-

Wolfert Brederode: Currents (2006 [2008], ECM): Dutch pianist, b. 1974. AMG lists one previous album. This one adds clarinets (Claudio Puntin) to piano trio. Starts with an easy-flowing rhythmic piece, a mode he returns to now and then. In between are tone poem things, where the clarinet leads. Seems simple, and probably is, but as it sinks it it's very attractive. B+(***)

Dave Brubeck: 50 Years of Dave Brubeck: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-2007 (1958-2007 [2008], MJF): Starts with Paul Desmond for three 1958-66 quartet cuts and closes with three 2002-07 quartets with Bobby Militello on alto sax -- a sense of continuity and balance unlikely in any 50-year span. Gerry Mulligan figures in between, and only one cut lacks a horn, but the unique pacing of the pianist comes through again and again. A-

The John Bunch Trio With Guest Frank Wess: Plays the Music of Irving Berlin (Except One) (2008, Arbors): That's the back-cover version of the title. Arbors often has different versions of titles on the spine, front cover, back cover, and the disc itself. I usually choose the more compact spine, but this time I figured I'd let them spell it all out. The "except one" is a song by Gus Kahn, Carmen Lombardo, and Johnny Green: "Coquette." The other eleven songs are Berlin standards, half deeply ingrained in every musical consciousness, half less so, allowing for breaks. Bunch is a veteran swing pianist, b. 1921, Indiana; reportedly learned to arrange for big bands as a POW in WWII Germany; worked for Georgie Auld, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Tony Bennett; later pops up in groups with Bucky Pizzarelli and Scott Hamilton. Always a delight, his lithe tone meshes especially well here with Frank Vignola's guitar and John Webber's bass -- the famous melodies float by as light as clouds, which is why Wess, on 6 of 12 songs, can stick to flute and not gum anything up. [B+(***)]

John Burnett Swing Band: West of State Street/East of Harlem (2008, Delmark): Chicago-based big band, four trumpets plus guest Randy Sandke, four trombone, five reeds, the whole kit and kaboodle. Burnett hails from England, holds down a steady job as a radio DJ, directs the band. Frieda Lee sings two songs, and Tony Pons does his best Satchmo impersonation on "Hello Dolly." Website cites them as "keeping alive the sounds of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and others" -- most obviously Basie, especially when they crank up "April in Paris" more than one more time. B+(*)

California Guitar Trio: Echoes (2007 [2008], Inner Knot): Three guitarists, none from California except in their minds: Hideyo Moriya (Tokyo, Japan), Paul Richards (Salt Lake City, UT), Bert Lams (Brussels, Belgium). Started playing together in 1991 and have a dozen albums now. This is the first I've heard. All covers, with Pink Floyd providing the title cut, and someone named Ludwig Van Beethoven raided twice. Most of the songs sound tolerably New Agey, with little variation from "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "Tubular Bells." Two come with vocals, a mistake. C+

Bill Cantrall: Axiom (2007 [2008], Up Swing): Trombonist, originally from New Jersey, educated in Chicago, based in New York. First album. Composed 8 of 10 pieces. Group is a septet: four horns (Ryan Kisor on trumpet, Sherman Irby on alto sax, Stacy Dillard on tenor sax), piano (Rick Germanson, bass and drums. Qualifies as postbop, tightly arranged, well played, avoids common harmonic unpleasantries by leading with trombone. B+(*)

François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Jean-Jacques Avenel: Within (2007 [2008], Leo): Avenel is a French bassist, best (or almost exclusively) known for his work with Steve Lacy from 1975 on. He has one record under his own name, a world jazz piece called Waraba, which I recommend highly. Reportedly, he also plays sanza here (according to the booklet) or kalimba (according to the label's website). Carrier plays alto and soprano sax, mostly the former. He's released a number of records since 1998, mostly trios, virtually all with drummer Michel Lambert. Three pieces here, the middle one called "Core" runs 40:18. Takes a while to kick in, and requires more attention than I normally muster, but I've always loved Carrier's sound, and find the intricate free improv fascinating. [Note: Available on CD, but also as a download for $6.49, a bump up from Leo's usual $5.49 price, probably reflecting the declining value of the dollar. The downloads are available in OGG format, which sounds like a good idea to me, but it wasn't easy to get them -- actually, I just tried some of their 30-second samples -- to play on a MS Windows machine. Wound up downloading and installing zipf and firefox. One reason I thought of the download option is that Carrier has a new 7-CD set available as download-only on Ayler Records -- a label I regard highly, but haven't listened to since they switched to download-only releases, figuring it's all too much hassle. But I'm starting to be tempted.] A-

François Carrier: The Digital Box (1999-2006 [2008], Ayler, 7CD): Download only, as I understand it, although the label very generously provided clumsy me with a set of CDRs, packaged with their usual exceptional care. (Ayler has been going more and more to download-only product, which I always thought a shame, not least because their original artwork and packaging is so nice. I understand they're still producing the artwork, which can be downloaded with the music, so you can print your own packaging -- not that you're going to be able to print it on slick card stock.) Sometimes I complain about multi-disc sets being too much extra work, but one way to handle that is to just let them flow into a single impression -- and that's a pleasure here. Carrier plays alto sax, increasingly soprano sax as well. A free player, I go back and forth on how original or distinctive he is, but he has a spirit and clarity of vision that becomes increasingly compelling the longer he plays. First disc here is a 1999 trio with Dewey Redman joining on on one cut. The rest of the material runs from 2004-06: two discs of duets with drummer Michel Lambert (a constant presence on all 7 discs); two trio discs with bassist Pierre Côté; two quartet discs with guitarist Sonny Greenwich and bassist Michel Donato. The bassless duets run a little slower, working through short, relatively patchy pieces, more like practice, or work even. The others offer long takes, the trios more improv, the quartet a long thematic piece called "Soulful South." It adds up to more than the sum of the parts. A-

Bill Carrothers: Home Row (1992 [2008], Pirouet): Pianist, b. 1964, based in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan -- home of one of the great jazz fiction in cinema: Jimmy Stewart, in Anatomy of a Murder, hops out of his convertible and strides into a local bar, where Duke Ellington is playing. AMG starts Carrothers' discography in 1999, listing 11 albums. Carrothers' webpage shows 20 album covers, but doesn't offer a discography. This was cut much earlier. With Gary Peacock on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Sounds a bit rough to me -- "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is rushed almost unrecognizably, to no clear purpose. Still, an impressive debut -- admittedly, easy to say after a decade-plus of later records. B+(*)

Corey Christiansen: Roll With It (2008, Origin): Guitarist, 37 (I assume that means b. 1971), based in Utah after some time in St. Louis, second album since 2004. Basically a soul jazz group, with Pat Bianchi on the B-3, David Halliday on tenor sax, Matt Jorgensen on drums. Fresher than most; nice tone on the sax, slick lines from the guitar. B+(*)

Leonardo E.M. Cioglia: Contos (2007 [2008], Quizamba Music): Brazilian bassist, b. 1971, working in Brooklyn these days, with an interesting group: John Ellis (reeds), Mike Moreno (guitar), Stefon Harris (vibes, 4 cuts), Aaron Goldberg (piano), Antonio Sanchez (drums). Not much olde Brasil here; more like postbop, sly enough it escapes the usual traps of ornateness and/or retrovision. Ellis and Goldberg are more appealing than on their own records. (Harris too, of course.) [B+(***)]

Ablaye Cissoko/Volker Goetze: Sira (2007 [2008], ObliqSound): Cissoko, a Senegalese griot, plays delicate kora and sings serenely. Goetze plays trumpet, caressing the melodies, giving them a warm, burnished glow. Graceful and earnest, a bit underwhelming. B+(*)

Charmaine Clamor: My Harana: A Filipino Serenade (2008, FreeHam): Vocalist, from the Philippines. Previous album, Flippin' Out, mixed some native folk with usual standards for a nice mix of groove and swing. She seems to be going native here, which is admirable in principle but unfortunately lacking in groove or swing, or anything recognizable as a beat or pulse. B-

Mike Clark: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 1 (2006 [2009], Talking House): New label, introducing three volumes in a same-titled series, the other two by drummer Donald Bailey and saxophonist Billy Harper -- all veteran players, not a lot under their names, although Harper is exceptional in several regards. Clark's discography starts with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters fusion group in 1974, although this is a pretty straightforward hard bop set, distinguished by bright, forceful performances from the band: Jed Levy (tenor sax), Donald Harrison (alto sax), Christian Scott (trumpet), Christian McBride (bass), Patrice Rushen (piano). Nice drumwork, too. B+(*) [Jan. 20]

Jay Clayton: The Peace of Wild Things: Singing and Saying the Poets (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): English vocalist, enjoys a substantial reputation working well outside the mainstream, although I'm so far behind the learning curve I can't say much more. Dedicates this one to Jeanne Lee and Sheila Jordan. Doesn't sound much like either, but at least that gives you a sense of where she finds peers. Reminds me a bit of Laurie Anderson at her most austere, with minimal electronics and some dubbing of background vocals behind her spiel. [B+(**)]

PS: Last week I incorrectly identified Jay Clayton as English. She was born in 1941 in Youngstown, Ohio; spent a little time in Europe, but has lived most of her life in the US, currently teaching at Vanderbilt. I thought I knew enough about her I didn't need to do the due dilligence. In fact, I've heard very little by her, mostly remembering the name from the Anglo-centric Penguin Guide, and confusing her with someone else -- probably Norma Winstone. Her new record, The Peace of Wild Things, is interesting and still in play.

Rebecca Cline and Hilary Noble: Enclave Diaspora (2007-08 [2008], Enclave Jazz): Noble got top billing last time, a 2005 album called Enclave (on Zoho) that I liked a lot. This extends the formula. Cline's a pianist who studied with Joanne Brackeen and picked up both her latin flair and avant edge. Noble's a saxophonist who can wax eloquent or turn up the heat. Quartet, keeping the rhythm bubbling, includes Francisco Huergo on electric bass; Steve Langone on drums, chocalho, and pandeira. A little more varied than last time, less conceptually acute, less of a surprise. B+(**)

Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble: Proverbs for Sam (2001 [2008], Boxholder): Another live recording from the Vision Festival, belatedly recycled for the rest of us. Sam is alto saxophonist Sam Furnace, present here, but deceased in 2003. The Proverbs are from the Yoruba of Nigeria. Cole was born 1937 in Pittsburgh, where he got BA and MA degrees; got his Ph.D. at Wesleyan, writing his dissertation on John Coltrane, and taught from 1974 until retiring in the 1990s at Dartmouth. He's written books on Coltrane and Miles Davis. His first album under his own name appeared in 2000; AMG lists 3 prior side credits: Jayne Cortez, Blaise Siwula, and Ken Colyer. Cole plays exotic wind instruments, mostly squeaky double reeds from Asia -- Chinese sona, Indian shenai and nagaswarm, Ghanaian flute, didgeridoo. He has a half-dozen albums, either duos or Untempered Ensemble. The latter, as well as many of the duos, include William Parker, who most likely developed his own taste in exotics from Cole. Also present here: Furnace (alto sax, flute), Joseph Daley (baritone horn, tuba, trombone), Cooper-Moore (diddly bow, rim drums, flute), Warren Smith (percussion), Atticus Cole (more percussion). A-

George Colligan: Runaway (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Pianist, mainstream to postbop, although he's developed a sideline on Fender Rhodes that qualifies as semi-fusion. Is still under 40, but has nearly 20 albums since 1996: prodigious, very talented, has dazzling speed and dynamics ("Ghostland" is a good example here), a lot of range. Don't think he's every made a weak record, but this one wanders more than I'd like: four cuts on Fender Rhodes and/or synths, five cuts with guitarist Tom Guarna, two with Kerry Politzer vocals, one with Politzer taking over piano while Colligan plays trumpet. (He previously played drums on Politzer's piano trio album.) B+(*)

Conference Call: Poetry in Motion (2005-06 [2008], Clean Feed): Quartet, consisting of Gebhard Ullman (soprano sax, tenor sax, bass clarinet), Michael Jefry Stevens (piano), Joe Fonda (bass), George Schuller (drums). Ullman and Stevens go back ten years, and Stevens and Fonda go back further, with a co-led group where Fonda gets top billing. All write. All play free, with some harsh notes, but mostly inside their framework. Ullman, whom I've often doubted, is especially solid here. B+(**)

Sean Conly: Re:Action (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Bassist, from Gunnison, CO -- a few hundred miles up river from here; we used to go trout fishing there, marveling that the cold, narrow stream there turns into the big muddy that meanders across the plains here. Based in New York. First album. Writes most of his own material, although it's hard to get a sense of it, most being free sax jousts between Michael Attias and Tony Malaby -- good choices for that sort of thing. B+(*)

Todd Coolman: Perfect Strangers (2008, ArtistShare): Bassist, based in New York since 1978, teaches at Purchase College, has a couple of previous albums, a couple of books, a few dozen side credits going back at least to 1982. The Perfect Strangers are the composers: seven people I've never heard of who submitted pieces in response to Coolman's request. The musicians are better known: Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Jim McNeely (piano), John Riley (drums). They make up a sparkling hard bop quintet, with Lynch standing out -- wonder if producer Jon Faddis favored him. B+(***)

Cosmologic: Eyes in the Bck of My Head (2006 [2008], Cuneiform): San Diego quartet, formed in 1999, same lineup through four albums: Jason Robinson (tenor sax), Michael Dessen (trombone), Scott Walton (bass), Nathan Hubbard (drums). Songs are pretty evenly divided between Hubbard, Dessen, and Robinson. Mostly free jazz, with two horns flaying apart, the trombone more than holding its own. B+(**)

Jerry Costanzo With Andy Farber and His Swing Mavens: Destination Moon (2004-07 [2008], Semi-Quaver Jazz): Costanzo is a vocalist, as dead a ringer for Sinatra as I've heard in many years -- if anything, he makes it look easier, and the band helps in that regard. Repertoire has something to do with this: "I Thought About You," "Come Fly With Me," "Young at Heart," "Fly Me to the Moon"; with all the flying he throws in one from Nat Cole: "Straighten Up and Fly Right." Two sessions, separated by three years and quite a bit of turnover in the band. The edge goes to the later edition. B+(**)

Dan Cray Trio: Live: Over Here and Over Heard (2007 [2008], Crawdad): Piano trio, with Clark Sommers on bass, Greg Wyser-Pratte on drums. Fourth album. One original, plus covers from Jobim, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Henry Mancini, "More Than You Know," "That Old Black Magic." Can't think of much to say about it. B

Cryptogramophone Assemblage 1998-2008 (1998-2007 [2008], Cryptogramophone, 2CD+DVD): Another jazz label sampler, founded by Jeff Gauthier to record a series of tributes to the late Eric von Essen's music, moving on to document work by Alex and Nels Cline, Mark Dresser, Bennie Maupin, Erik Friedlander, Myra Melford, various others. A more useful reference than the Justin Time sampler -- it covers a narrower band of music more comprehensively, with better documentation -- but still a mere sampler. B

Brian Cullman: All Fires the Fire (2008, Sunnyside): Singer-songwriter, from New York, first album. AMG classifies him as World, mostly based on liner notes he (presumably the same person) wrote for albums by the likes of Ghazal, the Sabri Brothers, Hassan Hakmoun, and Vernon Reid (who returns a blurb quote). Hype sheet quotes someone likening him to Leonard Cohen, which isn't way off base if you subtract about 95 years off Cohen's voice. Cullman has a sweet, wry voice, with an effortless meander to the songs, and something of a philosophical bent. "No God but God" gives me the creeps. B+(*)

Paulo Curado: The Bird, the Breeze and Mr. Filiano (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): Portuguese alto saxophonist, also plays a bit of flute (not bad, but a bit of a letdown). Don't have much biographical info: discography starts 1999, with several appearances in groups like Lisbon Improvisation Players, but most likely he goes back further. Bruno Pedroso plays drums. The bassist, as you can guess, is Ken Filiano, who does his usual superb job, around which the free improvs spin and dance. B+(**)

Curlew: 1st Album/Live at CBGB (1980-81 [2008], DMG/ARC, 2CD): NYC group, founded in 1979 by saxophonist George Cartwright, with Tom Cora (cello, indingiti), Nicky Skopelitis (guitar), Bill Laswell (Fender bass), and Bill Bacon (drums), who gives way to Denardo Coleman for the CBGB disc. Cartwright plays alto, tenor, and soprano (listed in that order). The group has gone on to record 6-8 more albums, mostly on Cuneiform. AMG styles them as: experimental rock, experimental, avant-prog, avant-garde, modern creative, jazz-rock, avant-garde jazz. I don't hear anything particularly rock-ish, but haven't heard their later albums. The more obvious reference is Ornette, who had started working with electric guitar a bit earlier, but when my wife walked in on this, she speculated that it was Anthony Braxton -- her general-purpose definition for ugly sax, but not inappropriate here. Will look into this further. [B+(***)]

Curlew: 1st Album/Live at CBGB 1980 (1980-81 [2008], DMG/ARC, 2CD): George Cartwright's avant-fusion group in early creative ekstasis, to borrow a word guitarist Nicky Skopelitis later used to name his own group, pairing a debut album plus bonus tracks with a live shot with Denardo Coleman commandeering the drumkit. The rock element bounces off New York No Wave in a way that radicalizes the jazz element, so Cartwright's sax wails more tunefully than Lydia Lunch, and funk rhythms are free for the taking. A-

The Miles Davis All-Stars: Broadcast Sessions 1958-59 (1958-59 [2008], Acrobat): Ten tracks from four sessions, with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley missing one each, pianists ranging from Bill Evans to Red Garland to Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers on bass except for the cut Candido drops in on; no surprises, at least until Coltrane catches fire on the last cuts, reminiscent of Bird's Roosts. B+(**)

Peter Delano: For Dewey (1996 [2008], Sunnyside): I remember reading a Joshua Redman blindfold test a few years back where he instantly exclaimed, "gee, doesn't pop sound great." Pop, of course, was Dewey Redman, and he had one of those sounds that didn't take a son to recognize. That was my first reaction to this previously unreleased 1996 album. Redman only plays on three (of eight) cuts: they jump out of the box, setting the frame so that Delano's piano trio cuts just seem like filler. They're more than that: first-rate postbop piano, intense, intricate, innovative. Of course, there's a lot of that elsewhere, and it never manages to sound as great as Dewey Redman's tenor sax. B+(***)

Dominique Di Piazza Trio: Princess Sita (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): French bassist, primarily electric, b. 1959 in Lyon. First album, but appeared on a Gil Evans album in 1987, in John McLaughlin's trio since 1991, with Bireli Lagrene, and a few others. Trio includes Nelson Veras on guitar, Manhu Roche on drums. Di Piazza wrote 8 of 12 pieces; Roche one; the others include "Nuages." Sounds to me like the guitarist has the upper hand, with the bass woven craftily into the background, but I'm having trouble unpacking it. Veras has one album on his own. He's an attractive player. B+(*)

Jason Domnarski Trio: Notes From Underground (2007 [2008], [no label]): Don't have a label for this. Don't know whether what I have is an advance or final copy: it's in a printed sleeve, which some larger labels like Palmetto do for advances, but I doubt that a self-released one-shot would go to the trouble. Piano trio, with Domnarski on piano, John Davis on bass, Dave Mason on drums. Second album by Domnarski, who attended Skidmore College and moved to New York in 2004, and that's pretty much all I know. Seven originals plus a cover of David Bowie's "Life on Mars." Reminds me a wee bit of rockish jazz pianists like Esbjörn Svensson and Neil Cowley, but doesn't connect often enough. B [advance?]

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+(**)]

Armen Donelian Trio: Oasis (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Nice piano trio. Donalian's basic trick is to repeat a rhythm figure and play off against it -- "Sunrise, Sunset" is a good example, but not the only one here. Doesn't move far or hard from that model, which is one reason this never takes off. B+(**)

Mark Dresser/Ed Harkins/Steven Schick: House of Mirrors (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): Bassist Dresser is by far the best known of the three, but Harkins, who plays various trumpets and mellophone, is co-author of the eight pieces. Harkins has a previous album on Vinny Golia's 9 Winds label, although may far understate his experience. Schick plays "multiple percussion." Trumpet always appears somewhat muddled here, never bright or brassy. One result is that the record has little sonic presence. Knowing Dresser, that's probably not the only one. B

Echoes of Swing: 4 Jokers in the Pack (2006 [2008], Echoes of Swing): German group, mostly. Colin Dawson (from England) plays trumpet and sings two pieces -- doesn't sound like much of a voice at first, but grows on you. Chris Hopkins (born in US, but lived most of his life in Germany) plays alto sax. I've run across him previously as a stride pianist -- good time to put in a plug for his duet album with Dick Hyman, Teddy Wilson in 4 Hands, which I shorted as a very high HM -- but he's moved over to make room for pianist Bernd Lhotzky (born in Germany, listed here as D/F). The notes credit Lhotzky with his own "critically acclaimed" piano duet, with Ralph Sutton in 1997; haven't heard it, but his 2006 Arbors album, Piano Portrait, is a respectable-plus outing. The drummer is Oliver Mewes (just D). Group has been together ten years, with three previous quartet albums, plus one by an expanded Echoes of Swing Orchestra. A couple of originals fit in with the archival projects, which are rarely obvious. B+(*)

Mathias Eick: The Door (2007 [2008], ECM): Norwegian trumpet player, b. 1979, also plays guitar and vibraphone here, in a quartet with Jon Balke (piano, Fender Rhodes), Audun Erlien (electric bass, guitar), Audun Kleive (drums, percussion), plus Stian Carstensen (pedal steel guitar) on 3 of 8 cuts. First album, although he's had a lot of side credits since 2001, notably on Jacob Young's two albums. Slow, somber ambient jazz, sometimes sumptously gorgeous, but mostly just plods along, which is fine with me. Balke makes a particularly good showing. B+(**)

Harris Eisenstadt: Guewel (2008, Clean Feed): Wound up playing this four times straight -- a combination of distractions and indecisiveness that effectively constitutes a productivity breakdown. Had I not done so I would have missed much of what is here, since this record is not only not what it claims to be -- a celebration of Senegalese pop music, based on songs from Orchestra Baobab, Super Diamono, Star Number One, and others -- it also doesn't fit any other recognizable niche. The closest I can think of is amateur brass band music, played not for laughs but at least in good humor. Eisenstadt was born 1975 in Toronto; is now based in Brooklyn; plays drums; records on avant-garde labels, with several interesting albums to his credit, including a previous afropop excursion, Jalolu. As a drummer, you'd expect him to try to make more of African rhythms, but they play no real role here. He backs up four hornsmen: Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn), Nate Wooley (trumpet), Mark Taylor (french horn), and Josh Sinton (baritone sax). They poke and jab, fill and counter, nothing much that stands out as a solo. More like they're dallying around until the murky context emerges, which in time it sort of does. B+(**)

Karen Emerson: From the Depths (2007-08 [2008], Daring Kittens): Singer, first album. Has an arresting voice and interesting phrasing on bopwise material; less so on the Brazilian songs that make up nearly half of this -- presumably those recorded with Jovino Santos Neto. The problem is less that the two halves are at odds than that a handful of awkward spots gum up the works. Otherwise, she could develop into a striking vocalist. B

Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection): Always a subtle pianist, sneaking about here as bassist Scott LaFaro frequently leads and drummer Paul Motian invents his off-centric drumming; LaFaro died in a car crash ten days later, his legendary status secured this weekend, which also yielded Waltz for Debby, this record's only rival for the highpoint of Evans' career. A

Exploding Customer: At Your Service (2005-06 [2007], Ayler): Swedish group, two horns up front -- Martin Küchen on alto and tenor sax, Tomas Hallonsten on trumpet -- bass and drums in the rear -- Benjamin Quigley and Kjell Nordeson. Küchen is the effective leader, writing 6 of 7 pieces, his sax more prominent than the trumpet. Like a lot of Scandinavian groups, they play adventurous free bop with rock energy. The odd piece out, starting off with a Carla Bley arrangement of "Els Segadors," adds an infectious Latin twist, closed out by a riff ("Sin Nombre") from Hallonsten. Their previous album, Live at Tempere Jazz Happening, should have been an HM; so should this. B+(***)

Cynthia Felton: Afro Blue: The Music of Oscar Brown Jr. (2008, Felton Entertainment): Young singer, certified with: bachelor of music from Berklee, master of arts in jazz performance from New York University, doctorate in jazz studies from University of Southern California. Based in Los Angeles. First album. Long list of musicians includes Ernie Watts, Jeff Clayton, Wallace Roney, Cyrus Chestnut, Donald Brown, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Terri Lyne Carrington; also uses vibes, harp, and violin. Bookends 12 Oscar Brown Jr. songs with two short takes of "Motherless Child." I don't think the album works. It has something to do with the chemistry between singer, song, and band, but I haven't isolated just what it is. Brown was a unique case: he followed up on the basic vocalese idea but mostly aimed at writing novelty songs, which were inevitably hit-and-miss and often even when they worked didn't fit together, novelties being what they are. Perhaps the songs can't support this much seriousness. B-

Amina Figarova: Above the Clouds (2008, Munich): Pianist, b. 1966 in Baku, Soviet Union, now Azerbaijan; based in the Netherlands. Has at least nine albums since 1995, focusing more on her compositions than her piano. I figure this as postbop, probably with some "third stream" elements -- in any case, a mixed bag, with a lot of horns, some pleasant, promising arrangements. Probably deserves further research, but hasn't motivated me yet. B

Five Play: What the World Needs Now (2007 [2008], Arbors): Drummer Sherrie Maricle's small band, a quintet, contrasts with her big band, DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Both groups are all-female, more/less swing oriented. (DIVA's latest album was a Tommy Newsom tribute.) The Burt Bacharach title cut is a bit yucky but helplessly catchy. Other songs include "Slipped Disc" (Benny Goodman), "Jo-House Blues" (Toshiko Akiyoshi), "I Am Woman" (Helen Reddy). Musicians are: Jami Dauber (trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet), Janelle Reichman (tenor sax, clarinet), Tomoko Ohno (piano), Noriko Ueda (bass). The piano shines in solo spaces, the rhythm section swings, and the horns take some chances. B+(*)

Carlos Franzetti: Film Noir (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Argentine pianist, arranger, composer, b. 1948, moved to Mexico in 1970, US in 1974, now based in New Jersey. More than a dozen albums since 1995, with classical music and soundtracks outnumbering jazz titles. Looks like Franzetti only wrote one piece here: "Tango Fatal." The others are fairly obvious, ranging from "Body Heat" to "A Place in the Sun" to "Alfie." Andy Fusco gets a "featuring" credit, bringing his alto sax front and center. Piano-bass-drums are also credited, but the bulk of the sound belongs to the City of Prague Philharmonic, whose cheap, lush strings are a plague on the jazz world. As these things go, super-romantic, lustrous even. Gag me. C

Erik Friedlander/Mike Sarin/Trevor Dunn: Broken Arm Trio (2008, Skipstone): All compositions by cellist Friedlander, so file it there. Dunn plays bass, Sarin drums. The cello is mostly plucked, more string band than chamber group. Light, loose, seductive music. Not sure how deep, but could grow on me even more. [B+(***)]

Bill Frisell/Ron Carter/Paul Motian (2005 [2006], Nonesuch): I was coming to think that Frisell was avoiding me when I finally found the right contact and got not just his new album but some back catalog. I'm never quite sure what I think of Carter. Bass is an instrument you miss when it's not there, but rarely listen to when it is. Carter's rep was established by association with Miles Davis, but has been reinforced only erratically since then. I've run across records where is sounds wonderful, and others where it could have been anybody. He's in between here. Motian is less distinctive than usual, but I have no doubts as to his import here. His skill at shifting a piano trio into slightly eccentric orbits is unmatched, so you can figure he's a big part of the reason the leader's guitar never slips into cliché. Ten songs: two Frisell originals, one from Motian, one Carter co-write with Davis, two Monks, four Americana standards -- one from Broadway, the others country. Haven't sorted them all, but the last four are marvelous -- even the overdone, overly obvious "You Are My Sunshine." [B+(***)]

Bill Frisell: East West (2003-04 [2005], Nonesuch, 2CD): Two live trio sets: one from the Village Vanguard (New York) in December, 2003 with Tony Scherr (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums); the other from Yoshi's (Oakland, CA) in May, 2004, with Wollesen again and Viktor Krauss (bass). West mixes three Frisell originals looped around strong rhythmic figures with three sly covers -- "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Shenandoah," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" -- for about as fine a demonstration of Frisell's schtick as I've heard. East is more diverse, a bit more obscure, and a little shakier, but again the familiar tunes rendered as minimalist abstractions win out. A-

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Summer Suite (2007 [2008], Libra): A model of composing and arranging for a group of staunch individualists, a big band that stands on par with Count Basie's late-1930s juggernaut: Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby on tenor sax; Oscar Noriega and Briggan Krauss on alto; Andy Laster on barritone; Natsuki Tamura, Herb Robertson, Steven Bernstein, and Dave Ballou on trumpet; Curtis Hasselbring, Joey Sellers, and Joe Fielder on trombone; Stomu Takeishi on bass, Aaron Alexander on drums. Fujii plays piano but is relatively inconspicuous. Strong solo spots, the tenor saxophonists of course, but also one or more of the trombonists stand out. Spans the whole gamut of the genre: loud, quiet, sweet, sour; pretty good beat, too. The first top-ten record of 2008 I got to after filling out my ballot. Didn't take any longer last year either. A-

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya: Sanrei (2008, Bamako): To push the Basie comparisons further, this is one of four territory bands led by Fujii, with Tokyo and Kobe back in Japan, and New York over here. A while back she released sets simultaneously from all four, and the Nagoya group was hands down the winner. They remain an impressive group here, loud and brassy, with no piano -- Fujii is just listed as conductor. The pieces are more distributed, with two by Natsuki Tamura, and two by guitarist Yasuhiro Usui, who seems likely to be Nagoya's secret ingredient. Starts off fusiony, blasts through a lot of sci-fi space. Exhilariating much of the time, but various minor bits I find annoying -- vocal blurts, occasional squawkfests, a bit wearing. B+(**)

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do: Heat Wave (2008, Not Two): A possible problem with recording so often is that so full of your typical moves seems somewhat ordinary. Fujii is dramatic as usual; Natsuki Tamura is a little on the rough side, so he almost matches her for once. Quartet includes Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass, Akira Horikoshi on drums. Unlike previous all-Japanese quartets, they show no special fondness for rock rhythms, so this is kept roughly free. Don't have a lot of details to go on, not least because the gray-on-black print is illegible. Much of this would be very impressive in a blindfold context, but I can point to other albums equal or better. B+(**)

Renaud Garcia-Fons Trio: Arcoluz (2005 [2008], Enja/Justin Time, CD+DVD): French bassist, b. 1962, uses an unusual 5-string double bass, has a technique of tapping strings with the bow. The fifth string gives him something like cello range. Trio includes Kiko Ruiz on "flamenco guitar" and Negrito Transante on drums/percussion. Music draws on flamenco, and reminded me more than a bit of tango. Garcia-Fons has six albums on Enja, at least two picked up by Justin Time. DVD adds visuals to the same concert. I played it but didn't watch much. B+(**)

Kenny Garrett: Sketches of MD (2008, Mack Avenue): "MD" would be Miles Davis. Garrett played with Davis at the end of his run, 1987-92, so there's a connection, one that favors persistent funk rhythms over ye olde school hard bop. However, the album subtitle reveals more: "Live at the Iridium featuring Pharoah Sanders." The live gig is an excuse for stretching it out and keeping it loose, with five vamp pieces ranging from 9:21 to 14:34. But the real thing going on here is Pharoah Sanders: at age 68, why on earth doesn't he record more? One the lions of the 1960s avant-garde, his stringy sound instantly recognizable from his first record to the present -- a direct link to Coltrane, but always distinct, a vibe both brighter and earthier. First cut is something called "The Ring," a minimal but irresistible rhythm vamp which Sanders turns into distilled essence of "A Love Supreme." I'm less clear on Garrett's role in all of this. Coltrane's always been his north star, so I guess Sanders is a natural interest. But after his Beyond the Wall dud, this is a complete, delightful surprise. A- [advance]

Mike Garson: Conversations With My Family (2006 [2008], Resonance, CD+DVD): No recording date for the CD, but the DVD was shot May 7, 2006. Presumably there's some relationship, but once again I didn't bother with the DVD. Garson rings a bell. At the time I first heard it, I thought his piano solo in David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" was one of the most magnificent things I had ever heard. Other than that I hadn't noticed him much. Turns out that before Bowie he started out with Annette Peacock. He has a dozen or so albums, starting with 1979's Avant Garson. This has a lot of quasi-classical flourishes, especially when accented by Christian Howes' violin -- three cuts, but I could have sworn there were more strings. Claudio Roditti plays trumpet and/or flugelhorn on two cuts; Lori Bell flute on one; Andreas Öberg adds guitar on two. The titles are connected with short interludes, another classical-ish touch. And the piano is rich and florid -- not something I tend to like, but here I rather do. B+(*)

Stephen Gauci's Stockholm Conference: Live at Glenn Miller Café (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1966, based in Brooklyn, plays free, has a few records out, has yet to establish himself as a distinctive leader but usually gives a solid team performance. Two quartet sets here, both with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Fredrik Rundqvist on drums; the first adds Mats Äleklint's trombone, the second Magnus Broo's trumpet. The trombone actually has a little more hop to it. 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+(***)]

Lafayette Gilchrist: Soul Progressin' (2008, Hyena): Pianist, based in Baltimore, has played in David Murray groups. This is his fourth album, the second with a horn-heavy octet he calls the New Volcanoes. He keeps a regular beat here, as if he's trying to pass this off as a funk album, but it's more angular, with bits of dissonance, sometimes a straying horn. I don't recognize anyone in the band, and none really stand out -- it's easy to imagine someone like Murray in this mix, which would kick this up to the level of a nastier Shakill's Warrior. But even with ordinary horns, this kicks like he's finally onto something. B+(***)

Gilfema: Gilfema + 2 (2008, ObliqSound): Benin native Lionel Loueke sets the tone and style here, mostly because he sings as well as plays guitar, which far outweighs Ferenc Nemeth's drums and Massimo Biolcati's bass, even though the latter write equal shares of the music. Loueke straddles jazz and Afropop without really seeming to belong to either, but he does have a distinctive sweet-and-slick guitar sound and some real talent. The "+2" help, too: Anat Cohen on clarinet, and John Ellis on bass clarinet -- best thing here is when they pick up a groove and run with it. B+(**)

Marshall Gilkes: Lost Words (2007 [2008], Alternate Side): Trombonist, b. 1978 in Maryland, father was "a musician in the Air Force" -- reminds me of the Robert Sherrill book, Military Justice Is to Justice as Military Music Is to Music -- based in Brooklyn; studied with Conrad Herwig and Wycliffe Gordon; plays with Maria Schneider and David Berger. Second album; wrote all the pieces. Quinet with Michael Rodriguez on trumpet/flugelhorn, Jon Cowherd on piano. Postbop, little bit of everything here, sounding promising then wandering off into something else, also sounding promising. B+(*)

Dizzy Gillespie Big Band: Showtime at the Spotlite (1946 [2008], Uptown, 2CD): Diz came up in big bands and preferred them well into the 1950s, but this is mostly a historical curiosity, predating his Latin binge with Chano Pozo, with raw audio roughing up sometimes spectacular solos. Band members include Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Kenny Clarke. Sarah Vaughan drops in for a cameo. Second disc tails off at 37:04. B

The Joe Gilman Trio: View So Tender: Wonder Revisited Volume Two (2004 [2007], Capri): Pianist, b. 1962, based in Sacramento, where he founded the Capital Jazz Project. Cut two volumes earlier of Dave Brubeck tunes, following that up here with Stevie Wonder. (Haven't heard Volume One, or the Brubecks.) Nice set of postbop piano jazz, only rarely dwelling on Wonder's themes, although I doubt that this would be anywhere near as melodic without Wonder's starting point. B+(**)

Marcus Goldhaber: Take Me Anywhere (2007 [2008], Fallen Apple): Vocalist, b. 1978, "a suburban kid in Buffalo, NY"; second album. Has a high, thin voice much like Theo Bleckmann's, but tastes less esoteric, fancying himself as a crooner, with Chet Baker to fall back on -- compare "I Fall in Love Too Easily," which he sings better than Baker, without making the difference matter. Backed by the Jon Davis Trio -- Davis on piano -- with Hendrik Meurkens providing a guest harmonica spot. Long: 17 cuts, 75:11. I can imagine some people falling in love with it, but I can't imagine me ever giving it the time. B

Brad Goode: Polytonal Dance Party (2008, Origin): Trumpet player, b. 1963, from Chicago, lists Cat Anderson among his teachers; currently teaches in Colorado. Seventh album since Shock of the New in 1988 -- haven't heard his debut, but what I have heard suggests more of a postbop/hardbop player. This quintet is a bit of a change, with some electronics, the emphasis on groove. Bill Kopper plays guitar/sitar, Jeff Jenkins piano and other keyboards. Better realized than, say, Nicholas Payton's or Wallace Roney's jazztronica dabblings, partly because it's less ambitious. B+(*)

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band: Act Your Age (2008, Immergent, CD+DVD): Big band, fifth album since 2001. Goodwin was born in 1955; plays piano, saxophone (tenor and alto here). He came up through Louie Bellson's big band. He wrote about half of the material here; arranged the rest. Band numbers eighteen, plus some guests, including a sample from Art Tatum. Fast and slick, packs a punch without looming heavy. Don't know about the DVD: don't even know if I can access the "5.1 surround sound versions of all 12 tracks with detailed on-screen liner notes." [B+(**)]

Marco Granados: Music of Venezuela (2008, Soundbrush): Venezuelan flautist, fronting a group with cuatro, bass, and maracas, with occasional guests -- two tracks with Francisco Flores on trumpet raise the bar. Lively, bouncy stuff, played at bebop speeds -- reminds me of Sam Most more than of any Latins who come to mind, lighter and more bubbly than Dave Valentin. I like it about as much as I could imagine liking it. B

Al Green: Lay It Down (2008, Blue Note): That he always sounds so great turns out to be a handicap: it's such a given that no matter how good his new records sound they'll never measure up to the old great ones that it's easy to set them aside. Streamed this first from Rhapsody, liked it, but hedged my bets. Since I got a copy, I've played it maybe ten times. The songs hold up, notably without any contribution from Jesus; the guests don't intrude, and the singer is magnificent. Not Call Me or I'm Still in Love With You or The Belle Album, of course, but I've enjoyed this as much as anything recent, and have yet to feel any need to go back. A-

Danny Green: With You in Mind (2008 [2009], Alante): Pianist, from San Diego, studied at UCSD. First album. Has an interest in Brazil, including studies with Jovino Santos Neto. Hype sheet says "File under Jazz, Latin Jazz, Brazilian," but this doesn't sound particularly Latin or Brazilian to me -- perhaps a little more consistently grooveful than most postbop. Green plays some Rhodes and melodica as well as piano. Much of this is trio, but there's extra percussion by Allan Phillips and soprano sax by Tripp Sprague. B+(*) [Jan. 6]

Charlie Haden Family & Friends: Rambling Boy (2008, Decca): Born 1937 in Shenandoah, IA, into a musical family which played country and folk music on local radio stations, Haden picked up the bass, played a bit with Hampton Hawes and Art Pepper, then not much more than 20 found himself in the Ornette Coleman Quartet, and the rest, as they say, is history. This is a memoir, and a showcase for his own musical family, a bunch of folk/country songs with too many vocalists and a very steady bassist. One cut is from the scrapbook, billed as "feat. 2-yr-old Cowboy Charlie," juvenilia for sure, but you have to cut him some slack for the yodel, and the back cover photo is beyond cute. Several more cuts feat. his three daughters, billed as the Haden Triplets -- the opening "Single Girl, Married Girl" is the album's choice cut. They could carry their own album, which can't be said for the two male voices in the Haden family. The Friends are hit and miss, with Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Elvis Costello, and Ricky Skaggs doing about what you'd expect, and Jack Black doing a bit better than I expected. Still, the other choice cut here is the one instrumental, feat. Pat Metheny, a lament on Hurricane Katrina called "Is This America?" needing no lyrics. B+(**)

Doug Hamilton: Jazz Band (2007 [2008], OA2): Toronto big band, together since 1993. Hamilton is a trombonist, but doesn't play in the band. Didn't find much on him: common name, lots of false leads. Hamilton and Mark Taylor produced. Taylor's background is "ex-U.S. Army chief arranger for the Army Blues." Ten members: three reeds, three brass, guitar, piano, bass, two drummers. Drummer Steve Fidyk is the only one I recognize. Jim Roberts' guitar stands out in the mix. Nice, professional job. B

Scott Hamilton & Friends: Across the Tracks (2008, Concord): Sampled this one earlier on Rhapsody. Hamilton has long been a personal favorite: the original swing-oriented "young fogey" from the 1970s, now pushing senior citizen status, with a marvelously light but tasty tone to his tenor sax. This is an organ group, with Gene Ludwig on B-3, Duke Robillard on guitar, and Chuck Riggs on drums. Fairly routine stuff, but it gets better when they slow down to little more than Hamilton's sax. B+(**)

Lionel Hampton Orchestra: Mustermesse Basel 1953 Part 2 (1953 [2008], TCB): Another Swiss radio shot, with the vibraphonist's big band -- names include Art Farmer, Clifford Brown, Jimmy Cleveland, Gigi Gryce, and Quincy Jones -- doing their usual "Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop": "Setting the Pace," "Flying Home," "Drinking Wine," always "On the Sunny Side of the Street." 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-]

Brian Harnetty: American Winter (2007, Atavistic): Bits of radio news and advertisements, story, song, a little fiddle, from decades including WWII -- the ceremony launching the draft lottery is a centerpiece, matched with a snip of Arthur Godfrey singing "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" -- provide the human center for Harnetty's electronic soundtrack. Neither the music nor the samples are all that remarkable, but they merge into something deeply haunting. Seems like a highly repeatable formula, and Harnetty's discography lists 17 items since 2003, but this is the only one I've heard; for now that makes it unique. A-

Billy Harper: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 2 (2006 [2009], Talking House): Gospel-tinged tenor saxophonist, cut an album back in 1975 that inspired the great Italian label Black Saint. Hasn't recorded much lately -- mostly I've noticed him popping up in various big bands. Has a thickly muscled tone, a lot of depth and resonance and, well, soul -- few saxophonists are as easy to pick out in a blindfold test. First two tracks feature Amiri Baraka spoken word pieces. Only non-original is "Amazing Grace." Haven't managed to listen straight through yet, and there's plenty of time before the delayed official release date. But it sure is great to hear Harper again, especially when he really opens up. [B+(***)] [Feb. 17]

Gene Harris Quartet: Live in London (1996 [2008], Resonance): A popular pianist in the Oscar Peterson mode with an occasional nod to Erroll Garner, not as well known in large part because he spent most of his career recording first as the Three Sounds, then in bassist Ray Brown's trio. Jim Mullen's sinuous guitar enlarges this from trio to quartet. Standards like "Blue Monk" and "In a Mellow Tone" stretch out past ten minutes because they're enjoying themselves. B+(***)

Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid: NYC (2008, Domino): Hebden is a laptop patch musician, best known for his records as FourTet. Reid is a storied drummer -- early credits include Martha and the Vandellas, James Brown, and Fela Kuti -- who cut a couple of notable avant-garde albums in the 1970s, then largely vanished until a couple of years ago. His latest record, Daxaar, is overdue for recognition in my Jazz CG A-list. The pair have two previous records, listed under Reid's name. This is an advance, so things may change, but right now it looks like Hebden's name comes out first. He has an uncanny knack for synth tunes, and the pieces here would be worth listening to even without Reid's drumming, but they feel more complete with it. [B+(***)] [advance, Nov. 18]

Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid: NYC (2008, Domino): More laptop-centric, more of a lead instrument in any case, the previous albums credited to Reid first, perhaps in deference to the elder collaborator, maybe because at first this seemed like a sidebar to Hebden's Four Tet brand. They now have five records together, which is most of Hebden's output over the last 3 years. Doesn't swing a bit, which may be its shortcoming for jazz ears. Seems to me like one of the things to come, although not the most impressive of examples. B+(**)

Dan Heck: Compositionality (2007 [2008], Origin): Guitarist, graduated from Berklee, was in Seattle for a while with a band called Bebop & Destruction; now based in South Florida. First album, calling out trumpeter Thomas Marriott for a featuring role. Nice, tasty postbop, with the guitar rolling gently off the trumpet leads. B+(*)

Todd Herbert: The Tree of Life (2007 [2008], Metropolitan): Tenor saxophonist, Flash-only website and not much else, so I'm short on background. Mainstream player -- label website says he "takes John Coltrane as a point of departure" but he sounds more like Dexter Gordon to me. Leads a quartet with Anthony Wonsey (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), Jason Brown (drums) -- Wonsey gets a lot of space and makes good use of it. First album was pretty good, and this one is better. B+(**)

The Here & Now: Break of Day (2007 [2008], OA2): Quintet, with Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet), Ben Roseth (sax), Drew Pierson (piano), David Dawda (bass), Sean Hutchinson (drums). I gather they grew up together in Seattle but are now based in New York. First album. All but Pierson contribute songs. Figure them for postbop -- neither retro hard bop nor avant-garde, but somewhere near the cutting of jazz convention. B+(*)

Michael Higgins: The Moon and the Lady Dancing (2007 [2009], Michael Higgins Music): Guitarist. Cites Joe Pass, Joe Diorio, Barney Kessel, and others as influences. Second album, a trio with bassist Jay Anderson and Adam Nussbaum. Very pleasant record. B+(*) [Jan. 1]

Warren Hill: La Dolce Vita (2008, Koch): Pop jazz saxophonist, plays alto mostly, also soprano. Has ten or so albums since 1991. Plays alto with some authority. Hill also programs drum lines, plays some keyboards, and sings two cuts. The vocals are a waste, and the grooves are standard issue, bright and bouncy. 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+(**)]

Dave Holland Sextet: Pass It On (2007 [2008], Dare2/Emarcy): One of the great bass players of the last 30-40 years. Started in the avant-garde; emerged around the turn of the century as the hands-down winner of mainstream polls like Downbeat's -- I guess we can credit ECM for taming him. State of the art postbop, synthesizing most of jazz history into an aggregate stew that neither offers anything startlingly new or tastefully old. Holland's recent quintets have had a remarkable balance of forces, with trombone (Robin Eubanks) and vibes (Steve Nelson) prominent, and no less saxophonist than Chris Potter. Eubanks looms large here, but Antonio Hart and Alex Sipiagin aren't in Potter's class; Junior Mance does a solid job on piano, but he's less distinctive than Nelson. Not a bad record; just not a very interesing one. B+(*)

Shirley Horn: Live at the 1994 Monterey Jazz Festival (1994 [2008], MJF): Very cost-effective: a singer with such voice and poise a piano trio suits her best, plus she plays a pretty mean piano; just turned 60, at the peak of her fame coming off a series of well-regarded albums on Verve, she nails her whole range here -- "The Look of Love," "A Song for You," "I've Got the World on a String," "Hard Hearted Hannah." 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-]

Maurice Horsthuis: Elastic Jargon (2007 [2008], Data): Roughly speaking, a double string quartet plus bass and guitar -- more precisely, plus an extra cello as well. Horsthuis plays viola. He dwells somewhere on the border between jazz and classical, working on occasion with the ICP Orchestra as well as running the Amsterdam String Quartet. This sounds more like classical to me, except that it is almost all interesting, with some brilliant stretches, and nothing that triggers my wretch instinct. B+(***)

Toninho Horta: To Jobim With Love (2008, Resonance): Banner across the bottom identifies this as belonging to an "Heirloom Series." No recording date, but it's pitched as a 50th anniversary celebration of bossa nova -- seems likely to be new. Horta plays guitar and sings -- make that, plays guitar much better than he sings. He takes nine songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, adds three of his own, plus a stray by Paulo Horta and Donato Donatti, and gives them what must pass among the nouveaux riches as the luxury treatment. The results are very mixed: wonderful, awful, permutations thereof. The band is ridiculously large, with some prominent yanks -- Dave Kikoski (piano), Bob Mintzer (tenor sax), Gary Peacock (acoustic bass), John Clark (French horn), Charles Pillow (oboe) -- mixed in with comparable Brazilians like Paulo Braga and Manolo Badrena and bunches of folks I've never heard of, many surnamed Horta -- the five flutes give you an idea. Then there's the 22-piece string section, a surefire recipe for seasickness. And the backing vocals, another dozen. Gal Costa even drops in for three cuts. Still, it can be very nice when they keep it simple, especially when the tune is as irresistible as "Desafinado." B-

Hot Club de Norvège: Django Music (2007 [2008], Hot Club): Norwegian quartet, patterned on Django Reinhardt's Hot Club de Paris, with Jon Larsen on and Per Frydenlund on guitar, Finn Hauge on violin and harmonica, Svein Aarbostad on bass. Group formed in 1979 with Larsen and Aarbostad; Hauge joined in 1985. Don't know how many records -- a dozen or more -- or what they sound like. This is fairly genteel, rather sweet string music, with three trad pieces, four from Reinhardt, a couple of originals, "Coquette," and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Hauge sings "I Can't Give You (Anything but Love)" to open. B+(*)

Christian Howes: Heartfelt (2008, Resonance): Violinist, b. 1972, Columbus, OH; now based in New York. Fourth album since 1997. Small print notes: featuring Roger Kellaway. Stick describes this as "beautiful, romantic jazz," and that does seem to be what he's aiming for. When he adds viola things can get icky, as on the first two cuts. Elsewhere he shows a Grappelli influence, and pianist Kellaway earns his keep. Bennie Goodman's "Opus Half" is relatively choice. 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]

Charlie Hunter: Baboon Strength (2008, Spire Artist Media): Trio, with Hunter on his familiar 7-string guitar, Erik Deutsch on organ and Casio Tone, and Tony Mason on drums. Fairly pleasant grooves, and not much more. B

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+(***)]

Aaron Irwin: Blood and Thunder (2008, Fresh Sound New Talent): Alto saxophonist, has a previous FSNT album. This is a sextet, with Chris Cheek on tenor sax, Ben Monder on guitar, and Eliza Cho on violin. Postbop, almost orchestral, with the two saxes complementing each other nicely -- long, intricate stretches come off as quite lovely. 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+(***)]

Anne Mette Iversen: Best of the West + Many Places (2006-07 [2008], Bju'ecords, 2CD): Bassist-composer, expansive set of postbop chamber jazz, rounded out with a string quartet on the first disc. Not bad as such things go. Second disc is just quartet, which gives saxophonist John Ellis more elbow room. B+(**)

Javon Jackson: Once Upon a Melody (2008, Palmetto): Once a hard bop contender, lately a lamely confused funkateer, this splits the difference amiably enough that it's hard to get upset. "My One and Only Love" is downright lovely. "The In Crowd" isn't nearly out enough. The originals aren't as catchy as the covers, for better or worse. B [advance]

Ahmad Jamal: It's Magic (2007 [2008], Dreyfus): A relatively major pianist who's largely escaped my attention -- I've only heard three previous albums, two from the 1950s. Nearly missed this one too, but when the publicist sent me mail bragging about his Grammy nomination, I figured I might as well ask. Piano trio plus extra percussion from Manolo Badrena. When the latter kicks in it's pretty irresistible. Not fully convinced by the slow/solo stuff, at least yet. Could move up. [B+(***)]

Willi Johanns: Scattin' (1987-2002 [2008], TCB): Singer, from Germany I take it, age 74 at some point in the liner notes; second album, following one in 1960 called A Salute to Birdland. Two sessions: an old one recorded in Italy in 1987 with Dusko Goykovich's Bebop City band -- five cuts at the end of the album; a more recent one with the RTS Big Band Radio Belgrade, a group that also featuring Goykovich on trumpet. "Satin Doll" and "Exactly Like You" show up in both sets. Title cut was written by Johanns and features a lot of scat. I find scat merely agreeable when done by someone exceptionally good at it, like Ella Fitzgerald; to be likable it needs to be done by someone with natural comic flair, like Louis Armstrong, Leo Watson, and Slim Gaillard -- the only names that come to mind. Johanns is a cut below both, but he's a very likable standards singer, and the bands -- especially the Belgrade big band -- swing hard and are sharp as tacks. B+(**)

Jeff Johnson: Tall Stranger (2002 [2008], Origin): Google shows up many Jeff Johnsons; AMG lists 14. This one is a mainstay of the Seattle jazz scene, playing bass, with four albums since 1999, several dozen side credits, especially with pianists Jessica Williams and Hal Galper. This is a trio, with Hans Teuber (tenor sax, bass clarinet) and Billy Mintz (drums). Slow pieces, strongly shaped by the bass, with Teuber's reeds following the same contours. Somewhat abstract, very seductive, rewards attention. [B+(***)]

Bujo Kevin Jones & Tenth World: Live! (2004 [2008], Motéma): Jones plays congas, djembe, percussion. Has one previous album, called Tenth World. Group includes Brian Horton (tenor sax), Kevin Louis (trumpet), Kelvin Sholar (piano), Joshua David (electric bass), and Jaimeo Brown (drums). Happy groove record with some Latin threads and occasionally unruly horns. Ends with "Watermelon Man," which is almost too easy. 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]

Sheila Jordan: Winter Sunshine (2008, Justin Time): Another live album -- 2005's Celebration was a 75th birthday party, and a pick hit in these parts -- but she must figure that at 79 she should get a jump on her 80th. More power to her, I say. She got a late start: born 1928, putting her just two years younger than June Christy, one year older than Chris Connor, both all but done before Jordan put her second album out in 1977 (after her now legendary debut in 1962). Some redundancies: yet another "Dat Dere," a song she's long dedicated to her now-52-year-old daughter, and the usual closing "The Crossing" and "Sheila's Blues" -- old war stories about chasing Bird. The piano trio this time accentuates the bebop, which is less interesting than her bass-only sessions. Still the fan, including a "Lady Be Good" where she wishes she could scat like Ella, oblivious to the fact that a generation or two of jazz singers have grown up hoping to scat like Sheila Jordan. B+(**)

Justin Time Records 25th Anniversary Collection (1986-2007 [2008], Justin Time, 2CD): Canadian jazz label, with some folk, blues, and world overtones. Got into the business in 1983 with pianist Oliver Jones; has a long list of jazz singers, including the discovery of Diana Krall, and steady work by Jeri Brown and Susie Arioli; scored their biggest coup in landing David Murray in 1996, who led them to Billy Bang, D.D. Jackson, and Hugh Ragin. Sidelines not documented here include their Just A Memory archival series and reissues from Enja's catalog. All this adds up to an eclectic sampler, with high points from great albums and filler from weaker ones, unnecessary except to draw attention to a label that's long been worth following. B

Ron Kalina and Jim Self: The Odd Couple (2006-07 [2008], Basset Hound): Kalina plays chromatic harmonica. Doesn't seem to have much of a discography or history, but he looks rather gray. Self plays tuba. He's been around a long time, with credits going back to 1976 and seven or more albums since 1992. The group is rounded out capably by Larry Koonse (guitar), Tom Warrington (bass), and Joe La Barbera (drums). They play a couple of originals, some standards, two Charlie Parker tunes, the Neal Hefti-composed title TV theme. They make an odd buzz, and swing a little. B+(*)

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+(***)]

Kassaba: Dark Eye (2007, CDBaby): Cleveland group, sax-piano-bass-percussion, with two pianists and no full time percussionist -- just a collection of "25 exotic percussion instruments" that everyone, especially the odd pianist out, takes part in. They claim inspiration from jazz, classical, and world; classical shows up mostly in the piano, world in the percussion, perhaps a bit too obviously, but it comes together in the dark, complex, highly flavored groove pieces. B+(**)

Darrell Katz/Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra: The Same Thing (2006 [2008], Cadence Jazz): Katz is a composer/arranger -- no performance credits here. He's directed the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra since 1985, through six albums plus three under his own name. He seems to be based in Boston. Don't know much more. JCAO is a large, ungainly group, leaning avant-garde. Three of Katz's five pieces here are built around texts by Paula Tatarunis, with more/less political overtones. They are sung/recited by Rebecca Shrimpton, in one of those annoying operatic soprano voices, although the words are consistently interesting, and the music does something for them. The sixth piece is the Willie Dixon blues, "The Same Thing," sung by Mike Finnigan. It's one of those standard pop pieces that take on new life when avant-gardists keep the 4/4 and twist everything else. Not a record I'd feel like playing often, but there's a lot in it. B+(**)

Roger Kellaway: Live at the Jazz Standard (2006 [2008], IPO, 2CD): Veteran pianist, b. 1939, introduced himself in the early 1960s, has recorded not all that frequently over the following 40 years. I'm way down on the learning curve on him: seems like a subtle, clever player, hard to pin down as anything more specific than postbop. Has mostly recorded in small configurations -- trios, duos, solo -- and I find him most effective here when it's just him and bassist Jay Leonhart. The three other players here come and go. Russell Malone plays some tasty guitar solos, but they seem to be on a different level. Stefon Harris plays vibes. I've never found him enjoyable or interesting, and this keeps his streak intact. And I have no idea what to make of Borislav Strulev's cello. Doesn't help that the album is so reserved you have to reach hard to hear it all. Or that there's no drummer. Or that it's a double. 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+(**)]

Grace Kelly/Lee Konitz: GraceFulLee (2008, Pazz Productions): Two alto saxophonists, one 15 years old, the other 80. Konitz plays on 7 cuts, 6 with a really superb band -- Russell Malone on guitar, Rufus Reid on bass, Matt Wilson - drums -- and one a duo with Kelly. Kelly, née Chung, plays on all 10, including duos with Malone, Reid, and Wilson. The duos give you a chance to sort out the saxes. Kelly plays carefully -- the duos are all on the slow side, even those billed as free improvs -- but she does have a lovely tone and plots her way through difficult pieces smartly. The 6 band pieces are cool and comfortable, the group enjoying themselves, everyone playing delightfullee. B+(***)

Ruslan Khain: For Medicinal Purposes Only! (2008, Smalls): Bassist, from Leningrad (booklet says St. Petersburg), Russia, b. 1972, in New York since 1999. Hard bop quintet -- could have been cut by Hank Mobley (actually, Chris Byars) or Lee Morgan (Yoshi Okazaki) in the 1960s. Maybe a little looser, a bit less hard (by which I don't mean soft; more like less rigid). Richard Clements is on piano; Phil Stewart on drums. B+(***)

Rebecca Kilgore/Dave Frishberg: Why Fight the Feeling? The Songs of Frank Loesser (2007 [2008], Arbors): Kilgore is the singer here; Frishberg accompanies on piano, but doesn't sing. Kilgore b. 1948 in Waltham, MA; moved to Portland, OR, where c. 1980 she started a career in swing standards. Has more than a dozen albums, plus dozens of side appearances, especially with John Sheridan's Dream Band. She recently sang Loesser on Harry Allen's Guys and Dolls. Nice voice, nothing idiosyncratic or forced, the sort of singer you can always enjoy, even with minimal accompaniment, such as here. B+(**)

Barbara King: Perfect Timing (2008, CCC Music Group): Vocalist, from Brooklyn, voice described as "Sarah Vaughan-like," which gives you the general idea: deep, dusky, but despite the title, she doesn't quite have the moves down pat. No recording date(s), with a lot of musicians shuffling in and out, not making much difference. Song selection is an issue. She manages to make something out of "Let It Be," but "Forever Young" is beyond redemption. B

Oleg Kireyev/Feng Shui Jazz Project: Mandala (2004 [2008], Jazzheads): Kireyev is a Russian saxophonist (tenor, soprano), from Bashkiria, which I take to be in the southern Urals ("near the European/Asian border"). Is interested in Bashkiri folk music, other Asian musics and culture (including the Feng Shui worked into the group name), and jazz, of course, which he played in Poland in the 1990s. Nowadays you're most likely to find him in Moscow. He has 8 albums since 1989, on Russian and Polish labels until this one got picked up. Group includes Russians on guitar, bass, and drums, plus Senegalese conga player Ndiaga Sambe ("joined the band in 2001"). He also plays a bit of keyboards and does a bit of throat singing. One song starts with the figure from "Message in a Bottle" and works it progressively into an Asian idiom, playing at Coltrane as his most oriental. Has a beat, especially when the guitar runs things. [A-]

Oleg Kireyev/Feng Shui Jazz Project: Mandala (2008, Jazzheads): Born in Bakshiria, perched in the Urals on the ancient seam between Europe and Asia, saxophonist Kireyev's group plays delicately balanced east-west grooves, with a bit of throat singing, a lot of sinuous guitar, a Senegalese conga player, and inspiration from Coltrane. A-

The Klez Dispensers: Say You'll Understand (2008, TKD): Klezmer group, natch; second album, following 2004's New Jersey Freylekhs. I first ran across them on the resume of alto saxophonist Alex Kontorovich, whose Deep Minor showed up in a recent Jazz CG. He mostly plays clarinet here, doesn't appear to be a central figure -- like pianist Adrian Banner, with most of the "Arr." credits, or vocalist Susan Watts, who also plays a little trumpet -- but he's certainly an asset. They play the music for laughs, as well as for sadness. One idiosyncrasy is how they transliterate the Yiddish -- "Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn" vs. the proper German "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön" -- but it's still Yiddish, still part of an old world/new world axis that bypasses Israel. And the new world wins out in the "Ray Charleston." B+(**)

Lee Konitz and Minsarah: Deep Lee (2007 [2008], Enja): Konitz needs no introduction. He is past 80 now, still active, still playing difficult music beautifully. Minsarah is Florian Weber's piano trio, one of those groups named after their first album. Jeff Denson plays bass, Ziv Ravitz drums. Mostly Weber pieces, except for the title cut. Was too busy to do anything more than enjoy the record. Will return to it. [B+(***)]

Lee Konitz and Minsarah: Deep Lee (2007 [2008], Enja): Past 80, Konitz continues to play difficult music with delicate beauty. Florian Weber's piano trio, operating under the name of a past album, stands up well enough on their own. The combination doesn't combust in great bursts of energy, so much as they fall back in mutual admiration. B+(**)

Kopacoustic: Music From the KopaFestival 2006, Volume 1 (2006 [2007], Kopasetic): The first of two samplers from a Swedish jazz festival, held Sept. 21-22, 2006, in Malmö, sorted not strictly by acoustic vs. electric so much as by guitar volume -- all six groups have guitarists, a sure sign of the times. First up here is Krister Jonsson Trio (Jonsson, guitar; Nils Davidsen, electric bass, Peter Danemo, drums) + Svante Henryson (cello): 4 cuts, 29:08. Then Footloose (Mats Holtne, guitar; Mattias Hjorth, bass, Peter Nilsson, drums) + Lotte Anker (alto sax) & Andreas Andersson (soprano/baritone sax): 1 cut, 18:05. Finally, Cennet Jönsson Quartet (Jönsson, soprano/tenor sax; Krister Jonsson; Mattias Hjorth; Peter Nilsson) + David Liebman (soprano sax, flute). Loose, attractive free jazz, guitar-driven, with cello or light sax to soothe things out. B+(**)

Kopalectric: Music From the KopaFestival 2006, Volume 2 (2006 [2007], Kopasetic): More guitar-driven free jazz, cranked up a notch for Lim + Marc Ducret (3 cuts, 31:01) and Elektra Hyde (1 cut, 10:36), and a couple more for Anders Nilsson's Aorta (1 cut, 20:59, called "Riding the Maelström"). B+(**)

Ralph Lalama Quartet: Energy Fields (2008, Mighty Quinn): Mainstream tenor saxophonist, b. 1951, cut five albums for Criss Cross 1990-99. This is his first album in the new millennium, a quartet, with John Hart's guitar a significant complement for the sax. Mostly covers (1 original), standards and bop tunes from Parker, Shorter, and Shaw. I'm not familiar with his early work. This is beautifully done, but seems like something he could fall back on any day he wanted. B+(**) [Oct. 1]

Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage: Drunk Butterfly (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Bass, drums, alto sax/clarinet respectively. All three contribute pieces (Lane 4, Whitecage 3, Grassi 2), with the sax inevitably rising toward the top. Basically freebop, one foot in the tradition, the other lunging forward. (In her liner notes, Slim calls it "Avant Swinging Bebop," which is close enough.) [B+(***)]

Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage: Drunk Butterfly (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): The bassist gets top billing because of his knack at setting up grooves that turn free-oriented saxophonists on rather than off. He did that with Vinny Golia in Zero Degree Music; here he gets the most accessible work ever out of Whitecage. In her liner notes, Slim calls this "avant swinging bebop." That's about right. A-

Jon Larsen: The Jimmy Carl Black Story (2007 [2008], Zonic Entertainment/Hot Club, 2CD): Subtitled A Surrealistic Space Odyssey. Norwegian guitarist, key member of the Django-oriented Hot Club de Norvège, but more eclectic, with some fusion projects and who knows what else. Also paints, following Salvador Dali. This spins off from an album last year, Strange News From Mars, which had a couple of bits featuring Jimmy Carl Black -- best known as drummer in the Mothers of Invention before Frank Zappa split them up. Black does spoken word, reading Larsen's "libretto" over some minimal but loosey goosey guitar/marimba rhythms. Black starts out reminding us that he's "the Indian in the band"; later he reads a "semi-alphatetic list of canine races in cryptic German" -- you know, Amerikanisch Wienerschnifferhund, Bayerischer Gebirgsschweisshund, Mark Spitz, Grosspudel; finally he returns to Mars, meeting up with a real Martian ("And it's a big one!"), who looks "quite like Zorg in my Gary Larsson calendar" and, uh, has her way with him. Fun music, funny stuff. Second disc is just Black talking about his life: growing up in Texas with his racist stepfather; working odd jobs between stretches with odder bands -- driving a line truck in Wichita, painting houses in Austin; hanging with Janis Joplin and Ringo Starr; trying to hide drugs from Zappa; marrying a fan and settling down in Germany. Black died Nov. 1, shortly after this came out. B+(***)

Deborah Latz: Lifeline (2008, June Moon): Vocalist, has one previous release. Sings standards, a couple (not just "La Vie en Rose") in French, grabbing "Arr." credits on most of them. Backed by a good piano trio (Daniela Schächter on piano, Bob Bowen on bass, Elisabeth Keledjian on drums), blessed with "special guest" Joel Frahm's tenor sax here and there. B+(**)

Jo Lawry: I Want to Be Happy (2008, Fleurieu Music): Vocalist, from Australia, based in New York. First record, with Keith Sanz on guitar, James Shipp on vibes and marimba, Matt Clohesy on bass, Ferenc Nemeth on drums, extra piano and accordion, generally helpful. She works hard at personalizing standard songs, bending notes into odd shapes, slipping into scat. Some of my favorite songs here, struggling to peak through. I can't say that she ruins them, but the idiosyncrasies strike me as gratuitous. To pick one example, Tierney Sutton may not be a superior singer, but I much prefer her straightforward version of the title track. B-

Brad Leali-Claus Raible Quartet: D.A.'s Time (2007 [2008], TCB): Leali is an alto saxophonist, b. Denver, attended UNT, worked his way up through Count Basie's ghost band, released a big band album called Maria Juanez that was a very pleasant surprise. Raible is a pianist; not sure where from or how old, but passed through Munich and NYC on his way to his current base in Graz, Austria. He has four previous records, including a sextet with Leali. He swings, but also taps Bud Powell for a song, and wrote five more, including a pretty good jump blues closer, letting Leali wail. B+(***)

The Peggy Lee Band: New Code (2008, Drip Audio): Cellist, from Vancouver, been around long enough now you should recognize her. Group is octet, mostly Vancouver avant-gardists I recognize from elsewhere, like Brad Turner (trumpet), Jon Bentley (tenor sax), and Dylan van der Schyff (drums). Two guitars (Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson), and electric bass thicken up texture, setting off the cello and horns. Starts with a bent take on Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do." Tends toward the atmospheric after that, but complex with surprises. [B+(**)]

Tom Lellis/Toninho Horta: Tonight (2008, Adventure Music): Lellis is one of those male vocalists who always seem to annoy me, but he comes off quaint and not without charm on this slow, dainty program that breaks two-to-one sweet standards over samba fluff. He also plays piano, quaintly, and gets a credit for shaker that I'm afraid I didn't catch. Horta is a guitarist from Brazil, who sets the speed and sugar quotient, and sings some too, also managing to sound quaint. B-

The David Leonhardt Trio: Explorations (2008, Big Bang): Pianist, from Louisville, spent time in New York, based now in Easton, PA. Claims 35 years experience; has 12 self-released records out since 1991, including Jazz for Kids and an Xmas album. This is a trio with Matthew Parrish on bass, Alvester Garnett on drums. Half originals, half covers: four rock songs from the late '60s (or maybe 1970), one each from Jerome Kern and Horace Silver. The rockers, especially "Sunshine of Your Love," come off like crufty old metal, loud and clunky. The originals don't offer a lot more. B

Daniel Levin Trio: Fuhuffah (2008, Clean Feed): Cellist. Had trouble finding any biographical: his web page is Flashed, his MySpace has an empty "about" section, Google shows a lot of other Dan[iel] Levins, but AAJ came through. B. 1974, Burlington, VT; attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Mannes College of Music, New England Conservatory. Based in New Haven, CT. Has three previous albums, one on Riti, two on Hat. This is a trio with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums. The cello is clear and sharp here, free, centered, a bit limited in range, although the contrast with Flaten's bass is helpful. B+(**)

Joe Locke: Force of Four (2008, Origin): Quartet, the vibraphonist joined by Robert Rodriguez on piano, Ricardo Rodriguez on bass, and Jonathan Blake on drums. Robert Rodriguez has recorded with trumpeter Michael Rodriguez as the Rodriguez Brothers. Ricardo also seems to be a brother, but doesn't get much credit on the group's website. Three cuts add a horn: one with Thomas Marriott on trumpet, two with Wayne Escoffery on tenor sax. Neither the pianist nor the horns have much impact, but Locke continues to play remarkably. B+(*)

PS: Tom Marcello informs me that bassist Ricardo Rodriguez is not related to Robert or Michael Rodriguez, aka the Rodriguez Brothers. My source for the error was my notes on a Rodriguez Brothers album where Ricardo played bass, which don't actually make the claim, but sort of raise the question. Also, the drummer is Johnathan Blake, not Jonathan.

Ava Logan: So Many Stars (2006-07 [2008], Diva Vet Music): Standards singer, originally from DC, now based in Chicago. First album. Most female singers don't readily disclose their ages, so I'll risk a guess and say that she's in her 50s. Strong, attractive voice. Does a nice job on everything here, especially "Day In Day Out" and "Detour Ahead." Backed by piano trio plus guitar. No doubt she deserves a break, but probably won't get one. 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+(*)]

Lionel Loueke: Karibu (2007 [2008], Blue Note): Young guitarist from Benin, via Côte d'Ivoire, Paris, and Boston, developed a high profile as a sideman, and a very scattered major label debut. The occasional vocals aren't a plus. The African grooves are hard to pin down -- the attractive "Nonvignon" could be pennywhistle. Two pieces with Herbie Hancock are surprisingly abstract, especially "Light Dark," where Wayne Shorter joins in. Shorter also plays on "Naima." B+(*)

Joe Lovano: Symphonica (2005 [2008], Blue Note): You can probably figure this out by the title. If not, note that while the WDR Big Band is a crack jazz outfit which works cheap and occasionally pays dividends, the Rundfunk Orchester is a classical outfit distinguished primarily by its massed strings. The saxophonist is often magnificent, the effect heightened by the swirling sea of indistinct sounds all around him. The latter at least don't induce nausea, small comfort for symphonyphobes. B+(**) [Sept. 2]

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: Apti (2008, Innova): Born in Trieste, Italy; raised in Boulder, CO, the alto saxophonist is a bit removed to represent India in this alliance, but he sounds more native than ever, not least because a world class tabla player has got his back. That the latter's name is Dan Weiss adds yet another twist to world peacekeeping these days. The Pakistani is guitarist Rez Abassi, who fits the classical Indian grooves so tightly you suspect the Indo-Pak split was one of those arbitrary British inventions. A-

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Kinsmen (2008, Pi): Advance copy, stuck on the shelf waiting for the real thing to come around, which thus far hasn't happened. There is a tendency for Americans a generation removed from their parents' homelands to go back and find roots. That seemed rather superficial on Mahanthappa's earlier records, but the Carnatic (South Indian) synthesis here strikes me as solidly earned. They key may be the other alto saxophonist, Kadri Gopalnath, who gave enough thought to the subject to cut a record called Saxophone Indian Style. A. Kanyakumari's violin and Poovalur Sriji's mridangam (South Indian log drum) add authenticity, while Rez Abassi's guitar is close enough. Need to listen more. [B+(***)] [advance]

Tony Malaby Cello Trio: Warblepeck (2008, Songlines): Saxophonists are natural leaders, even when they don't write much, just due to the dominant nature of their instrument. Malaby is one of the few -- Eric Dolphy is the only other one who comes to mind -- who has built a sterling reputation mostly on other people's albums, so when he does release one it's something of an event. The cello here is Fred Lonberg-Holm, lately resident in the Vandermark 5. The third wheel is percussionist John Hollenbeck. This doesn't mesh as well as I'd like, the cello often more trouble than it's worth. Also hard to zone in on Lonberg-Holm's electronics, although they may be confused with Hollenbeck's panoply of percusion instruments (credits include "small kitchen appliances"). Malaby is first rate, as usual. B+(*)

Rebecca Martin: The Growing Season (2007 [2008], Sunnyside): Singer-songwriter, classified as a jazz singer based on her labels, but the thin voice, light guitar, straightforward songs, and primitive arrangements all better fit the folk genre. Band here has impeccable jazz credentials -- Kurt Rosenwinkel, Larry Grenadier, Brian Blade -- but don't really do much. B

Mauger: The Beautiful Enabler (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): I have no idea where the group name comes from. The group is an alto sax trio, led by Rudresh Mahanthappa, with Mark Dresser on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums. The latter have played much together, not least in Anthony Braxton's 1980s quartet. All three write. And while the young saxophonist shows poise in navigating this tricky material, it's worth concentrating on the mastery in the rhythm section. B+(***)

Donny McCaslin Trio: Recommended Tools (2008, Greenleaf Music): A tenor saxophonist who, it was immediately obvious, has all the tools. Still, I always managed to resist him, mostly because his fancy postbop harmonies rubbed me the wrong way. I figured he'd eventually turn out an album that simply blew away all my objections, and he still may. But for now he just ducked under them, making a stripped down trio album -- Hans Glawischnig on bass, Jonathan Blake on drums -- with a whole lot of sax appeal. It's like he's gotten over following in Chris Potter's footsteps and instead aimed for Sonny Rollins. A-

Marc McDonald: It Doesn't End Here (2007 [2008], No End in Sight): Alto saxophonist, b. 1961, London, UK; has "led groups for over 25 years in the New York/New Jersey area and such cities as Honolulu, London and Athens." First album, although he has a side credit from 1986, and a few more from 1998 on. Wrote 8 of 11 pieces, covering "Night and Day," "This Heart of Mine," and "Blue Skies." Piano-bass-drums quartet, with guitarist Steve Cardenas guesting on 5 cuts. Very mainstream. I wondered at first why he would bother, but it's clearly for the sheer beauty of the music. B+(**)

Kate McGarry: If Less Is More . . . Nothing Is Everything (2007 [2008], Palmetto): Vocalist. First album in 1992; four more since 2001, three on Palmetto since 2005. Irving Berlin song is ordinary, but she's not content with standards, so moves on to Bob Dylan, Steve Stills, Joni Mitchell, Ric Ocasek. Could have picked better on all counts, but she's too limited to work within those limits. Of course, she also does Jobim, and Djavan for good measure. And writes two originals. All of this would be merely mediocre but she brings in fellow Moss-heads Jo Lawry and Pete Eldridge, who work their usual voodoo. Got a Grammy nod for this. C [advance]

Carmen McRae: Live at the Flamingo Jazz Club London May 1961 (1961 [2008], Acrobat): Barely accompanied by Don Abney's piano trio, eleven standards from "I Could Write a Book" to "They Can't Take That Away From Me," including obvious stops like "Stardust" and "Body and Soul" and the local nod "A Foggy Day (in London Town)," given readings at once textbook proper and delectable. B+(*)

Brad Mehldau Trio: House on Hill (2002-05 [2006], Nonesuch): Another background record. I had caught, liked, but poorly remember, several early Mehldau albums, but none since 2001, so I'm catching up. This is the same trio he worked with since 1993 or so: Larry Grenadier on bass, Jorge Rossy on drums. At a high level, he strikes me as similar and comparable to Jarrett -- a bit less labored, or maybe he just makes it look easier, no doubt a remarkable pianist. All originals. Mehldau's liner notes run on at great length on how his art relates to Brahms and Bach, maybe Monk too -- it's way over my head. B+(***)

Vince Mendoza: Blauklang (2007 [2008], ACT): Mostly a composer-arranger, no playing credit here. Fifth album since 1990, first since 1999. The bulk of the album is the six movement "Blue Sounds," which closes the disc after five pieces -- two originals, one traditional, one each from Miles Davis and Gil Evans. The record bears the WDR/The Cologne Broadcasts logo, drawing on the Westdeutschen Rundfunks Köln big band, with a few ringers thrown in: Nguyên Lê on guitar, Markus Stockhausen on trumpet, Lars Danielsson on bass, Peter Erskine on drums. So, basically, a big band, plus strings (String Quarter Red URG 4). Has some nice moments, but runs too close to classical for my taste. B-

Metheny Mehldau Quartet (2005 [2007], Nonesuch): Mehldau's trio, with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard having replaced Jorge Rossy on drums, plus Metheny, who leans on his lyrical side. Support is admirable, of course. I could see other folks liking this a lot, but I just don't have much to say about it. B+(**)

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+(***)]

Andy Middleton: The European Quartet Live (2005 [2007], Q-rious Music): Three members of this European Quartet are, and this must mean something, Americans based in Europe, including the leader working out of Vienna. Lists Wayne Shorter at the head of a list of Influences who are mostly just great musicians, but of six or so tenor saxophonists Shorter's the best fit. Shows patience and poise on slow ones, poise and fierce resolve on the fast ones. Good pianist in Tino Derado, the only born European here. Very solid performance. B+(***)

Mike & the Ravens: Noisy Boys! The Saxony Sessions (2006-07 [2008], Zoho Roots): Rock band, led by vocalist Mike Brassard. Group originally formed in 1962, but this, with same original members, is their first album. Rocks OK, with a large blues component. Sounds more advanced than 1962. More like 1968. In fact, sounds an awful lot like Steppenwolf. B

Jason Miles: 2 Grover With Love (2008, Koch): Keyboard guy, producer skills. Miles has been making the rounds with tributes to anyone he thinks he can cash in on, so it's not a big surprise that he would zero in on Grover Washington, Jr. Washington actually had a very sweet way with his saxophones, a skill that is shared by none of the guests brought in to dress this pig up (Andy Snitzer, Jay Beckenstein, Najee, Kim Waters). Miles himself is agreeably funky. Maysa sings "Mr. Magic," a low point. B-

Steve Million: Remembering the Way Home (2007-08 [2008]. Origin): Pianist, based in Chicago since 1988, fifth album since 1995. Solo piano, elegant, thoughtful. B+(*)

Francisco Mela: Cirio: Live at the Blue Note (2007 [2008], Half Note): Drummer, from Cuba, teaches at Berklee, turned a lot of heads with his debut Melao in 2006. Follows that up with a star-studded live album: Mark Turner on tenor sax, Jason Moran on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar. Mela wrote six songs; Loueke one, plus a Silvio Rodriguez tune. Listening quickly, with distractions, I mostly hear pieces, mostly Turner's sax and Moran's piano, a little bit of singalong by Mela and/or Loueke. But "Tierra and Fuego" pulls the whole herky-jerk Cuban rhythm thing off, and that may just be the start. Mela's definitely talented, plus he gets top rate musicians to play along. [B+(**)]

Memorize the Sky: In Former Times (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Subtitle: Live at Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon. Group includes Matt Bauder (tenor sax, clarinet), Zach Wallace (bass), Aaron Siegel (drums). Another group name that came out of a former album title. Group met in Ann Arbor. Bauder, at least, is now based in New York, but seems to have passed through Chicago, and took a detour to work with Anthony Braxton. Despite the lack of credits, this sounds like electronic music: clicks, drones, ambient abstractions. B+(*)

The Microscopic Septet: Lobster Leaps In (2007 [2008], Cuneiform): Seven-piece group: four weights of saxophone, piano, bass, and drums, led by soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston and pianist Joel Forrester. Group recorded enough material 1981-90 to fill up 4 CDs of History of the Micros, then disbanded until this reunion, Johnston leading scattered projects like his Captain Beefheart tribute band, Fast 'N' Bulbous. The old Micros were hard enough to pigeonhole, fitting about as well in postbop as Raymond Scott in show music. The new one is more prebop, albeit surrealistically, as befits the title track's take on Lester Young swing. Only personnel change is at tenor sax, where Mike Hashim replaces Paul Shapiro. Hashim is primarily an alto saxophonist, having some marvelous records on his resume. A-

Jessica Molaskey: A Kiss to Build a Dream On (2008, Arbors): Singer, married to John Pizzarelli, who duets on two songs and plays some guitar; daughter-in-law to Bucky Pizzarelli, who plays even more guitar; also inlaw to bassist Martin Pizzarelli. Unrelated Aaron Weinstein plays fiddle; still very young, he's the obvious pick for anyone looking for the spirit of Messrs. Grappelli and Venuti. Cute songs, cute voice, plucky strings. B

Giovanni Moltoni: 3 (2008, C#2 Productions): Guitarist. Don't know how old, or where he comes from; seems to be in Boston now, with hooks into New York. Studied at Berklee and New England Conservatory; teaches at Berklee. Third album since 1996. Also credited with synth here. Quartet includes Greg Hopkins on trumpet, Fernando Huergo on bass, Bob Tamagni on drums. Mostly follows the boppish trumpet around, filling out and adding to the rhythmic push. Nice formula. [B+(**)]

The James Moody and Hank Jones Quartet: Our Delight (2006 [2008], IPO): With Todd Coolman on bass, Adam Nussbaum on drums. Title song is by Tad Dameron, who's good for three more, including "Good Bait" co-credited to Count Basie. One Moody song, plus three from long-time employer Dizzy Gillespie, and one from Sonny Stitt; Jimmy Heath's tribute, "Moody's Groove"; "Body and Soul" and "Old Folks" -- no stretching here, just a couple of octogenarians delighted to still be able to play the music of their youth. I'm not very familiar with Moody, but he sounds suave and polished. And Jones is always a gentlemanly accompanist. Anyone sentimentally inclined toward respecting their elders will be delighted too. I'll keep it open, in case I am one. (Moody plays flute on a couple of cuts, which aren't bad but can't sound as good as his tenor sax; Roberta Gambarini sings the "bonus" cut: "Moody's Groove" -- a nice toast.) [B+(***)] [Nov. 18]

The James Moody and Hank Jones Quartet: Our Delight (2006 [2008], IPO): Bebop upstarts, schooled in swing, of course, with Coleman Hawkins bridging the way on "Body and Soul" and "Woody 'N You" -- both included here in a program that leans heavily on Dizzy Gillespie and Tadd Dameron, and focuses more on Moody -- one by him, "Moody's Groove" about him. Jones, of course, is the perfect good sport. Moody's tenor sax is delightful; I would have preferred less flute. B+(**)

Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Himself (1957 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection): Solo piano, excepting one anomalous take of "Monk's Mood" with John Coltrane and Wilbur Ware. Covers like "April in Paris" and "A Ghost of a Chance" are carefully dissected to reveal odd tangents, but the process is so slow and painstaking it's hard maintain interest. B

Bill Moring & Way Out East: Spaces in Time (2007 [2008], Owl Studios): Bassist-led "collective group" -- second album, not counting the one Moring did with a Way Out West group. Post-hard bop, with Jack Walrath on trumpet, Tim Armacost on sax, Steve Allee on keyboard, Steve Johns on drums, all but Allee contributing a song or two -- Ornette Coleman is the only cover. Especially good to hear Walrath, who hasn't recorded much lately. B+(*) [Oct. 7]

Joe Morris/Barre Phillips: Elm City Duets (2006 [2008], Clean Feed): Guitar-bass duets, or at least that's how Morris's credit leads. Morris has been playing about as much bass over the last 3-4 years as he has guitar, and Phillips has recorded bass duets before -- he was the other half of Dave Holland's Music for Two Basses -- so that's what I sort of expected. It's kind of hard to say what this sounds like: very abstract, little flow let alone groove, stretches of near silence and not much you'd call noise. If I had to, I'd try it again with more volume, but even if that worked -- which with these two must be the case -- few people would find this sort of thing interesting. B-

Rob Mosher's Storytime: The Tortoise (2007-08 [2008], Old Mill): Soprano saxophonist, from Canada, based in New York, also plays oboe and English horn here, writing for a 10-piece group with four reed players -- more clarinet and flute than saxophone -- three brass including French horn, guitar, bass and drums. Reportedly Mosher is self-taught, so it may not be fair to attribute this to the jazz-classical merger in the academies. But this is as pop-classical as Prokofiev, with all the hokum laid out so intricately you sometimes forget how the game works. It's an old saw that jazz is America's classical music, but that came out of an age when we all thought that America was different, so naturally our classical music would be something else. Now jazz is the world's classical music, and it's returning to its common denominator. B-

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: This Is Our Moosic (2008, Hot Cup): Ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny, the wisecracking terrorists of Moosic, PA, move on from playing rings around bebop to playing rings around Ornette Coleman, often in the process sounding like a deranged New Orleans brass band. Sometimes even breaking into melody. A-

Motel: Lost and Found (2007, MGM): All music by DC bassist Matt Grason, excepting a Herbie Hancock piece. Don't know much about him, but he's put together a jazz-hip-hop mash-up that stands on both legs. The Feat. rappers do business as: Priest Da Nomad, Cool Cee Brown, Sub Z, Kokayi, John Moon, Yu, and Hueman Prophets. Local DC talent, came out of Tony Blackman's Freestyle Union. The band are NYC jazzbos -- the two names I recognize are guitarist Jostein Gulbrandson and saxophonist Jon Irabagon, both stand up and out here, more than filling the breaks between the raps. Rhythmically, by hip-hop standards this seems lax -- even Nicholas Payton and Wallace Roney have employed turntablists and samplers. Sure, not very well, the point being that there's some precedent for exploring that angle. B+(**)

Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. II (2006 [2008], Winter & Winter): Don't remember Vol. 1 all that well, but it came out at about the same grade. Motian is less of a time keeper than a time disrupter, and he never lets this group settle down into a groove or open up into a jam. In this trio Chris Potter gets abstract and choppy, not really his style, but he handles it well enough. The third leg of the trio is bassist Larry Grenadier. The plus two is pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and either Greg Osby (alto sax) or Mat Manieri (viola). B+(**)

Bob Mover: It Amazes Me . . . (2006 [2008], Zoho): Saxophonist, lists alto ahead of tenor, also sings, b. 1952, broke in playing with Charles Mingus in 1973 and Chet Baker 1973-75. Cut a few albums 1977-88, including two 1981 albums AMG likes on Xanadu. (As far as I know the Xanadu catalog is out of print, but there were some wonderful things on it -- Charles McPherson's Beautiful! is one of my all-time most played records.) AMG lists one more in 1997, then this one; CDBaby describes this as his first in over 20 years. It's quiet storm: slow, smokey ballads, the rich, burnished lustre of sax. Kenny Barron plays some of his best accompanist piano since Stan Getz died. Mover sings on 6 of 10 songs. Voice reminded me first of Sinatra, but without the chops. Technically, he's not even as skilled as Baker, but doesn't have Baker's bathos, which is what folks seem to love. Still, I find Mover's vocals touching. B+(***) [Sept. 9]

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+(***)]

David Murray/Mal Waldron: Silence (2001 [2008], Justin Time): Cut in Brussels a year before Waldron's death, this may now be seen as a remembrance of an all-time piano great, but Murray fills the room so prodigiously that you have to work to hear how skillfully Waldron ties it all together. He first gained fame as Billie Holiday's accompanist, and even decades later, with dozens of his own often brilliant albums, that was what he was best known for. He wrote three songs here, to one by Murray -- the three covers also favor Waldron. But Murray bowls over everyone, especially one on one, so this winds up being another referendum on him. A-

Willie Nelson/Wynton Marsalis: Two Men With the Blues (2007 [2008], Blue Note): Recorded live under from two dates organized by Marsalis's Jazz at Lincoln Center empire. Neither man has any real claim to the blues, but it was only an organizing idea in the first place; in any case, the album reverted to Nelson's songbook, with two originals ("Night Life" and "Rainy Day Blues"), two Hoagy Carmichael standards Nelson has done before ("Stardust" and "Georgia on My Mind"), "Bright Lights Big City," "Caldonia," "Basin Street Blues," "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It," "Ain't Nobody's Business," and a Merle Travis joke called "That's All" -- not sure how many of those Nelson has recorded before, but the answer could be all ten. Marsalis provided the band, framing Nelson's silky voice with polished brass. A quickie, the sort of trivia that Nelson routinely tosses off as proof of his genius. B+(***)

Jovino Santos Neto & Weber Iago: Live at Caramoor (2007 [2008], Adventure Music): Two Brazilian pianists square off for duets or competing solos. I've always preferred the upbeat, sometimes funky, Neto over the more meditative, often classical-aspiring, Iago, but I can't swear to who plays what here. Iago offers three originals; Neto one. The balance, aside from "Alone Together," are Brazilian standards, with Jobim twice. Special bonus is Joe Lovano's soprano sax on "Wave." B

New Guitar Summit: Shivers (2008, Stony Plain): Three guitarists, none of whom strike me as new or novel or whatever the implication is: Gerry Beaudoin, Jay Geils, Duke Robillard. Actually, a fourth dinosaur shows up for two cuts: Randy Bachman, sings too. They work around bass and drums. Sweet sound. Not much action. B

Adam Niewood & His Rabble Rousers: Epic Journey, Volumes I & II (2008, Innova, 2CD): I picked this up several times over the last few months; realized it was a double, and didn't feel up to wading through it. Saxophonist, credited here with tenor, C-melody, soprano, alto, and baritone, in that order, followed by clarinet and bass clarinet. Had a 2004 album called Introducing Adam Niewood, released on the normally pop-oriented Native Language label, so not having heard it I filed him under Pop Jazz. My bad. Seven of nine pieces on the second disc are credited as Free Group Improvisations; he wrote everything else. Group includes piano (Kristjan Randalu), guitar (Jesse Lewis), bass (Matt Brewer or Chris Higgins), drums (Greg Ritchie and/or Rohin Khemani, who adds some exotic percussion). Has a strong, clear tone on tenor; a distinctly wiry sound on soprano; not sure about the rest. Plays with some edge and a lot of polish. Likes a good beat, but doesn't feel bound to it. Should get another play, sooner or later. [B+(***)]

Fredrik Nordström Quintet: Live in Coimbra (2005 [2008], Clean Feed): Swedish tenor saxophonist, b. 1974. (Wikipedia lists a different Fredrik Nordström, b. 1967, a record producer.) Eight albums under his name, plus a couple more as Surd and Dog Out. Plays free, but doesn't make a big impression. Quintet features Mats Aleklint on trombone and Mattias Ståhl on vibraphone, both notable here. B+(*)

The Phil Norman Tentet: "Totally" Live at Catalina Jazz Club: In Memory of Bob Florence (2008, MAMA, 2CD): Recorded Jan. 15, 2008. Bob Florence, a big band arranger based in Los Angeles with numerous records on this label, died at age 76 on May 15, 2008. Don't know whether Florence was present here, or what the state of his health was at the time. He wrote and/or arranged several pieces here, but so did Kim Richmond and Scott Whitfield, who were also introduced. Tenor saxophonist Norman's group plays these pieces impeccably, including a sly "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and a lovely "Nature Boy." B+(**)

Andreas Öberg: My Favorite Guitars (2008, Resonance, CD+DVD): Swedish guitarist, b. 1978, based in Los Angeles; fourth album since 2004. Plays electric, acoustic, 6-string nylon. Two originals; ten covers, songs by other guitarists like Django Reinhardt, Toninho Horta, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, George Benson, Pat Metheny. One of those records that I put on, got distracted, didn't dislike what little I noticed, but didn't notice anything to make it seem worth another play. Didn't watch the DVD. B

Arturo O'Farrill & Claudia Acuña: In These Shoes (2008, Zoho): This pairs two well connected, highly touted, and as far as I've discerned until now vastly overrated artists. Still, the opening title track caught me by surprise, with a brassy vocal where Acuña has usually been coy, and a lot of drive from the band: choice cut. She rarely reverts to form here, not that we really need her takes on "Moodance" and "Willow Weep for Me." O'Farrill put together a pretty good band here, with Michael Mossman on trumpet, Yosvany Terry on alto/tenor sax, and some terrific Afro-Cuban percussion -- Dafnis Prieto and Pedrito Martinez. Sometimes they get ahead of the song, and sometimes I find myself not caring, but they certainly aren't faking it, or watering it down, or dressing it up for Lincoln Center. B+(*)

Judith Owen: Mopping Up Karma (2008, Couragette): British (or should I say Welsh?) singer-songwriter, with eight (or more) records since 1996. I don't hear her as a jazz singer, and don't find her very interesting as a rock or cabaret singer. At least this has fewer annoying vocal tics than the previous album I've heard (Happy This Way), and the strings and such are fairly inocuous. B-

Charlie Parker: Washington D.C., 1948 (1948 [2008], Uptown): Easily the most extensively documented jazz musician in history, with a smattering of legendary studio recordings and a huge number of more/less bootleg-quality live tapes, some no more than the alto sax solos cut out from the performance. Aficionados devour them all. I've never quite seen the point: even when Parker is at his most inspired, he adds little to what we already know from crisper sounding and better supported studio work. This new discovery starts with a very ordinary 7:39 bebop exercise led by Ben Lary and Charlie Walp, then spruces the group up by adding Parker and Buddy Rich, who both make a world of difference. Later the group drops down to a quartet, running through "Ornithology" and "KoKo," then they finish with a "Dixieland vs. Bebop" joust with Tony Parenti, Wild Bill Davison, and Benny Morton on "C Jam Blues." Nice solos by Rich and Parenti, and the aficionados won't be disappointed with Bird. B+(*)

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+(***)]

Evan Parker/The Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon (2008, ECM): Large group, with Roscoe Mitchell leading the American contingent, notably including Craig Taborn and Corey Wilkes. On the European side come a batch of strings, notably Philip Wachsmann on violin, adding up to a thick stew, similar to the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble even without the electronics. Parker plays soprano sax -- utterly distinctive, of course. The background noise is engaging; the lurching movements even more so. B+(***) [advance]

William Parker Quartet: Petit Oiseau (2007 [2008], AUM Fidelity): Too late to make it into JCG (#17), where Parker and the alto saxophonist here, Rob Brown, both have pick hits. Just as well, as this hasn't clicked for me yet -- unlike two previous albums with the same lineup (O'Neal's Porch and Sound Unity), or for that matter Raining on the Moon (which added vocalist Lorena Conquest) and Corn Meal Dance (with Conquest and pianist Eri Yamamoto). On the other hand, I haven't been convinced to give up, either. It feels less avant, more composed through. The two horns -- Brown's alto sax and Lewis Barnes' trumpet -- rarely fly off on their separate paths. The liner notes suggest that for once Parker is working within the tradition, composing tributes to players like Tommy Flanagan (or Tommy Turrentine, or Tommy Potter), mapping the Little Bird from one of his tone poems back to Charlie Parker. [B+(***)]

William Parker Quartet: Petit Oiseau (2007 [2008], AUM Fidelity): A great group, at least as far back as O'Neal's Porch, with two spectacularly sparring horns in Lewis Barnes' trumpet and Rob Brown's alto sax, plus Parker and Hamid Drake on drums. But this took a long while to register, no doubt benefitting from more than a dozen spins -- something I almost never get the chance to do, but this wound up stuck in my boombox in Detroit for the better part of a week. The problem, if you can call it that, is that it is pretty mainstream where avant-garde is the norm. The horns appear tracked for once, depriving us of the joy of free flight. On the other hand, Parker has cycled around from free to make grooveful music. Call it his Horace Silver phase -- that's the level he's working at. A-

Aaron Parks: Invisible Cinema (2008, Blue Note): Pianist, from Seattle, reportedly 24, first album, although he has a number of side credits since 2003: Terence Blanchard, Christian Scott, Kendrick Scott, Ferenc Nemeth, Tim Collins, Nick Vayenas, Mike Moreno, 3 or 4 more I don't recognize. Obviously, some folks think he's a comer. After two plays I don't think much one way or the other. Most of the cuts are quartet with Moreno on guitar, Matt Penman on bass, and Eric Harland on drums, with the guitar wrapping it all together, the piano largely reduced to a rhythm role. (Some guitar-piano combos work the other way around, which is more usual on pianists' albums.) [B+(*)]

Aaron Parks: Invisible Cinema (2008, Blue Note): Debut album, on a major label no less, sure to be overrated given Blue Note's track record in breaking major guitarists -- Robert Glasper is proof of how that works. This is more inside, mostly the piano chasing Mike Moreno's guitar, although one cut drops back to trio, two more to solo. I might be less skeptical if the latter were more interesting. But the interplay with Moreno is tight and thoroughly engaging. B+(**)

Rosa Passos: Romance (2008, Telarc): Brazilian singer, has recorded more than a dozen albums since 1994, though she may be older than that -- I've heard tell of a 1979 debut album. Grew up in Salvador, Bahia. Gary Giddins, who wrote the liner notes, places her in the bossa nova tradition. Sounds a bit slower and more thoughtful to me -- no matter how slow she goes she still gets traction. Brazilian band, nobody I know, but the sax and piano stand out among the solos, and drummer Celso de Almeida plays with the subtle shiftiness you hope for in Brazilian jazz. B+(***)

Bennett Paster & Gregory Ryan: Grupo Yanqui Rides Again (2006 [2008], Miles High): Paster plays piano; Ryan bass. They met in 1993 as faculty members of the Stanford Jazz Workshop, found a common interest in Latin jazz, and put out their first Grupo Yanqui album in 2001. Current group is a NYC-based sextet, with trumpet (Alex Norris), sax (Chris Cheek), drums (Keith Hall), and percussion (Gilad). This makes all the basic moves, but little of special interest emerges. B

Nik Payton and Bob Wilber: Swinging the Changes (2007 [2008], Arbors): Payton plays tenor sax and clarinet. B. 1972, Birmingham, England; studied at Leeds College of Music, and perhaps more importantly under Wilber, who indulged his Sidney Bechet fetish. Payton was a founder of the Charleston Chasers, and has toured with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra and what's left of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. One previous album, called In the Spirit of Swing. Lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which may have something to do with why there's a Jobim song here, but few albums lack one; in any case, this is pretty straight swing, the only unusual point the preponderance of originals -- 4 by Payton, 7 by Wilber. Group is Payton's "regular London quartet" -- Richard Buskiewicz (piano), Dave Green (bass), Steve Brown (drums). Wish I could say more, but every time I hear something exceptional here I convince myself that it's Wilber. B+(*)

Danilo Perez & Claus Ogerman: Across the Crystal Sea (2008, Emarcy): Front cover lists Perez alone at top, followed by the title, then in faint light blue over white: "Arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman." Spine credits both Perez and Ogerman. All but two song credits belong to Ogerman, although most are "after a theme by" things crediting Hugo Distler, Jean Sibelius, Manuel de Falla, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Jules Massenet. Perez's piano is featured, of course, but awash in a sea of Ogerman strings -- the sort of thing I can rarely stand, but this is uncloying and exceptionally pretty. Might benefit from further listening, but might as well turn sour, so consider this grade a bit more tentative (and polite) than usual. 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-]

Houston Person/Ron Carter: Just Between Friends (2005 [2008], High Note): Too easy. You'd think that at least they would jack up the bass volume and let Carter expand a bit on such obvious standards, but he mostly just strums along -- could be any old bassist. And it's not like Person is driving him off the stage: every song is taken in a poke, with the sax volume toned down too. Still, from "How Deep Is the Ocean" to "Always" he's irresistible. B+(***)

Anne Phillips: Ballet Time (2008, Conawago): Singer, definitely jazz, all the way down to writing vocalese lyrics -- her take on Dexter Gordon's "Fried Bananas" goes so far as to explain how she wound up writing a lyric to "Fried Bananas." Reportedly got her start "as a member of the Ray Charles Singers on the Perry Como Show." Cut an album in 1959 called "Born to Be Blue," then followed it up with a second album in 2001. This looks to be her third, not counting her choir arrangements for the Anne Phillips Singers. This one calls in a lot of chits, arranging 15 songs as duos with 15 musicians -- mostly pianists (notably Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Roger Kellaway), two guitarists (John Hart, Paul Meyers), two saxes (Scott Robinson on baritone, Bob Kindred on tenor), and Joe Locke on vibes. Two pianists sing duets: Bob Dorough and Matt Perri. Five songs have music or lyric (not both) by Phillips. The others lean on her guests, or the Gershwins. The minimal pairings and juxtapositions make for a very mixed bag -- tricks and oddities that never get a chance to jell into something genuinely idiosyncratic. B

Dave Pietro: The Chakra Suite (2007 [2008], Challenge): Saxophonist, alto is probably his main instrument, although he lists it third here, ahead of C-melody but after soprano and F-mezzo. Born in Massachusetts, studied at UNT, played 1994-2003 in Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band, and many of his other credits are in big bands -- Mike Holober, Pete McGuinness, Jim Widner, Gotham Wind Symphony. Sixth album since 1996, including some Brazilian experiments and a Stevie Wonder tribute. This one is based on Indian themes, but also includes Brazilian elements. Todd Isler taps both sources for percussion. Rez Abbasi plays sitar as well as guitar. Gary Versace plays accordion and piano. The light sax floats and dances over intriguing rhythms and subtle mood pieces. B+(***)

The Pineapple Thief: Tightly Unwound (2008, K Scope): English ("Somerset-based") rock group, led by guitarist Bruce Soord, has half a dozen albums since 1999. Sounds a little like Jesus and Mary Chain minus the fuzz -- didn't catch any lyrics, so I can't speak to the gloom. Better than average for what they do, but no real business being here. B+(*)

Chico Pinheiro & Anthony Wilson: Nova (2008, Goat Hill): Brazilian guitar record: Pinheiro is the effective leader, the band is mostly Brazilian, and the guest stars include Ivan Lins and Dori Caymmi, adding vocals that I don't deem much of a plus. Wilson adds a second guitar, mostly electric to Pinheiro's mostly acoustic. A couple of duet pieces are intimate and comfy. Group pieces with piano, bass, drums, percussion, and sometimes horns, are more ordinary. B

Bucky Pizzarelli and Strings: So Hard to Forget (2008, Arbors): The strings are kept small, essentially a quartet -- Sara Caswell and Aaron Weinstein on violin, Valerie Levy on viola, Jesse Levy on cello -- plus bass (Martin Pizzarelli, Jerry Bruno), with Frank Vignola dropping in for a second guitar on 2 tracks. Nor are the strings very imposing: a lot of this sounds like solo guitar, with the strings occasionally adding dabs of background color. That's also the part that works best, which makes me wonder: why bother with the strings? Partly because it puts him into a delicately meditative mood, bringing out an aspect of his guitar playing we haven't hear much of lately. Partly because when it does work it can be sublime. B+(**)

Portinho Trio: Vinho do Porto (2008, MCG Jazz): Brazilian drummer, based in New York, leads a trio with pianist Klaus Mueller and bassist Itaiguara Brandão (or Lincoln Goines on 3 tracks). Brazilian tunes, "Satin Doll," "Footprints," a piece from Paquito D'Rivera. Lively, subtle, with a big boost from "special guest" trombonist Jay Ashby. B+(*)

Benny Powell: Nextep (2007 [2008], Origin): Trombonist, b. 1930 in New Orleans, came up through the Lionel Hampton and Count Basie bands. Has a lot of side credits, but very little under his own name -- this is the third title AMG lists. No special reason to credit, or blame, him for this one either. Most of the songs were written by saxophonist-flautist T.K. Blue or pianist Sayuri Goto, not exactly brand names. No complaints about the trombone, or drummer Billy Hart, but the rest tends to get soupy, especially when Blue plays flute. Ends on an up note, with a Blue calypso called "The Caribbean Express." B-

Andy Pratt: Masters of War (2008, It's About Music): Singer-songwriter, plays piano, cut his first record in 1969; had something of a breakthrough on his third album, Resolution, in 1976: Stephen Holden gave the record an incredible hype review in Rolling Stone. I got suckered into buying a copy; hated the overweening popcraft and sententious, witless songs. 32 years and maybe 15 albums later, he's still quoting Holden's review. I haven't heard any of the others, but I have to admit I recall the voice -- pretty distinctive. The arrangements are simpler here, with rhythm and voice differentiating three covers -- including a slowed down, shaded Beatles song ("And I Love Her") and a hepped up, choppy Dylan (the title cut). His originals don't stick, but they fit the flow. B+(*)

Noah Preminger Group: Dry Bridge Road (2007 [2008], Nowt): Tenor saxophonist, based in Brooklyn, first album, fronting a postbop sextet with well established musicians: Russ Johnson (trumpet), Frank Kimbrough (piano), Ben Monder (guitar), John Hebert (bass), Ted Poor (drums). Not something I find all that interesting, but well done, superb group, closes strong with the drum-driven "Rhythm for Robert." 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]

Bobby Previte & the New Bump: Set the Alarm for Monday (2007 [2008], Palmetto): Previte's been leaning fusion the last few years, and that comes through in the slick riddims here where his drums and Bill Ware's vibes leapfrog over each other. That works well enough, but Ellery Eskelin's tenor sax is so singular it cuts through any accumulated grease, and guest Steven Bernstein doubles the threat on trumpet. B+(***)

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+(*)]

Dafnis Prieto: Taking the Soul for a Walk (2007 [2008], Dafnison): Unquestionably the hot young drummer from Cuba. Everyone but me seems to love him, and I don't doubt his chops or his ambition, but I don't much enjoy listening to him. He plays the herky-jerk Afro-Cuban switchback game almost too effortlessly, burying it in ornate orchestration, especially slick with the three front-line horns here (Peter Apfelbaum, Avishai Cohen, and Yosvany Terry). B

Tito Puente & His Orchestra: Live at the 1977 Monterey Jazz Festival (1977 [2008], MJF): A typical set by the great timbalero and his venerable orchestra, featuring signature tunes like "Oye Como Va" and "El Rey del Timbal," rhumbas and mambos, a dash of riskier Afro-Cuban jazz, and a cha cha take on Stevie Wonder. B+(*)

Lucía Pulido: Luna Menguante/Waning Moon (2006 [2008], Adventure Music): Hot-blooded, arch-voiced Colombian chanteuse, based in New York, all the better to pick up talent like bassist Stomu Takeishi, drummer Ted Poor, clarinetist/flautist Adam Kolker, and (uncredited on the cover) trombonist Rafi Malkiel. They make all the difference, although I may be overly wary of such emoting in a language I don't adequately understand. B+(*)

Quadro Nuevo: Ciné Passion (2000 [2008], Justin Time): German group, an "acoustic quartet" with Mulo Francel (reeds), Robert Wolf (guitar), Heinz-Ludger Jeromin (accordion), and D.D. Lowka (bass). (Jeromin later replaced by Andreas Hinterseher.) I ran across them first on their later Tango Bitter Sweet, which seems like the niche they were built for. This reissue rambles through various movie themes -- "La Strada," "Un Homme et une Femme," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Jean de Florette," "Spartacus"; Astor Piazzolla, Ennio Morricone, James Newton Howard. Some guests, including a string quartet. B

Bruno Råberg: Lifelines (2007 [2008], Orbis Music, 2CD): I remember Christgau complaining about how much he hated the double listening required for 2-LP sets. Back in the day, they were rare, usually commemorating a group passing its peak and trying to slough off quantity for quality, as with the Beatles' "white album" and Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. The exceptions were few: Eric Clapton's Layla was propped up by an endless proven songbook; the Clash's London Calling was bursting with new ideas; and the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, and to a lesser extent Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything, made the quantity gambit work. Still, most of that list are currently available in single-CD packages, so the measure of excess these days is more inflated still. I mention this because I'm so snowed by these two discs I don't know what else to say. Råberg is a bassist, originally from Sweden, now based in Boston, teaching at Berklee. Has half-a-dozen records since 1992, mostly elegant postbop. This set of 22 originals (plus Miles Davis's "Nardis") is uniformly attractive, offering plenty of space for Chris Cheek (soprano/tenor sax) and Ben Monder (guitar), switching between two drummers (Ted Poor and Matt Wilson). Plenty of space for the bass as well, which is always interesting. In fact, there's much of interest here. Just a lot to sift through. B+(**)

Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: Proliferation (2007 [2008], 482 Music): Drummer, b. 1974 in Germany, raised in Evanston, IL, based in Chicago. Founded something called Emerging Improvisers Organization. Active in various groups, the best known being Exploding Star Orchestra. Four albums since 2006, including two this year. This one is a quartet, with two saxes (Greg Ward on alto sax and clarinet, Tim Haldeman on tenor sax), bass (Jason Roebke), and drums. Intended to invoke Chicago's jazz scene from 1954-60 -- John Jenkins and Sun Ra are tapped for two songs each among 9 non-original songs; Reed wrote 3 -- it sounds like freebop to me: racing horn movements, sometimes play gets a little rough, but mostly the horns stay within convention while the rhythm wanders. Impressive stuff. A-

Mike Reed's Loose Assembly: The Speed of Change (2007 [2008], 482 Music): Drummer Mike Reed's other record, along with People, Places & Things' Proliferation. Loose Assembly is indeed loose: a quintet, down to one horn (Greg Ward on alto sax), with cello (Tomeka Reid), vibes (Jason Adasiewicz), bass (Josh Abrams), and drums. Nicole Mitchell guests on two cuts, but doesn't make much of a splash. Indeed, the album has a light, trippy air, modern postbop pieces. B+(***)

Dianne Reeves: When You Know (2008, Blue Note): Love songs -- "Lovin' You," "I'm in Love Again," "Once I Loved," including some treacly pop tunes and one piece of Jon Hendricks vocalese. "Over the Weekend" is probably the melodramatic worst. Two cuts flow the violins, but most are just guitar, keyb, bass, drums. George Duke produced. The exception to all the above is the finale, called "Today Will Be a Good Day" -- the only cut Reeves wrote, citing her monther for inspiration; it marches to a different beat, with Russell Malone's guitar rockish, a choice cut. 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]

Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog: Party Intellectuals (2007 [2008], Pi): With so many different moves, feels, feints, it's surprising that this group numbers just three members, a basic guitar-bass-drums power trio, like Cream or Mountain, but not, of course. Guitarist Ribot sings some, as do bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith, and a couple of guests toss off some curveballs. The latter two also dabbles with electronics. Opener rocks out hard. "Todo El Mundo Es Kitsch" breaks to laugh at everyone, with Janice Cruz vocal. Some more hard ones follow, plus some not so much soft as indeterminate, and some I don't know what to do with. B+(***)

Ridd Quartet: Fiction Avalanche (2005 [2008], Clean Feed): Jon Irabagon (sax, presumably alto); Kris Davis (piano); Reuben Radding (double bass); Jeff Davis (drums). The Canadian pianist has a couple of quartet records with Tony Malaby on tenor sax, so it's tempting to think of this group as a variant -- drummer Davis is in both; Radding, a bassist well traveled in avant circles, subs for Eivind Opsvik -- and Irabagon is an interesting alternative to Malaby. On the other hand, the pieces are all jointly credited. [B+(**)]

Pete Rodríguez: El Alquimista/The Alchemist (2008, Conde Music): Trumpeter, b. 1969, from Puerto Rico, based in NJ, has a couple of previous records. He's ably supported here by Ricardo Rodríguez on bass, Henry Cole on drums, and Roberto Quintero, and frequently upstaged by splashy performances from pianist Luis Perdomo and tenor saxophonist David Sánchez. Impressive as the latter two are, I find their whiplash approach to Latin jazz often disorienting. Trumpet sounds fine. B+(*)

Hans-Joachim Roedelius/Tim Story: Inlandish (2008, Gronland): Two synth players. Roedelius was part of the kraut rock group Cluster (sometimes just a duo with Dieter Moebius) from 1970 on, also making a couple of 1977-78 ambient records with Brian Eno. Story came along in 1981. He has a dozen or so records, mostly filed under New Age (one was released on Windham Hill), although there's not a lot of difference between the two. Non-swing ambient pieces, the first one in particular ("As It Were") is especially enchanting; the weaker tracks merely more inscrutable. B+(**) [advance]

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows Vol. 1 (1980-2007 [2008], Doxy/Emarcy): I've read so many Gary Giddins columns raving about Sonny Rollins' live performances that my first reaction here is: is this the best you can do? Looking at the fine print, we see: 7 songs, from 7 different venues, 2 from 1980, 1 from 1986, 1 from 2000, 3 from 2006-07. The groups are nearly as scattered, with 2 pianists, 3 bassists, 5 drummers, trombonist Clifton Anderson on 4 cuts, guitarist Bobby Broom on 3, 2 percussionists on 3 cuts. Still, the striking thing is that none of that matters. One thing you can't say about Rollins is that he's a team player. He sounds exactly the same in any context over this 28 year stretch, so overwhelming it hardly matters who else is on stage. That isn't to deny the occasional piano or guitar solo. It's just to wonder who else could piece together such a coherent album from scraps like this? Giddins wrote the liner notes, proclaiming this one of Rollins' finest albums. I wouldn't put it in his top ten, and refer you all back to G-Man, which -- never having seen him live myself -- is how I've come to imagine him live. I don't doubt that this series will eventually turn tedious, especially once Rollins' heirs start vetting the takes, but for now this is just further evidence of what "saxophone colossus" means. A-

Curtis Salgado: Clean Getaway (2008, Shanachie): B. 1954, Everett, WA; based in Portland, OR. Cover hypes him as "a true soul singer." I make him more as a blues singer, but he goes with the songs. Reportedly the inspiration for John Belushi's Blues Brothers. Sang in Robert Cray's band before Cray took over; later sang in Santana. Good singer, sometimes reminding you of better ones, like when he's doing their songs. B

Angelica Sanchez: Life Between (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Pianist, also fond of electronic keyboards, from Phoenix, AZ; based in New York; one previous album, plus some trio work with her husband, tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. Wrote all of the pieces here. Only a few stretches showcase her piano, interesting enough, but she's attracted a very high powered quintet, with Malaby, Marc Ducret on guitar, Drew Gress on bass, and Tom Rainey on drums. B+(**)

Randy Sandke: Unconventional Wisdom (2008, Arbors): Trumpeter, mostly plays old-fashioned mainstream, or what you might call swing-bop, but sometimes will surprise you. This quartet, with Howard Alden (guitar), Nicki Parrott (bass), and John Riley (drums), should steer to the retro side, but doesn't. I'm not really sure what they're doing, other than framing a lot of gorgeous trumpet balladry. Parrott also sings four songs. She has a plain, slightly hesitant voice, which I think works very well. [B+(**)]

Randy Sandke: Unconventional Wisdom (2008, Arbors): Stuck in my record player for two full days, partly because I've been hard-pressed to write up something -- more due to distractions than the music -- and partly because it keeps growing on me. Sandke's respect for his elders shows up in his naming his son Bix, but he also writes originals that are interesting in their own right -- part of postbop is that is subsumes all that went before it, but few composers can weave their own material into the predominant Berlins, Porters, and Carmichaels as well. He also works in a Bill Evans piece, and a Jobim, without making the latter seem tokenist or obligatory. Plays some of his finest trumpet, too. Guitarist Howard Alden is supportive, never making a bid to steal the show, as sometimes he does. Bassist Nicki Parrott sings four songs. She's not a strong or smooth singer, but I find her absolutely charming. A-

Janine Santana: Soft as Granite (2008, NiNi): Percussionist, plays congas, guiro, maracas, claves; has a vocal credit, although Wendy Fopeano and Kihn Imuri also sing, and no info on who did what. Based in Denver. Alto saxophonist Richie Cole and percussionist José Madera get "featuring" credit on the front cover, and Cole wrote some liner notes. Figure them for a Latin funk band, one that can keep a strong groove running, and mix in a little something-else when you're not expecting it -- Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother" sounds like it came from another record, but makes itself at home. No real bio info -- does one song from Carlos Santana, but no mention of a relationship. B+(**)

Boz Scaggs: Speak Low (2008, Decca): Another pop singer running low on juice cracks open the old standards book. Nice, smart versions of things like "Speak Low" and "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me," but I could do without "Dindi." Still, the main thing is that while there's nothing wrong with Scaggs' singing, there's not much special about it either -- unlike, say, Rod Stewart. Instrumentation, strings even, are always tasteful. B

Peter Schärli Trio Feat. Ithamara Koorax: Obrigado Dom Um Romão (2006 [2008], TCB): Schärli plays trumpet; was born 1955; has at least 8 albums since 1986, including at least one focusing on Brazilian music. Trio includes Markus Stalder on guitar and Thomas Dürst on double bass. Koorax is a Brazilian vocalist, b. 1965 in Rio de Janeiro, the daughter of Polish Jews who fled Europe during WWII. Dom Um Romão was a famous Brazilian percussionist, 1924-2005. One cut here incorporates a berimbau solo Romão recorded in the 1990s. I suppose the lack of drums in this tribute could signify his absence. Mostly slow Brazilian tunes, two standards ("Love for Sale," "I Fall in Love Too Easily"), a Schärli original, done with a lot of haunting, smokey atmosphere. B+(**)

Jenny Scheinman (2008, Koch): Violinist, the most consistently impressive one to have emerged since well before Regina Carter. She's always had a fondness for folkie melodies, but this takes that seed and grows it into a whole new plant: she plays some lovely country-ish fiddle, but appears mostly as a vocalist -- not a jazz vocalist, mind you, more like alt-country, suggesting that if she wanted to she could smoke Alison Krauss on both counts. If she doesn't, she's only keeping in character. Wrote four songs, which tend to rock more than the trad or neo-trad covers she picks. The one from Lucinda Williams measures up well. The Mississippi John Hurt ("Miss Collins") and Tom Waits ("Johnsburg, Illinois") are choice cuts. Tony Scherr fills in guitar, bass, and almost everything else, with added bass and drums on a few cuts, and a Bill Frisell cameo on one. Not quite sure what to make of it. B+(***)

Jenny Scheinman: Crossing the Field (2008, Koch): Not quite sure what to make of this one either. This is Scheinman's serious side, as opposed to the alt-country fluke her eponymous album is. Too serious, maybe. No vocals, a near-allstar group, plus a massive string orchestra on five cuts, an even larger one on one more. Lots of good things here: Jason Moran's piano, Ron Miles' cornet, Doug Wieselman's clarinets, Bill Frisell's guitar, and of course the violin. Scheinman wrote all the pieces, except for Duke Ellington's "Awful Sad" -- very unorthodox choice there. [B+(**)]

Andy Scherrer Special Sextet: Wrong Is Right (2007 [2008], TCB): Saxophonist, b. 1946 in Switzerland, based in Basel; four albums since 2000, but has worked at least since 1972, playing with Vienna Art Orchestra since 1991. Credited with "saxes" here; all the photos I've seen show him with tenor sax, but VAO also credits him with soprano sax and piano. Sextet has two more reeds (both credited with tenor sax and bass clarinet): Domenic Landolf and Jürg Bucher. They provide a lively front line that's hard to sort out. Pianist Bill Carrothers gets a front cover "feat." credit. His solos sparkle, and he keeps the band moving. Title picks up on a Thelonious Monk quote. Several band members contribute pieces, plus one from John Coltrane, one from Ornette Coleman, one from trad. Richly figured postbop, not quite wrong enough to really do right. B+(**)

Trygve Seim/Frode Haltli: Yeraz (2007 [2008], ECM): Norwegians: Seim plays soprano and tenor sax, Haltli accordion. Both have previous ECM albums -- Haltli's more folkloric, Seim a promising postbop musician. The instruments mesh nicely here, the sensibilities evening out. Title cut is Armenian traditional. Two thirds of the opener are credited to G.I. Gurdjieff. The one other cover is from Bob Marley. B+(**)

Steve Shapiro/Pat Bergeson: Backward Compatible (2007 [2008], Apria): Shapiro plays vibes, and has a background as a producer. Bergeson plays guitar and harmonica. This is their third album together. The previous one, Low Standards, was a Jazz CG A-list item in 2005. Nashville Hot Clubber Annie Sellick sings most cuts. Two 1970s rock classics -- "Heart of Gold" and "Free Man in Paris" -- seem too indelibly attached to their originators, the bubbling vibes not all that apparent at first, but older, lower standard fare like "It Could Happen to You" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," works nicely, and the instrumental breaks swing so effortlessly they could support an album on their own. 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+(**)]

Avery Sharpe: Legends & Mentors: The Music of McCoy Tyner, Archie Shepp and Yusef Lateef (2007 [2008], JKNM): Journeyman bassist with a few records under his own name, Sharpe has direct connections to each of his legends/mentors, including a credit on a very good joust between Shepp and Lateef. He writes a song for each, then covers two more, a nice balance. Joe Ford handles the horn duties, and Onaje Allan Gumbs does a passable Tyner. John Blake's violin is an interesting twist, and I like the occasional bass solo. Not quite a tour de force, but a very clever way to put an album together. B+(**)

Lee Shaw Trio: Life in Graz (2007 [2008], ARC, CD+DVD): Pianist, b. 1926 in Oklahoma, spent some time in Chicago, lists Oscar Peterson among her "studied withs," now based in Albany, NY; has a few records since 1996, picking up after her husband, drummer Stan Shaw, died in 2001, but was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1993 -- don't know what led to that. Trio includes Jeff Syracuse on bass, Jeff Siegel on drums. Five originals and three covers, including pieces from contemporary pianists Ahmad Jamal and Billy Taylor. DVD has a couple of concert clips and some interviews -- she has a higher opinion of Oklahoma education than I do. Good mainstream piano trio. B+(*)

Harry Shearer: Songs of the Bushmen (2008, Courgette): Eleven songs, one dedicated to Bush administration teamwork ("935 Lies"), the other ten to individuals, starting with Colin Powell's "Smooth Moves" and ending with Donald Rumsfeld's "Stuff Happens" -- both song-and-dance numbers, more than a little jazzy. Some of the adaptations are obvious -- "Wolf on the Run" for Paul Wolfowitz, "Who Is Yoo?" for John Yoo, with Karl Rove's "Turd Blossom Special" and "The Head of Alberto Gonzalez" the most effective. "Karen" (as in Hughes) is a duet with a Bush-sounding character asking the publicist whether they like us yet. The one that cuts deepest is Condoleezza Rice's "Gym Buds," with Judith Owen singing and someone named Beethoven contributing the melody. [B+(***)]

Jim Shearer & Charlie Wood: The Memphis Hang (2008, Summit): Shearer is based in New Mexico, where he teaches his instrument: tuba. I've seen references to a "tuba jazz" deal with Jim Self, but AMG doesn't credit him with any records other than this one. He cites Sam Pilafian ahead of Howard Johnson and Bob Stewart on his MySpace influences list, so figure he likes old timey jazz. Also dabbles in some classical, playing with the Roswell Symphony Orchestra. Wood is a Memphis guy, filed under blues by AMG. He plays organ and sings; has a group he calls New Memphis Underground. Strikes me as a possible Memphis answer to Dr. John. Harmonica player Billy Gibson gets a "special guest" credit on the front cover. Some surprises in the song set here, starting with a vocalized version of Monk's "Well, You Needn't"; a couple of Andy Razaf lyrics; Joni Mitchell's words to "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"; some other oddities. Need to play it again. [B+(**)]

Jim Shearer & Charlie Wood: The Memphis Hang (2008, Summit): Wood is a sly singer, probably more at home with simpler country/blues fare, but he tackles some difficult pieces here -- not just Dave Frishberg and Andy Razaf but Joni Mitchell's lyrics to "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and Mike Ferro's to "Well, You Needn't" -- and stays on top of it all. He also plays keyboards, principally Hammond B3, which gets sharpened up considerably by Billy Gibson's harmonica. Shearer is less conspicuous, but tuba is sort of the running gag of the brass section, and his oom-pah keeps the whole affair in good humor. 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+(***)]

Chip Shelton & Peacetime: Imbued With Memories (2007 [2008], Summit): No birth date given, but if he was in high school and college (Howard, studying dentistry) in the 1960s, he must be close to 60 now. Recording career starts in the 1980s. Mostly plays flute, along with piccolo and a little sax. Band relies on guitar (Lou Volpe, sweet and tasty), keyboards, and extra percussion, with a persistent groove. In other words, this is smooth jazz, maybe with a little higher aims and less cash in prospect. Jann Parker guests on the obligatory radio vocal cut. C+

Idit Shner: Tuesday's Blues (2008, OA2): Alto saxophonist, grew up in Israel, studied in Oklahoma, graduated from UNT, played in Sherrie Maricle's DIVA Jazz Orchestra; now based in Oregon. First record, a quartet with Stefan Karlsson on piano, Mike League on bass, Steve Pruitt on drums. Four of seven songs are listed as traditional: "Yellow Moon," "Elisheva Doll," "Adon Haselichot," and "Ha Lachma." I wouldn't classify them as klezmer, but the folk melodies help center the album. A bit of solo sax near the end is particularly nice. B+(**)

Judi Silvano: Cleome: Live Takes (2008, JSL): I think there's some market research that shows that people relate more readily to records with vocals than they do to instrumentals, and that in turn is one reason instrumental jazz remains so far out on the commercial fringe. I personally take the opposite view. I much prefer the clear sound of horns, especially when the lyrics don't signify much of anything -- and they never signify less than in scat, where the comparison to horns is most explicit. Of course, you could make scat worse by dispensing with the rhythm and letting the singer wander deaf and blind over the charts, which isn't that far removed from what Silvano does here. I find the vocal parts pretty much unlistenable here, which is a shame because the same music without vocals would easily sail into HM territory. I might even have cut them some slack, because it's not every day you get to hear the legendary George Garzone -- an especially nice touch, given that Silvano could have inexpensively featured husband Joe Lovano instead. The rhythm section is Michael Formanek on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums, with John Lindberg slipping in on Silvano's two covers. Some remarkable patches here. If my initial reaction wasn't so visceral, I'd put it back and see what comes of it. B-

Nina Simone: To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story (1957-93 [2008], RCA/Legacy, 3CD+DVD): Package is 5.25 inches high, 11.25 inches wide, no deeper than a jewel box -- a combination that fits on no known shelving. Starts with 3 Bethlehem tracks (1957), 8 Colpix (1959-64), 5 Phillips (1964-65); ends with 1 Elektra (1993), the balance inexpensively culled from RCA's catalog, including live takes of older hits: about the same shape as the 2-CD Anthology from 2003, just longer, with more marginal stuff. Simone was courageous politically, cautious romantically, sometimes brilliant, but more often her covers were only as deep as her voice -- songs like "Mr. Bojangles" come off as mere exercises. This hits the key points, and stays away from the dross which dominated her RCA catalog, but offers no surprises. Documentation is good. B+(**)

Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet: Tablighi (2005 [2008], Cuneiform): Trumpet player, goes back to the 1970s when he was one of the AACM cats searching for an avant-garde path out of the end-of-history that playing far out and radically free led to -- a fellow traveler to Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Much of this effort maintains the studied diffidence that always made him hard to grasp, except when he opts to channel Miles Davis. Quartet includes Vijay Iyer on keyboards, John Lindberg on bass, Shannon Jackson on drums. 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+(***)]

Martial Solal Trio: Longitude (2007 [2008], CAM Jazz): I thought of Solal when I was writing about Paul Bley's 50+ year career -- both have records dating from 1953, although Solal is actually 5 years older. Bley probably has more records, but Solal has a much broader range of groups, everything from solos to big bands. The problem is that I know so little by Solal, and nothing that I have heard has knocked me out the way 3 or 4 Bley records have. The lack of study is partly because Solal is French and partly because he plays piano, an instrument I haven't pursued anywhere near as aggressively as I have the saxophones. But this new piano trio is as bright and complex and challenging as any I've heard lately. Don't have much more to say about it. He is an enigma for me, a SFFR. At age 80 I doubt that this is his peak, but I also doubt that anyone could guess his age in a blindfold test. B+(***)

The Soprano Summit in 1975 and More (1975-79 [2008], Arbors, 2CD): Clarinetist Kenny Davern and saxophonst Bob Wilber, two impeccably backward-looking players, ran into each other in Colorado in 1972, finding common ground as a soprano sax duo dedicated to Sidney Bechet. Their summits continued through the 1970s, with occasional reunions into 2001, sometimes with pianist Dick Hyman and other kindred souls -- guitarist Marty Grosz is prominent here, but Bucky Pizzarelli also played. Dan Morgenstern picked these sessions from the archives, including one from April 1975 focusing on Jelly Roll Morton, and two non-Summit sets: a Davern trio with pianist Dick Wellstood from 1979, and a 1976 Wilber group with Ruby Braff. The album never strays from the soprano range, but lively rhythm sections make up for the lack of contrasting horns. Superb trad jazz. A-

South Florida Jazz Orchestra (2008, MAMA): Directed by bassist Chuck Bergeron, who teaches at University of Miami, has three records under his own name, maybe three dozen side credits since 1988. Basic full bore big band line up, plus a spare piano and a fifth trombone, plus a set of guests: Charles Pillow, Ed Calle, Kevin Mahogany, and Arturo Sandoval got listed on the front cover; Mike Lewis, Dana Paul, and Nicole Yarling in the fine print. No credits on any of those, but some are obvious. John Fedchock, a big band hand from New York, produced. Well crafted, a lot of neat details on top of the propulsive swing. The few vocals don't fare as well, although "Nature Boy" (Mahogany, I presume) is nice to hear. 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]

Spring Heel Jack: Songs & Themes (2007 [2008], Thirsty Ear): More themes than songs, pastiches of mood with some jazz flourishes -- Roy Campbell trumpet, John Tchicai sax -- on top of a wide range of samples and textures. Took me a while to warm up to it. Never got a final copy. 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+(**)]

Ben Stapp Trio: Ecstasis (2007 [2008], Uqbar): Plays tuba, wrote everything on this first album (credited, as is the tuba, to Benjamin Stapp); 26 years old, presumably born 1982; from California, based in New York. The tuba, like a bass, is a little hard to follow here -- volume is limited, its role more to set up a steady flow the others play off of. And the others steal the show: Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano sax) adds another feather to his cap as a frontline sideman, and Satoshi Takeishi provides the complementary offbeat percussion. B+(***)

John Stein: Encounter Point (2007 [2008], Whaling City Sound): Guitarist, originally from Kansas City, has a half-dozen albums. Quartet here, mostly funk licks over Koichi Sato's electric keyboard, with a little samba wedged in, not just to make drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario feel at home. B+(*)

Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (2007 [2008], ECM): Piano trio, with Anders Jormin on bass, Jon Fält on drums. Stenson has been around quite a while: b. 1944, co-led an early-1970s group with Jan Garbarek that produced Witchi-Tai-To, one of my favorite records. Has been recording regularly for ECM since 1998, with a few more titles going back to 1971. A good fit for Manfred Eicher's piano taste. Plays songs by Silvio Rodriguez, Alban Berg, Astor Piazzolla, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, a couple others, one group piece, two more by Jormin, who gets some space and comes off surprisingly poignant. [B+(***)]

Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (2007 [2008], ECM): Relatively quiet piano trio, also relatively free, a combination that seems to appeal to ECM honcho Manfred Eicher. Anders Jormin is a little more than the average bassist in this context. B+(***)

The Suicide Kings (2008, Blue Plate Music): Country rock group, formed in 2006, although the key players -- vocalist Bruce Connole, keyboardist Brad Buxer -- have kicked around for a couple of decades. Remind me of someone I can't quite pin down. Some grim moments, which may or may not include the signature song. Some indications that they're sharper politically than their niche demands. B+(*)

The Stryker/Slagle Band: The Scene (2008, Zoho): Fourth album under this name, although guitarist Dave Stryker and alto saxophonist Steve Slagle appeared on each other's albums long before their merger. Jay Anderson plays bass, Lewis Nash drums. Joe Lovano joins in on four cuts, but he's mostly wasted on slow and overly slick stuff. And then there's Slagle's characteristic flute cut. On the other hand, the band's usual upbeat postbop is pretty tasty. B+(*)

Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii: Chun (2008, Libra): Trumpet/piano duos. Husband and wife, they've done this before -- at least three times, with In Krakow in November my pick of the two I've heard -- as well as appearing on dozens of albums with various bassists, drummers, and others up to big band weight. Stef Gijssels wrote an ecstatic review of this in his Free Jazz blog, ending with "I'm sorry to be so excited." I'm hearing pretty much the same things, but find the contrast between two dramatic soloists somewhat disjointed -- maybe just too abrupt. As usual, Fujii is much the more aggressive player, a reversal from the usual form where pianists slip into accompanist roles. But Tamura does more than just decorate her thrashing. He's a lyrical player, yin to her yang (or is it the other way around?). B+(***)

Fred Taylor and Inquest: Processional (2006, Crinkle-Cuts): Drummer, based in NJ. Some months ago I wrote up a note on his latest trio record, Circling. This is an earlier record, but arrived later, presumably as background. Quartet, crediting Gary Rollins with guitars, James Clark with basses, and Craig Lawrence with woodwinds -- back cover picture shows him with a clarinet; booklet also mentions soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, and flute, all of which are mild and atmospheric. Rollins' guitars are more prominent, both driving and carrying the load. Pleasant, grooveful, could pass for new age. B

Fred Taylor Trio: Circling (2008, Fred Taylor Music): Drummer, b. 1954, Spokane, WA; worked in Seattle, Vancouver, Minneapolis; now based in NJ. Seems to have a fusion background, although this is postbop, with Rick Crane on bass, Bob Ackerman on alto sax, flute, and clarinet. Could just as well be Ackerman's record, especially given that he wrote most of the pieces -- Taylor's credits are arranging "Dear Old Stockholm" and his share of the group improv "Inventions I and II." B+(*)

Martin Taylor: Double Standards (2008, The Guitar Label): Taylor introduces this as "the first of a series of guitar duets that I plan to record over the next ten years." However, his duet partner this time is his self: double-tracked guitar work, sometimes settling into solo. The standards hold up, and he plays them with calm eloquence, reminding me of what I first found so attractive in his work. B+(**)

Tetterapadequ: And the Missing R (2007 [2008], Clean Feed): Quartet, two Italians up front (Daniele Martini on tenor sax, Giovanni Di Domenico on piano), two Portuguese back (Gonçalo Almeida on bass, João Lobo on drums). Group name is a word puzzle, with an 'R' removed to the title. Mostly free, but rather subdued, with stretches that only barely register -- when they do it is often the piano -- and others that start to cohere into something promising. Went sub-audible for long enough to make me think it was done, then gradually klunked back, ending with some skronk and a laugh. B+(*)

Cal Tjader: The Best of Cal Tjader: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-1980 (1958-80 [2008], MJF): A short set from 1958 with Buddy DeFranco bebop over the vibraphonist's Latin stew, and four choice 1972-80 shots, starting with Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry teaching him how to play "Manteca." I remember going through my database once and deciding that Tjader was the most accomplished jazz musician on the list that I hadn't heard yet, so I'm far from an expert, but these cuts strike me as a well chosen primer. B+(**)

Townhouse Orchestra: Belle Ville (2007 [2008], Clean Feed, 2CD): Old fashioned free jazz quartet, just two group improvs, one 44:47, the other 45:10, which is to say they don't run on beyond endurance, and once you've played one, there's still another variation available. Evan Parker has been doing this sort of thing for a long time. He sticks to tenor sax here, less distinctive than his soprano, but less shrill and wearying as well. Pianist Sten Sandel makes a good foil, and the Norwegian rhythm team of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) -- names familiar from Ken Vandermark projects like School Days -- push things along. B+(***)

Trio Viriditas: Live at Vision Festival VI (2001 [2008], Clean Feed): Alfred Harth (aka A23H) on reeds, pocket trumpet voice; Wilber Morris on bass; Kevin Norton on drums. Harth is a new one to me. (Not really: I found one co-credit in my database, but it didn't register in my memory.) AMG lists him under Opera with virtually no info. Other sources show a discography going back to 1969, including 7 albums as Duo Goebbels/Harth (that would be keyboard player Heiner Goebbels); collaborations with John Zorn, Peter Brötzmann, Lindsay Cooper, Otomo Yoshihide; various groups, sample names: Just Music, Duck and Cover, Vladimir Estragon, Gestalt et Jive, Imperial Hoot, Sogennantes Linksradikales Blasorchester (So-Called Left-Radical Brass Band). He's usually identified as a multi-media artist. Morris and Norton are, or should be, well known, at least in avant-jazz circles. This starts up awkwardly, but settles into free jazz's alternative equivalent of a groove. Not credited, but I could swear this ends with a long quote from "On the Street Where You Live." B+(**)

Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Anja Lechner/U.T. Gandhi: Melos (2007 [2008], ECM): Piano, cello, percussion. The cello is the sonic center here. Mostly slow, very pretty. Not much percussion. [B+(**)]

Tuner: Totem (2005 [2008], Unsung): Another rock record slipped into the stack. Quasi-industrial, chompy hard beats, fuzz guitar, more instrumental than not, with long stairstepped segues and some chant-like but ignorable vocals. "Dexter Ward," with its long instrumental outro, is a good example. B+(**)

Tuner: Pole (2005-06 [2007], Unsung): Not background; just an earlier record I shelved and didn't bother with. Group is duo with Markus Reuter on guitars (mostly) and Pat Mastelotto on drums (mostly), with nine guests listed. Like the quasi-industrial instrumentals; don't like the cult doom-and-gloom vocals -- the talkie ones aren't so bad, but the whispery ones are just creepy. 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+(***)]

Steve Turre: Rainbow People (2007 [2008], High Note): The poll-winning trombonist of the last decade-plus, strikes me as something of a chameleon, with no particular style of his own but a remarkable knack for blending in wherever he goes. Taps Mulgrew Miller to play a little McCoy Tyner, Kenny Garrett for some Charlie Parker, Pedro Martinez for a slick Latin closer. Gets superb help from Peter Washington and Ignacio Berroa, of course. Pretty good trombone, too. B+(**)

McCoy Tyner: Guitars (2006 [2008], McCoy Tyner Music/Half Note, CD+DVD): Quartets, with Ron Carter on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and a smattering of guitarists sharing the center stage with Tyner: Marc Ribot, John Scofield, Derek Trucks, Bill Frisell, and Bela Fleck (uh, banjo). Scattered results, with Ribot's metallica and Fleck's hokum the outliers, and Trucks playing it safest with "Slapback Blues" and "Greensleeves." Scofield's "Mr. P.C." is pretty safe, too. Frisell's closer, "Baba Drame" from Boubacar Traore, is the choice cut. Comes with a DVD I haven't seen yet. B+(*)

The Warren Vaché-John Allred Quintet: Live in Bern Switzerland at Marians Jazzroom: Jubilation (2007 [2008], Arbors): The leaders play cornet and trombone, respectively, although Allred makes less of an impression than usual, and Vaché is clearly the leader. With Tardo Hammer on piano, Nicki Parrott on bass, Leroy Williams on drums. Seems like a typical cross-section of Vaché's shtick: Gershwin and Berlin, "Caravan," "Old Devil Moon," a couple of newer tunes strong on melody (two from Horace Silver, one from Junior Mance), a couple of his haphazard but charming vocals, one a trash-talking duet with Parrott (pronounced "pa-rot") -- in fact, called "Sweet Hunk o' Trash." B+(**)

Bebo Valdes & Javier Colina: Live at the Village Vanguard (2005 [2008], Calle 54/Norte): Piano-bass duets, with the 86-year-old Cuban legend working his way through a set of Cuban classics plus "Yesterdays" and "Waltz for Debby." B+(***)

Peter Van Huffel/Sophie Tassignon: Hufflignon (2008, Clean Feed): Van Huffel plays alto/soprano sax, comes from Canada, is based in New York and/or Berlin. I've heard a previous album on FSNT which showed him to be an interesting postbop player. Tassignon is a vocalist, from Belgium. She wrote six pieces to Van Huffel's three, with one cover from someone named Vivaldi. Even without the latter, her voice is archly operatic, the effect partly moderated by slow speeds and free structures. B-

Johnny Varro Swing 7: Ring Dem Bells (2007 [2008], Arbors): Veteran swing pianist, b. 1930, broke in Bobby Hackett in 1953, spent much of the next decade with Eddie Condon. Has a pile of records on Arbors -- his Swing 7 group is pretty much the label's all-stars: Randy Sandke (trumpet), Dan Barrett (trombone), Scott Robinson (tenor sax), Ken Peplowski (alto sax/clarinet), Frank Tate (bass), Joe Ascione (drums). Such a group could hardly do wrong, especially on proven standard fare, but they never kick it up that necessary notch. Scattered pleasures, shy of a tour de force. B+(*)

Eric Vloeimans: Gatecrash (2007 [2008], Challenge): Trumpet player, b. 1963, the Netherlands, studied with Donald Byrd, has a dozen or so albums since 1992. With electric keyboardist Jeroen van Vliet setting the framework for this quartet, he's set up for some kind of fusion, but tends more toward postbop pastels, partly because plugging in doesn't guarantee enough of a groove. B+(*)

Von Garcia: I Think a Think (2008, Sluggo's Goon Music): Hype sheet describes Sluggo's Goon Music as a collective as well as a label. Also describes Von Garcia as an "ambient noise rock project," led by James von Buelow (guitar, keyb, vocal) and Damon Trotta (bass, dobro, percussion, programming). Other vocals and instruments are listed -- guitarist Ben Monder, in for a solo feature, is the only one I recognize. More rock than jazz, but the vocals are tossed off on the side, the regular beat leans toward funk, and the guitars get to stretch out. I like it better without the vocals. B+(**)

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+(***)]

Torben Waldorff: Afterburn (2008, ArtistShare): Played this an extra time just to try to focus on the leader's guitar, which remains indistinct and underwhelming, although it does fit in with the flow, and it does all flow. The standout, of course, is tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who dominates without pushing himself anywhere near his usual extremes. 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+(***)]

Marcin Wasilewski Trio: January (2007 [2008], ECM): A piano trio, they originally appeared as veteran trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's "young Polish quartet," but here go by their own own names, with bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz joining pianist Wasilewski on the cover. They conjure up a near perfect quietstorm of ECM piano, every little detail locked snugly into place. You almost don't notice how artful it all is, because it almost slips by unnoticed. B+(***)

Mark Weinstein: Lua e Sol (2008, Jazzheads): Flute player, has a dozen or so albums since 1996, mostly in Latin idioms. This one is firmly rooted in Brazil, with Romero Lubambo on guitar, Nilson Mata on bass (and co-producing), and Cyro Baptista on percussion. I've never cared much for flute, but can't complain here: he ranges from decorative to delectable, and Lubambo is especially superb. B+(*)

Mort Weiss: All Too Soon (2008, SMS Jazz): Plays clarinet, b. 1935, grew up in the bebop generation, only dabbled in music until he retired from business and started issuing his own records. This is a duo with seven-string guitarist Ron Eschete, probably a better known player, although the album cover doesn't attempt to link to his market. Starts with "Scrapple From the Apple," adding "Blue Monk" and "Django," but also slips in a few standards -- "Like Someone in Love," "Softly as in Morning Sunrise," etc. About what you'd expect: low key, nicely done. Thank God for FDR, Charlie Christian, and Charlie Parker. 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+(***)]

Corey Wilkes: Drop It (2007 [2008], Delmark): First record, should get some rookie of the year votes over at the Voice poll -- partly because he's been popping up on other projects for several years, not least being Lester Bowie's slot in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. This is more mainstream, with a couple of shots of funk -- aside from a bit of Langston Hughes to start off with, the only vocal here is Dee Alexander doing "Funkier Than a Mosquita's Tweeter." I was tempted at first to contrast his debut with Wynton Marsalis's, but Wilkes is ten years older, so of course he has more chops. More like Jon Faddis, in fact. B+(***)

Jimmy Witherspoon: Live at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival (1959-72 [2008], MJF): The last of the Kansas City blues shouters, in a surly mood that could pass for spirit if you cut him some slack; his Jimmy Rushing tribute is heartfelt but not up to snuff; his praise for guitarist Robben Ford is earned but not such a big deal; the bonus track from 1959 towers above the later performance, not just because Messrs. Hines, Herman, Hawkins, Webster, and Eldridge are in the band, but they sure help. B

The Stephane Wrembel Trio: Gypsy Rumble (2005 [2008], Amoeba Music): Not familiar with this label, so don't know whether the slim slip cover is just a promo or their idea of finished product. Copyright is 2005, so don't even know if it is new. Full artist credit adds: with special guest David Grisman. The trio has Wrembel on lead guitar, Eric Rodgers on rhythm guitar, and Jared Engel on bass. Grisman plays mandolin. Has a rough hewn string band feel, a fairly consistent but limited sound. Ends on an up notes with two cuts with Brandi Shearer singing and a more/less different band, including Ralph Carney horns. B [advance]

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]

Eri Yamamoto: Duologue (2008, AUM Fidelity): Young pianist, wrote all the pieces, mostly around rhythm vamps which, while not all that distinctive, provide common ground for four pairs of spare, understated duos. She keeps good company: drummers Federico Ughi and Hamid Drake, bassist William Parker, and alto/tenor saxophonist Daniel Carter. The latter is a revelation here, playing tight in what amounts to a ballad mode. B+(**)

Eri Yamamoto Trio: Redwoods (2008, AUM Fidelity): Pianist, from Osaka, Japan, arrived in New York in 1995; cut three trio albums on Jane Street (presumably her own label) 2001-04, then fell in with bassist William Parker, recording his excellent album of piano trio music Luc's Lantern and joining his Raining on the Moon group for Corn Meal Dance. Meanwhile, she now has three more albums on AUM Fidelity, a 2006 trio called Cobalt Blue, and two records this year -- this new trio and a set of duets called Duologue. The trio here repeats from Cobalt Blue: bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuichi (also on her three Jane Street albums). All original pieces. It all seems very measured and sensible, nothing that really sweeps you away, but each cut with its own bit of interest. Choice cut: "Dear Friends." B+(**) [Sept. 9]

PS: I erroneously identified Eri Yamamoto's Cobalt Blue as on AUM Fidelity. It was released on Thirsty Ear.

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]

Alon Yavnai: Travel Notes (2008, ObliqSound): Piano trio. One of those records that seems very neat and well ordered, not flashy, not in any big hurry, just calm and proper. I find it very pleasing, but otherwise don't have much to say about it. ECM would like this guy. The one cut that's stands out a bit is the one where bassist Omer Avital switches to oud. B+(***) [advance]

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+(*)]

Jacob Young: Sideways (2006 [2008], ECM): Continues to be an interesting guitarist although he's showing signs of being willing to settle down into ECM's file cabinet about midway between John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner. Group includes two horns -- Mathias Eick on trumpet, Vidar Johansen on tenor sax/bass clarinet -- but they work slow and mostly fill in. Previous album, Evening Falls, seemed more promising. 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+(***)]

Carlos "Zingaro"/Dominique Regef/Wilbert DeJoode String Trio: Spectrum (2004 [2008], Clean Feed): Regef's hurdy gurdy splits the spectrum between violin and bass, or something like that -- I'm not really sure how to follow it. In any case, the strings squeek, squirm, and squelch: this is not chamber music in any polite sense. It is difficult music, a challenge, but it is listenable, a chore perhaps, but not monotonous or gratuitously violent. Zingaro has a large discography. The few bits I've heard make him a subject for future research. 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+(***)]

ZMF Trio: Circle the Path (2005 [2007], Drip Audio): Stands for Jesse Zubot (violin), Jean Martin (drums), Joe Fonda (bass). Avant-garde, kind of a Revolutionary Ensemble for liberal Vancouver. 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. Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark: Goofy June Bug (2007 [2008], Wig) B+(**)
  3. Nik Bärtsch's Mobile: Ritual Groove Music (2000-01 [2006], Ronin Rhythm) B+(***)
  4. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Randori (2001 [2006], Ronin Rhythm) B+(**)
  5. Nik Bärtsch: Piano Solo (2002 [2006], Ronin Rhythm) A-
  6. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Live (2002 [2006], Ronin Rhythm) A-
  7. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Rea (2003 [2006], Ronin Rhythm) A
  8. Nik Bärtsch's Mobile: Aer (2003 [2006], Ronin Rhythm) A-
  9. Louie Bellson & Clark Terry: Louie & Clark Expedition 2 (2007 [2008], Percussion Power) B+(***)
  10. Raoul Björkenheim/William Parker/Hamid Drake: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC) A-
  11. Bo's Art Trio: Live: Jazz Is Free and So Are We! (2007 [2008], Icdisc) B+(**)
  12. Peter Brötzmann/Peeter Uuskyla: Born Broke (2006 [2008], Atavistic, 2CD) B+(***)
  13. Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff: Way Out Northwest (2007 [2008], Drip Audio) B+(**)
  14. Chris Byars: Jazz Pictures at an Exhibition of Himalayan Art (2007 [2008], Smalls) B+(**)
  15. Ralph Carney/Ira Cohen: The Stauffenberg Cycle (2007, Paris) B+(***)
  16. Ralph Carney/Robert Creeley: Really!! (2007, Paris) B+(**)
  17. Marc Copland: New York Trio Recordings, Vol. 2: Voices (2006 [2007], Pirouet) B+(***)
  18. Marc Copland: Another Place (2007 [2008], Pirouet) B+(***)
  19. Kenny Davern/Ken Peplowski: Dialogues (2005 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  20. Jamie Davis: Vibe Over Perfection (2005 [2008], Unity Music) B+(**)
  21. Ramón Díaz: Unblocking (2007 [2008], Fresh Sound New Talent) B+(***)
  22. Bill Dixon: 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (2007 [2008], AUM Fidelity) B+(***)
  23. Scott DuBois: Banshees (2007 [2008], Sunnyside) A-
  24. Bill Easley: Business Man's Bounce (2007, 18th & Vine) B+(***)
  25. Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings & Plays Bill Evans (2007 [2008], Blue Note) B+(***)
  26. Fieldwork: Door (2007 [2008], Pi) A-
  27. Satoko Fujii Trio: Trace a River (2006-07 [2008], Libra) A-
  28. Fulminate Trio (2007 [2008], Generate) B+(**)
  29. Stephen Gauci's Basso Continuo: Nididhyasana (2007, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  30. Bobby Gordon: Plays Joe Marsala: Lower Register (2007, Arbors) B+(***)
  31. Tim Hagans: Alone Together (2007 [2008], Pirouet) B+(***)
  32. Frank Hewitt: Out of the Clear Black Sky (2000 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  33. Lauren Hooker: Right Where I Belong (2006 [2007], Musical Legends) B+(***)
  34. Vijay Iyer: Tragicomic (2007 [2008], Sunnyside) A- [Later: A]
  35. Junk Box: Sunny Then Cloudy (2006 [2008], Libra) B+(**)
  36. Jon-Erik Kellso: Blue Roof Blues (2007, Arbors) B+(***)
  37. Nigel Kennedy: Blue Note Sessions (2005 [2007], Blue Note) B+(***)
  38. The Ray Kennedy Trio: Plays the Music of Arthur Schwartz (2006 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  39. The Klobas/Kesecker Ensemble: No Gravity (2007 [2008], KKEnsemble) B+(**)
  40. David Kweksilber + Guus Janssen (2003-06 [2006], Geestgronden) B+(***)
  41. Steve Lehman Quartet: Manifold (2007, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  42. Luis Lopes: Humanization 4Tet (2007 [2008], Clean Feed) B+(***)
  43. Eric McPherson: Continuum (2007 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  44. Maceo Parker: Roots & Grooves (2007 [2008], Heads Up, 2CD) A-
  45. The Michael Pedicin Quintet: Everything Starts Now . . . (2007 [2008], Jazz Hut) B+(***)
  46. Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. III: The Croydon Concert, May 14, 1981 (1981 [2008], Widow's Taste, 2CD) A-
  47. Steve Reid Ensemble: Daxaar (2007 [2008], Domino) A-
  48. Barbara Rosene and Her New Yorkers: It Was Only a Sun Shower (2007, Stomp Off) B+(**)
  49. Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Avatar (2007 [2008], Blue Note) B+(**)
  50. Felipe Salles: South American Suite (2006 [2007], Curare) B+(***)
  51. Cynthia Sayer: Attractions (2006 [2008], Plunk) B+(***)
  52. Sha's Banryu: Chessboxing Volume One (2007 [2008], Ronin Rhythm) B+(***)
  53. Shot x Shot: Let Nature Square (2007 [2008], High Two) B+(***)
  54. Spoon 3: Seductive Sabotage (2007 [2008], Evil Rabbit) B+(**)
  55. The Stone Quartet: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 1 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC) B+(**)
  56. Territory Band-6 With Fred Anderson: Collide (2006 [2007], Okka Disk) B+(***)
  57. Sumi Tonooka Trio: Long Ago Today (2004 [2008], ARC) B+(***)
  58. Frank Vignola: Vignola Plays Gershwin (2006 [2007], Mel Bay) B+(***)
  59. Ulf Wakenius: Love Is Real (2007 [2008], ACT) A-
  60. The Wee Trio: Capitol Diner Vol. 1 (2007 [2008], Bionic) B+(***)
  61. Paul West/Mark Brown: Words & Music (2007 [2008], OA2) B+(**)
  62. Jessica Williams: Songs for a New Century (2008, Origin) B+(**)
  63. Libby York: Here With You (2007 [2008], Libby York Music) B+(***)