Jazz Consumer Guide (22):

These are the prospecting notes from working on Jazz CG #22. 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 {October 19, 2009 to February 7, 2010}, 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 219 (plus 124 carryovers). The count from the previous file was 225. (before that: 226, 230, 293, 291, 240, 259).

Rez Abbasi: Things to Come (2008-09 [2009], Sunnyside): Pakistani-American guitarist, did a record a few years back that I liked quite a bit, Snake Charmer. Lately he's joined Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, and here he expands that group to include pianist Vijay Iyer. So this should be a major album, but I'm not feeling it -- perhaps with all this talent I'm expecting something with a strong South Asian vibe and that's missing. (Note that Dan Weiss, who is a superb tabla player, is only credited with drums.) I could take the easy way out and blame it on Kiran Ahluwalia's vocals (4 of 8 tracks) -- I can think of many more cases where the wife singing bogged down a record -- but I'm not sure that's it either. Will keep it open, noting that the three principals have strong solo spots, and that it's sounding better while typing this than it did before I sat down. [B+(*)]

Rez Abbasi: Things to Come (2008-09 [2009], Sunnyside): This is a great group but not quite a great record. Part of it is that guitarist Abbasi and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa shine on their solos but they remain separate things. Part is that pianist Vijay Iyer doesn't shine even though he's the most talented player here. Part may be that Dan Weiss plays drums instead of tabla, which steers this toward American jazz instead of Indo-Pak. Then there is the matter of wife-singer Kiran Ahluwalia, who tries to steer the album back toward India on her four spots, leaving it a bit unhinged. Reminds me that no matter how much they like the idea of an Indo-Pak coalition, what they really like is being in the forefront of jazz back home in the USA. B+(**)

Mario Adnet/Philippe Baden Powell: Afro Samba Jazz: The Music of Baden Powell (2009, Adventure Music): Sweetened up and stretched out for a studio orchestra where every little detail fits in but none stand out. One thing that loses out here is Baden Powell's guitar. Adnet plays most of the guitar here, but he passes a song each to Antonia Adnet and Marcel Powell in what look like family favors. Philippe Baden Powell avoided his father's footsteps by taking up the piano, but he plays on fewer than half of the cuts here, with Marcos Nimrichter carrying most of the load. Ricardo Silveira plays electric guitar on four cuts, but just for flavoring. A lot of neatly layered horns come and go, none making a lasting impression. I've heard several of Adnet's albums now, and remain lukewarm. Can't fault his knack for sophisticated arranging, but don't quite see the point. B+(*)

Ahleuchatistas: Of the Body Prone (2009, Tzadik): Guitar-bass-drums trio: Shane Perlowin, Derek Poteat, Ryan Oslance, respectively. Fifth album since 2004, with Oslance a newcomer this time. Rather metallic, not inordinately heavy but dense, not much that strikes me as jazz; maybe post-grunge. B [Rhapsody]

Harry Allen: New York State of Mind (2009, Challenge): A follow-up to his Hits by Brits: I suppose Hits by Yanks would have seemed too broad, just as a London-themed album would have been too narrow. Not sure that it's such a good idea to drag Billy Joel into this, but his "New York, New York" is decidedly tender, and almost everything else swings powerfully. Half quartet, half with trombonist John Allred added -- latter half is better. B+(**)

Ben Allison: Think Free (2009, Palmetto): Good bassist, superb composer and bandleader. His last couple of albums have been so tuneful I'm inclined to hold this one back until I get it or give up. Nothing obvious this time. The middle ground is occupied by Jenny Scheinman on violin and Steve Cardenas on guitar, normally distinctive players who tend to go with the flow here. Rudy Royston, unknown to me, plays drums, and Shane Endsley, also unknown to me, highlights vigorously on trumpet. Seductive and thoughtful, just not sure how much to make of it. [B+(***)]

Ben Allison: Think Free (2009, Palmetto): Subtler, in terms of melodies but also instrumentation, than his recent superb albums, but eventually they emerge with the precise good taste of someone assured in his thinking. Violinist Jenny Scheinman is central and critical -- her best showing since 12 Songs -- while Steve Cardenas' guitar and Shane Endsley's trumpet play off the edges. A-

Karrin Allyson: By Request: The Best of Karrin Allyson (1993-2007 [2009], Concord): Kansas girl, started out with a clean, wholesome take on songbook standards, and wrote a bit -- her sole original here, "Sweet Home Cookin' Man," fairly stands out. I'm not sure that I like her 1996 "Cherokee," but her scat and Kim Park's slurred alto sax show her trying to do something interesting with the jazz tradition. Same can be said for her efforts to play off Coltrane. On the other hand, her early and recurring interest in Brazilian pop yields little -- she identifies "O Pato" as one of her signature songs, which makes it all the harder to put aside. Sort this chronologically and and it becomes clear that her career has been tailing off. After eleven albums, good time to catch her breath and take stock. B+(*)

Rodrigo Amado: Motion Trio (2009, European Echoes): Saxophonist, from Portugal, plays tenor here but started on alto. Has put together an impressive string of records since 2000, at first with Lisbon Improvisation Players. Trio here includes Miguel Mira on cello and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. Mostly free, your basic sax tour de force. B+(***)

Albert Ammons/Henry Brown/Meade Lux Lewis/"Cripple" Clarence Lofton/Pete Johnson/Speckled Red: Boogie Woogie Kings (1938-71 [2009], Delmark): Your basic boogie woogie piano sampler with some vocals; Lofton's six cuts are the oldest; Red, with four cuts including a previously unreleased (and relatively mild) "Dirty Dozens" is the most recent; Lewis gets three sharply played cuts, plus one with the Ammons-Johnson-Lewis triumvirate. B+(**)

Fred Anderson: 21st Century Chase (2009, Delmark): Eightieth birthday bash, live at Anderson's Velvet Lounge in Chicago. The 20th century "Chase" was a rousing bebop joust between Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray, cut on a 78 in two parts back in 1947. This one also comes in two parts, one 36:13, the other 14:13. Anderson spars with fellow tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, about six years his junior. They've tangled before, as on a 1999 record called 2 Days in April, which I panned as plug ugly to the dismay of the record's few admirers. This one is plug ugly too, although for some reason I find it more amusing. Maybe because they pull their punches here and there. Also because they end with "Ode to Alvin Fielder." B+(*)

Mulatu Astatke/The Heliocentrics: Inspiration Information (2009, Strut): [was (Rhapsody)] A-

Mulatu Astatke: New York-Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 (1965-75 [2009], Strut): The guy who got away from Swinging Addis while the getting was good. Working from an advance with no doc, I can only guess where and when these scattered singles came from or who does what on them. Christgau reports that eight are dupes from the Addis-rooted Éthiopiques 4, which I've checked out on Rhapsody and find more/less as inspired. One thing I note here from his New York and/or London wanderings (or Boston or wherever else) is a flirtation with Latin jazz, which he spices up subtly. A- [advance]

Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Merengue (2009, Zoho): Brazilian guitarist, b. 1944, has a couple dozen records including a 1982-98 stretch on Concord. The "Merengue" here is Venezuelan, not the better known Dominican form. Other pieces draw on Cuba and Brazil, elsewhere in South America, Hawaii even. Much of this is solo guitar, cautiously paced and captivating. Extra musicians appear here and there: Hendrik Meurkens (harmonica) on 2 cuts and Duduka Da Fonseca (percussion) on 4 make the front cover. Three cuts are guitar trios, with Karin Schaupp and Christopher McGuire chiming in. Two cuts add mandolin; three cuatro. B+(**)

Beaty Brothers Band: B3 (2007 [2008], Beaty Brothers): LP-style slipcase, probably a final product although it looked at first like an advance to me -- some labels do just that, but it seems unlikely that a self-release would. Brothers are John Beaty on alto sax and Joe Beaty on trombone. Band adds Yayoi Ikawa on piano (sounds electric), Jim Robertson on bass, Ari Hoenig on drums -- the latter is the only one I'm familiar with. Postbop, no real effort to take advantage of the electric instrument(s), and fairly limited solo power. B

Borah Bergman Trio: Luminescence (2008 [2009], Tzadik): Piano trio, with Greg Cohen on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. Bergman was born in 1933, took a while before he started recording (1976) and didn't record regularly until the 1990s. I have one of his records from 1983, A New Frontier, on my A-list, but haven't heard much by him. Early on he evoked Cecil Taylor, but that isn't evident here. This is one of the most even-tempered piano trio albums I've heard in a long time, the rhythm hushed, the chords masterfully sequenced. John Zorn joins on alto sax on one cut, filling in background colors. A- [Rhapsody]

Borah Bergman Trio: Luminescence (2008 [2009], Tzadik): [was (Rhapsody)] A-

Jeb Bishop/Harris Eisenstadt/Jason Roebke: Tiebreaker (2008, Not Two): Trombone, drums, bass, respectively. Bishop and Roebke come out of Chicago, Bishop having made a name for himself in the Vandermark 5 before splitting a couple of years ago -- subsequently doing similar work in Lucky 7s and the Engines. Free improvs, don't know whether it was caught live in Poland or packed off on a tape. Trombone doesn't have a lot of range for this sort of thing, so while this is very solid work, it doesn't sweep you away. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Samuel Blaser Quartet: Pieces of Old Sky (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Trombonist, from Switzerland, based in New York and Berlin, has a previous Quartet album with guitar-bass-drums like this but different musicians. This time it's Todd Neufeld on guitar, Thomas Morgan on bass, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. Has an atmospheric feel to it, more free than not, not very boppish. B+(**)

Carla Bley/Steve Swallow/The Partyka Brass Quintet: Carla's Christmas Carols (2008 [2009], Watt): Probably inevitable, especially once Carla took her big band to church, and the choice of Ed Partyka's Brass Quintet is inspired. Two originals, a lot of Trad., starting with the undisguisable "O Tannenbaum," but with a "Jingle Bells" that wandered far enough afield I found myself checking the title. Still, it's more solemn than not, stately and measured. Would be an improvement over much you'll hear this shopping season. B+(*)

Stefano Bollani Trio: Stone in the Water (2008 [2009], ECM): Italian pianist, leading a trio with Jesper Bodilsen on bass and Morten Lund on drums. Rather quiet and delicate; perhaps too much so to really get a handle on. B+(*)

Michiel Braam's Wurli Trio: Non-Functionals! (2009, BBB): Dutch pianist, b. 1964, of Bik Bent Braam fame. Has 20-some albums since 1989 in various guises, including one previous one by his Wurli Trio. The name comes from the Wurlitzer 200A electric piano featured here. Pieter Douma plays various basses, and Dirk-Peter Kölsch hits things (credits: "drums, all possible soundobjects"). Nine compositions are declared "non-functional" and simply numbered. Seems like a pretty simple idea, and I doubt that any amount of close listening will change that opinion. Still, an attractive, amusing outing. Tempting to slot it with soul organ grooves, but that's only pro forma. It occurs to me that I should try to do something long on the Dutch avant-garde, if for no other reason than that it's one of the few places in Europe I get things with some regularity (Portugal and Norway are the others). Well, that and because these guys have a wicked sense of humor. [B+(**)]

Michiel Braam's Wurli Trio: Non-Functionals! (2009, BBB): Dutch pianist, plays a Wurlitzer electric piano here along with bass and drums or some such like. Something of a more modern organ groove, or a swing around from EST -- not really fusion, but more playful than serious avant-gardists like to present themselves. B+(**)

Anthony Braxton/Maral Yakshieva: Improvisations (Duo) 2008 (2008 [2009], SoLyd, 2CD): Yakshieva is a pianist, b. 1968, from Turkmenistan, based in Moscow since 1995. Background looks to be good Communist fare -- folk melodies and classical -- although she has also tangled with Roscoe Mitchell. Two disc-length improvs, one 57:08, the other 51:47. Braxton goes easy on her, displaying a light ballad touch you may not have noticed much in his last 200+ albums. He's often quite wonderful, and while she doesn't stretch much, she's game to play along. B+(***)

The Joshua Breakstone Trio: No One New (2009, Capri): Guitarist, b. 1955, I count 16 albums since 1983, noting a Remembering Grant Green, Let's Call This Monk!, and The Music of Bud Powell. Mostly originals here, but covers include Jimmy Rowles and Joe Henderson. Bop-oriented guitar lines, with bass and drums. Been done before, but this flows nicely. B+(**)

Randy Brecker: Nostalgic Journey: Tykocin Jazz Suite/The Music of Wlodek Pawlik (2008 [2009], Summit): Pawlik is a Polish pianist, b. 1958. His website claims 18 albums starting from 1987. I'm not sure that AMG knows about any of them -- even a 1995 album called Turtles which featured Brecker. This one was cut in Bialystok with the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic conducted by Marcin Nalecz-Niesiolowski, Pawlik's piano trio, and the headline trumpet player. That doesn't sound like much promise, especially given how lousy Brecker's recent records have been (cf. Some Skunk Funk and Randy in Brasil), but this is quite a surprise. Pawlik's jazz suite emphasizes bebop rhythm, and the strings follow suit, shaping the background without spoiling it. Brecker's is the sole horn, just the right voice to cap it all off. I'm not sure that I believe it all yet. [A-]

Randy Brecker: Nostalgic Journey: Tykocin Jazz Suite/The Music of Wlodek Pawlik (2008 [2009], Summit): Bialystok's Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic play Pawlik's suite with unexpected flair -- you hear a lot of East European orchestras as jazz backdrops because they work cheap, but usually their classical breeding spoils the day. Helps no doubt that Pawlik's piano trio is featured, and especially that Brecker's trumpet is trusted with the highlights. He's always been a team player, but he's rarely had a team help him out so much. B+(***)

Brinsk: A Hamster Speaks (2008, Nowt): Group led by bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky: born in Winnipeg, grew up in Fargo, studied at McGill in Montreal and New England Conservatory, based in Brooklyn. Group includes trumpet (Jacob Wick), tenor sax (Evan Smith), euphonium (Adam Dotson), drums (Jason Nazary). Hype sheet says group "began as a vision of a metal/opera/cartoon with hamsters singing classical arias over metal-based rhythmic structures." At least they got rid of the vocal aspect here, and the rhythm is more free than metal. The horns chew on each other, with the euphonium an interesting contrast. I suspect it's too limited to go far, but worth another listen. William Block's comic strip illustrations are a nice touch. [B+(**)]

Brinsk: A Hamster Speaks (2008, Nowt): A concept album about hamsters singing arias over "metal-based rhythmic structures." The horns -- trumpet, tenor sax, euphonium -- keep it in the jazz realm. (There are no vocals, so don't worry about that.) I didn't get it the first time, and I don't get it now. It does seem likely that the group name is derived from bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky's name. B+(*)

The Rob Brown Trio: Live at Firehouse 12 (2008 [2009], Not Two): Alto saxophonist, a key player in several William Parker groups, starting to put together a solid catalog on his own. Joined here by Daniel Levin on cello and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion. Mostly rough, but there are several interesting and even eloquent sections, including the Billy Strayhorn-inspired "Stray(horn)." B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Skin and Wire: PianoCircus Featuring Bill Bruford: Play the Music of Colin Riley (2009, Summerfold): Really Riley's record. Don't know what else he's done, but he bills himself as a "composer of no fixed indoctrination," which suits his pieces here. PianoCircus is a group of classical pianists formed in 1989 to play Steve Reich's "Six Pianos" -- down to four here: David Appleton, Adam Caird, Kate Halsall, Semra Kurutaç, playing some keyboards as well. Bruford is the legendary prog rock drummer, moved out to jazz pastures. Also appearing on the record but not worked into the title is bass guitarist Julian Crampton. Riley's compositions are sparse, so there's no sense of massed pianos or anything -- a light touch is required of everyone, with Bruford excelling. A-

Michael Bublé: Crazy Love (2009, 143/Reprise): Singer, from Canada, b. 1975. Fourth studio album since 2003; second straight to chart No. 1, which puts him in a different universe than nearly every other jazz singer -- this album has sold more than 1.5 million copies to date. Pretty much the polar opposite of Gretchen Parlato: a suave, sophisticated, powerful vocalist, backed with an arsenal of a big band, so much overkill it turns into amusing self-caricature. Obvious songs, too: "Cry Me a River," "All of Me," "Georgia on My Mind," the Van Morrison title cut. Some clever ideas: a Sharon Jones duet, "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)"; sounds like the Mills Brothers on "Stardust." Not sure whether to be appalled or applaud. Most likely neither. B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Gary Burton/Chick Corea: Crystal Silence: The ECM Recordings 1972-79 (1972-79 [2009], ECM, 4CD): Hot on the heels of a 35th anniversary reunion tour documented as The New Crystal Silence, ECM repacks the original album along with two subsequent duet performances. I wish I could extoll the original as a legend, but vibes-piano duets offer a limited palette with similar dynamics -- at best (e.g., Milt Jackson and Thelonious Monk) you get an intriguing solo piano record with a cloud of bright accents. Corea's piano is similarly dominant here, especially on the original album, which despite name order Burton's vibes add very little to. Six years later, Duet is thicker, with Corea more dramatic and Burton more frenzied -- often too much so. The following year's live album finds both players slipping into their comfort zones. Spread out over two discs (combined length 83:11) they are the most evenly matched and generally pleasing, although the piano on the first album makes a stronger impression. B+(*)

Gary Burton/Pat Metheny/Steve Swallow/Antonio Sanchez: Quartet Live (2007 [2009], Concord): I've never really gotten the point of Pat Metheny, but he's certainly the force that holds this surprisingly agreeable group together. He keeps it all moving swiftly forward, with electric bassist Swallow blending in seamlessly, which leaves vibraphonist Burton little to do but react. He's produced a lot of mediocre (and some hideous) records over 45 years now, but one thing he's always had is quick reflexes, and they're a plus here. B+(*)

Taylor Ho Bynum & Spidermonkey Strings: Madeleine Dreams (2009, Firehouse 12): One of those things that musicians sometimes do: take a piece of literature and turn it into opera. My all-time favorite is Michael Mantler's take on Edward Gorey's The Hapless Child, the exception to the rule that opera is usually a just a nasty slog. The book here is Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's Madeleine Is Sleeping. I don't know how it reads, but it's awkward musically, and I can't say anything nice about Kyoko Kitamura's voice -- sure, could be an inspired meeting of weird words and music, but not an obvious one. Three extra cuts at least give the band a chance to show off. The Spidermonkey Strings are Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), and Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), fortified by Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums), with the leader on cornet. Coleman and Ra are standard here, but Ellington's "The Mooche" is most sublime, at least until Kitamura butts in with her Adelaide Hall impression, almost as amusing. B [Rhapsody]

Francesco Cafiso Quartet: Angelica (2008 [2009], CAM Jazz): Young alto saxophonist, b. 1989 in Sicily, making him 19 when he recorded this -- AMG lists it as his 7th album since 2004, a Concerto for Michel Petrucciani that they raved about. This one was recorded in New York with Aaron Parks (piano), Ben Street (bass), and Adam Cruz (drums). Has a gorgeous tone, a point he shows off by opening with "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing." Title track is from Ellington; he also checks Horace Silver and Sonny Rollins, plus wrote 4 of 9. Nicely turned out mainstream outing. B+(**)

Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project (2009, Akron Cracker): San Francisco group, although reed player Carney (ex-Tin Huey, Tom Waits) still gives credit to his Rubber City roots. Half the 14 tracks come from Ellington (technically 6, but Rex Stewart's "Rexatious" should count). The other major source here is Big Jay McNeely, a license to honk, which Carney takes seriously enough to take license with his titles -- "Jay's Frantic (and So Is Ralph)" and "Blow Big Ralph (aka Blow Big Jay)." I doubt that Carney will ever be as big as McNeely, but I can't imagine McNeely ever picking up a clarinet to toot out a little Barney Bigard. A- [CDR]

Amanda Carr and the Kenny Hadley Big Band: Common Thread (2009, OMS): Carr is a vocalist with five albums since 2000. I rather liked her previous album Soon. Here she fronts a big band led by drummer Hadley. He cites Buddy Rich as an inspiration, and formed the band from local musicians, wherever local is -- I don't recognize anyone in the band. He has two previous albums, one with singer Rebecca Parris. Nothing much wrong here. The band has some punch; the singer can command a song. Still, I couldn't hear "They All Laughed" without recalling Fitzgerald and Armstrong, and, well, you know, nothing like that here. B

Sharel Cassity: Relentless (2008 [2009], Jazz Legacy): Alto saxophonist, b. 1978 in Iowa City, IA, also plays soprano sax and flute. Second album. Solid mainstream group with Orrin Evans on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass, EJ Strickland on drums, and quite a few extra horns popping in and out -- Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Thomas Barber on flugelhorn, Michael Dease on trombone, Andrew Boyarsky on tenor sax, Don Braden on alto flute. Slick and flashy postbop. B

Chaque Objet (2008 [2009], Evil Rabbit): Group name and/or album name. French name, but the group is all Italian, with two guitarists, Pablo Montagne and Adolfo La Volpe, plus Francesco Massaro on saxes and flutes and Alessandro Tomasseti on drums, percussion, and vibes. Guitar sound dominates, in a heady avant-garde mix. B+(**)

Audrey Chen/Robert van Heumen: Abattoir (2008-09 [2009], Evil Rabbit): Chen plays cello and makes vocal noises -- hard to judge her as a singer here in what is basically an unapologetic avant-noise album. Van Heumen is credited with laptop and controllers; also "selected, mixed, and mastered" so he has the last laugh. Chen is Chinese-American, b. 1976 near Chicago, is based in Baltimore. She has appeared on several other albums, only incidentally getting top billing here. Van Heumen's credit list goes back to 2000, but it's hard to tell how they shape up into albums. I tried following postclassical electronic music back in the 1970s when it was still relatively rare, but lost track in the 1980s, especially after Tom Johnson left the Village Voice. I imagine there's more stuff like this floating around, but just don't hear it. Strange sounds, lots of noise, a bit hard to take. Still, I don't find it as annoying as Merzbow or Lightning Bolt. I doubt that you'll like it, but I'm not sure I don't. B+(*)

Chicago Underground Duo: Boca Negra (2009 [2010], Thrill Jockey): Rob Mazurek (cornet, electronics) and Chad Taylor (drums, vibes, mbira, computer, electronics). They've been the core of various Chicago Underground duos, trios, and quartets going back to 1998. The duo format doesn't seem much more stable than a two-legged stool, but they don't just give and take here, although they do try a lot of different variations. "Confliction" stands out as an unusually raucous piece: heavy drumming, rapid cornet riffs, so much momentum you never sense the lack of a bassist. B+(**)

The Aaron Choulai Trio: Ranu (2008 [2009], Sunnyside): Pianist, from Papua New Guinea, b. 1982, which moves him past prodigy contention -- I was pretty hard on his previous album, Place, but don't have anything to complain about here. Two of his four covers are rock-derived, and while Radiohead seems likely to be the curse of his generation, his 10:18 repetitive stretch of Neil Young's "Tell Me Why" works out quite nicely. B+(*)

Gerald Clayton: Two-Shade (2009, ArtistShare): Piano trio, debut recording, although he had the advantage of growing up in his father, bassist John Clayton's big band, and has a substantial list of side credits already. As with many mainstream piano trios, I'm at a loss for words, but he has good balance and poise, and this holds up consistently well. B+(***)

Freakish: Anthony Coleman Plays Jelly Roll Morton (2009, Tzadik): Pianist. AMG credits him with 9 albums since 1992, omitting a couple of duos he came up on on the short stick of, and maybe some group albums I'd file his way -- Sephardic Tinge, the Selfhaters, not sure what else. No doubt he was thinking of Morton when he titled an early album Sephardic Tinge then recycled the album name as group name. This is solo, as straightforward as any Morton tribute. "Freakish" is an obscure song title. I suppose if Morton were around he'd explain how he invented Monk. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Andy Cotton: Last Stand at the Hayemeyer Ranch (2009, Bju'ecords): Bassist, plays guitar on one cut, grew up near Boston, studied at New School, based in Brooklyn, first album. Packaging a thin brown sleeve, looks biodegradeable. Gets lots of help, and the whole thing can be described as eclectic, but one relatively common theme is reggae -- "Shit Rock" is probably the best example, but there's also "Slow Reggie" and "C minor Reggie." Influences list starts with King Tubby; also includes "Appalachian fiddle music," which influences "Macallan's Waltz." Several cuts have vocalists, adding to the mish-mash feel even though there's nothing particularly wrong with any of them. B+(**)

On Ka'a Davis: Djoukoujou! (2009, Tzadik): Guitarist, joined up with Sun Ra near the end of the latter's career, manages an unruly mob here, long on bass and percussion, with horn credits, like vocal credits, merely divided into "fronting" and "backing." Davis has another new record out this year, Seed of Djuke, which I picked as an HM. It had pretty much the same group, more vocals, a bit more generic funk. This is rougher, dirtier, like he's finally getting some mileage out of his Sun Ra channel. Especially vivid is a squeaky sax solo early on -- I figure it's probably Saco Yasuma. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Maria de Barros: Morabeza (2009, Sheer Group): Born in Senegal, grew up in Mauritania, and has lived and moved all over, but she maintains allegiance to the Cape Verdean music of her parents, and of Cesaria Evora. Lithe Portuguese soul music, familiar from Brazil but just a shade different. B+(**) [advance]

Joey DeFrancesco: Snap Shot (2009, High Note): Perennial Downbeat poll winner on organ, at least until recently when he's slipped a notch. Guitar-drums trio, live set in Scottsdale, AZ, not a lot of investment here, but he's in remarkably good form, especially on the slow, soulful "You Don't Know Me." On the fast ones guitarist Paul Bollenback takes the lead. I sort of recalled him being good at this sort of thing, not realizing that he's been on a dozen previous DeFrancesco albums. (Also on Hammond salesman Vince Seneri's Prince's Groove, and on Jim Snidero's A-listed Crossfire.) Drummer is Byron Landham, who's been on DeFrancesco albums going back to 1991. B+(***)

Finger Poppin' With Joey DeFrancesco: Celebrating the Music of Horace Silver (2008 [2009], Doodlin'): A batch of Horace Silver classics played by a Silver-like group, only with DeFrancesco's organ replacing both piano and bass, which costs a bit of sparkle on the high end. You'd think it would also add to the churchiness, but that's not really DeFrancesco's style, and if anything he loses some of the gospel swagger and sway. The two horns are Tom Harrell on flugelhorn and Tim Warfield on tenor sax. They both have moments, but neither really breaks loose. [NB: Rhapsody didn't cooperate in playing all of the songs.] B+(*) [Rhapsody]

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One (2008 [2009], Origin): Featuring Bonnie Eisele, DeMerle's better half in all the usual senses. Both sing: she's really quite good, a better standards stylist than most of the singers I get who hog up whole albums; he's not bad, and while in the past he got by with humor, he makes do with a sense of humor here. Not sure how he conceived his version of "St. Louis Blues" -- sounds to me like a cha-cha. He's also a drummer, and manages to work in an extended solo: in the past I've been tempted to cast them as Louis Prima and Keely Smith, but you know he'd rather be Buddy Rich. As for the gypsies, that's a quartet called Gypsy Pacific, with violin, two guitars, and bass. The instrumentals, which include one from Django, one from Bird, and one from Newk, don't really stand out, but they keep the program going. My guess is that they're a lot of fun live. B+(***)

De Nazaten & James Carter: Skratyology (2007 [2009], Strotbrock): Dutch group, with some input from the former Dutch colony of Surinam; originally De Nazaten van Prins Hendrik ("the offspring of Prince Hendrik"), after the consort (1901-34) to Dutch Queen Wilhelmina (1890-1948). They describe Hendrik as "infamous for his promiscuous lifestyle." The Wikipedia article on Prince Hendrik is notably lacking in details, other than to suggest that Wilhelmina wasn't terribly happy with the dude. The group does promiscuously merge world musics with a lot of brass and drums -- the skratyi the title was based on is a bass drum from Surinam, played by Chris Semmoh. Not sure how James Carter got involved with this group. He may be in a class of his own, but he doesn't stand out that much here, playing baritone sax, but surrounded by Klaas Hekman (bass sax), Keimpe de Jong (tenor sax, tubax), and Patrick Votrian (trombone, sousaphone) there is a lot of rumbling in the lower registers, which sets off some explosive trumpet by Setish Bindraban. They remind me a bit of Parliament, both for the party vibe and for a word that might be a good future title: thumpasaurus. A-

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe: Brother's Keeper (2009, Shanachie): Saxophonist, plays them all plus flute, b. 1968, 9th album since 1992. Always liked funk grooves, but started out thinking he might rough them up rather than smooth them over. But he kept edging further into pop jazz, but rather than letting himself be swallowed up he's emerged on the other side as a vocalist, where he has too much grit in his voice to go smooth. Upbeat, positive expressions, doesn't like war. Easy to imagine that "Mighty Rebel" would fit into the Bob Marley songbook, but that just reminds you that Marley would have done it better. As "Just Got Paid" shows, he's never going to sell it all out, but a man's gotta make a living. B+(**)

Bill Dixon: Tapestries for Small Orchestra (2009, Firehouse 12, 2CD): Trumpet player, b. 1925, which makes him 84. Late starter: he got his first notice on a 1966 Cecil Taylor album, Conquistador, but didn't carve out much of a career until the 1980s when he cut a series of albums on the Italian Soul Note label, a run that ended around 2000. Those were small group albums, some no more than duos with drummer Tony Oxley. However, Dixon was enough of a legend, at least in some circles, that he reappeared in 2007, of all things arranging for large groups -- curiously, a move also made by Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, and Charles Tolliver. I've only sampled Dixon lightly over the years, and never found anything particularly appealing, but this one is striking. The 9-piece group is heavily stocked with the trumpet family -- Dixon plus Taylor Ho Bynum, Graham Haynes, Stephen Haynes, and Rob Mazurek, most on cornet with flugelhorn, bass trumpet, and piccolo trumpet also credited. The only reed is Michael Conte's contrabass and bass clarinet. Glynis Loman plays cello, Ken Filiano bass, and Warren Smith vibes, marimba, drums, tympani, and gongs. Several of these plyers are also credited with electronics, which can get a bit Halloweeny, often pierced by jabs of cornet. Eight pieces stretch out over two discs. Package also includes a DVD, which I don't have and haven't seen. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

DJ Spooky: The Secret Song (2009, Thirsty Ear): Paul Miller, turntablist, producer; hooked up with Matthew Shipp in the early days of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series jazz-DJ experiment. The instrumental pieces reflect that, with Shipp and Khan Jamal's vibes and samples flutes and what not, mixed in with rap bits from the Coup and the Jungle Brothers, plus some spoken Bush that almost makes sense. Comes with a second disc, but I have no idea what's on it or what it's for. B+(***)

Anne Drummond: Like Water (2007 [2009], ObliqSound): Flute player, seems to be from Seattle, moved to New York in 1999, this looks to be her first album (although AMG also lists something called Flute Ballads with no real info). Has side credits with Kenny Barron, Stefon Harris, Avishai Cohen (the bassist), Dave Liebman, Nilson Matts, Jason Miles, Andy Milne, Manuel Valera, James Silberstein -- enough to get her on the short list of rising flute stars. Likes Brazilian music, enough to pick up Matta and Duduka Da Fonseca on a couple of cuts. Also likes classica music, or that's how it seems given she adds violin and/or viola on most cuts. I've never been a flute fan, exept when it's incidental to something else I really like, like David Murray's Creole. This is listenable enough, but has no special appeal to me. C+

The Duke of Elegant: Gems From the Duke Ellington Songbook [The Composer Collection Volume 3] (1959-2007 [2009], High Note): Label recycling project, only two cuts predating 1999 -- a Mark Murphy shot from 1990 and Lucky Thompson from 1959 -- with the usual ups and downs but nothing that really stands out. Doesn't flow all that well either. B

Kyle Eastwood: Metropolitan (2009, Rendezvous): Bassist son of actor Clint Eastwood. Physicist Sheldon Glashow once had a story about being at some sort of celebrity autograph thing and noticing that the guy next to him was getting a lot more traffic than he was. He asked the guy who he was, and got "Clint Eastwood" for an answer. Asked him what he was famous for, and got "you gotta be kidding." Kyle has been lurking on Clint's soundtracks for the past decade, although Lennie Niehaus is still the director's jazz professor emeritus. Fourth album since 1998, not counting his soundtrack to Letters From Iwo Jima. Advance copy with no credit info either on sleeve or hypesheet, other than that Miles Davis's son Erin co-produced. Mostly groove tracks, with non-cheezy electric keybs, bass and drums, some nice spots of trumpet (Til Brönner), two vocals (Camille). B+(*) [advance: June 2]

Zé Eduardo Unit: Jazz Ar: Live in Capuchos (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Recording date doesn't give year, so I'm guessing there, rolling back from the more precise liner notes date. Trio, led by Portugese bassist, with Jesus Santandreu on tenor sax and Bruno Pedroso on drums. Don't recognize the pieces other than "The Simpsons" theme. One problem is that the record has some unusually quiet spots -- probably bass solos -- plus some other starts and stops. B

Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet: Things Have Got to Change (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Two horns, with James Zollar's trumpet joining Ehrlich's alto sax, Erik Friedlander's cello in lieu of bass, Pheeroan Aklaff on drums. Ehrlich picked up 3 Julius Hemphill pieces and wrote 5 originals much in the same vein. Hemphill tended to write slippery pieces with lots of odd harmonic touches, things I often found irritating although sometimes he managed to turn them into miracles. There's some of that here, with a couple of pieces that don't come together -- Ehrlich's, actually -- making this a difficult record. Zollar is generally superb. Friedlander's cello sometimes comes off more like a guitar, leaving the steadying role of the bass vacant. B+(*)

Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Drummer, b. 1975 in Toronto, Canada; based in New York. Has an interest in West African music, which he's worked into some of his 7 records since 2002, although it's not obvious here. Quintet, with Nat Wooley (trumpet) and Matt Bauder (tenor sax) the horns, Chris Dingman's vibes in between, and Eivind Opsvik on bass. More freebop than postbop, although the harmonics make me think of the latter; while the horns have their moments, they don't work as consistently as I'd like. B+(*)

Empirical: Out 'n' In (2009 [2010], Naim): UK group, based in London, a quartet with Nathaniel Facey on alto sax, Lewis Wright on vibes, Tom Farmer on double bass, and Shaney Forbes on drums, expanded here with Julian Siegel on bass clarinet and tenor sax. The occasion for the latter is an interest in Eric Dolphy, who provides the two covers and inspiration for a Facey original, "Dolphyus Morphyus." B+(**)

Empty Cage Quartet: Gravity (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Jason Mears (alto sax, clarinet), Kris Tiner (trumpet), Ivan Johnson (double bass), Paul Kikuchi (drums, percussion). Group has five albums together since 2006. Tiner's title piece consists of 11 sections, split up here into five chunks, separated by another four chunks of Mears's multi-sectional "Tzolkien." This stradles the notion of free and composed in attractive ways, although I'm hard-pressed to tell which is which or why it should matter. The two horns stand tall. The rhythm does a nice job of supporting them. B+(***)

Ersatzmusika: Songs Unrecantable (2009, Asphalt Tango): A group of six Russians based in Berlin, the most critical being keyboard-accordion player and singer Irina Doubrovskaja. The Russian lyrics have been translated into English by seventh wheel Thomas Cooper who sings two of them with as little voice as possible. Doubrovskaja as a speechy voice as well -- I've seen her likened to Marlene Dietrich, which at least give you a picture of the effect -- with an accent so heavy she turns the English words back into Russian pidgin. What's ersatz is the folk-rock with a cabaret twist. Group also has an earlier album, sans Cooper, called Voice Letter, which is even truer to the concept. [PS: I don't normally put any stock in a musician's MySpace friends list, even I was impressed by this group's combo: Moondog, Brian Eno, and Manu Chao. PPS: I think those are fan pages rather than artist pages.] A-

Wayne Escoffery: Uptown (2008 [2009], Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1975 in England, moved to Connecticut at age 11, studied with Jackie McLean. Fifth album. Has a big tone, impressive chops, tends to make conservative musical choices. (Labels: Nagel Heyer, Savant, now Posi-Tone.) This is an old-fashioned soul jazz configuration -- guitar (Avi Rothbard), organ (Gary Versace), and drums (Jason Brown) -- although no one here quite risks sounding old-fashioned. B+(*)

Anna Estrada: Obsesión (2009, Feral Flight): Singer, from Bay Area, second album, mostly in Spanish (I think), with some Brazilian tunes slipped in, plus two in English done with nice samba beats. The latter two are inspired choices: "Nature Boy" and "Always Something There to Remind Me." Nice album cover art. B+(**)

Charles Evans/Neil Shah: Live at Saint Stephens (2009, Hot Cup): Evans plays baritone sax; had a solo record called The King of All Instruments that held up pretty well. Shah plays piano, and has a previous album I haven't heard. (Also reportedly sings, but not here.) Like so many duos, a lot of thoughtful interplay but nothing really takes off. B+(*)

Ella Fitzgerald: Twelve Nights in Hollywood (1961-62 [2009], Hip-O Select/Verve, 4CD): The recently reissued single Ella in Hollywood sums this up nicely, but with Norman Granz recording all of an eleven night stand at Sunset Strip's Crescendo Club, the first three discs here are still cherry picking, with no redundancies except when Ella herself would sing one twice in a row, just because she was into it. She was into nearly everything here: on the last lap of her tour through the songbooks, she had a vast repertoire, and could make more up any time the words stumped her or she just wanted to play with you -- after all, everybody loves "Perdido" even though nobody knows the words. The fourth disc returns a year later, with no guitar and different piano and drums -- changes that make no real difference. The packaging here looks fancy but is awkward, with its slip-cover misidentifying guitarist Herb Ellis, and inflexible sleeves making it hard to get discs in and out. A-

The Fonda/Stevens Group: Trio (2006 [2007], Not Two): Bassist Joe Fonda, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, drummer Harvey Sorgen. Stripped down to a trio the piano flowers with a commanding rhythmic density and the bass stretches out. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

The Fonda/Stevens Group: Memphis (2008 [2009], Playscape): Principals are bassist Joe Fonda (b. 1954) and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens (b. 1951), who have something like ten albums together, probably more each on their own -- not easy to count these things informally (e.g., AMG has separate lists for "Fonda Stevens Group" and "Fonda-Stevens Group"). Quartet this time, with Herb Robertson on trumpet and Harvey Sorgen on drums. Wide range of stuff here, including two group vocals, very rough attempts at r&b -- note that Stevens calls Memphis home -- but mostly slippery freebop that can go fast, slow, inside, or far out. Both principals write five songs each. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

John Funkhouser Trio: Time (2009, Jazsyzygy): Piano trio, with Greg Loughman on bass and Mike Connors on drums. Funkhouser comes from Boston, studied at New England Conservatory, lived in New York for a while then returned to Boston to teach at Berklee. Also plays bass, presumably not here. Website claims discography of "over 40 CDs," three with his Trio: previous ones take the hint from his name are are called Funkhouse and Funkhouse II. This rolls along brightly. B+(**)

Nobuyasu Furuya Trio: Bendowa (2009, Clean Feed): Plays tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute, in that order; from Japan, based in Lisbon, Portugal; so is rhythm section: Hernani Faustino on bass, Gabriel Ferrandini on drums/percussion. Jointly-credited improvs, five in all. Title has something to do with zen master Dogen. Gives the flute/bass clarinet stuff a bit of airy elegance, but the sax can still get ugly -- it's in its nature. B+(**)

Jim Gailloreto's Jazz String Quartet: American Complex (2009, Origin Classical): Saxophonist, plays soprano here, but seems to have started on tenor. Fourth album, second with this string quartet, which despite the Jazz in the name is standard issue classical in format and, most likely, training. They stay rather neatly in the background, but the soprano sax matches their timbre well enough that they fit together smartly. Best on Monk's "Well You Needn't," which forces them into unnatural positions. Patricia Barber adds piano and voice on two of her songs. Origin invented a label for them, but that really wasn't necessary. B+(*)

Rob Garcia 4: Perennial (2009, Bju'ecords): Drummer, has a couple of previous albums out. Wrote everything here but "Cherokee." Quartet, with Noam Preminger on tenor sax, Dan Tepfer on piano, and Chris Lightcap on bass. Measured postbop, a tension to the rhythm, strong leads both on sax and piano. B+(**)

Ray Gehring & Commonwealth: Radio Trails (2008 [2009], Evan Music): Guitarist, b. 1968 in Washington, DC; grew up in Nebraska; eventually landed in Brooklyn after spells in Paris and Minneapolis. Has a previous trio record. This one is a little more complicated, often combining keyboards and organ, sometimes with bass, always with drums. Four songs have vocals, three by Dan Gaarder, starting with Gram Parsons' "She," given a tasteful read. Guitar doesn't stand out very much, although it does fold in with the keyboards nicely. Rather indifferent about the vocals. B

Egberto Gismonti: Saudaçőes (2006-07 [2009], ECM, 2CD): Brazilian guitarist, has a long list of records since 1970, which I've sampled only lightly. The two discs here are completely independent. The first is a 7-part suite for string orchestra, performed by the Cuban group Camerata Romeu. Labelled a "tribute to miscegnation," it purports to tell the story of Brazil, but in classical composition terms I can't begin to decipher. The second disc is on the opposite end of the scale: a set of guitar duets with Alexandre Gismonti. They're hard to follow too, but the intimate scale and tight intertwining give them some interest. B

The Godforgottens: Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (2006 [2009], Clean Feed): Magnus Broo on trumpet, Sten Sandell on organ (with some piano and a bit of throat singing), Johan Berthling on double bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. I've seen this described as Sandell's trio plus Broo, but Nilssen-Love has surely played as much with Broo as with Sandell. Three long pieces, jointly credited, which usually means made up on the spot. Sandell works in a mode totally divorced from soul jazz, and manages to make quite a bit out of it. Broo, for once, is the only horn, so he has the field clear, and takes to it aggressively. A-

Jared Gold: Supersonic (2008 [2009], Posi-Tone): Organ player, based in New York, has another record out this year on Posi-Tone (didn't get it), not sure which is his debut. This one has Ed Cherry on guitar and McClenty Hunter on drums. Rather energetic, but not much else to recommend it. B-

Ben Goldberg: Speech Communication (2009, Tzadik): Clarinetist, has 8 albums since 1992, plus three more by his New Klezmer Trio group (1990-2000). This is another trio, in Tzadik's Radical Jewish Culture series, so there's some suggestion that this is a New Klezmer Trio reunion -- drummer Kenny Wollesen is shared, bassist Greg Cohen is new. With all original tunes, doesn't sound very klezmerish, but isn't far removed either. Starts solo, but picks up nicely with bass and drums. The deep-sounding clarinet on a couple of pieces is a contra alto. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Dennis González/Jnaana Septet: The Gift of Discernment (2005 [2008], Not Two): Trumpet player, from Abilene, TX, based on Dallas, has a long list of records since 1985 but after a slow stretch in the late 1990s has been on a major roll since 2003, mostly due to renewed interest in Europe. I've featured a couple of his records -- Idle Wild was a pick hit, Nile River Suite another A-list, and a couple of HMs -- but I haven't heard any of the five records I know of that he's released this year: A Matter of Blood and Renegage Spirits on Furthermore, Hymn for Tomasz Stanko on Qbico, Songs of Early Autumn on No Business, and The Great Bydgoszcz Concert on Ayler. The group here is deep with percussion: three drummers, including Robby Mercado on bata and congas, plus extra percussion from González, pianist Chris Parker, and bassist Aaron González. The six pieces, especially the long ones, stretch out in complex grooves. The seventh member is vocalist Leena Conquest, who appeared on William Parker's wonderful Raining on the Moon. She tends to ululate harmlessly in the background, carried, like González's sharper trumpet, on a vast river of percussion. A- [Rhapsody]

Dennis González/Jnaana Septet: The Gift of Discernment (2008, Not Two): [was (Rhapsody)] A-

Dennis González: A Matter of Blood (2008 [2009], Furthermore): Trumpet player, on a roll lately with a half dozen or so new albums out. Quartet, with Curtis Clark on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, Michael T.A. Thompson on a drum set he calls a soundrhythium. Old school avant-garde, with everyone playing at a high level. B+(***)

The Gordon Grdina Trio: . . . If Accident Will (2007 [2009], Plunge): Canadian guitarist, also plays some oud. Trio includes bass and drums. This came out at the same time as his fancier East Van Strings album, and I lost track of it. But it is easily the best showcase for his guitar work. B+(***)

Chris Greene Quartet: Merge (2009 [2010], Single Malt): Saxophonist, from Evanston, IL; studied at University of Indiana; returned to Chicago. Fifth album since 1998. Album pictures him with a tenor sax; website with a soprano. Grew up listening to funk, which comes through especially in the three originals that kick off the album. After that this leans more postbop, although I'm occasionally reminded of Illinois Jacquet. Group includes piano-bass-drums, no one I've heard of, although pianist Damian Espinosa wrote one song and takes a few notable solos. B+(**) [Apr. 6]

Brian Groder/Burton Greene: Groder & Greene (2007 [2009], Latham): Groder plays trumpet/flugelhorn; third album since 2005; biography vague, but shows some respect for avant-garde elders, picking up Sam Rivers for Torque and Greene here. Greene's a pianist who cut a couple of explosive mid-1960s records for ESP-Disk and has popped up every few years ever since. The juxtaposition is interesting here, but the more dominant instrument didn't make the top line: alto sax, played in rip-roaring form by Rob Brown, a bit reckless on the curves but powerful straightahead. The other band members are Adam Lane on bass, who is superb as usual, and Ray Sage on drums. B+(***)

Tom Gullion: Carswell (2008-09 [2009], Momentous): Saxophonist, b. 1965 in Clinton, IN, studied at Indians University and Northwestern; worked in Chicago, currently based in Wisconsin. Two sets here, one cut in LaCrosse, WI, the other in Chicago, with different groups -- both feature electric piano, acoustic bass, and drums; plus the WI group has David Cooper on trumpet. Mainstream player with some chops, mostly tenor but also works in a little soprano, bass clarinet, and alto flute. When in doubt, sticks close to funk grooves, not a bad idea. B+(**)

Andy Haas/Don Fiorino: Death Don't Have No Mercy (2005, Resonant Music): Haas is a saxophonist (alto, I believe), who also plays piri, fife, and live electronics here, didjeridu elsewhere. He first appeared c. 1980 in a Canadian rock group called Martha and the Muffins -- their Metro Music was one of my favorite records that year. Since then he's worked with God Is My Co-Pilot, circulated in and around John Zorn projects, and landed with a group called Radio I-Ching. I liked their latest when I streamed it from Rhapsody, asked for a real copy, and got a lot of background material in addition. This is a duo with Fiorino, who plays guitar, lotar, banjo, and dobro. Some of this stuff is fascinating, including the stretched way out "Anthem" which you will recognize as "Star Spangled Banner," but it tends to wander especially when they get off their main instruments. B+(*)

Andy Haas: Humanitarian War (2006, Resonant Music): What's it good for? Absolutely nothing. Sorry, couldn't resist. The ten tracks are named for weapons, especially ones that are more oriented toward maiming than killing -- cluster bombs ("CBU 87 Steel Rain," "BLU108B Cluster"), anti-personnel mines ("PFM-1 Green Parrot," "Valmara 69"), "White Phosphorus" and "Depleted Uranium." "AGM-142 Have Hap" is an Israeli air-to-ground missile; "MK77 Mod 5" is a US incendiary bomb, updated napalm; "BLU 113 Penetrator" is a US bunker-busting "smart bomb." Solo improvs, with shofar and fife prominent on the instrument list. Educational, I suppose, but not very enjoyable. B

Andy Haas: The Ruins of America (2007-08 [2008], Resonant Music): Another solo job, which is inevitably its weak spot. Haas is credited with sax, piri, fife, live electronics and prepared loops, footnoting that the electronic sounds are processed from unnamed acoustic instruments. Two Brazilian tunes, but mostly Americana -- a lot of trad., a little Irving Berlin, the three part original title track split up into four pieces. Tends toward abstraction, deconstruction, sonic mischief. B+(*)

Jonathon Haffner: Life on Wednesday (2008 [2009], Cachuma): Alto saxophonist, originally from southern California, now based in New York. First album, produced by David Binney, gets lots of help: Craig Taborn (piano, wurlitzer, electronics), Wayne Krantz (guitar), Eivind Opsvik (upright bass, electric bass), Jochen Rueckert (drums), Kenny Wollesen (drums). Has some grit in his horn and can get dirty. Taborn and Krantz provide a dense backdrop but don't solo much. B+(**)

Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Thin Air (2008 [2009], Thirsty Ear): First time I heard the vocals here I flashed on the thought that this might be a jazz analogue to anti-folk -- much more learned, of course, but something meant to upset the cart. Second time through I heard echoes of Syd Barrett. But by then Halvorson's guitar and Pavone's violin had started to come into their own and the occasional words seem to matter less. Halvorson's developed a critical cult in the last couple of years. B. 1980 in Boston, studied enough at Wesleyan to get associated with Braxton, moved on to Brooklyn. I haven't heard her Dragon's Head record, which finished strong in 2008 year-end polls, and only caught a previous duo with Pavone, On and Off on Rhapsody, with one play not making much sense of it. Pavone is from New York, a few years older, attended University of Hartford, and was drawn into Braxton's orbit at Wesleyan, and of course returned to New York. (She is evidently not related to the great bassist Mario Pavone, who also has a Braxton connection.) This will take some time to sort out, if indeed I ever do. Note that Halvorson and Pavone are on the current cover of Signal to Noise, whose eds. are no doubt pleased with the contrast that Diana Krall is on the cover of Downbeat. [B+(***)]

Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Thin Air (2008 [2009], Thirsty Ear): Guitarist and violinist respectively; both sing some, but not well. Halvorson has occasionally played brilliantly in the past, but there's little evidence of it here, in what is roughly speaking jazz chamber anti-folk. Obliquely primitivist when they're just playing, suggesting little talent and no finesse, but something distinctive. Can't say anything nice about the vocals. (Note unusually big drop from first round.) B-

The Jeff Hamilton Trio: Symbiosis (2009, Capri): Piano trio, led by the drummer better known for his role in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, currently the big band singers like Diana Krall routinely call on. The pianist here is Tamir Hendelman, with Christoph Luty on bass -- two young musicians based in Los Angeles, possibly on their first records. Record includes one Hamilton original (a samba), the rest standards. Straightforward, snappy, enjoyable. B+(**)

The Hanuman Sextet: 9 Meals From Anarchy (2006, Resonant Music): Radio I-Ching -- Andy Haas (sax, raita, morsing, live electronics), Don Fiorino (lotar & lap steel guitar), Dee Pop (drums, percussion) -- plus Mia Theodoratus (electric harp), Matt Heyner (bass, erhu), and David Gould (more drums, percussion). Two covers -- one from Jamaican saxophonist Cedric Brooks, the other "Everything Happens to Me" -- plus eight joint improvs. The latter are rather scattered, but rarely short of interest. B+(**)

The Heliocentrics: Out There (2007, Now Again): Presumably Sun Ra-inspired, although an association with DJ Shadow has sharpened up their beats, and their jazz credentials are unsure. Still, they first came to my attention playing with Mulatu Astatke, and the difference they made between Astatke's old Ethio-Jazz and his Information Inspiration is not just beatwise -- they also improvise more around the beat. Subtract Astatke and you get this, which is more dancefloor and more soundtrack but only around the frilly edges. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Yaron Herman Trio: Muse (2009, Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1981 in Israel, studied at Berklee in Boston, wound up in Paris. Fourth album since 2003. Trio includes bassist Matt Brewer, who contributes a couple of songs, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Three cuts add a string quartet (Quatuor Ebčne): the first is a bit mushy but the other two mesh nicely. Nice touch on slow pieces, plus some captivating fast runs. B+(**)

Jim Hobbs/Joe Morris/Luther Gray: The Story of Mankind (2008, Not Two): Hobbs is an alto saxophonist from Boston who remained obscure despite sounding brilliant every time he popped up. But he's been popping up a lot in the last couple of years, on records led by Morris or in his Fully Celebrated group. Morris plays bass, although elsewhere he's mostly a guitarist. Gray plays drums. Don't know what the circumstances of this record were, but it is up and down, with some very impressive parts as well as indecisive ones. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Billie Holiday: The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters (1939-50 [2009], Hip-O Select/Verve, 3CD): Nothing new here. The 16 cuts Holiday recorded in 1939-44 for Commodore are available since 2000 as The Commodore Master Takes, and the 37 1944-50 Decca cuts appeared as The Complete Decca Recordings back in 1991. Both sets are still in print, and a good deal cheaper than this elegant little "limited edition." This is the middle period Holiday you never hear about: the early-late debate turns on how much you are attracted to her martyrdom, but both periods are consistently backed by great bands -- thanks to John Hammond and Norman Granz, with a strong assist from Teddy Wilson. Milt Gabler tried at Commodore, but results were spotty, while Decca's orchestras -- not to mention the strings and backing choirs -- were anonymous and often schlocky. Still, Holiday's voice is strong and healthy and one-of-a-kind, and she carries almost everything they throw at her. The most historic, of course, is her anti-lynching ballad "Strange Fruit." Among the most fun are a pair of Decca duets with Louis Armstrong. A-

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti: Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Accordion player, has a couple of previous albums on Clean Feed. Trio adds trumpeter Ron Horton, who is sparkling throughout, and bassist David Phillips. Sassetti is a Portuguese pianist I have high regard for, but he doesn't make much of an impression here. "Drunkard's Hymn" is fully achieved; it is credibed to Holshouser but its roots are deep in trad. B+(**)

Randy Ingram: The Road Ahead (2009, Bju'ecords): Pianist, from Laguna Beach, CA; studied at USC and New England Conservatory, at the latter with Fred Hersch and Danilo Perez (also garlanding an "incredible pianist" quote from George Russell). First album, mostly trio with Matt Clohesy and Jochen Rueckert, with saxophonist John Ellis joining in on several cuts. Four of nine originals, including a Monkish "Hope" leading in to Monk's "Think of One" -- other covers include Lennon/McCartney, Cole Porter, and Ornette Coleman. Impressive work either way. B+(**)

Jon Irabagon: The Observer (2009, Concord): Alto saxophonist, best known for his slash and burn approach to Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Won a Thelonious Monk Saxophone prize which came with a Concord recording contract. Some evidence that Concord tried to turn him into another Christian Scott, but he outfoxed them: held out for his own songs, compromised by getting a mainstream rhythm section, but held out for a really good one, best known for working with Stan Getz: pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid, drummer Lewis Nash. He blows rings around them, but they never lose a step. There's even a little duo with Barron -- not exactly like Getz, but lovely. Nicholas Payton slides in on a couple of cuts. Bertha Hope takes over the piano for one of three covers, one of her late husband's songs. Another cover is from Gigi Gryce, safe common ground. B+(***)

Vijay Iyer Trio: Historicity (2008-09 [2009], ACT): Piano trio. AMG credits the leader with 10 albums since 1995, not including his leadership in Fieldwork and his impact in Burnt Sugar. Has mostly worked with saxophones in the past -- Steve Lehman in Fieldwork, Rudresh Mahanthappa practically everywhere else -- but it seems like all pianists are driven to prove their mettle in the trio context. Covers album, recycling 2 of 4 originals, adding pieces from Andrew Hill, Julius Hemphill, Ronnie Foster, Stevie Wonder, Bernstein & Sondheim, and M.I.A. Unfortunately, I often run into trouble dissecting piano trios, but I do know what I like. After five plays, this is still opening up. A-

Keith Jarrett: Paris/London: Testament (2008 [2009], ECM, 3CD): Solo piano -- stop me if you've heard this one before. Jarrett had 20+ discs of solo piano out already, which I guess is what the world deserves for buying five million copies of The Köln Concert. The landmark album stands out for its roiling rhythmic energy, which is all the more compelling on a single CD than broken up on its original 3-sided LP. Beyond that I haven't found much to favor any solo Jarrett over any other -- 1999's The Melody at Night, With You and 2005's Radiance are typically fine -- although I was turned off by 2006's widely praised The Carnegie Hall Concert. This has elements of most of the recent ones. The Paris concert runs 69:23, filling the first disc. The next week's London concert ran longer, now split between the 49:32 second and 43:28 third discs. The latter turned out quite nice, maybe becuase he seemed to be winding down. He can't really crank it up like he used to, but he still finds interesting things to play. B+(**)

Darius Jones Trio: Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (2009, AUM Fidelity): Alto saxophonist, based in Brooklyn, has previously appeared with Tanakh and Little Women, not sure in any capacity other than playing alto sax. Rounding out the trio: Cooper-Moore (piano, diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums). This has been stuck indecisively in my box for several days now, neither improving nor slipping, so I want to move on. Good to hear Cooper-Moore play some piano these days, but it's mostly buried under the sax, where it may not be the best support. [B+(***)]

Darius Jones Trio: Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (2009, AUM Fidelity): Brooklyn alto saxophonist; I think this qualifies as his debut album. With Cooper-Moore on piano as well as diddley-bow (a potent bass substitute) and Rakalam Bob Moses on drums. I've been resisting this, perhaps for no better reason than I don't want to seem like a sucker for every saxophonist Steven Joerg digs up, but I am -- Joerg even managed to get a good album out of Kidd Jordan. Beauty is up to the beholder, but this certainly is raw, with a down and dirty blues base and plenty of squawk on the uptake. His sax is belabored, and he keeps it down in the tenor range where it sounds scrawny and mean. At least until he slows down and Cooper-Moore switches from his diddley-bow roughhousing back to piano, which is elegant, not sure about beautiful. A-

Jones Jones: We All Feel the Same Way (2008, SoLyd): Trio: Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino sax), Mark Dresser (bass), Vladimir Tarasov (percussion). Free improv, three cuts recorded in St. Petersburg, the other two in Amsterdam. All three have notable careers in the avant-garde, Ochs mostly lurking behind group names like Rova and this one, Tarasov best known for his work in the Ganelin Trio. And each of the three make a mark here, the only caveat being that this seems like something they could do whenever they got together. B+(**)

Oliver Jones/Hank Jones: Pleased to Meet You (2008 [2009], Justin Time): The younger Jones is a Canadian, 65 now, grew up under the spell of Oscar Peterson, has been a favorite of his Canadian label since 1984, with a couple dozen albums in the catalog -- titles like Speak Low Swing Hard and Have Fingers, Will Travel. The elder Jones is 90, born seven years before than Peterson, who died before this session, drafting it into something of a tribute. Piano trio plus extra piano. These things rarely work, but Oliver doesn't have to overstretch knowing that Hank's got his back, and Hank is a rare jazz genius who doesn't mind fitting in. Peterson might have tried playing both parts, and might have gotten away with it, but he couldn't have made this much piano power sound so effortless. B+(***)

Nick Kadajski's 5 Point Perspective: Remembering Things to Come (2008 [2009], Circavision): Alto saxophonist, based in New York, leads a group with two guitars, bass, and drums -- no one I recognize. Has a Jekyl/Hyde aspect to it: when the saxophonist lays back this loses itself in arrangerly postbopism, but when he takes charge he's the life of the party. B+(*)

Beat Kaestli: Far From Home: A Tribute to European Song (2009, B+B): Vocalist, from Switzerland, based in New York since 1993, looks like his third album. Nine of 14 songs list Kaestli as co-writer; most likely he adds lyrics to others' songs. Album credits are confusing, although Gregoire Maret needs no introduction. Liner notes are by Jon Hendricks; not much help either. The European songs include Bizet and Weill and trad. The words are all in English. The singer is sauve and elegant, precise and stylish, something of a drag. B

Kind of Blue Revisited: The Miles Davis Songbook [The Composer Collection Volume 4] (1990-2006 [2009], High Note): The five songs from Kind of Blue, two repeated, "All Blues" a third time; at least they hold together better than any sampling across the Davis songbook, and the repetitions are spaced out so they return like themes. The takes also vary in interesting ways: they lose the trumpet after three cuts, at first in favor of Bob Stewart's tuba, then down to an Eric Reed piano trio, then (into the repetitions) a Mark Murphy scat (surprisingly good), Regina Carter's Quartette Indigo, and a Jimmy Ponder guitar duo. B+(**)

Guy Klucevsek: Dancing on the Volcano (2009, Tzadik): Accordion player, b. 1947, a major figure on the instrument since the late 1980s, covering a wide range of styles -- AMG lists his genre as Avant-Garde and his styles as including World Fusion, Klezmer, and European Folk. He's not a jazz musician in the bebop sense, but most other senses will do. Group is normally a quartet with Steve Elson (clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax), Pete Donovan (bass), and John Hollenbeck (drums, percussion); on a couple of tracks Alex Meixner's accordion replaces Elson. A couple of waltzes, some dancing, not a lot of volcano. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Komeda Project: Requiem (2009, WM): Komeda is Krzysztof Komeda (1931-69), a Polish pianist-composer who is mostly remembered here for his soundtrack work, especially for Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. He may also be recalled as the subject of Tomasz Stanko's Litania. He has a dozen or so albums out on obscure Polish labels. I was hugely impressed by the only one I've sprung for, Astigmatic (1965). Second album, after Crazy Girl in 2006. The group is a quintet. I figure Andrzej Winnicki as the leader: he plays piano and slips his own compositions into what's otherwise an all-Komeda program. Closely allied is saxophonist (tenor, soprano) Krzysztof Medyna. The two grew up in Poland but seem to be based in New York now, which makes it easier to recruit the supporting cast: Russ Johnson (trumpet, flugelhorn) is on both records; Scott Colley (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums) are new this time. The three-part "Night-time, Daytime Requiem" that leads off has a nasty habit of playing a motif then stopping with a collective squawk. Some pieces get a bit soundtracky, but there is also some powerfully orchestrated jazz here, including strong solos by Medyna and Johnson. [B+(**)]

Komeda Project: Requiem (2009, WM): Polish pianist Krzysztof Komeda (1931-69) certainly is a project. I've only sampled one of the dozen or so albums he has on obscure Polish labels -- now prohibitively expensive given exchange rate, I might add -- and it is really superb (Astigmatic). So this group -- led by expat Poles Krzysztof Medyna (tenor sax, soprano sax) and Andrzej Winnicki (piano), with expert NY help from Russ Johnson, Scott Colley, and Nasheet Waits -- is welcome, but I can't claim to have made any breakthroughs with it. B+(**)

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira: Bim Bom: The Complete Joăo Gilberto Songbook (2008 [2009], Motema): Brazilian singer and guitarist, respectively. She has a dozen or so album since 1993, including a couple based on Luiz Bonfá. Album is timed for the 50th anniversary of Gilberto's debut album, Chega da Saudade. Only surprise is that he only wrote the 11 songs here (several cowritten by others, especially Joăo Donato). B+(*)

Ted Kooshian's Standard Orbit Quartet: Underdog, and Other Stories . . . (2008 [2009], Summit): Pianist, b. 1961 in San Jose, CA; attended San Jose State; played on cruise ships; moved to New York in 1987. Third album since 2004; second under this group name, which aligns him with saxophonist Jeff Lederer, bassist Tom Hubbard, and either Warren Odze or Scott Neumann on drums. Most of the songs here are recognizable as TV or movie themes. "Underdog" was a cartoon show I recall from my youth, done with a Latin twist here, while "Sanford and Son" and "The Odd Couple" were sitcoms; "Popeye" goes back even further. Not sure where to place Raymond Scott and Duke Ellington, but Steely Dan's "Aja" is an outlier. While some of the themes are cartoonishly obvious, most of them amount to more than laughs. B+(**)

Briggan Krauss: Red Sphere (2008, Skirl): Alto saxophonist, cut three albums for Knitting Factory in the late 1990s, but has a lot of side credits going back to Babkas in 1993, most notably with Sex Mob. Makes some noise here, little resolving into music of note, but much of it works as a foil for his trio mates: Ikue Mori on laptop and Jim Black on percussion. Black is terrific, and Mori provides some variation. B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Kristina: Offshore Echoes (2009, Patois): Vocalist. No last name, not even on hype sheet or on her website (which, by the way, wasn't on hype sheet either). AMG lists 8 artists known solely as Kristina plus 38 Kristina Somethings plus one more with Kristina as a last name plus a Kristina & Laura, none of which look like likely matches. This one is from the Bay Area, home of the world's worst world music. Ten songs are labelled by country treatment rather than source, so you get "Cherokee" representing Cuba and Paul Simon for Jamaica. The band would prefer playing everything with a Cuban twist, except for the starchy strings representing USA ("Tenderly"). The credits laborously label the percussion instruments, then chalk the horns off as, well, horns. Voice is on the sweet side, and her jazz phrasing is average, but the songs leave a lot to be desired. Could use a corporate makeover -- she's certainly not going to become a Madonna, a Joyce, or even an Eldar. C+

Scott LaFaro: Pieces of Jade (1961-85 [2009], Resonance): Legendary bassist, almost exclusively known for his work in Bill Evans' trio culminating in Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard -- the most essential records in Evans' considerable discography. He died in a car wreck in 1961 at age 25, leaving no records in his own name, but has grown in stature to the point where he regularly gets substantial votes in Downbeat's Hall of Fame poll. This release gives him something for the books, but it's pretty scattered. Five tracks pick up a trio session with pianist Don Friedman and drummer Pete LaRoca -- fine work, as you'd expect from Friedman. There follows a 22:44 rehearsal tape of LaFaro with Evans, a 13:39 interview with Evans talking about LaFaro from 1966, and a 6:23 Friedman solo, "Memories for Scotty," dating from 1985. All this is interesting but in the end it strikes me that we're reading more into his premature death than his short life warranted. He's not even unique in that regard -- cf. Ray Blanton, Richard Twardzik, and others who actually did leave more to chew on, like Charlie Christian, Booker Little, and for that matter Charlie Parker. B

Mark Lambert: Under My Skin (2006 [2009], Challenge): Guitarist-singer, second album, pretty much all standards starting with two Cole Porters and nearly closing with "Without a Song" -- Cream and Betty Carter are the outliers. Don't know much about him, but he lives in Rio de Janeiro, his real name is evidently Lampariello, he refers to "our home in Belleville" -- there are 10 in the US, 2 in Canada, others in France and Côte d'Ivoire -- and most of his credits are accompanying other singers -- he singles out for special thanks Annie Haslem, Astrud Gilberto, Darlene Love, and Ute Lemper. Songs I like, in spare arrangements that move along nicely. B+(**)

Tom Lellis and the Metropole Orchestra: Skylark (1999 [2009], Adventure Music): Lellis is a singer with various jazz affectations that I've always found offputting, but he comes off merely bland here, maybe a little deeper than bland. Metropole Orchestra seems to be a Dutch group with more musicians than I felt like jotting down -- 17 violins, 5 violas, 4 celli, 3 basses (one of which was credited as "jazz bass"), 20 wind instruments, 5 percussion; 2 each of guitar, harp, and piano/synthesizer. John Clayton conducted. Lellis composed 3 of 8 songs, and wrote lyrics to 3 others, leaving only the title song and the obligatory Jobim. Label specializes in Brazilian music, but despite the Jobim there's none of that here. B

Gianni Lenoci: Agenda (2003 [2005], Vel Net): Thought I'd check out an earlier work by Lenoci, an Italian pianist whose recent Ephemeral Rhizome solo impressed me. This is also solo, a set of Steve Lacy pieces transplanted to piano. Slow and deliberate, thoughtful. B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Gianni Lenoci: Ephemeral Rhizome (2008 [2009], Evil Rabbit): Italian pianist, has at least 7 albums since 1991, the first few on Splasc(H). My coverage of European jazz is hit and miss: Norway, Netherlands, and Portugal seem to be my first tier (and ECM, of course); Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Spain less so; Russia, Finland, Switzerland rarely. Not much at all from England, France, or Italy, which are all major jazz scenes -- CAM Jazz is the only Italian label I've seen in years, but Splasc(H) is actually one of the most prolific jazz labels anywhere, Philology is close behind, and Soul Note is still in business (not sure about RED). One result is that someone like Lenoci can avoid my radar for decades, until he shows up on a Dutch label. Solo piano, all original pieces, far ranging, dynamic, sometimes down and dirty. I'm impressed. B+(***)

Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge: Off & On: The Music of Moacir Santos (2009, Left Coast Clave): Pianist, b. 1938 in New Hampshire, moved through Boston to New York; has often, but not always, worked with Latin players like Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, and Willie Bobo. Has 10 albums since 1977, introducing his Latin Tinge group in a 2001 album. This time he's working off the music of Brazilian composer-arranger Moacir Santos. Music has a light, lithe feel, mostly marked by Mary Fettig's flute -- not my first choice, but doesn't seem inappropriate here. B+(*)

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Accomplish Jazz (2009, Hot Cup): Guitarist, has a couple of previous albums including Big Five Chord. Group here deploys two excitable saxophonists -- Bryan Murray on tenor and Jon Irabagon on alto -- Moppa Elliott on bass, and Danny Fischer on drums. Four of five songs rock hard; the other is a Louvin Brothers tune, "The Christian Life," best known from the Byrds cover, which comes off as s solid and settled centerpiece. B+(***)

Mahala Rai Banda: Ghetto Blasters (2009, Asphalt Tango): Touted as "the Balkan equivalent of the Memphis Horns with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section," a rowdy Romanian brass band inching into the age of electronica. Like their analogues, they're at their best when they stick to time-tested verities, and crank up the volume and velocity until they become self-evident. B+(***)

Mike Mainieri/Marnix Busstra Quartet: Twelve Pieces (2006 [2009], NYC): Mainieri's a vibraphonist, been around a long time, broke in with Buddy Rich, has a modest list of records under his own name, starting with Blues on the Other Side in 1962. Busstra is a younger guitarist, b. 1965, Dutch, also credited here with bouzouki and electric sitar. As far as I know, his only previous record is a 1996 4-Tet, On the Face of It, which included current bassist (Eric van der Westen) and drummer (Pieter Bast). Basically a groove album, tight, low key, attractive. B+(**)

Tony Malaby's Apparitions: Voladores (2009, Clean Feed): Saxophonist, mostly tenor, some soprano, almost invariably steals the show as a sideman, but somewhat less successful as a leader. Group includes Drew Gress on bass, Tom Rainey on drums, and John Hollenbeck on more drums plus marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, melodica, and small kitchen appliances. For all his billing, Hollenbeck doesn't leave a lasting impression. The record inches along on the sharp edge of Malaby's sax, which is riveting enough. B+(***)

The Manhattan Transfer: The Chick Corea Songbook (2009, Four Quarters): Vocal quartet: Tim Hauser, Cheryl Bentyne, Janis Siegel, Alan Paul. Been around since 1969 or 1971 or 1976 (when Bentyne replaced Laurel Massé), dropping 23 or 24 albums. I've heard very few of them -- none that I can recommend. Their harmonizing gives me the willies even on songs built for it, but it seems all the more ridiculous vocalese-ing on top of Corea's mostly Spanish-flavored melodies. C- [Rhapsody]

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar: Devla: Blown Away to Dancefloor Heaven (2009, Piranha): [was (Rhapsody) B+(***)] A-

Nicolas Masson Parallels: Thirty Six Ghosts (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1972 and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, has a couple of previous records. This is a quartet: Colin Vallon (fender rhodes), Patrice Moret (bass), and Leionel Friedli (drums). Website describes this as "at the same time remotely familiar and completely unclassifiable" -- only good that statement does is to make me feel better about not being able to come up with a description. Coltrane-ish in a moderated way, the electric piano providing somewhat unusual accents -- organ without the heaviness, xylophone with reverb. B+(**)

Donny McCaslin: Declaration (2009, Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, you know that. I've always been impressed by his chops. He's one guy who can show up at a session and run away with it. But his albums always left me lukewarm, at least until last year's Recommended Tools, where he cut the complexity down to a bare-bones trio and just blew: my review line was, "like he's strayed from Chris Potter's footsteps to chase after Sonny Rollins." Well, he's back to Potter-ville here (or Douglas-ton) with a piano-guitar quintet -- Edward Simon, Ben Monder, Scott Colley, Antonio Sanchez -- plus a brass choir on 5 of 8 songs. Fancy postbop arranging, slinky harmonies, less emphasis on sheer virtuosity. Sounded better the second play than the first, so I'll keep it open. [B+(**)]

Donny McCaslin: Declaration (2009, Sunnyside): There are stretches here where the guitar fusion (Ben Monder) and/or the extra brass let you forget that the album is supposed to belong to the most technically gifted tenor saxophonist of his generation. That doesn't strike me as the right strategy. B+(*)

Nellie McKay: Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (2009, Verve): Looking through my database of 16,000 records I've listened to enough to have an opinion about, I'm not entirely surprised that I've missed Doris Day completely. There was a window of non-jazz, non-rock pop music, mostly in the 1950s, that I didn't exactly miss -- I grew up hating it, a stance that softened as I've opportunistically spot-checked famous names. Not that I ever even disliked, much less hated, Day; who could? More like I always thought of her as an actress who sung some on the side, kind of like Elvis Presley was a singer who acted a little, but not worth taking seriously. Still, the 12 songs here -- not counting the one McKay wrote -- are pretty familiar, but mostly not linked to Day, at least in my mind (unlike the missing "Que Sera Sera"). In fact, aside from "Sentimental Journey," none of Day's biggest hits (judging from the list on Wikipedia), were covered here. Instead, we get a younger, hipper, jazzier Day, with "Crazy" and "Dig It" on the cutting edge, and more seasoned standards like "The Very Thought of You" and "Close Your Eyes" given snazzy new readings. Norms are always contextual, so it shouldn't be surprising that the new normal is slightly shifted from the old. A-

Memphis Nighthawks: Jazz Lips (1976-77 [2009], Delmark): Trad jazz band formed at University of Illinois by clarinetist Ron DeWar, with trumpet (Steve Jensen), trombone (Joel Helleny), bass sax (Dave Feinman), guitar (Mike Miller), and drums (Bob Kornacher) -- didn't recognize any names, but all but the drummer and the leader have notable credits lists. They cut this album for Delmark, another live shot, and quit. Delmark dug up five previously unreleased cuts to fill out the CD length. In some ways this is like every other trad jazz revival project, but the horn layering is subtle and powerful, and the guitar-drums rhythm cooks. B+(***)

Minamo: Kuroi Kawa - Black River (2008 [2009], Tzadik, 2CD): Duo: Satoko Fujii (piano, accordion) and Carla Kihlstedt (violin, trumpet violin), with some voice from both. Second album together, after Minamo on Henceforth back in 2007. First disc is studio; second live. Probably too much of a limited thing, but the intricate interplay is mesmerizing, except when Fujii crashes the boards, rare here but still a signature move. B+(***) [advance]

Dom Minasi String Quartet: Dissonance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (2009, Konnex): Guitarist, b. 1943, cut a couple of (by reputation, not very good) records for Blue Note back in its 1970s dog days, then restarted his career in 1999 on avant-garde CIMP, followed by a bunch of self-released projects. His string quartet here has impeccable jazz credentials: Jason Kao Hwang on violin, Tomas Ulrich on cello, and Ken Filiano on bass. Chamber music of an odd sort, not really dissonant although the dominant violin does keep you always on edge. B+(**)

Josh Moshier & Mike Lebrun: Joy Not Jaded (2009, OA2): Moshier is a pianist in Evanston, IL, b. 1986. Lebrun is a year older, based in Chicago, plays tenor sax. Group includes Robert Meier on bass, Max Krucoff on drums, plus guitarist John Moulder joins in for 4 of 11 tracks -- turns in fancier solos than I recall on his own record. All original material, Lebrun one up on Moshier. Solid postbop, both fast and slow, the latter quite lovely. B+(**)

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Forty Fort (2008-09 [2010], Hot Cup): Fourth album, third I've heard, led by Moppa Elliott, who takes the first notes on bass, just like Charles Mingus. Has the basic Mingus approach to horns, too, which is to put them on a roller coaster and let them run clean off the rails. Peter Evans does just that on trumpet, and Jon Irabagon's tenor as well as his alto sax defies gravity. Kevin Shea rounds out the quartet on drums, and gets a credit for electronics. Historical references are less obvious here than on the last two albums, although I might know more if only I could read "Leonard Featherweight"'s liner notes (tiny gray all-caps on a black background). I do recognize the cover art as influenced by Impulse! in the 1960s, but even that isn't obviously pegged to any one thing. They're coming out into their own. A-

John Moulder: Bifröst (2005 [2009], Origin): Guitarist, based in Chicago although some of this was recorded in Norway, home turf of two band members: bassist Arild Andersen and tenor saxophonist Bendik Hofseth, who makes a big impression here. B+(*)

David Murray and the Gwo Ka Masters: The Devil Tried to Kill Me (2007 [2009], Justin Time): Murray's connection to Guadeloupe has produced a remarkable series of albums: 1998's Creole, 2002's Yonn-Dé, and 2004's Gwotet. I figured one more would automatically be a year-end contender, so rushed this advance CDR into the player. Two plays later it's certainly not a contender. The saxophonist is brilliant, natch, and the gwo ka drummers power an awesome beat. Can't complain about the guitarists, or Rasul Biddik's occasional trumpet. But the vocals barely connect, especially on Taj Mahal's solo feature, the generic "Africa" with the overly didactic Ishmal Reed lyric. Sista Kee holds up a bit better, with or without Taj. My copy includes two "radio edits" -- shorter versions of the two Taj Mahal songs. I don't mind recapping a hit, but a miss is something else. B+(*) [advance]

Michael Musillami Trio + 3: From Seeds (2009, Playscape): Guitarist, has a dozen albums since 1990, is capable both of metallic density and quick flights. The trio adds Joe Fonda on bass and George Schuller on drums. They are particularly impressive on the title cut where they blow everyone else away. But often, especially on the opener, the +3 add much more: Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Marty Ehrlich on alto sax, and Matt Moran on vibes. A- [Rhapsody]

The New Mellow Edwards: Big Choantza (2009, Skirl): Second album by this quartet, named after the first album, which was attributed to trombonist Curtis Hasselbring. The others both times are Chris Speed (clarinet, tenor sax), Trevor Dunn (bass), and John Hollenbeck (drums). Basically a freewheeling two-horn quartet, a little less mobile with the trombone-clarinet pairing, although Hollenbeck helps out in that regard. B+(**)

New Niks & Artvark Saxophone Quartet: Busy Busy Busy (2009, No Can Do): Dutch groups. New Niks is a quartet with Fender Rhodes, guitar, violin, and drums. The drummer is named Arend Niks, which may have something to do with the group name. Artvark, as explained, is a saxophone quartet. Put them together and you get an octet with no brass and no bass, not that either are missed much. Busy indeed. I should have more to say, but I can't read the print, can't find any background info, have played the record twice, and need to move on. [B+(*)]

New Niks & Artvark Saxophone Quartet: Busy Busy Busy (2009, No Can Do): Drummer-led quartet with Fender Rhodes, guitar, and violin, but no bass, plays swanky postbop with some swing, mixed in with a sax section that can stand on its own. Has some awkward moments, but also marvelous ones when they loosen up. B+(**)

Anders Nilsson's AORTA Ensemble (2008 [2009], Kopasetic): Guitarist, from Sweden, b. 1974, based in Brooklyn. Sticker on front cover says: "Sweden's AORTA, Cennet Jönsson, and NYC's Fulminate Trio team up to explore free form and 7-piece designs." Jönsson is a saxophonist (soprano, tenor, bass clarinet) with a couple of albums under his own name plus credits with Tolvan Big Band and Meloscope. AORTA is Nilsson's Swedish quartet, with brother Peter Nilsson on drums, Mattias Carlson on tenor sax (alto, clarinet, flute), and David Carlsson on electric bass. They have two previous albums, including Blood, a pick hit in these parts. Fulminate Trio is Brooklyn-based with Nilsson, Ken Filiano on bass, and Michael Evans on drums/percussion. Put them together and you get double sax, double bass, double drums, and a whole lotta guitar. A-

Here Comes . . . the Nice Guy Trio(2009, Porto Franco): San Francisco group, first record together: Darren Johnston on trumpet, Rob Reich on accordion, Daniel Fabricant on bass. Johnston has a couple of good records out recently, including one in my latest JCG A-list, The Edge of the Forest. Reich is on Johnston's record too; also on Andrea Fultz's German Projekt. Don't know about Fabricant, but you can always use a bass player. Most recognizable song is "Fables of Faubus," which the accordion center gave an air of Kurt Weill. Half a dozen guests drop in for a cut or two, nothing that takes over but nice touches -- clarinet (Ben Goldberg), tabla, dumek, pedal steel. Nice guys. B+(***)

NYNDK: The Hunting of the Snark (2008 [2009], Jazzheads): Initials for New York, Norway, and DenmarK, represented by NY trombonist Chris Washburne, N saxophonist Ole Mathisen and bassist Per Mathisen, and DK pianist Soren Moller. Third group album, each with a "special guest" drummer, this time Tony Moreno. Starts with three Charles Ives pieces, done up as bent brass chamber jazz. Other similar classical composers poke in and out between the originals: Arne Nordheim, Edvard Grieg, George Perle, Per Nřrgĺrd, Carl Nielsen -- the latter's "Symphony No. 2 (2nd Movement" stands out. B+(***)

Linda Oh Trio: Entry (2008 [2009], Linda Oh Music): Bassist, born in Malaysia, raised in Australia, based now in New York. Trio with Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet and Obed Calvaire on drums, a nicely balanced arrangement. B+(***)

Opsvik & Jennings: A Dream I Used to Remember (2007-08 [2009], Loyal Label): That would be bassist Eivind Opsvik and guitarist Aaron Jennings. A publicist note pointed out that Opsvik has played with Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, and David Binney, but I associate him with A-list records by Kris Davis and Jostein Gulbrandsen. Also has three FSNT records, and a previous one with Jennings, Commuter Anthems (Rune Grammofon). Opsvik also plays keyboards, lap steel guitar, and percussion; Jennings strays past banjo to electronics, and both are credited with software and vocals. The vocals tend toward choral, which I don't find all that enticing. Otherwise, the interaction is intimate and intriguing. B+(*)

Out to Lunch: Melvin's Rockpile (2009 [2010], Accurate): New York group, led by David Levy (bass clarinet, alto sax, bansuri flute), presumably named for Eric Dolphy's legendary album. Septet, with three horns (Levy, Evan Smith on tenor sax, Josiah Woodson on trumpet) and a mostly plugged-in rhythm section (Eric Lane on keyboards, Matt Wigton on bass, Fred Kennedy on drums, and Kris Smith doing programming). Odd and interesting mix of free jazz and funk groove. B+(**)

Gretchen Parlato: In a Dream (2008 [2009], ObliqSound): Singer, bio provides no details before winning a Monk prize in 2001, but seems to have been born in 1976, probably in California. Second album. Musicians include: Lionel Loueke (guitar), Aaron Parks (piano, keybs), Derrick Hodge (bass), and Kendrick Scott (drums). Keeps them rather minimal, like her voice, which if anything is even thinner and less flexible than Astrud Gilberto's -- a rather novel feat in presumably a native English speaker. Still, kinda cute. B [Rhapsody]

John Patitucci Trio: Remembrance (2009, Concord): Bassist, b. 1959, plays a 6-string electric as well as acoustic, has a dozen or so albums since 1987, but somehow this is the first I've heard. (I have heard a few of his side credits, but the list there is huge -- won't count them but I will note that in 1991 alone he appeared on 19 albums not counting compilations; in 2003 he was down to 15. If those years are typical, he's on a pace to wrack up career totals rivalling Ray Brown and William Parker.) The trio here includes Joe Lovano and Brian Blade. All songs are jointly credited, so I figure them for sketchy improvs. In other words, no reason not think of this as a Lovano record -- the bass is prominent as it goes, but Lovano's Lovano, a bit informal but that's often so much the better. Needless to say, Blade does his part. B+(***) [advance]

Jessica Pavone: Songs of Synastry and Solitude (2009, Tzadik): Violinst, best known for her work with guitarist Mary Halvorson. This is a tough record for me to relate to: a string quartet with double bass instead of a second violin. It is played by Toomai String Quartet -- Pavone doesn't perform. Doesn't kick off my usual allergic reaction to classical music, but it's in the same sonic range, and refuses to break out. B- [Rhapsody]

Gary Peacock/Marc Copland: Insight (2005-07 [2009], Pirouet): Bass-piano duo, the bassist getting top billing most likely because he's more famous -- Keith Jarrett has something to do with that -- but also 13-years older and has a slight edge in writing credits. Although it also strikes me that the bass is more often than not in the lead, an interesting effect. B+(***)

Ben Perowsky: Moodswing Orchestra (2009, El Destructo): Drummer, b. 1966, has 6 records since 1999 plus a large number of side credits since 1989. Given a blindfold test I'd call this trip-hop, with its lank beats, turntables and theremins, and bored-out-of-their-skulls voices. A relatively strong horn section -- Doug Wieselman on woodwinds, Steven Bernstein on trumpet, Marcus Rojas on tuba -- snores along. B

Ben Perowsky Quartet: Esopus Opus (2006 [2009], Skirl): Drummer, b. 1966, from and in New York, has a few albums and a lot of side credits since 1989, many (but far from all) in the John Zorn orbit. With Chris Speed (tenor sax), Drew Gress (bass), and Ted Reichman (accordion) -- three-fifths of Claudia Quintet. Covers include Jimi Hendrix ("Manic Depression"), two Beatles songs ("Within You Without You" and "Flying"), a couple of Brazilian tunes. The accordion blends with the sax for plush texture, cushioning even Hendrix. Anomalously, "Flying" ends in a bit of chant-along. Perowsky's originals hold up -- "Murnau on the Bayou" is a funeral blues, best thing here. A-

Houston Person: Mellow (2009, High Note): Tenor saxophonist, one of the great ballad artists of our time, so you'd expect this to run slow and sweet with a little deep vibrato. But this isn't so simple. He runs upbeat as often as not, closing with a romp through "Lester Leaps In." He leaves a lot of space between his leads, which guitarist James Chirillo makes better use of than pianist John Di Martino. This continues a long string of fine but rarely special albums -- the last really special one was 2004's To Etta With Love, except for his magnificent Art and Soul compilation. "God Bless the Child" is on that level, but "In a Mellow Tone" isn't even mellow. B+(**)

Oscar Peterson: Debut: The Clef/Mercury Duo Recordings 1949-1951 (1949-52 [2009], Verve, 3CD): Last year Mosaic came up with a 7-CD box of The Complete Clef/Mercury Studio Recordings of the Oscar Peterson Trio (1951-1953). Think of this set -- duos with either Ray Brown or Major Holley on bass -- as the other shoe dropping. Peterson had recorded in Canada, but made his US debut after midnight on one of Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic shows, recorded and released on a 10-inch LP as Oscar Peterson at Carnegie. The first disc adds three cuts from a return to Carnegie Hall a year later -- according to the book here, which differs from other sources which put both dates close together in 1950. Second disc adds two LPs from early 1950 sessions, Tenderly and Keyboard, the former mostly with Brown, the latter mostly with Holley. The third disc takes another LP, An Evening With Oscar Peterson, more duos with Brown except for a stray 1952 quartet cut, and tacks on six extra cuts -- only one, plus a newly discovered track from Carnegie Hall, previously unreleased. Masterful mainstream piano, closer to swing than to bop, not as tarted up as Tatum, but close, the bass adding harmonic depth to the strong piano leads. B+(***)

Phoenix Ensemble/Mark Lieb: Clarinet Quintets (2007-08 [2009], Innova): Lieb plays clarinet. The rest of the New York-based Phoenix Ensemble is a string quartet, with a couple of slots changing between the two sessions here. One session plays Morton Feldman's "Clarinet and String Quartet" (39:10). The other is Milton Babbitt's "Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet." Feldman's gentle repetition works nicely here. Babbitt unsurprisingly is somewhat dicier, with some squeak and discord. B+(**)

Enrico Pieranunzi/Marc Johnson/Joey Baron: Dream Dance (2004 [2009], CAM Jazz): Piano trio. The Americans on bass and drums are among the best in the business, and have been working with the Italian pianist quite some time. They have several good albums together -- Ballads was one I put on my HM list. This one, all written by Pieranunzi, does it all: fast, slow, dense, quiet, exhilarating. A-

Alberto Pinton/Jonas Kullhammar/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Kjell Nordeson: Chant (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Pinton is a baritone saxophonist, also credited with clarinet, from Italy, b. 1962, studied at Berklee and Manhattan School of Music, based in Sweden. Has 5 previous albums since 2001. Kullhammar plays tenor and baritone sax; b. 1978 in Sweden. AMG credits him with 7 albums since 2000; website admits to a 1994 "CD that I don't want anyone to know about," and in 2000 "One more secret recording" among 123 entries, mostly under others' names. Looks like he runs Moserobie Records, a Swedish label with about 75 titles. Zetterberg and Nordeson play bass and drums, respectively. Freebop, the saxes vying for the low ground, gets ugly in spots, but sometimes even those click. B+(**)

Plunge: Dancing on Thin Ice (2009, Immersion): New Orleans trio, led by trombonist Mark McGrain, with Tim Green on saxophones and James Singleton on double bass. AMG lists 8 Plunge records since 1996, two with Bobo Stenson. Website only mentions one other, with McGrain, Bob Moses, Marcus Rojas, and Avishai Cohen. The New Orleans vibe is pretty subdued, but is there in a faint bounciness. One piece has some vocalization -- not sure how or who. B+(**)

Prana Trio: The Singing Image of Fire (2008 [2010], Circavision): Brooklyn group, although it's not clear that Trio means a group with three members. The only real member is drummer Brian Adler, although vocalist Sunny Kim is most noticeable on 11 of 12 tracks, while piano (Carmen Staaf and Frank Carlberg), bass (Matt Aronoff and Nathan Goheen), and guitar (Robert Lanzetti) come and go. Kim sings poems by Kabir, Kukai, So Wal Kim, Hafiz, Anselm Hollo, Shankaracarya, Wang Wei, and Han-Shan. The vocals got on my nerves at first, but it actually settles down; may even be deeper than I'm inclined to credit. B+(*)

Quartet Offensive: Carnivore (2008 [2009], Quartet Offensive): Baltimore group, not a quartet -- five members, of whom three write; not especially offensive in any obvious sense; not even sure how carnivorous they are, although the bunny on the back cover looks nervous. The writers are Adam Hopkins (bass), Matt Frazăo (guitar, electronics), and Eric Trudel (tenor sax); the others are John Dierker (bass clarinet) and Nathan Ellman-Bell (drums). (OK, they were a quartet before Trudel joined). They like to play off rock riffs, although I wouldn't tag them as fusion. Just seems to be the way they're wired, a good example of a broader generational trend. B+(**)

Quartet Offensive: Carnivore (2008 [2009], Quartet Offensive): [was: B+(**)] B+(***)

Quartet San Francisco: QSF Plays Brubeck (2009, Violin Jazz): Traditional string quartet -- Jeremy Cohen and Alisa Rose on violins, Keith Lawrence on viola, Michelle Djokic on cello -- from San Francisco. They Play a bunch of Dave Brubeck compositions, plus Paul Desmond's "Take Five," which stands out like it always did. Mostly painless. B-

Radio I-Ching: Last Kind Words (2005-06 [2006], Resonant Music): Andy Haas once again (sax, fife, morsing, live electronics), Don Fiorino too (guitar, lap steel, banjo, lotar), but also drummer Dee Pop, invaluable for moving things along. Otherwise similar to the earlier albums by Haas (one with Fiorino): deep Americana like "Let My People Go" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"; also "The Mooch" and "Caravan" and "Song for Che." B+(*)

Radio I-Ching: The Fire Keeps Burning (2007, Resonant Music): The first in this series of records to break away from Andy Haas's peculiar interest in Americana, which pays immediate rhythmic dividends. Starts off with two Arab pieces (Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Hamza El Din), for good measure adding a piece of Count Ossie nyahbinghi. Second half has a jazz sequence -- Roland Kirk, Prince Lasha/Sonny Simmons, Thelonious Monk -- sandwiched between Captain Beefheart and Jimmie Driftwood. B+(**)

Radio I-Ching: No Wave Au Go Go (2009, Resonant Music): Trio: Andy Haas on curved soprano sax and such; Don Fiorino on guitar, mandolin, banjo, lap steel; Dee Pop, a name assumed while playing with the Bush Tetras, on drums. The band's extensive MySpace influences list omits Jan Garbarek, about the only (and certainly the most famous) soprano saxophonist to prefer the curved version. Haas reminds me of Garbarek's crystalline tone snaking over world rhythms -- even when this trio goes to Tin Pan Alley they pick against the grain, offering the Arlen gospel "Judgment Day" and the Mercer western "I'm an Old Cowhand." A- [Rhapsody]

Edward Ratliff: Those Moments Before (2009, Strudelmedia): Bills himself as "composer, multi-instrumentalist" -- plays accordion, cornet, trumpet, trombone, and celeste here, the latter a rather rudimentary solo on the closer. I think of him as a soundtrack composer because his previous album, Barcelona in 48 Hours was a soundtrack, but he called the one before that Wong Fei-Hong Meets Little Strudel, and even this more generic album starts with Marelene Dietrich on the cover. He works in a pastiche of styles, the sort of thing adaptable to film. The accordion leans into European genres, while the horns complement various combinations of Michaël Attias (alto/baritone sax), Beth Schenck (soprano sax), and Doug Wieselman (clarinet). B+(***)

Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: About Us (2009, 482 Music): Chicago drummer, formed this particular group -- Greg Ward on alto sax, Tim Haldeman on tenor sax, Jason Roebke on bass -- originally to explore the music of the late 1950s post-bop, proto-avant Chicago scene. Second album explores their own music, including three contemporary guests who each bring a tune along: tenor saxophonist David Boykin, trombonist Jeb Bishop, and guitarist Jeff Parker. Starts fast with a more convincing 21st century chase than old-timers Anderson and Jordan recently put on. Wanders a bit, but mostly sharp, vibrant even. B+(***)

Greg Reitan: Antibes (2008 [2010], Sunnyside): Pianist, second album, in a trio with Jack Daro on bass and Dean Koba on drums. Includes covers from Bill Evans, Denny Zeitlin, and Keith Jarrett, which should give you an idea. I'm impressed by both albums, but thus far don't have much to say. B+(**)

The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Hunter-Gatherers (2006 [2007], 482 Music, 2CD): Group consists of Vandermark 5 saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Anton Hatwich, and two drummers, Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly. Live set, recorded in South Carolina at a place named Hunter-Gatherers. Impressive sax work. Not obvious that both drummers are engaged. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

The Rempis Percussion Quartet: The Disappointment of Parsley (2008 [2009], Not Two): Dave Rempis on alto and tenor sax (no baritone), Anton Hatwich on bass (no Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten), Tim Daisy and Frank Rosally on double drums. Recorded live at Alchemia in Krakow, Poland. Three cuts, the middle one ran short on all accounts (6:56), but the 15:18 title cut up front is a tour de force, and the drummers get some to kick off the 24:30 finale. That piece ends fast and furious, another tour de force. If only they had another facet to play off against. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Rempis/Rosaly: Cyrillic (2009, 482 Music): Sax-drums duo, Chicago musicians, also play in the two-drummer Rempis Percussion Quartet. Dave Rempis is best known for his work in the Vandermark 5. He is fluid and forceful on alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, and Rosaly does a good job of playing off his energy. B+(***)

Júlio Resende: Assim Falava Jazzatustra (2009, Clean Feed): Pianist, from Portugal, second album, the first (Da Alma) a strong HM. Works especially well with horn leads, primarily Perico Sambeat on alto sax here, with Desidério Lázaro added on tenor sax for one cut. Covers Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" reduced to fairly minimal piano. One vocal cut with Manuela Azevedo is neither here nor there, but otherwise another strong, beatwise effort. B+(***)

The Respect Sextet: Sirius Respect (2009, Mode/Avant): New York group, been together (give or take a few changes) since 2001. Several previous albums -- not sure how to count limited editions. Lineup: Eli Asher (trumpet), James Hirschfeld (trombone), Josh Rutner (tenor sax), Red Wierenga (piano), Malcolm Kirby (bass), Ted Poor (drums); most also play related instruments. Album subtitled "Play the music of Sun Ra & Stockhausen" -- presumably Karlheinz. I was briefly intrigued by Stockhausen a long time ago, but never got in very deep. His pieces here tend toward drones with a bit of classical overhang. Sun Ra, of course, is a lot more fun. B+(*)

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble: Forked Tongue (2008, Cuneiform): Self-styled New Orleans Mardi Gras brass band, with some snapshots dressed to the nines in feathers and snakeskin, but actually based in Boston, led by alto saxophonist Ken Field. Second album, following 2002's Year of the Snake (Innova). The other horns are trumpet, trombone, and tenor sax; bass is both acoustic and electric, and there is extra percussion, and vocalist Gabrielle Agachiko not studying war no more "Down by the Riverside" -- one of four Trad. songs here, mixed in with "Que Sera Sera" and "Brown Skin Girl," one by Ornette Coleman, one by Billy Idol, four originals by Field. Fun group. Not sure how firmly they stick. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Roberto Rodriguez: The First Basket (2009, Tzadik): Soundtrack for a film (same name) by David Vyorst, something about the origins of the Basketball Association of America, which was founded in 1946 and merged with the National Basketball League in 1949 to form the NBA. Consists of 30 pieces, starting with a shofar solo call-to-arms, then various more/less klezmerish pieces, some less enough to be period 1930s swing. Fifteen musicians, probably split up but I have no notes. A remarkable pastiche of fragments. Technical problems kept me from following it as well as I would have liked. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Roberto Rodriguez: The First Basket (2009, Tzadik): [was (Rhapsody)] B+(***)

Roberto Rodriguez: Timba Talmud (2009, Tzadik): A/k/a Roberto Juan Rodriguez -- not sure how the name appears on the actual package. Percussionist, from Cuba, played some bar mitzvahs once he got to Miami and figured out how to put a Cuban spin on klezmer. He laid out the basic ideas in El Danzon de Moises and Baila! Gitano Baila!, and has been working angles and variations since then. This sextet plays his basic shtick, the percussion played down a bit so it doesn't interfere with the richness and suppleness of the melodies. A- [Rhapsody]

Roberto Rodriguez: Timba Talmud (2009, Tzadik): [was (Rhapsody)] A-

Jim Rotondi: Blues for Brother Ray (2009, Posi-Tone): Trumpet player, b. 1962, ten or so records since 1997, basically a mainstream player with a lot of spit and polish. Ray Charles tribute, of course: six songs Charles virtually owned (although I still associate "One Mint Julep" with the Clovers), plus Mike LeDonne's "Brother Ray." LeDonne plays organ; Eric Alexander is on tenor sax, Peter Bernstein guitar, Joe Farnsworth drums -- you couldn't ask for a better schooled band. B+(**) [advance]

Charles Rumback: Two Kinds of Art Thieves (2009, Clean Feed): Drummer, b. 1980, "Kansas roots, Chicago branches"; leads a debut record with two saxophones -- Joshua Sclar on tenor, Greg Ward on alto -- and Jason Ajemian on bass. Mostly slow free jazz, the two horns twisting into impenetrable knots. B+(**)

Jackie Ryan: Doozy (2006-08 [2009], Open Art, 2CD): Singer, born sometime, based somewhere -- claims a Mexican mother and an Irish father, but my guess is that they're both Americans, as is she. Has a half-dozen albums since 2000. Writes some vocalese lyrics, drops in some Portuguese, works with frontline, impeccably mainstream musicians -- Cyrus Chestnut, Ray Drummond, Carl Allen, Jeremy Pelt, Eric Alexander, and when she needs a taste of Brazil, Romero Lubambo. Pretty average for jazz singers, with some striking moves, lots of ordinary ones, occasional hitches in her voice (may come from taking her claimed "three and a half octave range" too seriously). Double-disc album is de trop, could have been edited down to a better single, focusing on upbeat pieces like "Doozy" and "Do Something." B+(*)

Timuçin Sahin Quartet: Bafa (2008 [2009], Between the Lines): Turkish guitarist, b. 1973, educated in Netherlands, based in New York. Looks like he has one previous album, although AMG doesn't list it. Quartet with John O'Gallagher (alto sax), Thomas Morgan (bass), and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). O'Gallagher is often on the verge of stealing the album, but the guitarist holds him in check, and impresses with his own solos. B+(***)

Saltman Knowles: Yesterday's Man (2009 [2010], Pacific Coast Jazz): Bassist Mark Saltman, pianist William Knowles, based in DC, both write, 10 songs split 5-to-5. Third record together. Their songs have a nice tight feel to them, flowing easily, and they rotate various horns expertly, as well as employ a drummer and a soprano steel pan player. The point I keep sticking on is vocalist Lori Williams-Chisholm, who isn't bad (least of all in the good-bad sense) but always seems to be in the way. B- [Jan. 26]

Massimo Sammi: First Day (2009, Massimo Sammi): Guitarist, from Genoa, Italy, won a scholarship to Berklee in 2006, now based in Boston. First album. Credits John Forbes Nash's decision theory for inspiring his project. Game theory enters into some of the titles, especially the two "Prisoner's Dilemma" pieces, but it's harder to follow in the music. The group is mostly a quartet, with George Garzone on tenor and soprano sax, John Lockwood on bass, and Yoron Israel on drums. Sammi's guitar tends to shadow the sax; alternatively, Garzone, especially on soprano, spins off lines in a form that strikes me as more typical of guitar. Dominique Eade adds her voice to a couple of pieces, an awkward soprano I'm not much taken with, but likely to satisfy some notion of beauty. B+(**)

Daniel Santiago: Metropole (2009, Adventure Music): Brazilian guitarist, second album. Quintet, with Josué Lopez (tenor and soprano sax), Vitor Gonçalves (piano), Guto Wirtti (bass), and either Edu Ribeiro or Marcio Bahia (drums). Not a lot of definition, but nice beat, some sax power, some slinky guitar. B+(*)

Schlippenbach Trio: Gold Is Where You Find It (2008, Intakt): Same trio in 1972 cut Pakistani Pomade, one of the founding documents of Europe's avant-garde, a crown selection in the first and recent editions of The Penguin Guide to Jazz: Alexander von Schlippenbach on piano, Evan Parker on tenor sax, and Paul Lovens on drums. All three have done a lot in the intervening 36 years (especially Parker, who has been averaging 5-6 records per year), but the aesthetic here hasn't changed much. Parker and Schlippenbach are both forceful players, always prodding, searching, and Schlippenbach is like having a one-man rhythm section. In his company, Lovens is all finesse. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Alexander von Schlippenbach/Daniele D'Agaro: Dedalus (2008, Artesuono): Germany's premier avant-garde pianist turned 70 in 2008, releasing a bunch of records I've been hard pressed to find: a trio Gold Is Where You Find It (Intakt), duets with Aki Takase Iron Wedding (Itakt), Friulian Sketches (Psi), two volumes of Twelve Tone Tales (Intakt). On the other hand, I did find this duo with Italian reed player D'Agaro, so figured I should give it a listen. D'Agaro, b. 1958, leads off with clarinet; also plays bass clarinet, tenor sax, and C melody sax, but don't have details here -- tenor sax, for sure. Has a few records more or less under his own name, mostly avant-garde (give or take Sean Bergin), but a couple of early ones were tributes to Don Byas (Hidden Treasures and Byas a Drink), a trio with Mark Helias and U.T. Gandhi looks like Ben Webster (Gentle Ben), and another is credited to the Daniel D'Agaro-Benny Bailey Quintet. The pianist is forceful enough to more than hold his own, framing the multipart pieces to draw D'Agaro out, and providing the necessary percussion on the Monk trilogy (plus "Hackensack") at the end. It's worth pointing out again that Schlippenbach's Monk's Casino is an outstanding tribute to Monk. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

Jacques Schwarz-Bart: Abyss (2009, ObliqSound): Tenor saxophonist (one track soprano), b. 1962 in Guadeloupe, mother black, father was French-Jewish, both novelists; grew up shuttling back and forth between Guadeloupe and Switzerland, picking up gwoka drums in one place, jazz in the other. Has a couple of previous albums. Huge sound, always makes a big impression. About half vocal tracks with several singers and a poem by Simone Schwarz-Bart: not sure they add much, but they go with the flow, making something of an organic whole. Band includes guitarist Hervé Samb of David Murray's Gwotet. Concludes with two remixes; I rather like the synthbeats. B+(**)

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Rhapsody in Blue: Live (2009, Spartacus): Gershwin's famous jazz-flavored composition, written originally for Paul Whiteman's famous -- in the day; nowadays rather unfairly taken as a joke -- big band. The Scotts take it seriously, giving it the full bore treatment, with the small-print names on the front cover -- tenor saxophonist Tommy Smith and pianist Brian Kellock -- making all the difference. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

The Second Approach Trio With Roswell Rudd: The Light (2007 [2009], SoLyd): Russian group, has seven albums since 1999, plus various collaborations. Consists of Andrei Razin on piano, Igor Ivanushkin on bass, and Tatyana Komova singing or otherwise exercising her voice, with all three credited with percussion. Razin plays a little bit of everything, ranging from plaintive accompaniment to rough and ready avant-garde. In the latter context, Komova can hurl sounds against the wall, and is remarkably engaging at it. Rudd stopped in Moscow on his way back from a Siberian engagement with Tuvan throat singers, and he reminds you that he can hold his own in any avant-garde circus, as well as dash off a touching solo. B+(***)

Gene Segal: Hypnotic (2009, Innova): Guitarist; born in Moscow, Russia; based in Brooklyn; first album. Mostly a trio with Sam Barsh on organ, Matt Kane on drums, running more toward funk than soul jazz. A couple cuts add some horns, which adds substantially to the groove -- Jonathan Powell's trumpet is most memorable. B+(*)

Bud Shank Quartet: Fascinating Rhythms (2009, Jazzed Media): Alto saxophonist, b. 1926, worked his way up through Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton bands, one of the most distinctive figures in the west coast cool jazz universe; worked steadily until he cut this (presumably) last record, a live set at age 82, a couple of months before he died. Quartet with Bill Mays (piano), Bob Magnuson (bass), and Joe La Barbera (drums). Mostly well-worn covers, two possibly picked for their titles (Monk's "In Walked Bud," Jobim's "Lotus Bud"). Feels a bit rough edged, with some chatter, occasional harshness in his tone, ambling by Mays. Still, this has some awesome moments. B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens: Two Cities (2009, Delmark): Chicago sextet, with leader on alto sax, Keefe Jackson on tenor, Josh Berman on cornet, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Anton Hatwich on bass, Frank Rosaly on drums. All lean avant, and they are capable of some energetic slicing and dicing, which is bracing when it works. Just doesn't work as often as it should. B+(*)

Matthew Shipp Quartet: Cosmic Suite (2008 [2009], Not Two): With Daniel Carter on reeds (although I've seen reference to him starting on muted trumpet, which sounds right), Joe Morris on bass, Whit Dickey on drums. Nine parts. Instrumentation seems a little thin and indecisive for the suite concept, but it could be something that grows on you. The pianist leads most of the way. Carter tries working in nuances, which isn't exactly his thing. B+(**) [Rhapsody]

Yotam Silberstein: Next Page (2009, Posi-Tone): Another unrequited advance copy, actually released back in June, stuck in the cracks of my filing system. Israeli guitarist, did three years in the IDF as a "musical director, arranger, and lead guitarist"; got a New School scholarship and moved to New York in 2005. Second album, after a FSNT from 2004 that I don't much remember but graded B+. Half trio with Sam Yahel on organ and Willie Jones III on drums; other half adds Chris Cheek on tenor sax. No sense of soul jazz in either guitar or organ; at least that steers clear of clichés. Cheek is typically strong, but cycling in on every other song does little for the flow. B+(*) [advance]

Daniel Smith: Blue Bassoon (2009 [2010], Summit): Bassoon player, b. 1939, started out in classical music where, among many other performances, he produced a 6-CD set of 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos. Not sure about his discography -- AMG classifies him as classical and is pretty spotty; on the other hand, his own website lists more records but no dates -- but it looks like Baroque Jazz and Jazz Suite for Bassoon were transitional. I've heard two of his jazz efforts -- one themed to bebop, the other to swing -- where he struck me as little more than a novelty. This one's a novelty too -- the bassoon has a thin, deep sound, combining the immobility of a bass sax or tuba with the sonic charm of a kazoo -- but it's so good natured it would be churlish to complain. Mostly jazz standards -- Silver, Parker, Rollins, Coltrane, Mingus, Morgan, Adderley, Shorter, etc. -- plus a couple of blues. Help on piano and guitar. B+(*)

Tommy Smith Group: Forbidden Fruit (2005, Spartacus): Scottish tenor saxophonist, broke in with Blue Note in 1989, moving to Linn after four albums, then eventually to his own label. Started out with phenomenal speed and technique, and eventually grew a mature sound to round out his capabilities -- Blue Smith, from 2000, was a breakthrough. I last heard him on 2004's Symbiosis, a duo with pianist Brian Kellock, which was a Jazz CG Pick Hit -- last record he sent my way, although he made all the difference on last year's Arild Andersen record. This is the follow up, a little dated for Jazz CG, but finding it I had to play it. Young Scottish group: Steve Hamilton (piano), Aidan O'Donnell (bass), Alyn Cosker (drums). I go up and down on the group, but Smith is a tour de force running through his considerable range. A- [Rhapsody]

Wadada Leo Smith: Spiritual Dimensions (2008-09 [2009], Cuneiform, 2CD): Trumpeter, b. 1941, AACM member from 1967, founded Creative Construction Company with Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins, survived the 1970s by running his own label (reissued in 2004 by Tzadik on 4-CD as Kabell Years, 1971-1979), struggled in 1980s (although the newly reissued Procession of the Great Ancestry is widely admired), picked up the pace around 1997, recording a wide range of material on Tzadik (solo, duos, groups, compositions) and some straightforward, even popular material on Cuneiform -- two Yo Miles! sets with Henry Kaiser, and last year's Golden Quartet Tabligh. He's back here with two groups on one disc each, his reshuffled Golden Quintet -- doubled drums with Don Moye and Pheroan AkLaff, John Lindberg on bass, Vijay Iyer on piano -- and the guitar-heavy Organic. Not sure why the electric band is called Organic, but they build on fusion ideas in denser and more complex ways than Yo Miles!, and Smith injects more rough edges than Davis did. The Golden Quintet is harder to sum up, in part because both Iyer and Smith construct solos you can never quite pin down. Lindberg takes a long bass solo, and that too is a plus. A-

Tyshawn Sorey: Koan (2009, 482 Music): Drummer, b. 1980, has made a big impression everywhere he's played (mostly Vijay Iyer and Steve Lehman groups). Second record; his first, That/Not, a double of his compositions including a lot of material he didn't play on, got a lot of critics poll support. This is a trio with Todd Neufeld on guitar and Thomas Morgan on bass (and sometimes guitar). Morgan's shown up on a few albums recently (Scott DuBois' Banshees is the best), but I don't recall running into Neufeld before. Hard to get much of a sense of Neufeld here: the pieces are slow, spare, fragmentary; too enigmatic to reveal much of a point, which given the Zen title may be the point. B+(**)

Southern Excursion Quartet: Trading Post (2007 [2009], Artists Recording Collective): Tennessee group, more or less -- bassist Jonathan Wires is based in Oxford, MS, and drummer Tom Giampietro is merely described as belonging to the region, but saxophonist Don Aliquo moved to Nashville from Pittsburgh and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens left New York for Memphis. They style this as a collective, and all four write. Stevens has a reputation as an avant-gardist, but he's picked up a beat in Memphis, and Aliquo has refined a very eloquent mainstream sound. I assume this is the final packaging, although it's just a flimsy oversized foldover with a plastic gummy sleeve to hold the disc. B+(***)

Jason Stein: Solo: In Exchange for a Process (2008 [2009], Leo): Bass clarinetist, b. 1976 on Long Island, studied at Bennington, moved to Chicago in 2005. Has two albums on Clean Feed -- the second we'll get to in due course. Also appeared with Keefe Jackson and Ken Vandermark (Bridge 61). This one is solo, raising all the usual caveats. But one thing he can do here is explore a lot of percussive effects that would normally get drowned out in a group. Works carefully, kicking a lot of things around. [Bonus factoid, from his website, "10 bass clarinetists you should know if you have happened upon my music": Rudi Mahall, Louis Sclavis, David Murray, Ned Rothenberg, Michel Pilz, Ken Vandermark, Andrew D'Angelo, Michael Lowenstern, Michael Moore, Eric Dolphy. A couple of those I don't know, yet.] B+(**) [CDR]

Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: Three Less Than Between (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Bass clarinet trio, with Jason Roebke on bass and Mike Pride on drums. Working off an advance copy here with a schedule release date of Oct. 6, but Clean Feed is very good about sending me their new releases, and this one isn't even on the website yet. If/when a real copy comes around, I'll give it another listen. For now, it has the same sketchiness of the solo album, just with added noises. B+(*) [CDR]

Loren Stillman: Winter Fruits (2008 [2009], Pirouet): Alto saxophonist, b. 1980 in London, on his 9th album since 1998, a quartet with Nate Radley (guitar), Gary Versace (organ), and Ted Poor (drums; also writes 2 of 8 songs, the rest Stillman's). Likes the upper range of the horn, giving him a mostly sweet but sometimes tart tone. Few surprises here. B+(*)

Marcus Strickland: Idiosyncrasies (2009, Strick Muzik): Hard to read this cover, but this looks like a sax trio, with the leader favoring soprano over tenor and playing clarinet on one track, with Ben Williams on bass and brother E.J. Strickland on drums. Strickland is still in his 20s (b. 1979), a guy we've been watching closely for a few years now, especially as he's moved up through some of the same circles that put Chris Potter and Donny McCaslin on the map. I haven't been alone in that regard. The new Downbeat Critics Poll picks Strickland as its Rising Star at soprano sax (not actually a lot of competition there) and has him second to Donny McCaslin at tenor sax (some real competition there, and you can argue that the 42-year-old McCaslin has risen enough already). I don't think this is his breakthrough -- more likely just another good solid album. I want to check out the covers more closely: Bjork, Stevie Wonder, Jaco Pastorius, Andre 3000, Jose Gonzales. Standardswise he's in a new zone. I'd also like to figure out where he thinks the idiosyncrasies are -- I don't hear them yet. [B+(**)]

Marcus Strickland Trio: Idiosyncrasies (2009, Strick Muzik): Clearly a rising star, but also clearly not an idiosyncratic one: he channels Coleman and Coltrane, Shorter, many others down through Donny McCaslin (but not Rollins or James Carter), but he has yet to produce a breakthrough album that stands on its own. Trio format keeps him up front, but switching away from tenor sax gives up some edge -- sure, he does play soprano better than most tenor men. Helps that his twin brother is every bit as good a drummer. B+(**)

Benjamin Taubkin/Sérgio Reze/Zeca Assumpçăo + Joatan Nascimento: Trio + 1 (2009, Adventure Music): Piano trio + trumpet. Taubkin is a Brazilian pianist with several albums out. Assumpçăo plays bass, Reze drums, Nascimento trumpet. Doesn't sound necssarily Brazilian to me; more like postbop, with a steady rhythmic push, the trumpet (or flugelhorn) coloring tastefully. B+(**)

Chad Taylor: Circle Down (2008 [2009], 482 Music): Aside from the normal Google name confusion -- Consuming Fire Minister, Chainsaw Juggler, Novelist from New Zealand -- there's the Chad Taylor who plays guitar for some post-grunge rock band called Live. AMG has merged this guitarist with the guy I would have sworn was the real Chad Taylor: drummer, b. 1973, from Chicago, based in New York, member of Chicago Underground Duo/Trio, Sticks and Stones, Digital Primatives, etc. First album with his name up front: a piano trio, of all things, with Chris Lightcap on bass and Angelica Sanchez on the keys. Taylor wrote 5 of 10 pieces, with Lightcap 3 and Sanchez 2. Better than Sanchez's own album, especially on Taylor tracks like "Pascal" where the percussion swirls all around. B+(***)

David Taylor: Red Sea (2009, Tzadik): Taylor is billed as "one of the world's greatest virtuosos on the bass trombone." While most 16-18 player big bands have a bass bone alongside three standard ones, I've never heard of one touted as a virtuoso before. It's hard to tell here: the dominant vibe is slow and ugly, inspired by and borrowing from Cantor Pierre Pinchik. But Taylor gets help in that department: Scott Robinson is credited with nine instruments, mostly down deep as well -- bass sax, contrabass clarinet, contrabass sarrusophone, tenor rothophone, bass flute, like that, plus something called a treme-terra I can't find any info on. Some toy piano and other sounds, some vocals, a lot of Warren Smith percussion. Hard to figure but oddly intriguing. B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Fred Taylor Trio: Live at Cecil's, Volume 1 (2009, Fred Taylor Music, CD+DVD): Drummer-led trio, with Bob Ackerman on woodwinds and Rick Crane on doubel bass. Taylor wrote one piece; Ackerman four; the other five covers, starting with a delightful "Sunnymoon for Two" and ending comparably with "Bags' Groove." Of course, I favor Ackerman's sax over clarinet or flutes, but he makes them all work nicely -- postbop with a little edge. Haven't watched the "bonus" DVD. B+(**)

Henry Threadgill Zooid: This Brings Us To, Volume 1 (2008 [2009], Pi): First album since Threadgill dropped two back in 2001, after a five year hiatus, but from the mid-1970s with Air up to 1996 he was one of the more inventive avant-gardists, and one of the few who often seemed on the verge of breaking out with something big. You'll hear more about that next year when Mosaic comes out with a big box of his long out-of-print Novus material, including such classics as Air Lore. This one is interesting in parts, fraught in others: slow start, lots of flute, some odd dead spots, but also much of it is flat out wonderful. The band is distinctive, and each has his spots: Liberty Ellman on guitar, Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Stomu Takeishi on bass guitar, and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums. I've played it a lot and go up and down. Volume 2 would be most welcome, maybe decisive. B+(***)

3 Play +: American Waltz (2009, Ziggle Zaggle Music): Wound up filing this under pianist Josh Rosen, based on 7 of 8 compositions (the other a group effort). Rosen teaches at Berklee, and as far as I know has no previous discography. Bassist Lello Molinari, who also teaches at Berklee, is also referred to as a cofounder. Group also includes Phil Grenadier on trumpet and Marcello Pellitteri on drums, and two guests show up: Mick Goodrick on guitar and George Garzone on tenor sax. You should recognize Garzone, if not for his relatively thin but notable discography, as a legendary saxophone teacher. I think just about every jazz musician who passed through Boston in the last 30 years credits Garzone. Needless to say, he sounds terrific here. Grenadier and Goodrick do a nice job of polishing the edges, and the pianist holds down the center. Having trouble concentrating on this while trying to write something else, so will hold it back. An intriguing record. [B+(***)]

3 Play +: American Waltz (2009, Ziggle Zaggle Music): Odd group name, with a nonsequitur album name. Group is a quartet with two significant guests -- guitarist Mick Goodrick and tenor saxophonist George Garzone. Pianist Josh Rosen is the probable leader, but trumpeter Phil Grenadier is much better known, almost on par with the guests. I kept playing this, 4-5 times this round. It's never annoying, but I never grabbed onto any one thing to write about, except of course that Garzone is a national treasure, but you know that, right? B+(**)

Ushio Torikai: Rest (2009, Innova): Composer, b. 1952, from Matsumato, Japan, presents five pieces written 1994-2002, performed by other people. The opener, with Aki Takashi's jarring (sounds like prepared) piano, is the most striking. It is followed by a clarinet-violin-cello trio, then by some vocal pieces, the last (the title piece) with the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus. The utter lack of swing in postclassical vocal music is generally a turnoff for me. B

Sofia Tosello: Alma y Luna (2007-08 [2009], Sunnyside): Singer, from Cordoba, Argentina, based in New York. First album, wrote or co-wrote 4 of 13 songs, got a lot of help. All in Spanish (as far as I can tell), feels trad although I can't trace the lineage, barely a whiff of tango. B+(*)

Christine Vaindirlis: Dance Mama! (2009, Ubuntu World Music): Pop singer, born in London, group up in South Africa, moved to Italy to launch her career, then wound up in New York. I figure her for a Shakira-wannabe, but she hasn't really found her niche. Some songs work with South African choral support, including the title track, which isn't all that danceable. The pennywhistles are hard to resist, but but they only make it to two tracks. B-

Vandermark 5: Annular Gift (2009, Not Two): Live record, cut in Poland, like the group's mammoth (and quite marvelous) 12-CD Alchemia box. Not sure whether any of the pieces had been recorded before -- I vaguely recall seeing (or maybe starting to put together) an index of compositions, but don't recall where. In any case, they aren't dupes from recent studio albums. "Spiel" starts with a cello solo, as Fred Lonberg-Holm continues to get better integrated into the group. Vandermark forgoes the baritone sax that had been an increasing part of his V5 repertoire, so he winds up playing more tenor, and Dave Rempis more alto. The result often tends toward what we might call "freebop and roll." Great sound. Great group. A- [Rhapsody]

Myron Walden: Momentum (2009, Demi Sound): Might as well start out in gripe mode and get that out of the way. I've had this advance for something like five months, along with lavish PR, and I've endured emails and phone calls to sound out my uptake. Got a second package, with CDRs of a live version and a couple of more albums allegedly out in January. But the final copy I've been waiting for never showed up. I have a lot of correspondence with musicians and companies who can't afford to send me records, and in general I can't make much of an argument otherwise. But anyone who can afford to hire a PR flack to phone me should be able to afford to send a finished package. End gripe mode. B. 1972 (AAJ) or 1973 (AMG) in Miami, FL; moved to New York at age 12; fell for Charlie Parker and picked up the alto sax. Has four previous albums plus a lot of side work since 1996, mostly in/near the Smalls scene. Took some time off recently to retool for tenor sax, which he debuts here, in a basic hard bop quintet with Darren Barrett (trumpet), David Bryant (electric piano), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), and Kendrick Scott (drums). This is all very solid mainstream work, with only the electric piano and an occasional harmonic smear distinguishing it from the typical early-'60s work of, oh, Hank Mobley, or Art Blakey. B+(**) [advance]

Terry Waldo's Gutbucket Syncopators: The Ohio Theatre Concert (1974 [2009], Delmark): A trad jazz pianist, b. 1944 in Ohio, which has remained his stomping ground. Has close to 20 albums since 1970's Hot Jazz, Vol. 1, many on Stomp Off, which is a pretty consistent label for that sort of thing. This archival tape came from a concert originally intended to feature ragtime pianist Eubie Blake, who took ill and didn't show. The band then had to scramble around to fill in, reflected here in a rather scattershot set of points of interest. The middle section features Edith Wilson on seven songs -- billed here as "the third black woman to make phonograph records, recording for Columbia nearly a year and a half before Bessie Smith." She was 77 at this point (1896-1981), favoring Louis Armstrong's songbook -- all the way to "Black and Blue." Waldo sang one song earlier, the sly "How Could Red Riding Hood?" Toward the end there's a 3:16 piece of speechmaking, by a guy reminiscing about his long history as a ragtime/trad jazz fan. Turns out this is William Saxbe, an Ohio Republican politician who at the time was US Attorney General, appointed to restore some integrity to the post-Watergate White House. I remember Saxbe more as a dovish pro-civil rights Senator -- as I recall, he evenleaned toward marijuana decriminalization. They don't make Republicans like him any more. B+(**)

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: ˇBien Bien! (2009, Patois): Trombonist, from San Francisco, b. 1952, has released four quick Latin jazz albums since 2006, the first three not making much of an impression on me. No obvious Latin names in the band -- Murray Low (piano), David Belove (bass), Paul van Wageningen (trap drums), Michael Spiro (percussion) -- but this comes close to getting it right, with all the jerky time changes and the complex polyrhythms. Four guests add more trombone (Julien Priester) and vocals. Not sure about the vocals, sporadic and erratic. Worth playing again. [B+(***)]

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: ˇBien Bien! (2009, Patois): As Latin Jazz goes, this is well-ordered and consistently listenable -- especially if you're a trombone fan. The extra trombones don't hurt, but the vocals sometimes do. B+(**)

Weightless: A Brush With Dignity (2008 [2009], Clean Feed): Two Brits I'm more or less familiar with -- tenor/soprano saxophonist John Butcher more, bassist John Edwards less -- and two Italians who don't ring a bell -- pianist Alberto Braida and drummer Fabrizio Spera. All group improvs, cut live in Germany. Filed it under Butcher, who has a lot of records I haven't heard. Butcher is gnarly as usual, but Braida adds an interesting charge to the session, striking oblique chords and punctuating what little rhythm there is. B+(**)

Wolter Wierbos: 3 Trombone Solos (2005-06 [2009], Dolfjin): Each named for a city (Chicago, Portland, Amsterdam), the latter clocking in at 16:06, the others at 21:07 and 25:14. Dutch trombonist, b. 1957, has appeared on more than 100 albums, but has very few under his own name -- this is the hard way to get one. I've long been a big fan of trombone, but fact is it's an instrument with rather limited range. Wierbos gets a lot out of it. B+(***)

Wolter Wierbos: Deining (2009, Dolfjin): This is described as "Wolter Wierbos' houseboat concerts" -- various collaborators, mostly squaring off for duos where they sort of feel each other out, or fake, or try something grosser. Bassist Wilbert de Joode is the most complementary of the bunch. At the other extreme, Han Bennink's percussion tends to complicate things, while Ab Baars' tenor sax fits uneasily. Mary Oliver's viola and Franky Douglas's electric guitar are somewhere in the middle. Misha Mengelberg's name also appears on the back cover, but I'm not clear where he fits in, if at all. B+(*)

The Anthony Wilson Trio: Jack of Hearts (2009, Groove Note): Guitarist, b. 1968, son of arranger Gerald Wilson; 7th album since 1997. Actually, two trios: one with Jeff Hamilton on drums, the other Jim Keltner. Both feature Larry Goldings on organ, making this sort of a soul jazz throwback, but Goldings is unusually reserved, and Wilson is more intricate, but swings less, than someone like Grant Green. B+(*)

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Detroit (2009, Mack Avenue): B. 1918 in Mississippi, which puts him past 90 for this record. Moved to Detroit, graduating from "Cass Tech" (a song-title here), then out to Los Angeles in the early 1940s. Apprenticed in Jimmie Lunceford's big band, playing trumpet and arranging. Led his own big band 1945-54, cutting records currently available only on Classics compilations. Spotty discography in the 1950s -- Duke Ellington, Buddy Collette, Red Callender, Leroy Vinnegar, June Christy, Curtis Counce -- but with big bands virtually extinct as working units, from 1961 he cut a series of albums for Pacific Jazz that brought about a new era, that of large, ad hoc studio jazz orchestras. Actually, for him it's been two eras: 1961-69 and 1992 to the present. In between he had two long breaks around a 1981-84 burst that is no longer in print. His recent records have been among his best, and this one is way up there. A six-piece suite was commissioned by the Detroit International Jazz Festival, and recorded by Wilson's LA-based working group. It hits all the right notes: sterling solos, solid section work, power, finesse, noteworthy use of violin (Yvette Devereaux) and guitar (son Anthony Wilson). The last two pieces were cut with a star-studded New York group and they are, if anything, even sharper. A-

Matt Wilson Quartet: That's Gonna Leave a Mark (2008 [2009], Palmetto): Two horns -- Andrew D'Angelo on alto sax and bass clarinet, Jeff Lederer on tenor sax -- plus Chris Lightcap on bass and Wilson on drums. Lederer is a good deal rougher around the edges than Joel Frahm, who had paired with D'Angelo on previous Wilson -- Going Once, Going Twice is one I recommend. D'Angelo tends to walk on the wild side himself, so the pair threaten to run away with the album. Covers tend towards freebop. Wilson's originals are more buttoned down. War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" is an inspird peace offering at the end. B+(***) [Rhapsody; Later: A-]

Matt Wilson Quartet: That's Gonna Leave a Mark (2008 [2009], Palmetto): [was (Rhapsody): B+(***)] A-

The Tony Wilson Sextet: The People Look Like Flowers At Last (2008 [2009], Drip Audio): Canadian guitarist, not to be confused with Anthony Wilson, or for that matter any of a considerable number of Tony Wilsons in or related to music -- my favorite was the Hot Chocolate founder who turned in a lovely (and hopelessly out of print) 1976 album I Like Your Style. Sextet includes Vancouver stalwarts Peggy Lee (cello) and Dylan van der Schyff (drums), saxophonist Dave Say, trumpeter Kevin Elaschuk, and bassist Paul Blaney. The horns have some excited runs here, but they tend to get swamped out in the complicated postbop harmonizing. B

Pete M. Wyer: Stories From the City at Night (2008, Thirsty Ear): Spoken voice or artsong -- a couple remind me of Kurt Weill, but they can get more operatic. Music, which mostly consists of Wyer's guitar and "sound design" with scattered guests -- trumpet on one song, trombone on another, Matthew Shipp's piano for one cut, Matthew Sharp's cello for three -- is interesting but scattered in a soundtrack sort of way. Can't say as I've followed it closely enough to know how it hangs together, which might make a difference. B

Eri Yamamoto Trio: In Each Day, Something Good (2009 [2010], AUM Fidelity): Piano trio, with David Ambrosio on bass and Ikuo Takeuchi on drums. Yamamoto moved from Japan to New York in 1995 and soon put this group together, now with 6 albums to show for 14 years collaboration. Bright, fluid, quite likable, a performance level she consistently achieves. Don't have much more to say. B+(*)

Eli Yamin: You Can't Buy Swing (2008, Yamin Music): CDR with a thermal print cover sheet in a slim jewel case, just the formula for a record I didn't notice for two years. Yamin is a pianist, b. 1968 in East Patchogue, NY; based in New York City; director of Jazz at Lincoln Center's Middle School Jazz Academy; has one previous album. This one includes Ari Roland on bass, Alvin Atkinson on drums, and two saxophonists: Lakecia Benjamin, whom I've never heard of, and Chris Byars, a favorite (except when he plays flute). Swings more than anything else, with a buoyant rhythm section and some tasty sax bits. B+(*) [advance]

Miguel Zenon: Esta Plena (2009, Marsalis Music): For sheer virtuosity, perhaps the most impressive alto saxophonist to show up in the last two decades -- maybe since Anthony Braxton. Fifth album since 2002, mostly uneven although Jíbaro held to a tight Puerto Rican concept and was nearly flawless. This is more lavishly, and slavishly, rooted in his native commonwealth, with extra percussion and lots of vocals piled on top of a superb quartet -- Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischig (bass), Henry Cole (drums). Not sure what I think of the vocals, other than that "Que Sera de Puerto Rico?" would make a curiously indecisive anthem. Really need more time than I have now, and a little miffed that I didn't get serviced on this one -- especially since the label sends me everything else they release. B+(***) [Rhapsody]

John Zorn: Alhambra Love Songs (2008 [2009], Tzadik): Hard not to repeat some of the hype here, one of Zorn's most shameless: "touching and lyrical . . . perhaps the single most charming cd in Zorn's entire catalog . . . will appeal to fans of Vince Guaraldi, Ahmad Jamal, Henry Mancini and even George Winston!" Wow: more charming than Naked City? New Traditions in East Asian Bar Bands? Kristallnacht? Nani Nani? (The latter is the worst thing I've heard him do, absolutely hideous, but I've barely sampled 10% of his catalog, so who knows what horrors I've missed.) In case you haven't guessed, Zorn is only the composer here, not a player. The group is a piano trio: Rob Burger, Greg Cohen, Ben Perowsky. Burger isn't in Jamal's class -- he actually has more credits on accordion and organ than piano -- but Zorn's melodies have so much structural integrity he doesn't need to elaborate, especially with Cohen all but singing on bass. A- [Rhapsody]

John Zorn: Alhambra Love Songs (2008 [2009], Tzadik): [was (Rhapsody)] A-

Carry Over

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

  1. The Aggregation: Groove's Mood (2008 [2009], DBCD) B+(***)
  2. Eric Alexander: Revival of the Fittest (2009, High Note) B+(***)
  3. The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet: Plays Music From South Pacific (2008 [2009], Arbors) B+(***)
  4. J.D. Allen Trio: Shine! (2008 [2009], Sunnyside) B+(**)
  5. Rodrigo Amado/Kent Kessler/Paal Nilssen-Love: The Abstract Truth (2008 [2009], European Echoes) B+(**)
  6. Bill Anschell/Brent Jensen: We Couldn't Agree More (2008 [2009], Origin) B+(***)
  7. Dan Aran: Breathing (2009, Smalls) B+(**)
  8. David Ashkenazy: Out With It (2009, Posi-Tone) B+(***)
  9. Fernando Benadon: Intuitivo (2009, Innova) B+(**)
  10. Jerry Bergonzi: Simply Put (2008 [2009], Savant) A-
  11. David Berkman Quartet: Live at Smoke (2006 [2009], Challenge) B+(***)
  12. Chuck Bernstein: Delta Berimbau Blues (2007-08 [2008], CMB) B+(***)
  13. David Binney: Third Occasion (2008 [2009], Mythology) B+(**)
  14. Seamus Blake Quartet: Live in Italy (2007 [2009], Jazz Eyes, 2CD) B+(**)
  15. Theo Bleckmann/Kneebody: Twelve Songs by Charles Ives (2008 [2009], Winter & Winter) B+(**)
  16. Blink.: The Epidemic of Ideas (2007 [2008], Thirsty Ear) B+(***)
  17. Bik Bent Braam: Extremen (2008, BBB) B+(**)
  18. Ralph Bowen: Dedicated (2008 [2009], Posi-Tone) B+(**)
  19. Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (2008 [2009], ECM) B+(***)
  20. Anthony Branker & Ascent: Blessings (2007 [2009], Origin) B+(***)
  21. Alison Burns and Martin Taylor: 1: AM (2008 [2009], P3 Music) B+(***)
  22. Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra: Where or When (2008 [2009], Owl Studios) A-
  23. Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff: Way Out Northwest (2007 [2008], Drip Audio) B+(**)
  24. James Carney Group: Ways & Means (2008 [2009], Songlines) B+(***)
  25. James Carter/John Medeski/Christian McBride/Adam Rogers/Joey Baron: Heaven on Earth (2009, Half Note) A-
  26. Teddy Charles: Dances With Bulls (2008 [2009], Smalls) B+(**)
  27. Freddy Cole: The Dreamer in Me (2008 [2009], High Note) A-
  28. David Crowell Ensemble: Spectrum (2009, Innova) B+(***)
  29. Lars Danielsson: Tarantella (2008 [2009], ACT) A-
  30. Peter Delano: For Dewey (1996 [2008], Sunnyside) B+(***)
  31. The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One (2008 [2009], Origin) B+(***)
  32. Digital Primitives: Hum Crackle & Pop (2007-09 (2009), Hopscotch) A-
  33. Stacey Dillard: One (2008 [2009], Smalls) B+(***)
  34. Oran Etkin: Kelenia (2009, Motema) B+(***)
  35. Avram Fefer Trio: Ritual (2008 [2009], Clean Feed) B+(***)
  36. Erik Friedlander/Mike Sarin/Trevor Dunn: Broken Arm Trio (2008, Skipstone) B+(***)
  37. Bill Frisell: Disfarmer (2008 [2009], Nonesuch) A-
  38. The Fully Celebrated: Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (2008 [2009], AUM Fidelity) A-
  39. Andrea Fultz: The German Projekt: German Songs From the Twenties & Thirties (2009, no label) B+(***)
  40. Hal Galper/Reggie Workman/Rashied Ali: Art-Work
  41. (2008 [2009], Origin) A-
  42. Jan Garbarek Group: Dresden (2007 [2009], ECM, 2CD) A-
  43. Gaucho: Deep Night (2008 [2009], Gaucho) B+(**)
  44. Stephen Gauci's Basso Continuo: Nididhyasana (2007, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  45. Stephen Gauci's Stockholm Conference: Live at Glenn Miller Café (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD) B+(**)
  46. Paul Giallorenzo: Get In to Go Out (2005 [2009], 482 Music) B+(***)
  47. Robert Glasper: Double Booked (2009, Blue Note) B-
  48. Bobby Gordon: Plays Joe Marsala: Lower Register (2007, Arbors) B+(***)
  49. The Gordon Grdina Trio: . . . If Accident Will (2007 [2009], Plunge) B+(***)
  50. Marty Grosz: Hot Winds, the Classic Sessions (2008 [2009], Arbors) B+(***)
  51. Steve Haines Quintet with Jimmy Cobb: Stickadiboom (2007 [2009], Zoho) B+(**)
  52. Ken Hatfield and Friends: Play the Music of Bill McCormick: To Be Continued . . . (2008, M/Pub) B+(***)
  53. John Hicks: I Remember You (2006 [2009], High Note) B+(**)
  54. The Ron Hockett Quintet: Finally Ron (2008, Arbors) B+(***)
  55. Dave Holland/Gonzalo Rubalcaba/Chris Potter/Eric Harland: The Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (2007 [2009], Monterey Jazz Festival) B+(***)
  56. Rainbow Jimmies: The Music of John Hollenbeck (2007-08 [2009], GPE) B+(***)
  57. Aaron J Johnson: Songs of Our Fathers (2007 [2009], Bubble-Sun) B+(**)
  58. Jeff Johnson: Tall Stranger (2002 [2008], Origin) B+(***)
  59. Jones Jones: We All Feel the Same Way (2008, SoLyd) B+(**)
  60. Arthur Kell Quartet: Victoria: Live in Germany (2008 [2009], Bju'ecords) A-
  61. Nigel Kennedy: Blue Note Sessions (2005 [2007], Blue Note) B+(***)
  62. The Ray Kennedy Trio: Plays the Music of Arthur Schwartz (2006 [2007], Arbors) B+(***)
  63. Ruslan Khain: For Medicinal Purposes Only! (2008, Smalls) B+(***)
  64. David Kweksilber + Guus Janssen (2003-06 [2006], Geestgronden) B+(***)
  65. Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage: Drunk Butterfly (2007 [2008], Clean Feed) A-
  66. Matt Lavelle and Morcilla: The Manifestation Drama (2008 [2009], KMB Jazz) B+(***)
  67. Led Bib: Sensible Shoes (2008 [2009], Cuneiform) B+(**)
  68. Steve Lehman Octet: Travail, Transformation, and Flow (2008 [2009], Pi) A-
  69. Ray LeVier: Ray's Way (2007 [2009], Origin) B+(**)
  70. Rozanne Levine & Chakra Tuning: Only Moment (2008 [2009], Acoustics) B+(**)
  71. Frank London/Lorin Sklamberg: Tsuker-Zis (2009, Tzadik) B+(***)
  72. Luis Lopes/Adam Lane/Igal Foni: What Is When (2007-08 [2009], Clean Feed) B+(**)
  73. Lucky 7s: Pluto Junkyard (2007 [2009], Clean Feed) B+(***)
  74. Branford Marsalis Quartet: Metamorphosen (2008 [2009], Marsalis Music) B+(***)
  75. Mark Masters Ensemble: Farewell Walter Dewey Redman (2006 [2008], Capri) B+(**)
  76. Nellie McKay: Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (2009, Verve) A-
  77. Eric McPherson: Continuum (2007 [2008], Smalls) B+(***)
  78. Minamo: Kuroi Kawa -- Black River (2008 [2009], Tzadik, 2CD) B+(***)
  79. Joe Morris: Wildlife (2008 [2009], AUM Fidelity) A-
  80. Joe Morris Quartet: Today on Earth (2009, AUM Fidelity) B+(***)
  81. Chris Morrissey Quartet: The Morning World (2008 [2009], Sunnyside) A-
  82. Ben Neill: Night Science (2009, Thirsty Ear) B+(**)
  83. The New Jazz Composers Octet: The Turning Gate (2005 [2008], Motema Music) B+(***)
  84. The Nice Guy Trio: Here Comes . . . the Nice Guy Trio (2009, Porto Franco) B+(***)
  85. Michael Occhipinti: The Sicilian Jazz Project (2008 [2009], True North) B+(**)
  86. Chris Potter Underground: Ultrahang (2009, ArtistShare) B+(***)
  87. Dafnis Prieto Si O Si Quartet: Live at Jazz Standard NYC (2009, Dafnison Music) B+(**)
  88. Andrew Rathbun: Where We Are Now (2007 [2009], Steeplechase) B+(***)
  89. Joshua Redman: Compass (2008 [2009], Nonesuch) B+(***)
  90. Matt Renzi: Lunch Special (2007 [2009], Three P's) B+(***)
  91. Júlio Resende: Assim Falava Jazzatustra (2009, Clean Feed) B+(***)
  92. The Rocco John Group: Devotion (2008 [2009], Coalition of Creative Artists) B+(**)
  93. Roswell Rudd: Trombone Tribe (2008 [2009], Sunnyside) A-
  94. Cynthia Sayer: Attractions (2006 [2008], Plunk) B+(***)
  95. Louis Sclavis: Lost on the Way (2008 [2009], ECM) B+(***)
  96. Will Sellenraad: Balance (2007 [2008], Beeswax) B+(***)
  97. Steve Shapiro/Pat Bergeson: Backward Compatible (2007 [2008], Apria) B+(***)
  98. Idit Shner: Tuesday's Blues (2008, OA2) B+(**)
  99. Edward Simon Trio: Poesia (2008 [2009], CAM Jazz) B+(***)
  100. Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls: Seize the Time (2008 [2009], Naim) B+(***)
  101. The Joel LaRue Smith Trio: September's Child (2007 [2009], Joel LaRue Smith) B+(***)
  102. Bob Sneider & Joe Locke [Film Noir Project]: Nocturne for Ava (2007 [2009], Origin) B+(**)
  103. Sorgen-Rust-Stevens Trio: A Scent in Motion (1994 [2009], Konnex) B+(**)
  104. Tim Sparks: Little Princess - Tim Sparks Plays Naftule Brandwein (2009, Tzadik) A-
  105. The Stone Quartet: DMG @ the Stone: Volume 1 (2006 [2008], DMG/ARC) B+(**)
  106. John Surman: Brewster's Rooster (2007 [2009], ECM) B+(**)
  107. Dan Tepfer/Lee Konitz: Duos With Lee (2008 [2009], Sunnyside) B+(***)
  108. Rob Thorsen: Lasting Impression (2008 [2009], Pacific Coast Jazz) B+(**)
  109. Nicolas Thys: Virgo (2008 [2009], Pirouet) B+(***)
  110. Ton Trio: The Way (2008 [2009], Singlespeed Music) B+(**)
  111. Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi (2008 [2009], Nonesuch) A-
  112. Tribecastan: Strange Cousin (2008 [2009], Evergreene Music) B+(**)
  113. Gebhard Ullman: Don't Touch My Music I (2007 [2009], Not Two) B+(***)
  114. Gebhard Ullman: Don't Touch My Music II (2007 [2009], Not Two) B+(**)
  115. Ken Vandermark/Pandelis Karayorgis: Foreground Music (2006 [2007], Okka Disk) B+(**)
  116. Johnny Varro Featuring Ken Peplowski: Two Legends of Jazz (2007 [2009], Arbors) B+(**)
  117. Miroslav Vitous Group w/Michel Portal: Remembering Weather Report (2006-07 [2009], ECM) B+(***)
  118. Ulf Wakenius: Love Is Real (2007 [2008], ACT) A-
  119. Cedar Walton: Voices Deep Within (2009, High Note) B+(**)
  120. Frank Wess Nonet: Once Is Not Enough (2008 [2009], Labeth Music) B+(**)
  121. White Rocket (2008 [2009], Diatribe) B+(**)
  122. Mark Winkler: Till I Get It Right (2009, Free Ham) B+(***)
  123. Yuganaut: This Musicship (2005 [2008], ESP-Disk) B+(**)
  124. Miguel Zenón: Awake (2007 [2008], Marsalis Music) B+(**)