San Diego Reader’s Best of 2011 list by Robert Bush

The International Top Ten Jazz Releases 2011
These are the ten best CDs to cross my path in 2011, regardless of geography. Some of them were recorded in New York, LA, and Portugal. Even still, the San Diego connection remains strong. Bert Turetzky, Mark Dresser, Peter Sprague and Geoffrey Keezer all released discs of global importance. Additionally, two musicians on this top-ten list spent years in San Diego: trombonists George Lewis and Michael Dessen. The final SD connection belongs to Jeff Kaiser, whose record label pfMENTUM is also represented.

1. Vinny Golia Octet Music For Baritone Saxophone ( NineWinds) Woodwind virtuoso Golia put together an adventurous and accessible recording with his stellar octet. Terrific arrangements and compositions and excellent solos from everyone, especially Golia’s monstrous “Tubax,” a refinement of the contrabass saxophone.
2. Bert Turetzky, George Lewis, Vinny Golia Triangulation II (Kadima Collective) No charts, no tunes, no discussions, just three of the world’s heaviest players improvising in the moment. Free jazz at its finest.
3. Michael Dessen Trio Forget The Pixel (Clean Feed)
Trombone / electronics master Dessen forges 21st century jazz with very few precedents. NYC compatriots Christopher Tordini’s bass and the multidirectional drums of Dan Weiss nail the constantly shifting metric landscapes of Dessen’s formidable compositions.
4. Bobby Bradford, Mark Dresser, Glenn Ferris Live In LA (Clean Feed)
Bradford has been a beacon for the free-improvising community in LA since the 1960s. This free-bop date sizzles from start to finish with elliptical, swinging solos and rock solid rhythms.

5. Dennis Gonzalez / Joao Paulo So Soft Yet (Clean Feed)
Dallas, Texas based trumpeter Gonzalez turns in an exquisite duet with pianist / accordion player Paulo. Extremely lyrical, the two men communicate on a deep level. Some of the pieces with electric piano hearken back to Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 1970s work. Sublime and surprising. Portuguese label Clean Feed is on this list multiple times for good reason.
6. Dick Wood Not Far From Here (pfMENTUM)
Another excellent example of where jazz might be heading in the 21st century, Woods combines Mark Trayle’s live electronics seamlessly into his core group of Hal Onserud on bass, Marty Mansour on percussion and Dan Clucas on trumpet. Wood takes elements of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn into his writing and improvising, and kicks ass throughout.
7. Trio M The Guest House (Enja)
Bay Area pianist Myra Melford, NYC drummer Matt Wilson and San Diego bassist Mark Dresser explore multiple improvising scenarios with compositions from each member. This collection ranges from the pensive to the furious.
8. Geoffrey Keezer / Peter Sprague Band Mill Creek Road (SBE Records) This disc represents yet another idea of where jazz music might be leaning in the future. Synthesizing elements from the bebop, world-music and free aesthetics, the influences of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny shine through in this album of wide variation and virtuosic execution.
9. Daniel Rosenboom Septet Fallen Angeles (Nine Winds)
Rosenboom’s tart, precise, clarion-call trumpet is joyously combined with the astringent alto saxophone of Gavin Templeton and the startling bass clarinet maneuvers of Brian Walsh in a frontline ably supported by David Rosenboom’s piano, Sam Minaie’s bass and Caleb Dolister’s drumming.
10. Vinny Golia Quartet Take Your Time (Relative Pitch)
Golia’s quartet combines long-time associates Bobby Bradford’s trumpet, Alex Cline’s drums and Ken Filiano’s bass in an ecstatic program of compositions that reference the work of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. Every solo tells a story in this wildly swinging collection.


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