JazzTimes Critics’ Poll: Vijay Iyer’s “Accelerando” Takes Top Honors

vijay iyeCritical consensus says that Vijay Iyer‘s “Accelerando” (ACT) is one of last year’s finest jazz recordings: The CD, with the pianist joined by bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, just topped the JazzTimes critic poll.

Also making the Top Ten, as selected by a large group of JazzTimes writers (I voted):

2. Branford Marsalis Quartet, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” (Marsalis Music)

3. Sam Rivers/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul, “Reunion: Live in New York” (Pi)

4. Ryan Truesdell, “Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans” (ArtistShare)

5. Ravi Coltrane, “Spirit Fiction” (Blue Note)

6. Gregory Porter, “Be Good” (Motema)

7. Henry Threadgill Zooid, “Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp” (Pi)

8. Wadada Leo Smith, “Ten Freedom Summers” (Cuneiform)

9. Tim Berne, “Snakeoil” (ECM)

10. Brad Mehldau Trio, “Ode” (Nonesuch)

Check the January/February print edition of JazzTimes for the full list of the year’s Top 50 jazz releases.

Wanna see the individual ballots (including mine)? Click here.

Vijay Iyer’s “Accelerando” Tops Seventh Annual Jazz Critics Poll

vijay ayer accelerandoForward-thinking pianist and composer Vijay Iyer continues his reign as a critics’ darling, with his trio’s “Accelerando” (ACT) named Best Album in the 7th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, formerly affiliated with the Village Voice and now linked to Rhapsody.com

Other winners:

  • Best Vocal Album: Neheh Cherry & the Thing, “The Cherry Thing” (Smalltown Superjazz)
  • Best Debut Album: Ryan Truesdell, “Centennial: Newly Discovered Works by Gil Evans”  (ArtistShare)
  • Best Latin Album: Bobby Sanabria, “Multiverse” (Jazzheads)

Full results will be posted  next week.

Individual ballots (including mine) are here.

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 1

Sonny Rollins’ latest CD, Road Shows, Vol. 1, has gained loads of critical acclaim and landed on more than a jazz critics’ year-end lists.

sonny-rollins1And for good reason: The disc captures the great saxophonist in full flight, playing at the peak of his considerable powers.

Click here to read my review, published in Las Vegas City Life.

Or read the text, below:

———

Sonny Rollins

Road Shows, Vol. 1

(Doxy)

It’s not overstating the case to call Sonny Rollins one of the last living jazz giants. Even on the down slide to 80, the tenor saxophonist continues to roam the earth, playing every solo as if it were his last, threatening to turn every show into an event, the kind where listeners are likely to learn something new about the art of jazz, and discover something unexpected about the playing of a monster improviser who has been thrilling audiences since making his breakthrough in the early ’50s with the likes of Miles and Monk.

That said, too many of Rollins’ studio recordings have been subpar – failed attempts to recreate the live vibe. Not so with Road Shows, Vol. 1, culled in part from concert recordings made by Rollins devotee Carl Smith. Here, in live performances caught between 1980 and 2007, Rollins absolutely romps. His brawny horn digs deep during a long, unaccompanied section in “Easy Living” and turns alternately tender and questioning for a bracing version of “Some Enchanted Evening,” with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Roy Haynes, performed last year at Carnegie Hall.

He stretches to the breaking point on his signature blues tune, “Tenor Madness,” rocks a calypso groove on his “Nice Lady,” and opens up the ballad “More Than You Know,” even slipping in a snippet of a Christmas melody. Undeniably brilliant.

Best Jazz CDs of the Year?

It’s always one of a music critic’s toughest jobs.

How do you pick out the “best” recordings, of any genre, for any given year?

And, given the volume of CDs that continue to be unleashed, who – anywhere – has the time and wherewithal to listen to all the good, or even great, stuff that’s out there?

I never feel like I get it quite right – as soon as one of my year-ender pieces is published, I feel like I ought to go back and sub one of the discs for another that I’ve decided is more deserving.

At any rate, with the certainty that I’m leaving out one or two, or a dozen or more, great recordings, below is my “working” list of the year’s best jazz CDs.

This, of course, doesn’t include my favorites from other genres, a list that would include Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Lucinda Williams’ Little Honey, and the self-titled debut from The Steeldrivers.

An expanded version of my jazz list, with teensy descriptions of each disc, will soon be published elsewhere. When that happens, I’ll link to it.

The Best Jazz Discs of 2008 (in alphabetical order)

  • Brian Blade Fellowship, Season of Changes (Verve)
  • Anat Cohen, Notes From the Village (Anzic)
  • Chick Corea & Gary Burton, The New Crystal Silence (Concord)
  • John Ellis, Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow (Hyena)
  • Lionel Loueke, Karibu (Blue Note)metheny
  • Pat Metheny, Day Trip (Nonesuch)
  • Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 1 (Doxy)
  • Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza (Heads Up)
  • Robert Walter, Cure All (Palmetto)
  • Cassandra Wilson, Loverly (Blue Note)

Jazz Fest Lineup: Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Wilco, James Taylor, Kings of Leon, Los Lobos, Tony Bennett, Bonnie Raitt, More

Yep, Christmas came early: the lineup for the 40th anniversary edition of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has just been announced.

As usual, it’s another impressive lineup.

Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Etta James, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Wilco, Joe Cocker, Irma Thomas, Third World, Drive-by Truckers with Booker T. Jones,  Robert Cray, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Galactic, the Avett Brothers, and Irma Thomas are among the big names and/or notable acts playing First Weekend.

And for the second weekend – yes! – Los Lobos is on the list of big names/notables, which also includes Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Kings of Leon, Neville Brothers,  Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Kurt Elling, Bonnie Raitt, Toots & the Maytals, Ellis Marsalis, Marcia Ball, Allen Toussaint, Dirty Dozen, John Scofield, Solomon Burke, Poncho Sanchez, Esperanza Spalding, the Radiators, and Jon Cleary. And this: Kind of Blue @ 50 Tribute to Miles Davis feat. Jimmy Cobb, Wallace Roney, Larry Willis, and Buster Williams

Now if I could only figure out to go both weekends.

Full lineup is below…..

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL
PRESENTED BY SHELL
APRIL 24 – 26 (1st WEEKEND)

Wynton Marsalis, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, Earth Wind & Fire, Wilco, Spoon, Erykah Badu, Irma Thomas, Orishas, Third World, Robert Cray, Etta James & the Roots Band, Mavis Staples, Drive-By Truckers feat. Booker T. Jones, Johnny Winter, Pete Seeger, Hugh Masekela, Better Than Ezra, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Galactic, Roy Haynes, Pete Fountain, Avett Brothers, Kinky, Roy Rogers, Del McCoury Band, Terence Blanchard, Marc Broussard, DJ Jubilee with 5th Ward Weebie and Ms. Tee, Buckwheat Zydeco’s 30th Anniversary feat. The Hitchhikers, Tab Benoit, Locos por Juana, Trombone Shorty, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Yacub Addy and Odadaa of Ghana, Rebirth Brass Band Reunion with Kermit Ruffins, Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys, Donald Harrison, The Anointed Jackson Sisters, Tribute to Mahalia Jackson featuring Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, and Pamela Landrum, Chris Smither, Henry Butler, Papa Grows Funk, Robert Mirabal, Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Sonny Landreth, Benjy Davis Project, The Vettes, Mem Shannon & the Membership, Stephanie Jordan, Warren Storm, Willie Tee and Cypress feat. Tommy McLain and T K Hulin, Astral Project, Ladysmith Redlions of South Africa, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Amammereso Agofomma of Ghana, The Dixie Cups, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Germaine Bazzle, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Marlon Jordan, Tabby Thomas, Spencer Bohren, Savoy Music Center of Eunice Saturday Cajun Jam, Dew Drop Inn Revisited hosted by Deacon John feat. Wanda Rouzan, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint, Robert Parker, and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, Wayne Toups & Zydecajun, Leroy Jones presents the Fairview Brass Band Reunion Tribute to Danny Barker, Bruce Daigrepont, Vivaz!, Pfister Sisters’ 30th Anniversary, Gringo do Choro, Dr. Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band, Thais Clark, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians, Henry Gray & the Cats, Joe Krown, Walter “Wolfman” Washington & Russell Batiste, Jr., Lil’ Buck Sinegal Blues Band, EOE, Ebony Hillbillies, Crescent City Allstars feat. James Andrews, Hot 8 Brass Band, Schatzy, Jake Smith, 19th Street Red Blues Band, Brasilliance!, Mighty Chariots of Fire, Sharde Thomas & the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, Chris Owens, Topsy Chapman, New Bumpers’ Revival Jazz Band of France, Zulu Male Ensemble, Jo “Cool” Davis, Leah Chase, Herlin Riley, Roderick Paulin, Mahogany Brass Band, Ingrid Lucia, MyNameisJonMichael, Texas Johnny Brown & the Quality Blues Band, Rockie Charles & the Stax of Love, AsheSon, Jim McCormick, Lil’ Malcolm & the House Rockers, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, Thomas “Big Hat” Fields & his Foot Stompin’ Zydeco Band, Guitar Slim, Jr., Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Willis Prudhomme & Zydeco Express, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Waterseed, Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians, DJ Hektik & the New Orleans Society of Dance with Freedia and Nobi, Tipsy Chicks, Jonno Frishberg & Bayou DeVille, Christian Serpas & Ghost Town, Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective, NewBirth Brass Band, High Ground Drifters Bluegrass Band, New Orleans Night Crawlers Brass Band, Hadley Castille & the Sharecropper Band, Carrollton Hunters and Cherokee Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Big Steppers, Furious Five, and Untouchables SAPCs, Patrice Fisher & Arpa feat. special guests from Brazil, Clive Wilson’s New Orleans Serenaders feat. Butch Thompson, Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Betty Winn & One A-Chord, McDonogh #35 High School Gospel Choir, Sophisticated Ladies feat. Barbara Shorts, Leslie Smith, Cindy Scott, and Judy Spellman, Golden Comanche and Seminoles Mardi Gras Indians, N.O.C.C.A. Jazz Ensemble, Real Untouchables Brass Band, Olympia Aid, New Look & First Division SAPCs, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Tommy Sancton, Society Brass Band, Connie Jones, St. Joseph the Worker Music Ministry, UNO Jazz Combo, June Gardner & the Fellas, New Orleans Spiritualettes, Smitty Dee’s Brass Band, Kid Simmons’ Local International Allstars, Semolian Warriors, Comanche Hunters, and Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, Tyronne Foster & the Arc Singers, Loyola University Jazz Ensemble, Franklin Avenue B.C. Mass Choir, Small Souljas Brass Band, Val & the Love Alive Fellowship Choir, Single Ladies, Family Ties, Big Nine, and Keep N It Real SAPCs, Second Mount Carmel Gospel Choir, Xavier University Jazz Ensemble, Heritage School of Music Band, Gospel Soul Children, Nine Times Men, Single Men, Dumaine Gang, Divine Ladies, and Lady Jetsetters SAPCs, Red, White & Blue and Wild Mohican Mardi Gras Indians, Reverend Charles Jackson & the Jackson Travelers, Nineveh B.C. Mass Choir, Kid Simmon’s Local International Allstars, Voices of St. Peter Claver, David & Roselyn, Grayhawk, Washboard Leo, Red Hot Brass Band, Kayla Woodson & Louisiana Lightnin’….

40th ANNIVERSARY
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL
PRESENTED BY SHELL
APRIL 30 – MAY 3 (2nd WEEKEND)

Aretha Franklin, TBA, Sugarland, Ben Harper and The Relentless7, Tony Bennett, Kings of Leon, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Common, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, The O’Jays, Toots & the Maytals, Allen Toussaint, John Mayall, Solomon Burke, Doc Watson, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Whispers, Jakob Dylan, Chuck Brown, Meter Men: Zig, George, and Leo, Kurt Elling, Rance Allen, Cowboy Mouth, Guy Clark, Radiators Aaron Neville, Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, Tab Benoit & the Wetland Allstars, Marcia Ball, Ellis Marsalis, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Frankie Ford, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Mississippi Mass Choir, Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters, Anders Osborne, the subdudes, Esperanza Spalding, Patty Griffin, Deacon John, Chris Thomas King, Kind of Blue @ 50 Tribute to Miles Davis feat. Jimmy Cobb, Wallace Roney, Larry Willis, and Buster Williams, John Scofield & the Piety Street Band, George Wein & the Newport Allstars feat. Randy Brecker, VaShawn Mitchell & Friends, Nicholas Payton, Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Bonerama, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Genius of Sidney Bechet: A Tribute feat. Bob Wilber, Dr. Michael White, and Brian “Breeze” Cayolle, Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Theresa Andersson, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm, Bobby Lounge feat. Sarah Quintana, Chieck Hamala Diabate of Mali, The Iguanas, Treme Brass Band, Lars Edegran & the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, Lionel Ferbos & the Palm Court Jazz Band, Fredy Omar con su Banda, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Big Chief Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias, Soul Rebels, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Luther Kent & Trickbag, Banu Gibson’s Hot Jazz with Bucky Pizzarelli, Mark Braud, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots, Marva Wright & the BMWs, Kenny Bill Stinson & the Ark-LA-Mystics, Gregg Stafford’s Jazz Hounds’ Tribute to Danny Barker feat. Juanita Brooks, Eric Lindell, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Rumba Buena, Roddie Romero & the Hub City Allstars, Charmaine Neville Band, Eddie Bo, Ori Danse Club of Benin, Crocodile Gumboot Dancers of South Africa, Rotary Downs, George French & the New Orleans Storyville Jazz Band, Walter Payton & Filé Gumbo, Dash Rip Rock, John Boutté, Sonny Bourg & the Bayou Blues Band, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Sherman Robertson, Honey Island Swamp Band, The Revealers, I’Voire Spectacle feat. Seguenon Kone, Alex McMurray, 101 Runners, Midnite Disturbers, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Big Chief Peppy & the Golden Arrows Mardi Gras Indians, D.L. Menard & the Louisiana Aces, James Rivers Movement, Otra, Tony Green’s Gypsy Jazz, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, John Rankin, Betsy McGovern & the Poor Clares, Kenny Neal, Lil’ Brian & the Travelers, Jeremy Davenport, Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band, Jamal Batiste & the Jam-Allstars, Ensemble Fatien feat. Seguenon Kone, Dr. Michael White, and Jason Marsalis, Sharon Martin, St. Louis Slim, Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band, TBC Brass Band, Lady Rollers, Original C.T.C., and Nine Times Ladies SAPCs, Feufollet, War Chief Juan & Young Fire and White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Bingo! Show, David Egan, Kidd Jordan-Al Fielder & the IAQ, Drew Landry Band, Driskill Mountain Boys, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, Washboard Chaz, Bamboula 2000, Danza, Marisa y Mariachi Agave, J. Monque’D Blues Band, Cedric Watson, Twangorama, Higher Heights, Tim Laughlin, Elysian Fieldz, Percussion Inc., Pinettes Brass Band, Scene Boosters, Old N Nu Fellas, Secondline Jammers, and Ladies of Unity SAPCs, Little Freddie King Blues Band, Glen David Andrews, Po’ Henry & Tookie, Sherman Washington & the Zion Harmonizers, Culu Children’s Traditional African Dance Ensemble, Paky Saavedra’s Bandido, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Rhythm Section, Bob French & the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Shamarr Allen, Free Agents Brass Band, Jambalaya Cajun Band, Benny Grunch & the Bunch, Javier Tobar & Elegant Gypsy, Creole Zydeco Farmers, Bonsoir Catin, Corey Ledet, Gina Brown, Reggie Hall & the Twilighters feat. Lady Bee, Forgotten Souls Brass Band, Young Magnolias, Golden Sioux, and Black Feathers Mardi Gras Indians, New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, Westbank Steppers, Valley of Silent Men, and Pigeon Town Steppers SAPCs, Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans, Truth Universal & Jimi Clever, Shades of Praise Gospel Singers, Brother Tyrone, Lazarus, Berard Family Band, New Orleans Jazz Ramblers, Courtney Bryan Trio, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, DJ Captain Charles, Blodie’s Jazz Jam, New Orleans Helsinki Project, Original Last Straws, Chris Clifton, Panorama Jazz Band, Mario Abney, John Lee & the Heralds of Christ, Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Hot Club of New Orleans, The Moonshiners, Clarinet Woodshed feat. Evan Christopher and Gregory Agid, SUBR Jazz Ensemble, Michael Ward, DJ Soul Sister, The Johnson Extension, Black Eagles, Geronimo Hunters, Wild Tchoupitoulas, and Wild Apaches Mardi Gras Indians, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, Tulane University Jazz Ensemble, First Emmanuel Baptist Church Choir, Louis Ford & his New Orleans Flairs, Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors, Red Hawk, and Black Seminoles Mardi Gras Indians, Leviticus Gospel Choir, Dillard University Jazz Ensemble, Bester Singers and the Dynamic Smooth Family Gospel Singers, Bon Temps Roulez, New Generation, and Undefeated Divas SAPCs, The Electrifying Crownseekers, Pinstripe Brass Band, Ebenezer Baptist Church Mass Choir, Trouble Nation and Ninth Ward Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Famous Rocks of Harmony, Highsteppers Brass Band, McMain High School Gospel Choir, Voices of Distinction, Gal Holiday, Lyle Henderson & Emmanuel, Coolie Family Gospel Singers, Original Big 7 and Original 4 SAPCs, Tornado Brass Band, Eddie “Chops” Paris, Golden Blade, Wild Red Flame, and Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Morning Star B.C. Mass Choir, New Wave Brass Band, Julio y Cesar Band, First Emmanuel Church Gospel Choir, Greater Antioch Full Gospel B.C. Mass Choir, Roderick Paulin, N’Kafu African Dance Ensemble, Original Prince of Wales and the Original Lady Buckjumpers SAPCs, Johnette Downing, Young Guardians of the Flame, Eric McAllister, N’Fungola Sibo West African Dance Company, Mt. Hermon B.C. Mass Choir ….

Early Christmas Present: New Orleans Jazz Fest Lineup Coming Tuesday

Christmas will come early for Jazz Fest fans — the full lineup  for next year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be announced this Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to a report published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The roster for the 40th annual edition of the festival, April 24-26 and April 30-May 3, will be announced during a press conference scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (Central).

The announcement of the full lineup typically comes in January or February. Why so early this year?

Blame it on the economy.

“With the general economic downturn likely to affect leisure travel and ticket sales, the early announcement also allows for extra time to market the festival,” according to Keith Spera’s story in the Times-Picayune.

Expectations are that the 40th anniversary lineup will be as impressive a lineup as ever. On the list of artists confirmed to play, or expected to do so:

4/24 – Wynton Marsalis, Jazz Tent; Ellis Marsalis; Amanda Shaw

Wynton Marsalis4/25 – Wynton Marsalis (pictured, right), Congo Square

4/26 – Paul Sanchez

Solomon Burke4/30 – Solomon Burke (pictured, below); George Wein 4oth anniversary band with Jimmy Cobb, Esperanza Spalding, and Anat Cohen; Anders Osborne

First weekend (unspecified date) – Don Vappie

5/1 – Esperanza Spalding; Washboard Chaz Blues Trio; Dr. John;

5/2 – O’Jays; New Orleans/Helsinki Connection

5/3 – Jimmy Cobb’s “So What” band (celebrating the classic Miles album) with Wallace Roney, Javon Jackson, Vincent Herring, Larry Willis and Buster Williams; Juke Joint duo (Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm); Radiators; Dash Rip Rock; John Boutte; Voice of the Wetlands

(Know of other confirmations or solid rumors? Updates? Corrections? Send ‘em my way)

Here’s my pitch (hope) for the Jazz Stage: Why not tap Sonny Rollins, (IMO) the greatest living jazz giant?

Also promised for the 40th edition of the fest is “a new ticket package option.” Some fans have expressed hopes that that means something along the lines of a multi-day discount, or perhaps steep discounts for locals and/or kids. Others have suggested that the new “option” could mean another type of V.I.P. package.