The bottom half of the top ten, in alphabetical order.
Invigorating live performances from a Swedish-Norwegian quintet operating on the boundary between contemporary straightahead jazz and free playing. Lots of fine baritone and clarinet playing from Fredrik Ljungkvist, plus astonishing drumming from Paal Nilssen-Love. A discographical oddity is that this seems to be available either as two separate single CDs or as one double CD.
The Edinburgh-based Scottish-Australian-Canadian trio join up with German alto and clarinet player Eberhard in order to explore the sonic possibilities of a guitar, trombone, reeds and drums line-up. Moody atmospherics, funky grooves, free jazz dissonance, electronics and more.
Young American trumpeter with a highly-individual “whispering” sound when he’s playing softly. One of the most distinctive players I’ve heard for a while, and there’s a fine sense of righteous sociopolitical anger to much of the music. On the downside, the band don’t really swing much: rhythmically this often sounds like instrumental rock with jazz solos. Scott argues that jazz doesn’t need to swing though, as swing only dates from the 1920s and jazz began earlier.
Epic suite for tenor saxophone and jazz orchestra. Originally intended to be performed by Joe Lovano, Tommy Smith took over the solo part when Lovano broke his arm in an accident shortly before they were due to record it. There’s the occasional solo contribution from Steve Hamilton on piano, otherwise it’s Smith all the way.
Piano and vocals remake of Carole King’s early 70s album. Tobin sings it fairly straight and Noble eschews anything flashy, choosing instead to concentrate on picking exactly the right notes. Sheer class.
Top five due tomorrow.