Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Things We Like #2 - The Best of 2011

While it can be a challenge to keep up with all the new music being released, most of it is of really, exceedingly high caliber. But seeing as how it's the end of the year, that means that it is list-making time and I have to take stock and whittle down all that I've heard into a short run of top-notch material. Importantly, picking ten standouts doesn’t negate the hundreds of excellent albums that are also out there and well worth hearing. If I put in a “runners up” list, it would be excessively long and one day I might prefer listening to any of those recordings over one that’s been “picked” (cue some of the absolutely ruling discs that will appear in the year-end review roundup shortly). There have also been some particularly fine reissues this year – not only a healthy group of boxed sets, but also some first-time-on-CD classics from trumpeter-composer Bill Dixon and saxophonist Julius Hemphill. And while there have some tremendously sad losses in the world of creative music, the fact that our young masters continue to create such vital work gives me hope for the continued flourishing of this music.

All of these are listed in alphabetical order, by the way, because internal list hierarchies are troubling.

New Releases:
Muhal Richard Abrams – Sound Dance (Pi Recordings)
Anthony Braxton – Trillium E (Braxton House)
Bill Dixon – Envoi (Victo)
Agusti Fernandez – El Laberint de la Memoria (Mbari Musica)
Rick Reed – The Way Things Go (Elevator Bath)
Akira Sakata with Jim O’Rourke and Chikamorachi - …and that’s the Story of Jazz (Family Vineyard)
Matthew Shipp – Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear)
The Thirteenth Assembly – Station Direct (Important)
David S. Ware – Planetary Unknown (Aum Fidelity)
Nate Wooley - (Put Your) Hands Together (Clean Feed)

Reissues and Unearthed Gems:
Bitch Magnet – Ben Hur/Umber/Star Booty (Temporary Residence)
Miles Davis – The Bootleg Series vol. 1 (Columbia Legacy)
Bill Dixon – Intents & Purposes (International Phonograph)
Julius Hemphill – Dogon A.D. (International Phonograph)
The Rev. Charlie Jackson – You Got to Move: Live Recordings vol. 1 (50 Miles of Elbow Room)
Roscoe Mitchell – Before There Was Sound (Nessa)
Warren Smith – Dragon Dave Meets the Black Knight from the Darkside of the Moon (Porter)
Social Climbers – Social Climbers (Drag City)
Juma Sultan’s Aboriginal Music Society – Father of Origin (Eremite)
John Surman – Flashpoint: NDR Jazz Workshop ’69 (Cuneiform)


  1. Dude. I did a Google search on just the word 'like,' and this page came in at #8 or something.