These are my selections for the 10 best recordings of 2010. I used the following criteria to establish the field of artists.
1) I had to purchase the recording. None of these recordings are samples from the record companies or the artists or the music distributors. Each one of the Top 10 recordings was an out of pocket expense.
2) My emphasis this past year has to become more of a student and benefactor of jazz music, its derivatives, nuances, etc. I split the Top 10 between five top jazz recordings and five other "genre" recordings.
3) The recording had to produce repeated plays and create a memorable impression.
4) There was a live performance or tour associated with the recording, in other words I was compelled to see the music performed live. In some instances the recording was the impetus to see the artist live. Live performances are denoted by an asterisk *. You’ll notice that 7 of the 10 Top 10 recordings had live associated events. This speaks to the integrity of these recordings and the artists chosen.
The Five Top Jazz Recordings
1. Pat Metheny Orchestrion*
Pat Metheny has accomplished an amazing feat with his Orchestrion. He makes a powerful statement with the use of robotics, pneumatic devices and the syncopation of all these entities. I bought the recording on the first day on the strength of Pat’s innovative creativity and was not disappointed one iota.
We saw the last Orchestrion one man show of his nearly year long concert tour in Torrington, Ct. It was a jaw dropping, cosmic excursion. As a long time technologist myself I applauded Pat’s incorporation of technology to the levels that he takes it to.
There will be a DVD of this break through concept of musical diversification coming out in 2011. I am eager to own that video replica of what I saw and heard live. I give this recording 5+ Stars.
2. Herbie Hancock – The Imagine Project*
Herbie Hancock continues his mastery of collaboration with a recording that took place around the world. Herbie has a tremendous ear for musical harmonies and exchanges. The collection of artist friends on this recording is striking and a testament to how many people want to work with Herbie Hancock and company. Herbie’s core band, which consists of Lionel Loueke on guitar, Vincent Colaiuta on drums, and Tal Wilkenfeld on bass is quite the nucleus.
My favorite tracks on the recording are "The Song Goes On" Featuring K.S. Chithra, Chaka Khan, Anoushka Shankar, & Wayne Shorter, anIndian based raga composition complemented by sitar, tablas and the soothing sound of Wayne Shorter on soprano saxophone.
“Tamatant Tilay/Exodus” Featuring Tinariwen, K’Naan and Los Lobos was recorded worlds apart but sounds like they all gathered in the next room.
I really like Space Captain which brings Herbie and his group to Derek Truck’s studio in the Florida Everglades. Susan Tedeschi sings with such a soulful touch on this number. The interplay between Herbie and Derek is a marvel to witness.
Here is the video of that collaborative effort, which I know you will watch more than once
A Southern Collaboration You’ll Really Enjoy
3. Charles Lloyd Quartet – Mirror
Just an exquisite series of selections that you want to listen to again and again and again. I am ticketed to see the Charles Lloyd Quartet on January 28, 2011 at Wesleyan University
4. John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension – To The One*
I have been a long time fan of John McLaughlin’s and he continues to reinvent himself in his tireless efforts to make music that challenge the senses and stretch the boundaries. To the One is a tight set of tracks that blasts off in lots of intriguing directions. Pay special attention to the drumming and keyboarding of Gary Husband on this recording. This recording works its way into your soul and consciousness in inviting ways.
5. Ted Nash, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – Portrait in Seven Shades
Ted Nash has designed, composed and developed a visual/aural treat for the senses with Portrait in Seven Shades. Each composition is a tribute to a famous painter on display at the Museum of Modern Art., giving you a new appreciation for textures and sound.
My best advice is to look at the MoMA Web site, read about Ted Nash and MoMA and then listen to this recording to fully appreciate what Ted has accomplished. I was very inspired by Ted’s work and developed some Web pages on my Web site, LearningEdje in honor of his stellar thinking and arrangements.
The Other Top Five "Genre" Recordings
1. Jeff Beck – Emotion and Commotion*
Jeff Beck has truly outdone himself on this recording. Once you give it a listen you’ll know why it was nominated for 5 Grammy Awards.
We caught an early preview of several of these tracks when we saw Jeff Beck Live at Madison Square Garden this past February.
The track that will impress you on a new and exciting level is Nessun Dorma the aria from the opera by Puccini.
2. Ryan Montbleau Band – Heavy on the Vine*
Ryan Montbleau Band have put together a very listenable recording. It plays effortlessly from track to track. I like Ryan’s voice and the fun his lyrics provide. The CD can be set on repeat play and you just want to hear it again and again.
We have seen the Ryan Montbleau Band three times now in concert and they really are a joy to hear perform live.
My favorite song is More and More and More about all the choices we are overwhelmed with in this life.
3. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – I Learned The Hard Way
Raw, soulful energy. Sharon Jones and Dap Kings show us why Brooklyn epitomizes R&B, Soul and makes you want to kick up your heels. You can’t help but love this recording and smile in awe of this get down with it group. Ms. Jones has a thing going on, trust me
4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mojo*
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers nailed it on this recording. Reaching back into their Southern roots, placing the accent on the blues and rock and roll, this CD has many listenable and playable tracks.
They were giving this recording away for free, which told me how much Tom Petty believed in this musical effort. Turned out he was so right about that belief.
It helped to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform these songs live. We spent an excellent summer evening on the lawn in Hartford with them this past year.
5. Los Lobos – Tin Can Trust*
Los Lobos produces another strong recording. You’ll love “Do The Murray”, a fun shake your booty number. I love their rendition of “West LA Fadeaway”, Los Lobos covers the Grateful Dead so well.
The song “Tin Can Trust” as David Hidalgo explains is about that tin can you have by the side of the bed on your nightstand where you place your loose change along with your dreams every night.
From Nick’s Taste of Texas, Covina, CA
We were fortunate to buy the CD before it was released and get it signed when they played the New Haven Green on July 31st.
Lots of great dancing songs on this CD.
Los Lobos, Peace, Ese.