CurtJazz’s Best Jazz Albums of 2012 – A Few More Good Things…
To wrap up 2012, I have a few more discs released this year that were not part of the first twenty, but are worth your time and listening attention. They are:
Colombe – David Reinhardt Trio (101 Distribution)
The 26-year-old grandson of the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt is a very good guitarist in his own right. Unlike his grandfather, David is focused on Bop and Soul-Jazz. Colombe, his first album released in the U.S., is quite impressive. We’re looking forward to hearing more.
Echoes of Indiana Avenue – Wes Montgomery (Resonance)
2012’s best historical album was a real find. These are recordings of Wes in 1957-58, in the studio and in Indianapolis clubs, when he was struggling to be heard. These sides prove that he was already near the top of his game. Kudos to Resonance Records, not only for the solid remastering but also for the terrific packaging, which includes great photos and interviews.
Hot House – Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Concord)
Forty years after their landmark duet album, Crystal Silence, and after numerous other collaborations with groups of various sizes, Corea and Burton are back to basics on this album of duets. They are 71 and 69 respectively, but they haven’t lost a step as they alternately challenge and complement each other. There was nothing boring about this reunion.
Lifesize Mirror – Monét (Entertainment One)
R&B, Jazz, and Neo-Soul create a gorgeous mosaic on this album by this criminally underheard flutist/vocalist/educator/actress. Monét’s sound on flute is reminiscent of Bobbi Humphrey, but this young lady brings much more to the musical table than her famed predecessor. The music here is way too intelligent and creative to be pigeonholed as “smooth jazz”, so we’ll just call it a thinking person’s groove.
Radio Music Society – Esperanza Spalding (Heads-Up)
Speaking of gifted ladies who refuse to be pigeonholed, Ms. Spalding terrified many hardcore jazz types with her decidedly pop based new album, her first since her shocking Best New Artist win at the 2011 Grammys®. When you get past all the “jazz forsaking” arguments that have been made, what you have left is an eclectic (Jack DeJohnnette, Joe Lovano and Q-Tip all make guest appearances) and delightful album of great music by a prodigiously gifted young woman who is going to get it done her own way, jazz police be damned. You go girl!
A 2011 Album Revisited
Keep it Movin’ – Shimrit Shoshan (Self Released)
Though she was far from well-known, even in the jazz world, a shockwave went through our little community when it was reported that Shimrit Shoshan had died on August 19, 2012, of cardiac arrest, at age 29. The Israeli born pianist had released her first album in 2011 and it showed that she had a world of promise and nothing but good things ahead of her.
I first became aware of her via an article in Jazz Times, which discussed the variety of worlds that the young woman was involved in to support her budding musical career. Due in large part to her striking good looks, she found work as a backup dancer in music videos and as model/muse for a New York based fashion designer. She also sold gems in the diamond district and taught music to underprivileged kids in Harlem. Her story fascinated me, so I tracked down a copy of her album that same day. I found her playing to very impressive and complex and her solos were challenging; she was no dilettante.
I began to play her album on the station and had some brief correspondence with Ms. Shoshan via Twitter. I kept tabs on her career and I was looking forward to seeing what was next.
Unfortunately, that encouraging beginning turned out to also be a tragically frustrating coda. So we look back at Shimrit Shoshan’s Keep It Movin’. If you are unfamiliar with this disc, check it out. You’re likely to experience the same mixed emotions that I now feel.
That will wrap it up for our Best Jazz of 2012 list. Tracks from all 25 of these albums can be heard daily on Curt’s Café Noir, from noon – 5 pm (ET), daily, starting on December 27, 2012 and continuing into January 2013.
We will also publish another post after this one which will include the names of each album and a link to where they can be purchased. Because if jazz is to survive, we have all got to do our part by buying the music that we love that is made by living artists.
Have a Jazzy New Year. Until the next time, the jazz continues…