Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 recommended by Jazz Alchemist - My Favourites

(this list will also appear in similar form on impropozycja - polish blog that brings back together people who like to write about jazz, and on magnetoffon - young portal dedicated to alternative music where my jazz musings serve as 'and now for something completely different' element).

This blog is quite young (less than 50 days) so only in a couple of cases I am able now to link albums to reviews written by myself. In a couple of  cases (see the end line of the post) I will go back to reviews written originally in polish recently and they should appear in next couple of days, translated or rewritten, on the blog.
In other cases I will try to get back to the records and review them to put some writing behind my great appreciation of those, to explain their place on this '2010's special recommendations list. Fortunately some of those, I feel, got enough critical recognition already that mine review won't be missed at all. And some of those will probably got bit forgotten about and have to make place for new releases coming.

In next couple of days there will be another list posted (I told You already about the invitation to participate in El Intruso 2010 Poll). While it will contain many more details (categorised by instruments played, band, newcomer band, composer, label etc.) it allows me to name just three candidates per category. In case of cds 2010 has been quite fruitfull and 3 recommendations won't definitely cut it (although the list is almost ready I still have a headache trying to decide which 3 albums were the best). I started with top 10, then decided it's not enough, aimed at top 15 but then couldn't lay any album off, so I arrived at top 17 and stopped here (while there are still many other recommendable 2010 releases there was no point in adding more to the list just to get a 'nice and round' number).

With all the reservations and doubts concerning "best of" lists (both expressed and those I forgot about when writing this post). I present You with the list of "my 17 favourites" records of 2010, with the order being random, and some subjective grouping done.

All-That-Jazz, juicy, dynamic, passionate, fun, with great themes and arrangements (apart from improvised "Searching for Adam"). Important note : check out how those rhythm-sections play on these!
-Angles - Epileptical West - Live in Coimbra  (Clean Feed)
-Adam Lane Full Throttle Orchestra - Aschan Rantings (Clean Feed)
-Rodrigo Amado Searching For Adam (Not Two)
-Atomic - Theater Tilters vol. 1 & 2 (Jazzland)

Beautifull and lyrical
-Augusti Fernandez / Barry Guy / Ramon Lopez - Morning Glory (Maya)
Beautifull and ..., can't find one word to describe Satoko's twisted compositions
-Satoko Fujii Ma-Do Quartet - Desert Ship (Not Two)

Duo's Magic. One light and full of grace (how Africa sounds great when Ed Blackwell is playing!). The other full of stomping and romping energy. Both exceptionally compelling.
-Wadada Leo Smith & Ed Blackwell - The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer (Kaballa)
-Ken Vandermark & Paal Nilssen-Love - Milwaukee Volume; Chicago Volume (Smalltown)

Two intriguing projects, two phenomenal records, led by compositional and instrumental charisma of Waclaw Zimpel
-Hera - Hera (Multikulti)
-Undivided  - Passion (Multikulti)

Some new sounds - ear-openers for new decade. From Wonderland to Japan
-Vijay Anderson - Hardboiled Wonderland (Not Two)
-Oirtrio  - Kanata (Not Two)
-Harris Eisenstadt - Woodblock Prints (NoBusiness)
-Kirk Knuffke - Amnesia Brown (Clean Feed)

Things that happen when two legendary trios invite younger guys in. Hooray for inter-generation debate!
-Joe McPhee / Mikolaj Trzaska / Dominic Duval / Jay Rosen - Magic (Not Two)
-Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton + Peter Evans - Scenes in the House of Music (Clean Feed)

Just an exceptional sound, if You like their two earlier releases, this one is just as good
-Exploding Star Orchestra - Stars Have Shapes  (Delmark)

streak of great albums by Atomic, Amalgam, Muntu, Commitments on NoBusiness
fantastic 'complete remastered recordings" boxes with music by Bill Dixon and Henry Threadgill by Soul Note and Black Saint

Barry Guy Week in Krakow was for me the biggest musical moment of the year, for those who want to re-live it, links below to day-after-day reports that started this blog.

polish readers can find reviews of Rodrigo Amado, Vijay Anderson and Oitrio cds on or


  1. Interesting list. I'd post as a best album Adam Lane's Ashcan for some reasons: 1) it's between mainstream and free-bop/avant-garde, 2) it's absolutely joyful,remaining ambitious, 3) brings back all we remember about Mingus but 50 years later. Things such technical maeastry, composition are obvious. Runner-up would be Morning Glory, which is a continuation of Aurora but much better.

  2. Truth is that it was incredibly hard to select a top 10, not to mention top 3 and putting them in order - which is pretty much a result of particular mood. Fact is then when month later I was putting my top 10 for upcoming critics' poll on impropozycja blog the order on my list changed slightly and it was indeed "Ashcan Rantings" that claimed the top spot. I probably wouldn't mind almost any random ordering of those albums.


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