Bird is the Worm Best of 2012: Albums 2-5

Today’s post reveals the 2nd through the 5th Bird is the Worm albums of the year.

 

BitW square avatarFor each album considered for inclusion, I was looking for it to hit me right in my heart, provoke a strong emotional reaction.  I was also looking for it to engage my brain, provide some intrigue or fascination with the music being presented.  Extra points were awarded for doing Something Different or building on a premise that embraced the best qualities of creativity.  Strong musicianship alone is not enough.  Many solid albums didn’t make the list.  It literally pains me when I see some of the albums that weren’t included.  But I listen to a lot of music, and one of the rare downsides to encountering so much great Jazz is that some of it won’t receive the recognition it deserves.  So there you have it.

There is a link to a more formal review following each entry.  The text that accompanies each album isn’t a review so much as reminiscences of aspects of the recording I liked when I first heard it and how I still feel about it now.  I wasn’t looking to sum any of them up… that’s what reviews are for.  Most reviews are accompanied with embedded audio so you can hear some of the music, as well as personnel and label information, links to artist, label, and retail sites, and anything else that seemed relevant/helpful to me at the time.

Let’s begin…

*****

 

2.  Amit Friedman – Sunrise

Friedman’s blend of Jazz and Middle-East music has had me enthusiastic all year long. An album that often soars, but doesn’t forget to swing. This is the kind of joyful music that defines Jazz as something special. Many Jazz albums have a joyful sound, but rarely one as inspiring as Sunrise. It still hits me right square in the heart. I originally wrote that it was an album I wanted to shout from the rooftops and share with the world. I still do.

Released on the Origin Arts label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

3.  Omer Avital – Suite of the East

Avital makes the kind of music that I know years from now, decades even, that’ll I’ll come back to with the same enthusiasm that I do John Handy’s Live at Monterey and John Coltrane’s Live at Newport ’63. The kind of surging energy that culminates with joyful expressiveness, and part-and-parcel with intelligent music that isn’t trying to take the easy route to the listener’s heart.

Released on the Anzic Records label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

4.  Matt Ulery – By a Little Light

This double-disc recording still leaves me in awe. A mix of jazz, classical, and folk that behaves more as a creation of a brand new sound rather than an amalgamation of its elements. Even surrounded by orchestration, Ulery displays the ability to sound small and vulnerable. But mostly, this is Big Music of an expansive scope and breadth. Art needs time to incubate, to let time bring context to the bigger picture. In the instance of By a Little Light, the endgame on that equation is a question of ‘masterpiece.’ This may very be just that.

Released on the Greenleaf Music label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

5.  Jeremy Siskind – Finger-Songwriter

jeremysiskind_fingersongwriterA trio of piano, vocals, and bass clarinet/sax. A storytelling flair that could give Tom Waits a run for his money. Heartbreak stories about hopeless cases who can’t stop hoping for the best. Siskind has plenty of page-turning moments on keys, but doesn’t hog the spotlight from his trio mates. Harms has a way with vocals that give jawdropping turns of vulnerability and disarming playful missives. Pino charms on bass clarinet, and provides a noir-ish ambiance to an album that is moody as hell. Also, what you hear on the album is what you get live… the trio is just as evocative in a live setting. One of those albums that just seems to materialize out of thin air, full of intensity and presence.

This album is Self-Produced.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

Tomorrow I’ll reveal the Bird is the Worm 2012 Album of the Year.

Cheers.


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