Bird is the Worm Best of 2012: Albums 26-30

Today’s post reveals the 26th through the 30th Bird is the Worm albums of the year.

 

BitW photo (full)For 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…

*****

 

26.  Motian Sickness: The Music of Paul Motian – For the Love of Sarah

The music of Paul Motian isn’t an easy safe to crack, possessing a quiet strength that’s both subtle and obtuse.  Drummer Jeff Cosgrove found a way in, however, and came back out with his own sound and vision of Motian’s music.  With an overt bluegrass/folk sheen to his jazz interpretations, Cosgrove’s ensemble found the right mix of haunting warmth to do honor the late great drummer, while also bringing a unique recording to the table.  This is the type of album I listen to only on occasion but when I do, I completely immerse myself in it.  This music is self-contained, like losing oneself for a short time in a little-known far-away place.  Very cool.

The album is Self-Produced.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

27.  Miguel Zenon / Laurent Coq Quartet – Rayuela

Laurent Coq - "Rayuela"Based on a book that gave the freedom to approach the story in different ways, so it goes on Rayeula that complexities and wrinkles are woven into the fabric of beautifully textured music.  This is one of those recordings that dropped my jaw the first time I heard it, then slowly displayed other, more subtle reasons to appreciate it over the course of time.  Zenon increasingly establishes himself as one of the premier voices in Jazz on saxophone, and Coq shows himself to be the perfect foil on piano, counterbalancing Zenon’s fire with some keyboard ice.  The inspired decision to include Dana Leong on cello and trombone, and add tabla and various other percussion to Dan Weiss’s ensemble responsibilities both add elements to the music that imbues it with a vibrant color that elevates this album up a notch.  Challenging music that is simple to enjoy.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

28.  Dialogues Trio w/Julian Siegel – Twinkle Twinkle

I’m enamored with the premise of building an album around compositions based on the children’s lullaby “Twinkle Twinkle.”  It’s the right kind of clever.  However, while there is a soothing nighttime quality to this music, these ain’t song to fall asleep to.  When I first sat down to listen to this recording, my assumption is that it would be something not unlike an ECM piano trio snoozer.  But, actually, most tracks are quite lively, and far more representative of Babel Label’s inventive catalog of releases.  Solid, from first note to last.

Released on the Babel Label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

29.  Threads Orchestra – Ranch

Threads Orchestra’s sophomore release leaves behind much of the genre-warping it artfully performed on its debut Threads, and instead focus on a seamless mix of jazz, classical, and folk as its vehicle for presenting some of the more compelling music on the scene.  A cinematic presence with a theatrical flair, the album reflects the music for unperformed theater as dreamt up in composer Jonathan Brigg’s head.  This ensemble has proven over the course of two albums that they won’t hesitate to experiment without having to compromise making their music an effortless listen.

The album is Self-Produced.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

30.  Beppe di Benedetto 5tet – See the Sky

There’s a relentlessness to this album that’s always appealed to me.  It can be felt even when di Benedetto’s ensemble takes to the sky to soar or when it slows things down to slowly crunch over earth.  A straight-ahead recording that should appeal to both new and old-schoolers alike.

Released on the TRJ Records label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.

*****

 

Tomorrow’s post reveals the Bird is the Worm numbers 21-25 2012 albums of the year.

Cheers.


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