Bird is the Worm Best of 2013: Albums 21-25

 

Today’s post reveals the 21st through the 25th 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.

These are not reviews.  They are simple thoughts, reminiscences, fragments of recollections, and brief opinions about how each album struck me both now and when I first heard it.  There is a link to a more formal review following each entry… that’s where you go to find out what’s what about each recording.  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 at the time I wrote the review.

Let’s begin…

*****

 

21.  Brian Landrus Kaleidoscope – Mirage

Brian Landrus - "Mirage"I was perpetually fascinated throughout the year in how Landrus was able to mesmerize with his blend of mainstream jazz, old-school soul jazz, and string quartet.  A reed man who specializes in the low end of the register, Landrus’s music had the added gift of the haunting warmth of contra-alto & bass clarinets and bass & bari saxes.  This, when balanced against the lightness of strings and the shimmering glow of a mainstream sound, resulted in a textured sound that hit the mark time and time again.  Just a remarkable album.

Released on BlueLand Records.

A Bird is the Worm review HERE.

*****

22.  Gary Burton Quartet – Guided Tour

Gary Burton - "Guided Tour"The communion between Burton’s vibes and Julian Lage’s guitar is the winning formula on this recording.  Sanchez and Colley on drums and bass sure didn’t hurt, but Burton’s icy brightness and Lage’s charming twang was a partnership in sound that gave this album its defining character.  An instance where a straight-ahead recording differentiates itself from the pack, and displays that there is no end to the singular ways to express old languages in new, exciting ways.

Released on Mack Avenue Records.

A Bird is the Worm review HERE.

*****

23.  Matt Holman’s Diversion Ensemble – When Flooded

Matt Holman - "When Flooded"Back when I made this album my eMusic Pick of the Week, I described this recording as having a “heavy serenity.”  I still think that’s an apt description.  The trumpet led outing possesses a gravity that precludes analogizing this album with terms of flight, and yet the addition of clarinets, guitar, and cello provides a delicate touch that belies its prevalent weightiness.  That contrast is one of the qualities that make this such a winning album.  Beautiful drifting melodies would be another.

Released on Brooklyn Jazz Underground.

A Bird is the Worm review HERE.

*****

24.  Damir Out Loud – Graduation Day

Damir Out Loud - "Graduation Day"There is an abiding warmth to this music that has never waned for me.  Modern in approach, and yet it hits on enough hard bop moments of the past to appeal to both the old- and new-schooler in me.  Melodies that emerge suddenly, but structured in a way that keeps on the memory long after each song has ended.  The interplay between trumpet and vibes carries the day on this charming debut recording, and solidify its position as one of the best recordings of 2013.

Released on Unit Records.

A Bird is the Worm review HERE.

*****

25.  Goran Kajfes Subtropic Arkestra – The Reason Why Vol. 1

Goran Kajfes - "The Reason Why Vol 1"The hyper-exhilaration of this album just won’t fade with time.  Backed by his Subtropic Arkestra, Kajfes channels the simultaneous imagery of outer space big band jazz like Sun Ra, and the finely textured ambient drive of Krautrock acts like Cluster, while voicing this music with his personal blend of jazz, rock, and psychedelia.  This recording’s spot-on blend of colorful orchestration, catchy melodies, and rhythmic fireworks would be equally at home in late-night dance halls as it would be as a soundtrack to a James Bond action flick.  There’s something undeniably cool about this music, enhanced by its ability to elicit smiles on command.

Released on Headspin Recordings.

A Bird is the Worm review HERE.

*****

 

Tomorrow’s post reveals the Bird is the Worm numbers 16-20 2013 albums of the year.

Cheers.


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