The British saxophonist's most experimental album yet; also his best. Recorded live at the Molde Jazz Festival, the music begins as dark, ambient, chill-out grooves before emerging with some full-blooded blowing, followed by tootling, melancholy, themes. The only jazz album I've heard this year that sounds really new.
CHARLES LLOYD: VOICE IN THE NIGHT (ECM)
The warm tone and airy flights of Lloyd's tenor sax improvisations are captured with perfect fidelity in this light and dreamy album, the latest in an outstanding series for the label. David Holland on bass, a superb Billy Higgins on drums, and an unusually restrained John Abercrombie on guitar are as subtle as you could wish for, and the tunes suitably pliant.
JOHN LEWIS: EVOLUTION (Atlantic)
A solo piano album of remarkable spareness and beauty. At the age of 78, Lewis might understandably wish to restrict the number of notes he plays; that by doing so he would produce such a late masterpiece seems a kind of miracle. Lewis's less-is-more style refers to Bach and Satie as well as Harlem stride. It swings too.
CASSANDRA WILSON: TRAVELLING MILES (Blue Note)
Wilson's tribute to Davis avoids the usual dull worthiness, making the tunes suit her own bluesy style. A thrilling version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" is so good that you could happily listen to nothing else for a week or so.
KEITH JARRETT: THE MELODY AT NIGHT, WITH YOU (ECM)
A solo piano set of almost unbearable lyricism. Tender, even soppy, it remains a great album because Jarrett - never the most self-deprecating of players - lets his incredible technique come second to the songs' emotional demands.
MICHAEL PETRUCCIANI, STEVE GADD, ANTHONY JACKSON: TRIO IN TOKYO (Dreyfus)
Storming piano improvisations recorded shortly before Petrucciani's death, with such power and invention that you sometimes have to repeat a track to keep up. The rhythm section (Gadd on drums, Jackson on electric bass) follow Petrucciani's lead with admirable fluency.
TOMASZ STANKO: FROM THE GREEN HILL (ECM)
From the Polish trumpeter, a programme of folkish themes that releases its charms slowly but surely. There're two reprises of the title theme of his last album, Litania.
KIPHANRAHAN: A THOUSAND NIGHTS AND A NIGHT
Hanrahan doesn't play but produces and directs. Track nine is a stunner, with Don Pullen and pianist DD Jackson comping away against a drum-and-bass-derived beat. The best track of the year, bar none.Reuse content