Phil Johnson: The best Jazz albums of 2008

‘Arve Henriksen came of age with an album of astonishing grace and power’
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The Independent Culture

After three interesting albums for Rune Grammofon, the Norwegian trumpeter and composer Arve Henriksen came of age with 'Cartography', a fully realised solo work of astonishing grace and power.

Henriksen's delicately whispered trumpet and wordless vocals combine with the electronics of producers Jan Bang and Erik Honoré to create edgily ambient music where a sense of the sublime is never far away.

From the beginning of 2008, and therefore likely to get lost in the end of year lists, 'Mare Nostrum' by Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano and Jan Lundgren was a sparkling chamber-jazz trio whose airy interplay of trumpet, accordion and piano proved sufficient to banish thoughts of bass and drums.

The young saxophonist Matana Roberts made a striking debut with 'The Chicago Project', while on 'Vignettes', veteran pianist Marilyn Crispell created a solo suite of hard-won virtuosity. Cassandra Wilson returned to form with 'Loverly', while 'Generations' by Martin Speake provided a perfect match between tradition and post-modernity.

Best blasts from the past were 'Dream Weaver – the Charles Lloyd Anthology'; 'Setting Standards' by Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, and, for soul fans, 'Take Me to the River: A Southern Soul Story'.

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