Joe Locke. Force of Four.
Dafnis Prieto. Taking the Soul for a Walk. Dafnison Music.
Donny McCaslin. Recommended Tools. Greenleaf.
Donny's explores the trio as the "most intimate" configuration, and reveals a huge personality behind his sound. Terrific technique never suffered less for expression of emotion.
Bill Dixon with the Exploding Star Orchestra. Thrill Jockey.
I've heard several people, one a big swell who should know whereof he speaks, that Bill Dixon is coasting on his achievements of thirty years ago. Being one who coasts on the 70s—when you and I were young, Billy--I should be able to see it, but I don't. He's amazing. 83 is the new 40. I've been listening to small group and solo Dixon over the years, so hearing Dixon's round black tone inside this big band thing is an especial treat. It's cantankerous and fiddly and loud without being muddy, or fey, and I love it. And Mazurek is doing now what he'll "coast on" thirty years hence ….
Paolo Fresu. Mare Nostrum. ACT.
Bennie Maupin. Early Reflections. Cryptogramophone.
Sheer unadulterated pure scary beauty.
Miguel Zenon. Awake. Marsalis Music.
Ben Allison. Little Things Rule the World. Palmetto.
Adam Kolker. Flag Day. Sunny Side
Nicholas Payton, Into the Blue. Nonesuch.
Extremely Honorable Mention
Mary Halvorson — Dragon's Head (Firehouse 12)
John Ellis. Dance Like There's No Tomorrow. HYENA.
David Sanchez. Cultural Survival. Concord Picante.
Harris Eisenstadt — Guewel (Clean Feed)
Conrad Herwig. Latin Side of John Coltrane. Reissue of My Year.
McCoy Tyner, Guitars. Half Note.
Don Cherry — Live at Cafe Montmartre 1966, Vol. 2 (ESP)
Things tipping over into next year (I haven't heard but want to):
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet — Tabligh (Cuneiform)
Chico Hamilton, Andrew Hill, Dreams Come True, Joyous Shout, 2008
Taylor Ho Bynum — Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (Hatology)
Ari Hoenig, Bert's Playground (Dreyfus)