Sunday, October 16, 2011

Top 10 Speculation

Mid-October brings the definitive change of season where I live (even though last weekend—Thanksgiving in Canada—felt like mid-summer) and a reminder that it's time to begin final consideration of the year's Top 10 list of CDs.

Normally, this time would find me with an abundance of choices, but perhaps I've been harsher in winnowing out things as I've marked new arrivals for further consideration. (A word or two about my process: Like many critics I know, I keep a running list of CDs or downloads. When something catches my ear, I'll note it as a contender; my own version of nominating a recording for jury selection. A jury of one.)

At any rate, a quick check this morning informs me that I have 'nominated' eight recordings so far. This would seem to make things quite easy, except that this week brought a bounty of new things (a new Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet recording, for example) for consideration. Lots to listen to, and a tough fight for those remaining two spots; or, in fact, potential to knock some of those already nominated out of the running.

Are there any shoo-ins at this point? Well, it will be tough to deny Sonny Rollins's second Road Shows CD a spot, what with that Ornette Coleman duet and all, and the Marcus Strickland double-CD is very, very strong. There are at least a couple of others that made powerful impressions during the first handful of listens, and I would be surprised if the passage of four or five months will change my opinion, but you never know. In all, there are probably about five recordings that are safe, given that the first requests for locking in a Top 10 will start arriving any day now.

Is there a clear front-runner? Not yet, and I like that. After all, there has to be some suspense; even if it's self-imposed.

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