- Marcus Strickland – Triumph Of The Heavy, Volumes 1 & 2. My full review of it appeared in the November issue of DownBeat, where I lauded the leader as "a major talent as both an instrumentalist and a composer." If you wanted to buy just one album—it's a two-CD set—to show you where jazz is today, and fuel your faith that the future is in good hands, this is it
- Carol Morgan Quartet – Blue Glass Music. I obviously haven't been paying attention, because trumpeter Morgan snuck up on me and took me by storm. If for nothing else than her stunning reworking of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and the contribution of drummer Matt Wilson, this recording is essential.
- Denny Zeitlin – Labyrinth. Recorded at a couple of house parties, including one with a troublesome piano, this is a wonderfully understated solo recording that reminds you of the beauty and power of music. Given his base in the Bay Area and his day job as a psychiatrist, Zeitlin hasn't achieved the kind of notoriety enjoyed by pianists like Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau or Matthew Shipp, but he is their equal at deconstructing and re-voicing compositions.
Stay tuned for my full list, which I'll repost here in early January, and happy holidays.