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Livewire's Top 10

Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2008

By Brad Walseth
It's that time of year again - a chance to go back and listen to the best recordings of the the year again. Obviously, I didn't get to hear everything I wanted - Vijay Iyer's "Tragicomic," Danilo Perez' "Across the Crystal Sea," "The Exploding Star Orchestra with Bill Dixon" and Patricia Barber's "The Cole Porter Mix" were some I didn't get my hands on for various reasons (review copy "in the mail?" Hey you snooze, you lose!). But of the albums I did receive - and despite how good that Dafnis Prieto release is - in the end there really was no contest: David Sanchez' "Cultural Survival" was the clear winner.

In awarding the top slot to Sanchez, it brings up the question: is it possible for a Grammy-nominated album to be underrated? In this case, the answer is yes. Not only is "Cultural Survival" the best "Latin Jazz" album, it is the best overall Jazz release of the year in my humble opinion. Some critics insist that Sanchez is a mere Coltrane wannabee and that his "pretty" tunes fail to carry the weight of his intended subjects (ie: the legacy of slavery), but that seems to me to be overthinking the matter. The proof is in the music: the actuality is the compositions transcend the program and the playing enthralls the open-minded listener. The balance between the experimental and the beautifully melodic is achieved here in a recording that helped make 2008 memorable.

#1 - David Sanchez
"Cultural Survival"

#2 - Dafnis Prieto
"Taking the Soul for a Walk"

#3 - Adam Niewood
"Epic Journey Vol. I & II"
#4 - Marc Copland
Gary Peacock, Paul Motian

"New York Trio Recordings
Vol. 2 - Voices"

#5 - Matt Ulery's Loom
"Music Box Ballerina"

#6 - Carla Bley & Her
Remarkable Big Band

"Appearing Nightly"

#7 - Peter Paulson Sextet
"Change of Scenery"
Blues Twilight
#8 - Richard Boulger
"Blues Twilight"
Nordic Disruption
#9 - NYNDK
"Nordic Disruption"

#10 - Hans Glawischnig

#11 - Arturo O'Farrill - "Song For Chico"

#12 - Peter Erskine, Tim Hagans & the Norbotten Big Band - "Worth the Wait"

#13 - Donny McCaslin - "Recommended Tools"

#14 - Geof Bradfield - "Urban Nomad"

#15 - Roger Kellaway - "Live at the Jazz Standard"

#16 - Kelly Brand Sextet - "The Door"

#17 - Marcin Wasilewski Trio - "January"

#18 - Miguel Zenon - "Awake"

#19 - Emilio Solla Y Afines - "Conversas (Al Lado Del Agua)"

#20 - Mark Prince - "Fraction of Infinity"

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