I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but it bears repeating: 2010 was the Year of Jason Moran.
He celebrated a decade with his trio, the Bandwagon, by releasing the aptly titled Ten, my album of the year. He also played on two more of my top 5 records, Charles Lloyd’s Mirror and Apex with Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green (not to mention the excellent Lost In A Dream with Paul Motian and Chris Potter). He seemed to be playing a must-see gig once a week, including national tours with the Bandwagon and Lloyd. Then there was that whole genius thing…
So, without further ado, my albums of the year:
1. Jason Moran and the Bandwagon- Ten With all the arguments raging between the traditionalists and expansionists, this would appear to be the record that could unite them. Expertly incorporating modern ideas and technology without losing the essential soul of a piano trio, Moran and Co. stride boldly in both worlds. Maybe they’re the best hope for a unified jazz world.
2. The Bad Plus- Never Stop Shteamer’s piece here pretty well nails where this BAND is at right now, and why they’re an important model for younger artists.
3. Charles Lloyd Quartet- Mirror I haven’t heard anything as heartbreaking as Lloyd’s playing on the opening “I Fall In Love Too Easily” in a while.
4. Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green- Apex Definitely the most cerebral of my choices. Not as easy to get into, but your persistence will be rewarded.
5. Christian Scott- Yesterday You Said Tomorrow As great as Scott’s playing is here (I love the way he can lay out for long stretches, like Miles or Shorter, so that when he re-enters it has such emphasis.), the show is stolen by Jamire Williams and Matt Stevens, two of the best young players on the scene.
(honorable mention: Stanton Moore- Groove Alchemy; Marco Benevento- Between the Needles and Nightfall; Brad Mehldau- Highway Rider)