Best Jazz Albums Of 2010

My column on the best jazz albums of 2010 is in today’s edition of Slate, replete with strategically selected 30-second sound clips, illustrating my points (to the extent—very limited—that 30-second clips can do that). Here’s the list, minus the mini-essays and the sound clips, but I’ve written about all of these albums over the past year in this blog.

1. Jason Moran, Ten (Blue Note).
2. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden, Jasmine (ECM).
3. Geri Allen, Flying Toward the Sound (Motema).
4. Dave Douglas, Spark of Being (Greenleaf).
5. Fred Hersch, Whirl (Palmetto).
6. Henry Threadgill, This Brings Us to Vol. 2 (Pi).
7. Ted Nash, Portraits in Seven Shades (LCJO).
8. The Bad Plus, Never Stop (E-One).
9. Anat Fort, And If (ECM).
10. John Zorn’s Masada String Trio, Haborym: The Book of Angels, Vol. 16 (Tzadik).

One nice PS: All of these albums sound quite good, especially the top two. Another PS: The albums by Fred Hersch and The Bad Plus are also available on vinyl. The Hersh LP is a little better-sounding than the CD; I haven’t heard the Bad Plus LP, but I’m told it’s a bit compressed.

There were several good reissues this year. The best, on strictly musical grounds (which I’ve also covered in this space): Stan Getz & Kenny Barron, People Time: The Complete Recordings (Sunnyside); Miles Davis, Bitches Brew: The 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Sony); Henry Threadgill, The Complete Novus/Columbia Recordings (Mosaic). The Bitches Brew set includes a very nicely remastered LP, which sounds considerably better than the original pressing and way better than the CD.

Also this year, I want to pay tribute to Music Matters Jazz, the audiophile company that reissues limited editions of classic Blue Note jazz titles, each on two slabs of pristinely quiet 180-gram vinyl, mastered at 45 rpm, tucked inside gatefold covers adorned with high-rez reproductions of session photographs. It’s a tough pick, but the three best MMJs of 2010, on musical grounds (almost all the releases sound really good): Andrew Hill, Point of Departure; Lee Morgan, Volume3; and Clifford Brown, Memorial Album.

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