Best Jazz Albums of 2012

My column on the best jazz albums of 2012 is up on Slate this morning. Here’s the list (readers will note that I’ve written about all the albums in this space over the past 12 months):

Ravi Coltrane, Spirit Fiction (Blue Note)
Vijay Iyer, Accelerando (ACT)
Fred Hersch, Alive at the Vanguard (Palmetto)
Ted Nash, The Creep (Plastic Sax)
Chick Corea/Eddie Gomez/Paul Motian, Further Explorations (Concord)
Dave Douglas, Be Still (Greenleaf)
Frank Kimbrough, Live at Kitano (Palmetto)
Ron Miles, Quiver (Enja)
Jenny Scheinman, Mischief & Mayhem (Jenny Scheinman)
John Abercrombie, Within a Song (ECM)

Best Historical Releases:
Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts, 1964-65 (Mosaic)
Thelonious Monk Quartet, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection (Sony Legacy)
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis Again (Verve/Analogue Productions, 45rpm, 2LPs)

The Slate column also includes 30-second soundclips from each album. For this blog, I should say something about sound quality, and the remarkable thing is that all the new releases listed here sound at least quite good. Dave Douglas’ Be Still, engineered by Joe Ferla in 24/96 digital, takes the prize, especially the LP pressing (available here). On the mini-list of Historical Releases, the 45rpm LP of Ella and Louis, mastered at Chad Kassem’s fabulous factory, is jaw-droppingly vivid. The 6-CD boxed set of Monk, from Sony, is very good, too. The 7-CD box of Mingus, taken from five live concerts, is uneven: when it’s good, it’s very good; when it’s not, it’s not too bad.

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