As a voracious fan seeking guidance, I really like it when jazz critics coalesce on consensus opinions. But I also really like knowing where to reliably find a fiercely independent, original assessment far from the jazz fraternity. That's part of why I enjoy reading the jazz recommendations of Tom Hull, who writes the quarterly Jazz Consumer Guide for the Village Voice.
His picks often go against the grain of the critical consensus not because he has beef with any establishment — at least none that I know of — but because he seems to be too busy listening to FAR MORE MUSIC THAN SEEMS HUMANLY POSSIBLE to really care what anyone thinks. Which is cool, and makes for picks that always make me reconsider something I have dismissed, or consider something I haven't heard of. It's especially true now that I understand his methodology better. (I'm not fully of this mindset any more.) Anyway, all this is to say the new Consumer Guide is up. [Village Voice: Jazz Consumer Guide: Mocking Traditions, or Joining Them]
P.S. While I'm at it, I find that Phil Freeman and Derek Taylor also publish exemplary and prolific "outsider" viewpoints on jazz. (Is that a fair characterization, gentlemen?) Try the former's 31 Days Of Album Reviews project, and the latter's Master Of A Small House blog. I could surely go on listing my favorite opinion-havers all the way up to the field's most prominent, so let's open it up: y'all have any favorite jazz critics out there? Why?