NPR logo Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2007, from KPLU

Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2007, from KPLU

This has been a good year for jazz. Over the past 12 months, we've heard great releases from established jazz masters and exciting debuts from up-and-coming artists. In fact, it was hard to take what turned out to be a long list of wonderful CDs released in 2007 and trim it down to a mere 10 selections, but here they are: Gems, each and every one.

Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox

'Misery'

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After making a name for herself as a contemporary R&B singer, vocalist Deborah Cox decided she wanted to show the world another side of herself. Destination Moon, a tribute to Dinah Washington, is the result. So, can a pop singer and "dance-floor icon" also be a credible jazz singer? Just listen. Not only is she credible; she's great. (From Destination Moon.)

Kurt Elling

Kurt Elling

'Undun'

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Nightmoves is another terrific release from Kurt Elling, a man widely believed to be today's best jazz vocal improviser. This time around, he puts his unique stamp on material that ranges from Duke Ellington and Betty Carter to The Guess Who. That's right: The Guess Who. (From Nightmoves.)

Sara Gazarek

Sara Gazarek

'Carey'

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If you haven't heard of Sara Gazarek yet, it's high time you did. She's a very talented young jazz singer with nowhere to go but up. In 2003, Gazarek received the Downbeat Student Music Award for Best Collegiate Vocalist. Since then, she's recorded three CDs. Her most recent release, Return To You, serves notice that she'll be around for a long time. (From Return to You.)

Russell Gunn

Russell Gunn

'Footprints'

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One of today's most compelling jazz trumpet players pays tribute to perhaps the greatest jazz trumpet player of all time (aside from Louis Armstrong, of course). This one is an adventure. (From Russell Gunn Plays Miles.)

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

'Edith and the Kingpin'

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When we heard that Herbie Hancock was doing a CD of Joni Mitchell songs, we had high expectations. When we heard that some of his guests on the project were to include Wayne Shorter, Tina Turner, Leonard Cohen and Norah Jones, our expectations rose even more. When we heard the CD, it exceeded our expectations. Enough said. (From River: The Joni Letters.)

Metheny/Mehldau Quartet

Pat Metheny

'A Night Away'

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Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau are two of the most gifted, lyrical improvisers in jazz. In addition to being great players, they're also great writers. This collection of original compositions is the collaboration that jazz lovers have been waiting for. (From Metheny Mehldau Quartet.)

Joe Sample/Randy Crawford

Joe Sample

'Feeling Good'

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The title of this CD tells you all you need to know. If you want to feel good, just put this disc in your player. Keyboardist Joe Sample and vocalist Randy Crawford go way back (remember Street Life?), and this release reflects the joy of their reunion. Along for the ride on this one are bassist Christian McBride, drummer Steve Gadd and guitarist Ray Parker Jr. (From Feeling Good.)

Dean Schmidt

Dean Schmidt

'I Know Nothing'

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Dean Schmidt is one of Seattle's first-call jazz bass players. As it turns out, he's also a terrific songwriter and arranger. On this his debut release as a leader, Schmidt treats us to a little Latin jazz, a little fusion, a little funk and a lot of memorable melodies. (From I Know Nothing.)

John Scofield

John Scofield

'House of the Rising Sun'

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John Scofield does it again with another first-rate CD from a guitarist who knows no boundaries. On this release, accompanied by bassist Steve Swallow, drummer Bill Stewart and a horn section (with a guest appearance by guitarist Bill Frisell), Scofield treats us to eight original compositions, as well as his interpretations of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "House Of The Rising Sun" and the Charlie Rich classic, "Behind Closed Doors." (From This Meets That.)

Frank Vignola

Frank Vignola

'I Got Rhythm'

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If you love four-square, swingin' jazz with great melodies, you need to own this CD. Frank Vignola is a stunning jazz guitarist and a wonderful interpreter of classic songs. It was only a matter of time before he tackled the George Gershwin songbook. This is one of the few albums to warrant the phrase, "It's all good." (From Vignola Plays Gershwin.)

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Destination Moon

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Album
Destination Moon
Artist
Deborah Cox
Label
Decca
Released
2007

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Nightmoves

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Album
Nightmoves
Artist
Kurt Elling
Label
Concord
Released
2007

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Return to You

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Album
Return to You
Artist
Sara Gazarek
Label
Native Language
Released
2007

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River: The Joni Letters

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Album
River: The Joni Letters
Artist
Herbie Hancock
Label
Verve
Released
2007

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Feeling Good

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Album
Feeling Good
Artist
Randy Crawford/Joe Sample
Label
Pra
Released
2006

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I Know Nothing

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Album
I Know Nothing
Artist
Dean Schmidt
Label
OA2
Released
2007

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This Meets That

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Album
This Meets That
Artist
John Scofield
Label
Universal
Released
2007

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Vignola Plays Gershwin

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Album
Vignola Plays Gershwin
Artist
Frank Vignola
Label
Mel Bay
Released
2007

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