Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2007, from KPLU

fromKPLU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
 

Nightmoves

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  • Album: Nightmoves
  • Artist: Kurt Elling
  • Label: Concord
  • Released: 2007
 

Return to You

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

River: The Joni Letters

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

Feeling Good

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

I Know Nothing

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  • Album: I Know Nothing
  • Artist: Dean Schmidt
  • Label: OA2
  • Released: 2007
 

This Meets That

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  • Album: This Meets That
  • Artist: John Scofield
  • Label: Universal
  • Released: 2007
 

Vignola Plays Gershwin

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

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