Living Your Life With 2008's Best In Jazz

fromKPLU

This was not a particularly great year for jazz recordings. I may be wrong, but I'd be astonished if, 10 or 15 years from now, people are saying, "Wow, 2008. That's the year that [blank] came out!"

That being said, here are 10 albums from 2008 — presented in no particular order — that I find memorable, well-produced, full of contemporary attitude and fun to listen to. There's a generosity of spirit common to these recordings, where the artists seem to want to reach out to your world, rather than demand that you reach into theirs. These discs are a delight to listen to while living your life, whether it's doing dishes, driving around town, syncing into your iPod or just plain kicking back and relaxing.

Click here for more entries in the Best CDs of 2008 series.

Living Your Life With 2008's Best In Jazz

James Carter

James Carter

  • Artist: James Carter
  • Album: Present Tense
  • Song: Sussa Nita

There are few horn players who equal the raw power and muscle of James Carter. Whether it's hard-driving bop or a tender ballad, Carter's tone and emotional depth are unmistakable and ever-present.

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Song
Sussa Nita
Album
Present Tense
Artist
James Carter
Label
Emarcy
Released
2008

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Holly Cole

Holly Cole

  • Artist: Holly Cole
  • Album: Holly Cole
  • Song: House Is Haunted by the Echo of Your Last Goodbye

She can be campy, coy, bold or vulnerable. Whatever the mood, whatever the role, Holly Cole will inhabit it fearlessly. She takes great care to put a unique touch on any song she sings.

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Song
House Is Haunted by the Echo of Your Last Goodbye
Album
Holly Cole
Artist
Holly Cole
Label
Koch
Released
2007

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Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny Trio

  • Artist: Pat Metheny Trio
  • Album: Day Trip
  • Song: Son of Thirteen

A 68-minute excursion for guitar, bass and drums: ever-changing in mood, texture and emotion. Metheny's sound ranges from wild electric to soothing acoustic. Christian McBride (bass) and Antonio Sanchez (drums) are solid and sturdy teammates.

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Song
Son of Thirteen
Album
Day Trip
Artist
Pat Metheny Trio
Label
Nonesuch
Released
2008

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David Sanborn

David Sanborn

  • Artist: David Sanborn
  • Album: Here and Gone
  • Song: I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town

Sanborn pays homage to Ray Charles and his musical director, saxophonist Hank Crawford, in this fresh reimagining of soul jazz and R&B. Plenty of guest stars appear (Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Sam Moore).

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Song
I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town
Album
Here and Gone
Artist
David Sanborn
Label
Decca
Released
2008

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Chick Corea and Gary Burton

Chick Corea & Gary Burton

  • Album: New Crystal Silence
  • Song: No Mystery

Corea and Burton released the revelatory Crystal Silence in 1972. This "reunion" set features performances in Australia with the Sydney Symphony and a stellar duet concert in Norway. Both musicians are in top form: precise in their execution, pristine in their collective sound.

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Song
No Mystery
Album
The New Crystal Silence
Artist
Chick Corea/Gary Burton
Label
Stretch
Released
2008

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Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove Quintet

  • Album: Earfood
  • Song: Strasbourg/St. Denis

Late last year, Roy Hargrove took his touring band into a Los Angeles studio (with master engineer Al Schmitt on the deck) and ripped out a set of tunes that the band had been playing every night on the road. There were originals, some standards, and a few surprises too. The band is incredibly tight, and Hargrove's solos are dazzling, yet concise. Not a moment is wasted in the disc, either in the playing or the listening. The band seems to be having a hell of a good time.

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Song
Strasbourg/St. Denis
Album
Earfood
Artist
Roy Hargrove Quintet
Label
Universal Int'l
Released
2008

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Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson

  • Artist: Cassandra Wilson
  • Album: Loverly
  • Song: Lover Come Back to Me

Through her career, Cassandra Wilson has defined her own musical space. For the last 15 years, she's created one of the deepest bodies of work of any singer at any time. This time, she heads back to her roots to sing tunes from the American popular songbook.

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Song
Lover Come Back to Me
Album
Loverly
Artist
Cassandra Wilson
Label
Blue Note
Released
2008

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Danilo Perez

Danilo Perez

  • Album: Across the Crystal Sea
  • Song: Across the Crystal Sea

This disc features Perez's elegant piano work with amazingly subtle and stunning string arrangements from Claus Ogerman. From the first bar, you are transported into a lush and beautiful musical world.

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Song
Across the Crystal Sea
Album
Across the Crystal Sea
Artist
Danilo Perez
Label
Emarcy
Released
2008

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Tom Scott

Tom Scott

  • Artist: Tom Scott
  • Album: Cannon Re-Loaded: An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley
  • Song: Sack O' Woe

Like David Sanborn, Scott plays homage to one of his idols, the great Cannonball Adderley, with a set of contemporary takes on Adderley's most popular tunes. Scott's band features Terence Blanchard, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd and Larry Goldings, and also includes a couple of vocals from Nancy Wilson. The production and sound quality on this recording are top-notch, too.

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Song
Sack O' Woe
Album
Cannon Re-Loaded
Artist
Tom Scott
Label
Concord
Released
2008

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Melody Gardot

Melody Gardot

  • Artist: Melody Gardot
  • Album: Worrisome Heart [Verve]
  • Song: Goodnite

Here's the debut disc by a twentysomething singer from Philadelphia, performing all original material. Gardot's voice reminds me a bit of a couple of Joneses (Norah and Rickie Lee), but her voice is definitely her own. There's nothing very complicated about this record: It's simple, direct and consistent in mood and execution. The tunes are understated, but grow deeper and catchier each time you hear them. Good for those late-night hours.

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Song
Goodnite
Album
Worrisome Heart [Verve]
Artist
Melody Gardot
Label
Verve
Released
2008

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