Ok folks, a couple more of my favorite albums from the last year (and as always, the whole list can be found here)….
Peter Brendler, Outside the Line (Posi-tone) – What a sizzling, fun, and adventurous date. Bassist Brendler, joined by the unbeatable front line of tenor saxist Rich Perry and trumpeter Peter Evans, and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza (who put out his own very fine album this year) tear through several quirky and left handed bop heads, a laid back and understated cover of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” and Ornette’s “Una Muy Bonita.” Brendler’s sound is both big and clean, his playing firm, rhythmic sense strong, his pocket deep. There’s a little bit for everyone on this outstanding record.
Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Mother’s Touch (Posi-tone) – Orrin Evans’ group sure is one power outfit. Put on “Tickle” – written by Donald Edwards and arranged by Todd Bashore – and get ready to be whacked with equal parts swagger and snarl; immediately following Evans’ piano solo enter roiling cascades of horn lines that move throughout the horn sections, tumbling up and down at a breakneck pace. It’s some of the nastiest and daring big band writing and playing I’ve heard recently. But the band also knows how to dial it down too, let things bubble ever so slightly. Evans’ “In My Soul,” which features Marcus Strickland on tenor, is a soulful 12/8 piece. His slow ballad “Dita” – arranged by Bashore – mixes hushed introspection, soul, and wistfulness, with lush orchestrations reminiscent of Gil Evans. Mother’s Touch is hip, swinging, moving, powerful, and engaging from top to bottom. Another great album from a great big band.