This "Best of" list is in no order other than coming from the pile of CDs on the desk. Each album holds the power to capture the mind, to ask questions, to illustrate technical prowess but not for the sake of the narrative. I discovered that my original list of 36 did not include reissues or "albums of historical note" plus a pair of delightful solo piano disks so, "Yes Virginia, there will be a Part 5."
Saxophonist and composer Noah Preminger made this album in the heat he felt following the 2016 US Election (as did Ryan Keberle - see "2017..Pt 1"). The songs, originals and selected "covers", speak to the dysfunctional nature of politics and government to be able to see its inherent problems (and its strengths) and do something - anything - that benefits the people. It's no surprise that the album cover is in black & white because there are days when it seems that there are no shades in between. Yet, this music is not all "doom and gloom"; feelings of hope enter into pieces such as "Give Me Love", "A Change is Gonna Come", and "We Have A Dream." Kudos to Preminger, trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass, and drummer Ian Froman for lighting up the dark nights.
It's been over 10 years since saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón made an album that just featured him with his oft-dazzling quartet of pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole. "Típico" (Miel Music) arrived in February of 2017 and shows just how delightful this "working" band can be. Friends who attended "live" shows have told me that the ensemble often breathes as one. In many ways, this quartet reminds me of the "classic" John Coltrane quartet in that no one voice is more important than any one else, that they share the same goals, that they listen, respond, and are sympathetic. In its finest moments, one can hear how these musicians are in the midst of a most delightful dance, one in which they may go in separate directions but come back together with such delight, spirit, and gentleness.
evelopment as a composer and soloist. Written for her "regular" band - Ben Wendel (tenor saxophone), Matthew Stevens (guitar), and Justin Brown (drums) - and featuring pianist Fabian Almazan (on three tracks) plus percussionist Minji Park (on one track), this music is ever-so-melodic with unexpected turns, fine solos, and Ms. Oh's expressive bass work. And the more you return, the more you hear. This artist can certainly hold her own in any rhythm section but you can't help but marvel at how her instrument can help create the sound of a band - that writ, her interactions with Brown really stand out.