Patrick Jarenwattananon at A blog Supreme asked a few jazz bloggers to pick 5 albums that they thought might bring the open-minded listener into the jazz of today. However, more people responded, and by following the link to his site one can find samples and recommendations of quality jazz being performed today.
It is, of course, impossible to pick 5 albums that could magically appeal equally to listeners from various backgrounds such as heavy metal, classical, electronica etc. I used to live in Brooklyn, so my contribution to this discussion is heavily influenced by the music I experienced there. So here goes.
1. My top pick is someone with incredible melodies and creative integrity: Norwegian, New York-based bassist Eivind Opsvik. I met Eivind while I was living in Brooklyn and he has toured Europe with me and is on my soon to be released CD, The Dream. His band Overseas features great New York musicians. His first album named Overseas (2002) is particularly accessible and his ballad Earthly is one of my favorites. Eivind's melodies are captivating and the band members are incredible improvisers. That combination makes up a soundscape that I find easy to connect with emotionally. His follow up CDs, Overseas II and III continue in a similar path as Overseas but draw more on the avant-garde. You can get Overseas here.
Here is Redford from Overseas
(released November 30, 2002).
…and a live version:
For more samples of his work visit myspace.com/EivindOpsvik.
2. I used to hear saxophonist Chris Cheek perform with his band at a club called Detour. His music has an organic, pop-ish quality that is very accessible, lyrical and full of energy… and his sidemen are top notch.
3. I became a fan of Guillermo Klein, a now Barcelona-based Argentinian who used to live in New York. His steady gig at the C Note in the East Village was a weekly event for me. Where else could one hear a saxophone section comprised of Tony Malaby, Bill McHenry, Miguel Zenón and Chris Cheek? His music has a really neat blend of Argentina and New York, again melody is paramount and the underlying grooves captivating.
4. Another band I used to see at the C Note was Reid Anderson's (of The Bad Plus) with Andrew D'Angelo, Bill McHenry, Ben Monder and Marlon Browden. That band just made you feel good no matter what. There was so much joy in the music.
Here's a longer sample of Foxy on Last.fm.
5. Last but not least someone I didn't hear in Brooklyn but just discovered recently on the internet is Norwegian pianist Maria Kannegaard. Her latest Trio CD, Camel Walk
(released March 17, 2009) would make a great gateway for someone groove oriented into jazz. Her approach on that album is very minimalistic. The melodies are simple and repetitive. Her left hand is hammering way down low creating a solid groove with the bass and drums. Catchy stuff with a great dash of dissonance every now and then.
Here's the title tune from that album which you can get here.
Now that I've started I don't want to stop. I must mention this record Sound of Summer Running by Marc Johnson featuring Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny and Joey Baron. That one is also a make-you-feel-good record. Nice and bouncy with really catchy melodies and great improvisers. Other people have mentioned Brad Mehldau and I totally agree there. Bobo Stenson and Mathias Eick might appeal to people of classical background and finally I must go back almost 40 years and mention Keith Jarrett's European Quartet (should be referred to as the Scandinavian Quartet) with Palle Danielson from Sweden and Jan Garbarek and Jon Christensen from Norway. Their album My Song is particularly lyrical with wide appeal. Too bad Jarrett doesn't perform his originals anymore.