Randy Newman - Harps & Angels (Nonesuch) - pointed commentary on the state of our country (the US) we've come to expect from America's favorite piano satirist and Pixar composer.
Ry Cooder - I, Flathead Limited Deluxe Edition (Nonesuch) - Classic guttural Cooder sound with steel guitars and mandolins and stacked fifths of vocal harmony. I, Flathead is much more even-headed than the previous installment in this trilogy about life for migrants in Southern California (which was called My Name is Buddy). The new disc, in my opinion, was one of the most thoughfully put-together packages of recorded sounds I have had the pleasure of owning. The CD comes in a hard cover-bound book with all lyrics and a short novel which is a fictional account of what it might have been like for working class immigrants and migrants arriving in Southern California in the early to mid-20th century and their trials and tribulations. Also it's about the hobby of drag racing on wide open salt flats (about which there was a stunning article with remarkable panoramic photography in the Travel section of the Sunday New York Times the Sunday before Thanksgiving).
Moss - Moss (Sunnyside) - I really began listening to this record in earnest in late 2008 when preparing my final list. I could try to elaborate on the sound of this remarkable ensemble but I think Jeff Simon of The Buffalo News said it best in his review of this disc:
"This jazz vocal supergroup has just created the greatest vocal fusion of jazz, rock and folk music since the first record by Bobby McFerrin 26 years ago. And Moss' version of Neil Young's "Old Man" in Kate McGarry's and Peter Eldridge's arrangement is the most extraoridinary jazz version of a great folk rock song since McFerrin's version of Lennon and McCartney's "Blackbird." You've never before encountered anything that even remotely resembles their blend of close harmony, folk song, classical composition and jazz rhythms. The singers involved are Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza, jazz/folk singer Kate McGarry, jazz singer Peter Eldridge, downtown genre buster Theo Bleckmann and Lauren Kinhan of, yes, New York Voices. It's as if they invented an entirely new blend of urban madrigalism for the 21st century, composed of coffee shop, jazz club, off-Broadway theater and church basement. It's not all on the same incredible level, but what's great here is amazing." - Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
More may come to mind but these three were the most glaring omissions from my Best Recordings lists which I took a lot of time in considering this year.
Hopefully coming soon will be a rundown of my recent concert-going activities during APAP including last weekend's Winter Jazz Fest put on by Brice Rosenbloom, founder of boomBOOM Presents (one of the true champions of live music presentation in New York City) at three new venues for this now five-year-old ritual which used to take place at the now-shuttered (though quickly reopened) SoHo club (now in Williamsburg), The Knitting Factory. The new venues which worked remarkably well given the snowy, icy circumstances were Sullivan Hall, (Le) Poisson Rouge and Kenny's Castaways) and globalFEST arranged by veteran concert producer/curator Bill Bragin of Lincoln Center (formerly of Joe's Pub) and Shanta Thake, currently of Joe's Pub and other world music mavens such as Fabian Alsultany. Both were amazing musical nights and terrific hangs. Hopefully I will get around to posting details and impressions, thought it's all still really a blur...
Until next time, keep a light in the window...