Top 10 (heh) listens for 2005

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DJ Michele Myers from KEXP, one of my favorite local DJs, asks people on her mailing list for their top 10 music picks for the year. Of course, she wanted them by December 3, so I’m three weeks late, but here’s what I sent (though I just realized I didn’t get the World Sax Quartet’s Experience on the list…oh, well!):

Here’s my top 10 (ok, so it’s 12) for 2005, representing what I’ve been listening to in 2005, not necessarily what was new in 2005 – not in any particular order:

– Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. A major find of the year, a previously unreleased recording of Monk and Trane when their collaboration was at its peak. The solo piano intro to Monk’s Mood is itself worth the price of admission, and Coltrane really swings hard as he dives into his “sheets of sound”.

– Joshua Redman Elastic Band – Momentum. Fine funky jazz from a happening group – looking forward to seeing them in January at Jazz Alley.

– Gangbe Brass Band – Whendo. Great soulful African brass band music from Benin. Now that’s a fusion worth hearing!

– The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Painted On
– Bonnie Raitt – Souls Alike. A couple of examples of old pros at the top of their games. Quality comfort food for us boomers.

– M.I.A. – Arular – OK, so all the talk was about the political content and her dad being a Tamil Tiger, but it’s the cool minimalist dance grooves and the not-quite-singing of her rhythmic rapping that grabs me enough to keep coming back.

– Wayne Shorter – Beyond The Sound Barrier. This jazz is as good as it gets – a live performance where the communication among the outstanding musicians of this quartet seems completely telepathic.

– Spanish Harlem Orchestra – Across 110th Street – groovin’ salsa – great horn section!

– Kassav – K’toz – from the Carribean, from the founders of zouk music. Sophisticated, sweet, but always moving the body.

– Larry Goldings Trio – Sweet Science. Not new (2002), but somehow Larry Goldings had escaped my close attention until seeing him recently. This trio, while not flashing their innovation, has true depth.

– Olu Dara – In The World: From Natchez to New York and Neighborhoods – Again, not new (1998 and 2001) but this was the year this avant-garde downtown cornet player turned roots man really connected with me, and both of these disks have been spinning regularly in my ears. “Your lips, your lips, your lips, your lips are joooocy….” Music to make you smile – and what more could you ask for this year?

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