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Top CDs of 2005

Bill Beuttler

1. Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, "At Carnegie Hall" Blue Note. The archival find of the year documents one night toward the end of Coltrane's short, legendary tenure with Monk. And the sound quality from this 1957 concert is surprisingly good.

2. Sonny Rollins, "Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert" Milestone. Rollins was in top form for this emotional concert, which took place here in Boston four days after the attack on the World Trade Center towers.

3. Bob Brookmeyer, Benny Golson, Hank Jones, James Moody, et al, "One More: Music of Thad Jones" IPO. Thad Jones was one of jazz's greatest composer-arrangers, and half of the octet reprising his music here - including his brother Hank on piano - are certified NEA Jazz Masters.

4. Bill Charlap, "Bill Charlap Plays George Gershwin: The American Soul" Blue Note. Charlap has established himself as a foremost interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Here his stellar trio takes on Gershwin, augmented by four horn heavyweights.

5. Herlin Riley, “Cream of the Crescent” Criss Cross. Wynton Marsalis’s longtime drummer strikes off on his own with a tribute to his hometown, New Orleans, recorded well ahead of Hurricane Katrina. Sidemen include Marsalis and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra stars.

6. Joe Lovano, "Joyous Encounter" Blue Note. Last year's "I'm All for You" by this same quartet - Lovano, Hank Jones, George Mraz, Paul Motian - was one of the best discs of 2004. Now they're back with another batch of standards.

7. Wynton Marsalis, "Live at the House of Tribes" Blue Note. When he's not being self-consciously serious, jazz's leading proselytizer can make music that's downright earthy and fun. Here's proof.

8. Jason Moran, "Same Mother" Blue Note. Moran adds a guitarist to his longtime trio and plays off the notion of jazz and the blues coming from the same source, while maintaining his distinctive approach to the piano.

9. Charles Lloyd, "Jumping the Creek" ECM. Lloyd and a quartet featuring pianist Geri Allen offer up melodic spirituality with an occasional World Music accent.

Tie 10. Brad Mehldau, "Day Is Done" Nonesuch. Mehldau introduces Jeff Ballard as his trio’s new drummer and continues mining recent pop material in search of new standards. The Beatles, Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, Radiohead, and Nick Drake are all covered here.

Tie 10. Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, "Not in Our Name" Verve. More finely honed orchestral protest music from Haden and Carla Bley, this time aimed at the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.

Top CDs of 2005
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Read more CD reviews: Scott Alarik  |  Joan Anderman  |  Bill Beuttler  |  Richard Dyer  |  Renee Graham  |  Siddhartha Mitter  |  Steve Morse  |  Christopher Muther  |  James Reed  |  Top CDs of 2005
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