A Blog Supreme: Ten Great Moments From Jazz Recordings In 2009

January 1, 2010

In his first post of the new decade, NPR jazz blogger Patrick Jarenwattananon, lamenting his lack of participation in the recently released Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, writes about his ten favorite moments from the many jazz recordings he’s heard in 2009, including Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and Fay Victor’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music).


Spinner: Top 10 Jazz Albums Of 2009

December 31, 2009

Photo by Dylan Morris

Tad Hendrickson’s Top 10 list is now posted at Spinner.com, and we’re pleased to report that the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity) came out on top. Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) placed sixth.

“Here with his old quartet of saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Luther Gray,” Hendrickson writes, “Morris is at his most eloquent. He writes for these guys as gracefully as he does for himself, conjuring heartfelt melodies. The group responds with revelatory musical voyages and strong interplay.”

“Oftentimes, I don’t really dig the mix of indie rock and jazz,” he continues in his review of Infernal Machines, “but the big-band compositions here are stunning, right up there with Maria Schneider. The guy is making his debut here with a seriously hot record.”


Infernal Machines On Neil Tesser’s Top 10 List

December 31, 2009

Multi-facted jazz industry veteran Neil Tesser writes about what he feels are the 10 most important jazz recordings of 2009 in his capacity as the increasingly prolific Chicago Jazz Music Examiner at Examiner.com

At number four on his list is Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam).

“Darcy James Argue’s 18-piece jazz orchestra had never made an album,” Tesser recalls, “for those outside of New York, the band existed primarily in rumor and reputation. Then comes this collection of seven brilliantly scored, utterly inventive, masterfully performed large-scale works, each brimming with high energy and new sounds, but also showing a firm command of the big-band tradition.”

He adds, “The Vancouver-born Argue studied with Bob Brookmeyer, a legendary figure in jazz orchestration, known first for his work with Gerry Mulligan in the 50s and then, in the 80s, with what is now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. But I hear in Argue’s work a more direct link to the man who provided the seeds for the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – the composer and arranger Thad Jones, who rewrote the book on jazz composition in the 1970s. (And in my book, praise doesn’t come much higher than that.)


Wall Street Journal: Toasting 2009’s Best Jazz CDs

December 30, 2009

Larry Blumenfeld writes about his favorite CDs of the year, including Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), in today’s Wall Street Journal.

“Composer and big-band leader Darcy James Argue’s blog contains some of the most literate and invigorating writing about modern jazz and its context—free of cliché, wary of dogma, catholic about tastes, and fastidious about details. The same can be said of Mr. Argue’s compositions for the extraordinary ensemble he conducts. This debut studio recording reveals something fully matured: brimming with fresh ideas; elegant in its combination of disparate influences (from distorted electric guitar to magisterial wind-instrument arrangements to minimalist rhythms); and accomplished in execution.”


2009 Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll Results

December 29, 2009

In what essentially amounts to a second Christmas morning for jazz publicists and their clients, the anxiously awaited results of the prestigious Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, as overseen by the esteemed Francis Davis, have been published.

99 writers voted this year, each submitting a Top 10 list (the ballots are then compiled using a point system to create an overall Top 50), as well as single picks in the Jazz Reissue of the Year, Best Debut, Best Vocal Album, Best Debut and Best Latin categories.

It gives us great pleasure to report that four of our clients’ releases were recognized in the Jazz Album of the Year category:

#04: Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam)
#12: Bill Dixon, Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
#17: Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)
#35: David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)

We’re also extremely pleased to report that Infernal Machines took the Best Debut category in a landslide victory, with Man’ish Boy finishing a well-deserved second.

And, in what might be considered the biggest coup of all, The Fay Victor Ensemble’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music) finished fourth in the Best Vocal Album category, only six votes behind the winner: this year’s critical darling, Gretchen Parlato. It’s very much worth pointing out that Fay’s record was the only finalist featuring all-original music. We couldn’t be prouder.

Congratulations to all the artists recognized and thanks again to all the critics who voted (check out the individual ballots here) and especially to Mr. Davis who makes the whole thing possible (and gracefully sums up the whole process here).


AAJ-NY: Best Of 2009

December 29, 2009

AllAboutJazz-New York published its annual Best of 2009 feature in the new January issue and we’re very proud to say our clients are well-represented.

Special congratulations to those recognized as the year’s best in the following categories:

Albums of the Year
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)
Bill Dixon, Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)

Debut Albums
John Hébert, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)
Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity)

Vocal Releases
The Fay Victor Ensemble, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)

Large Ensemble Releases
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

Albums of the Year – Honorable Mention
Cleaver/Parker/Taborn, Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)
Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day (Clean Feed)
Garrison Fewell, Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)
KLANG, Tea Music (Allos Documents)
Michael Musillami Trio + 3, From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)


More Year-End Lists: Darcy James Argue

December 28, 2009

We were away much of last week dreaming of dancing sugar plums and rockin’ around the Christmas tree, but the year-end lists featuring Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) continued to flow as freely as egg nog in our rare but enjoyable absence.

Here’s a quick summary to get you caught up:

1. The AMN Top 5 of 2009 at AvantMusicNews.com

2. Michael J. West’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2009 in the Washington City Paper

3. Jacob Teichroew’s Best Jazz Albums of 2009 at jazz.about.com

“Argue’s pieces are haunting and eruptive, and his dextrous band is capable of thrilling maneuvers.”

4. Peter Hum’s 10 Best Jazz CDs of the 2000’s at Jazzblog.ca

“Years in the making, this disc by the Vancouver-raised, New York-based composer and bandleader points the way ahead for big bands. Argue’s music is fresh and intoxicating, unfurling dramatic surprises and conventional beauties while tapping indie rock and ambient music for references.”


Infernal Machines Is One Of The New York Observer’s 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2009

December 23, 2009

Resident jazz critic Devin Leonard includes Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) on his 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2009 list in today’s New York Observer.

“As the name of his nu big band suggests” Leonard writes, “the composer-bandleader-blogger Darcy James Argue sees himself as an artistic insurgent. He is a former student of trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, celebrated for his work as an arranger who broke new ground as an arranger for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra in the sixties and seventies. But Infernal Machines also draws on the minimalism of Steve Reich and the apocalyptic rock and roll of Radiohead. This is also music with a message, a decidedly leftist one. What else would you expect from a Canadian jazz man resettled in Carroll Gardens?”


Boston Phoenix: The Year In Jazz

December 23, 2009

The Boston Phoenix‘s resident jazz aficionado Jon Garelick reflects on his 10 favorite moments of the year in this week’s issue.

Two of those moments are related to Garrison Fewell’s Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music) and the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity).

“Call what Garrison Fewell does composition or simply strategies for improvisation,” Garelick writes. “Whatever, the guitarist formerly known as one of Boston’s most eloquent inside players has become one of its leading experimenters. On this year’s Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music), Fewell gathered some superb improvisers—among them frequent guitar-duo partner (and CNM honcho) Eric Hofbauer, New York trumpeter Roy Campbell, and Italian bass-clarinettist Achille Succi—and they, following his spare instructions and often graphic scores, created a suite of ‘variable density’ and unforced lyricism, all with compositional integrity.”

“Alto-saxophonist Jones, 31, now lives in Brooklyn (natch),” Garelick continues, “but he hails from rural Virginia, and he likes churchy old blues, boogie-woogie, and the kind of folkish tunes that Albert Ayler used to write. On Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), his music sounds older than old—ancient, in fact—but also completely up to the minute. Working with Boston drummer Bob Moses and New Yorker Cooper-Moore (who plays piano and his homemade diddley bow), Jones delivers forceful melodies with a just-discovered freshness. The trio’s show at Outpost 186 in October was a standout.”


Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz Of 2009

December 22, 2009

It is our pleasure to report that Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records), Darius Jones’ Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity) and David S. Ware’s Shakti (AUM Fidelity) account for four of the ten recordings included in Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz of 2009.

Three other AUM Fidelity releases, Cleaver/Parker/Taborn’s Farmers By Nature, Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth, were also mentioned in this post, which features an exclusive download from Jones’ Man’ish Boy.