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2011's Favourite Releases
Here are my picks for my most favourite release for 2011.  Eleven for '11. 

I'll be playing music from these releases on Saturday Dec. 31st, my last show.

                                                                                                                                                                               *** Claudia Quintet - What Is The Beautiful? (Cuneiform)***
John Hollenbeck, the drummer and leader of the Claudia Quintet, has brought this very forward-looking and often unclassifiable band into prominence with their ability to transcend musical categories. For me, what makes great art, is the ability to integrate another art form to complete a successful work. That’s what happens on this recording.  The Claudia Quartet combines their unique style with the poetry of acclaimed American poet Kenneth Patchen, one of the poets who had success combining his work with live jazz musicians.  I’ve been on a bit of a jazz and poetry kick for a while now, and this recording brought me immediate musical joy as well as being able to reflect on Patchen’s brilliance.  The contrasting vocal approaches of the somewhat  traditional jazz singer Kurt Elling and the more avant garde style of Theo Bleckmann are seamlessly integrated into the compositions of Hollenbeck, who was originally commissioned by the U of Rochester to write music to celebrate the 100th birthday of Patchen.  This is creativity at its finest.  To me it defines where jazz is going.

The rest, (listed alphabetically)                                                                                                                                 
Ralph Alessi & This Against That - Wiry Strong (Clean Feed)
Ambrose Akinmusire - When The Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)
Harrison Bankhead Sextet - Morning Sun, Harvest Moon (Engine Studios)
Michael Bates - Acrobat: Music For And By Dmitri Shostakovich (Sunnyside)
Alexis Cuadrado - Noneto Iberico (BJU)
John Escreet - Exception To The Rule (Criss Cross)
Peter Evans Quintet - Ghosts (More Is More)
Thom Gossage’s Other Voices - In Other Words (Songlines)
Rudresh Mahanthappa - Samdhi (Act)
Wadada Leo Smith’s Organic - Heart’s Reflections (Cuneiform)

Must Mentions:

Bob Belden - Miles Espanol (Ent. One)
David Binney - Graylen Epicenter (Mythology)
Chris Dingman - Waking Dreams (independent)
Dave Douglas & So Percussion - Bad Mango (Greenleaf)
Harris Eisenstadt - Canada Day II (Songlines)
Bill Frisell - All We are Saying... (Savoy)
Darius Jones Trio - Big Gurl (AUM Fidelity)
Dave King Trucking Company - Good Old Light (Sunnyside)
Curtis Macdonald - Community Immunity (Greenleaf)
Motif with Axel Dorner - Art Transplant (Clean Feed)
Cuong Vu 4-Tet - Leaps Of Faith (Origin)

and, Most Played Artists:

Sandy Evans 22
Michael Bates 12
Rudresh Mahanthappa 12
Wadada Leo Smith 12
Barry Romberg 11
Jerry Granelli 11
John Escreet 11
Alexis Cuadrado 10
Dave Douglas 10
Maikotron Unit 10
Curtis Macdonald 10

For the numbers lovers:

Countries  - 23   Total Tracks Played 1083
US 513 47.4%
Canada 329 30.4%
Outside North America: 241 22.3%
Australia 50
France 47
UK   27
Denmark   23
Norway 22
Italy 20
Sweden 12
Poland 10
Japan, Netherlands, Spain   5 each
Germany & Portugal      4 each
Austria 3
Israel & Belgium 2 each
Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, S. Africa & Uruguay 1 each

Top Ten Labels:

Songlines (Canada) 40
Sunnyside (US) 29
Cuneiform (US) 29
Clean Feed (Portugal) 21
Effendi (Canada) 21
Greenleaf (US) 19
BJU (US) 18
ABC Australia 17
Pi (US) 17
Blackout (Denmark) 17


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