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"2017: The Summation"
by Thomas Cunniffe

If we thought politics ruled our world in 2016, it only got worse in 2017. It has been a year of great divisiveness, but jazz musicians helped us, either by soothing us with wondrous new creations, or by reinforcing widely-held beliefs about the ineptitude of our political leaders. Early in the year, sexist comments by Robert Glasper enraged the jazz world, and as usual, we were just ahead of the rest of the world; by the end of the year, the #metoo movement brought harrowing revelations about sexual misdeeds in Hollywood, Washington, and across the country. So, to offer a temporary salve, grab some of the books, DVDs and CDs (yes, they are still around) and remember why we love this music so much. While you're at it, drink a toast to the memories of those musicians who have left us in the past 12 months. 




Best recordings, books and concerts of the year:
Listed in alphabetical order by artists/authors, top 3 picks for books, concerts and DVDs, top 5 for reissues , and 15 each for instrumental and vocal CDs. The links will take you to the original reviews; they will open in a separate window so you won't lose your place in this article.

Books:
Charlie Haden and Josef Woodard, "Conversations with Charlie Haden" (Silman-James)
Fred Hersch, "Good Things Come Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz" (Crown Archetype)
Bill Holman and Bill Dobbins, "Conversations with Bill Holman" (Advance Music)

Retro Reviews (new releases):
Fred Astaire, "The Astaire Story" (Verve)
Bill Evans, "Another Time" (Resonance)
Ella Fitzgerald, "Ella at Zardi's" (Verve)
Thelonious Monk, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" (Sam)
Various Artists, "The Savory Collection, Volume 3" (Apple)

Best Instrumental CDs:
"John Beasley Presents Monk'estra, Volume 2" (Mack Avenue)
Jane Ira Bloom, "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" (Outlook)
Annie Booth, "Abundance: Live at Mighty Fine" (Annie Booth Music)
Bill Charlap, "Uptown, Downtown" (Impulse)
Anat Cohen and Marcello Gonçalves, "Outra Coisa" (Anzic)
Fred Hersch, "{open book}" (Palmetto)
Ingrid and Christine Jensen, "Infinitude" (Whirlwind)
Ryan Keberle and Catharsis, "Find the Common, Share a Light" (Greenleaf)
Dave Liebman and Martial Solal, "Masters in Bordeaux" (Sunnyside)
Josh Nelson, "The Sky Remains" (Origin)
Chuck Owen, "Whispers on the Wind" (MAMA)
Tina Raymond, "Left, Right, Left" (Orenda)
UNC Jazz Lab Band I, "The Romeo and Juliet Project" (Artist Alliance)
Chris Washburne, "Rags and Roots" (Zoho)
Matt Wilson, "Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg" (Palmetto)

Best Vocal CDs:
Jackie Allen, "Rose Fingered Dawn" (Avant Bass)
Cheryl Bentyne, "Re-Arrangements of Shadows: The Music of Stephen Sondheim" (ArtistShare)
Theo Bleckmann, "Elegy" (ECM)
Emily Braden, Nancy Harms and Steve Whipple, "Double Bass, Double Voice" (self-released)
Duchess, "Laughing at Life" (Anzic)
Dominique Eade and Ran Blake, "Town and Country" (Sunnyside)
Sinne Eeg, "Dreams" (ArtistShare)
Rose Ellis, "Like Songs, Like Moons" (Zennes)
Hilary Gardner and Ehud Asherie, "The Late Set" (Anzic)
Kellye Gray, "Rendering" (Grr8)
Allegra Levy, "Cities Between Us" (Steeplechase)
Rozina Pátkai, "Paraíso Na Terra" (Tom Tom)
Roswell Rudd and Fay Victor, "Embrace" (Rare Noise)
Katie Thiroux, "Off Beat" (Capri)
Mark Winkler, "The Company I Keep" (Café Pacific)

Best DVDs:
Bill Evans, "Time Remembered" (Reel House)
Frank Morgan, "Sound of Redemption" (Kino/Lorber)
Lee Morgan, "I Called Him Morgan" (Filmrise)

Best Concerts:
Kurt Elling and the Swingles (Soiled Dove, Denver)
Ryan Keberle and Catharsis (Syntax Physic Opera, Denver)
UNC Jazz Lab Band I (UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival, Greeley)

A personal note:
This autumn, my all-time favorite jazz singer and dear friend Anita Wardell, toured the United States. Part of the tour included her first appearances in Denver and Chicago, and I was very proud to help produce these performances. My thanks to Donna Wickham, Susan Gatschet, Eric Smith, Barbara Kline, Pam Garramone, Chris Anderson, Bob and Sue Koester, Neil Tesser, Libby York and Mike Cunningham for their help and support. My greatest thanks go to Alyssa Allgood--who shared the stage with Anita in Chicago--and Anita herself. Your performance was mind-blowing!

Farewells:
Among the musicians and jazz supporters we lost in the past 12 months were John Abercrombie, Muhal Richard Abrams, Geri Allen, Sven Asmussen, George Avakian, Arthur Blythe, Buddy Bregman, Frank Capp, Barbara Carroll, John Coates, Jr., Larry Coryell, Bill Dowdy, Larry Elgart, Joe Fields, Buddy Greco, Hugh Hefner, Jon Hendricks, Nat Hentoff, Buck Hill, Al Jarreau, Chuck Loeb, Mundell Lowe, Kevin Mahogany, Thara Memory, Misha Mengelberg, Eric Miller, Sunny Murray, Melton Mustafa, Horace Parlan, Dave Pell, Willie Pickens, Ben Riley, Mickey Roker, Roswell Rudd, Jane Seidel, Keely Smith, Chuck Stewart, Grady Tate and Dave Valentin.

Finally...
Thanks to all of our loyal readers, and those who have donated money, time and services to this site. We hope to continue for many years to come, and we trust that we will continue to receive your support and readership.
Best,
Thomas Cunniffe.