Year in Jazz: Playing for keeps

By JON GARELICK  |  December 22, 2008

Kurt Rosenwinkel
Doing as much as Blade to redefine the mainstream is his pal and bandmate in the Fellowship, Kurt Rosenwinkel. There was turnover in personnel in Rosenwinkel's own band between the recording of The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard (ArtistShare) and the group's performance at the Regattabar, where Aaron Goldberg, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Eric Harland were replaced by Aaron Parks, Ben Street, and Obed Calvaire. But here were the same beguiling grooves and melodies, and the invaluable partnership between Rosenwinkel and his long-term collaborator, tenor-sax Mark Turner.

Standard time
Cassandra Wilson with Loverly and Patricia Barber with The Cole Porter Mix (both CDs on Blue Note) showed that standards can still be a means of deep personal expression rather than jazz-school exercises. Wilson seems to have distilled everything she's learned from working in the studio with the likes of Lee Townsend and T Bone Burnett and also producing her own albums, so that her production here gives each piece (from "Lover Come Back to Me" to "Black Orpheus" and "Caravan") its distinctive groove and vocal performance. Barber, meanwhile, made Porter her own by changing some of his lyrics (yikes!) and by writing three originals. Aside from these gifts in 2008, both singers promise Boston-area shows in early '09. Happy New Year!

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Related: Live and on record, 2009: The year in jazz, Teachers and students, More more >
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