Spirit Moves -- Dave Douglas (Greenleaf Music)
A sublime homage to the all-embracing, pop-inspired spirit of Lester Bowie. This is brass band jazz that inherits and ennobles several different traditions at once.
Infernal Machines -- Darcy James Argue (New Amsterdam)
With his "steampunk" big band Secret Society, Darcy James Argue seamlessly blends post-rock guitar, electronica-inspired textures and post-minimalist rhythms with the modern big band tradition that stretches from Thad Jones to Maria Schneider. (He has a great blog, too.)
Historicity -- Vijay Iyer (ACT)
Pianist Iyer is the man of the moment in the jazz blogosphere. He's at the top of his game as a player, composer and arranger (and explicator of his own work), and this trio record is his breakout disc. One of many high points: a totally rocking cover of M.I.A.'s "Galang." That's all the reason you need to check it out.
Think Free -- Ben Allison (Palmetto)
Allison continues his experiments with a sound that incorporates the rock, pop and film music of his formative years -- but with a new band, featuring holdover Steve Cardenas on guitar, Shane Endsley replacing Ron Horton on trumpet, Rudy Royston in the drummer's chair, and Humboldt homegirl Jenny Scheinman on violin.
It's a Gadget World -- Ron Horton (ABeat)
Horton is the most lyrical of the newer New York trumpeters. Even with an enormous, dark tone he creates finely shaped figures that contrast nicely against the complex rhythmic backgrounds provided by Antonio Zambrini's elegant piano, Ben Allison's fun-loving bass and Tony Moreno's busy drumming.
Eternal Interlude -- John Hollenbeck (Sunnyside)
Si o Si Quartet Live at the Jazz Standard -- Dafnis Prieto (Dafnison)
Not By Chance -- Joe Martin (Anzic)
Esta Plena -- Miguel Zenon (Marsalis Music)
Prana Dance -- Tom Harrell (Half Note)