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BEST OF 2008


Okay; I know. But it's not my fault that so many things came in large packages this year, or better yet: slim multidisc boxes. It's time to reiterate the not always obvious: It is impossible to hear everything that came out this year, even a small portion. Some of the discs have have an earlier copyright date, but reached us this year. My favorite way of life gets harder and harder but is worth the search: spooking small, independent record stores and listening to what they play at random, and then asking if they have audition copies of tempting newbies on display. Here's this year's fave discs, performances and sundry items from our ever-varied correspondents.


-Joey Baron solo at Stone in nov o8
-Cecil Taylor - Tony Oxley duo at the Village Vanguard; not november shows i was away but earlier ones
-Nicole Peyrafitte performance for Jerome Rothenberg gig "A 40th Anniversary Celebration of Technicians of the Sacred, edited by Jerome Rothenberg" at the Bowery Poetry Club, September 14, 2008 [Note: This entire event may be downloaded from]

CARLOS GóMEZ, Mexico City

Alva Noto. Unitxt. Raster-Noton.
Christian Fennesz - The Black Sea. Touch.
The Bug - London Zoo. Ninja Tune.
Benga - Diary of an Afro Warrior. Tempa.
Fabric 39: Robert Hood. Fabric.
Portishead - Third. Island.

Zero Point at Radar Festival in México, D.F.
Anthony Braxton at Radar Festival in México, D.F.
Raster Noton Showcase at Mutek in México, D.F.


Best Albums of 2008
This list includes discs released too late in 2007 to be included for that year.

  1. Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram. 2008. Live in Spark. Bucharest: Edition Modern, EDMN-1024. With Gustavo Aguilar, Phil Curtis, Nina Eidsheim, Andrei Kivu, and Petru Teodorescu.

  2. Greece. 2008. Byzantine Music: Iakovos Nafpliotis, The Protopsaltis of the Holy Great Church of Christ, Istanbul Greek Partriarchate. 78 rpm Orfeon-Odeon 1914-1926. Five CDs and book with Greek, English, and Turkish texts. Istanbul: Kalan Muzik Yapim, CD-464.

  3. Jonathan Harvey. 2008. Body Mandala, Timepieces, Tranquil Abiding, White as Jasmine, …Towards a Pure Land. London: NMC, D-141.

  4. Hodgkinson/Hyder/Chamzyryn. K-Space. Ad Hoc. Remarkable CD-ROM; plays the music in a different order each time.

  5. Charles Ives. 2008. A Radical in a Suit and Tie: Premiere Recordings. First recordings of Piano Sonata No. 1 (recorded in 1953 by William Masselos), "Three Places in New England" (recorded 1953), and Symphony No. 3 (recorded 1950). London: Cherry Red Records, ACMEM-146.

  6. Kurdish/Turkey. 2008. Dengbej Ehme. Mir Mihemed. Istanbul: KOM Muzik.

  7. Kurdish/Turkey. 2008. Kazo. Heseno. Istanbul: Aydin Muzik.

  8. Rytis Mazulis. Form Is Emptiness. Megadisc MDC-7800.

  9. New Zealand. Hirini Melbourne & Richard Nunns. Te Hekenga. Rattle RATDV010. Music CD plus DVD demonstrating Maori instruments.

  10. Per Norgard. 2008. String Quartets 7, 8, 9, and 10. Copenhagen: Dacapo Records, 8.226059.

  11. Johannes Ockeghem. November 9, 2007. Missa Cuiusvis Toni. Ensemble Musica Nova. Aeon, 2 CDs.

  12. Luigi Nono. 2007. Prometeo. Two SACDs, booklet (83 pages), and listening score of texts (115 pages). Col Legno 20605. Also playable on regular CD player. Distributed in the United States by Allegro.

  13. Luigi Nono. 2007. Caminantes… Ayacucho. First publication of complete "Wayfarer" cycle. Two CDs. Kairos 0012512KAI.

  14. Giacinto Scelsi. October 31, 2007. Collection Vol. 2. First publication of "To the Master," and "Rotativa" for ensemble. Stradivarius STR-33802.

  15. Giacinto Scelsi. 2007. The Works for Double Bass. New York: Mode, 188. First publication of "Dharana," "Kshara," and the complete "Ko-Tha" for double bass.

  16. Giacinto Scelsi. 2008. Hommage a Scelsi. First recordings of Sonata for violin and piano (1934) and Divertimento No. 4 (1955); includes the Duo for violin and cello, "Xnoybis," and a piece by Bruno Mantovani. Sigean: Disques FY & Du Solstice, SOCD-242.

  17. Turkey. Kastamonu Kir Eglencesi-10. VCD. Istanbul: Alisan Muzik. Ancient transvestite kocek dance tradition, volume 10.

CRAIG NIXON, Managing Editor

This is admittedly heavy on reissues, since my ears and head have been pretty much in the '70s all year. In no particular order as to preference.

  1. DAVE HOLLAND SEXTET - Pass It On. dare2/emarcy. Adding Mulgrew Miller to Holland's already incredibly strong group restores piano to the bassist's music for the first time in years and further fleshes out an already full ensemble.

  2. SONNY ROLLINS - Road Shows, vol. I emarcy. Some of the best live Rollins you'll hear anywhere, hands down.

  3. DAVID LIEBMAN - Pendulum (Mosaic Select expanded edition). Mosaic. Splendid set from the Vanguard, 1978. The original Artists House LP is expanded to 3 cds with an additional 2 and a half hours from the same sessions.

  4. STEVE KUHN - Life's Backward Glances ECM Reissue of three of Kuhn's ECM dates, worthy of inclusion for nothing else than the first CD issue of Playground by the Kuhn/Sheila Jordan quartet - long overdue.

  5. BRIAN BLADE - Seasons Of Changes. Verve. After several years, Blade brings back the Fellowship (minus Dave Easley's pedal steel) and still sounds fresh and distinctive.

  6. THE COMPLETE ARISTA RECORDINGS OF ANTHONY BRAXTON. Mosaic. Well, almost complete. If jazz was dead in the '70s, no one told Steve Backer, who started recording artists like Braxton on a label whose previous claim to fame had been Barry Manilow. Essential music that will surely replace many worn and coveted LPs.

  7. WILLIAM PARKER QUARTET - Petit Oiseau. AUM Fidelity. The quartet that began with Oneal's Porch has only gotten better - swings like hell and grooves deeply.

  8. BARRY GUY/MARILYN CRISPELL/PAUL LYTTON - Phases Of The Night. Intakt. Third recording of a masterful trio.

  9. BOBBY PREVITE & THE NEW BUMP - Set The Alarm For Monday. Palmetto. The Bump quintet slightly revised, with Ellery Eskelin in the tenor chair previously held by Marty Ehrlich. The composer/drummer's music remains as distinctive as ever.

  10. THE ECM TOUCHSTONE SERIES (ECM) Yes, the entire series. 20 titles carefully chosen from the label's back catalog, and given loving reissue treatment, with remastered sound and new packaging. And, attractive pricing, to boot. See the titles at


Iannis Xenakis. Oresteia. Miller Theatre, NYC.
(This stands above all else; a performance that was life-changing.)

John Adams. Doctor Atomic. Metropolitan Opera, NYC.

August, Osage County by Tracy Letts. Imperial Theater, NYC.

Steve Beresford, Okkyung Lee, and Peter Evans. Roulette, NYC.

Germán Bringas with Free Jazz Radical and withg Zero Point. Zinc Bar. Radar Festival. Mexico City.;

Leos Janacek. Jenúfa. Palacio de Bellas Artes, Festival de México, Mexico City.

Henry Purcell/Mark Morris. King Arthur. New York City Opera.

Signature Theatre Company Celebrates Historic Negro Ensemble Company Plays. NYC.

Richard Strauss. Salome. Metropolitan Opera, NYC.

Barry Wallenstein, poet, with musicians. Cornelia St. Café, NYC.


The Articles (Pat Thomas, Mats Gustafsson, Roger Turner). Goodbyer Silence: Live In Derby. FMR CD260-0508.

Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark. Goofy June Bug. Wig 15.

Bauer 4. Family Affairs. Jazzwerkstatt 023.

Conny Bauer/ Gianluigi Trovesi/ Dietmar Diesner/ Tony Oxley. Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz (1981). Jazzwerkstatt 032.

Bik Bent Braam (Michiel Braam). Extremen. BBB CD10.

Anthony Braxton/Joe Morris. Clean Feed CF100 (4CD).

Georg Breinschmid & Friends. Wien bleibt Krk. Zappel ZM0009.;

Germán Bringas. Zona De Desfragmentación II. Jazzorca (JRCD-ZDII-001/-007 (7CD box; also available individually). His ensemble Free Jazz Radical remind me of the Arkestra and Zero Point reminds me of Bloodcount.

Peter Brötzmann and Peeter Uuskyla. Born Broke. Atavistic ALP185CD, 2CD.

Zerfu Demissie. Akotet: Songs of the Begna (8-foot, rectangular, metal-frame Ethiopian harp with vocals). Terp AS-12.

Paul Dunmall/ Hilary Jefferey/ Rozemarie Heggen/ Alan Purves. High Birds, Volume 2. Duns Limited Edition 059.

Colter Frazier Quartet. pfMentum PFMCD052.

Jason Kao Hwang/ Edge. Stories Before Within. Innova 689.

Imai Kazuo Trio with Ito Atsuhiro and Suzuki Manabu. Blood. Doubt (Japan) dmf124/125 CD/DVD.

Interplay (Elliot Levin, et al.) Apology To The Atonists/Tritone Suite. Porter PRCD-4009.

Willi Johans. Scattin'. TCB 28702.;

Steuart Leibig/ Tee-Tot Quartet. Always Outnumbered. pfMentum CD053.

Tony Malaby/ William Parker/ Najeem Waits. Tamarindo. Cleanfeed CF099CD.

Joe McPhee / Paal Nilssen-Love. Tomorrow Came Today. Smalltown Superjazz STSJ148CD.

Colin Meloy. Sings Live! Kill Rock Stars KRS 468.

Joe Morris and Barre Phillips. Elm City Duets 2006. Cleanfeed

Randy Newman. Harps and Angels. Nonesuch 122812-2.;

Evan Parker's Transatlantic Art Ensemble. Boustrophedon. ECM 1873.

Alexandre Pierrepont - Mike Ladd. Maison Hantée (with Roscoe, Hamid, Thurston, Evan P, Wm P, et al). RogueArt ROG-0017.

Lucía Pulido. Waning Moon. Adventure Music AM 1042.

Aki Takase and Silke Eberhard. Ornette Coleman Anthology. Intakt 129 (2CD).

Irma Thomas. Simply Grand. Rounder 2202-2.

Ken Vandermark 5. Alchemia. nottwo. (8CD).

Chris Whitley. On Air [2003]. Tradition & Moderne T&M 043.

Savina Yannatou. Primavera en Salonico: Songs of An Other. ECM 2057.


Anthology: "México Electroacústica/Mexico Electroacoustic 1960-2007." Irradia/PocosCocodrillos IRD002 (3CD + 70 page bilingual booklet).

Anthology: Nekton Falls [lower case sound, electronics]. Celestial Dragon CDREC06 (3CD).

Beethoven. Late Quartets. Orion String Quartet. Koch KIC CD-7683 (3CD).

Beethoven. Symphonies 1-9, Live from the Edinbugh Festival. Mackerras, Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Philharmonia. Hyperion CDS44301/5 (5CD).

Brahms: Hungarian Dances, arr. Joachim. Joachim: Variations in E-minor, Hagai Sham, v; Arnon Erez, p. Hyperion CDA 67663.

Julián Carillo. Six Quasi-Sonatas in Quarter-Tones for Cello Solo. Jimena Giménez Cacho. Quindecim QP 182 (2CD).

Elliot Carter. New Chamber Works (Happy Birthday, Elliott Carter!). Swiss Chamber Soloists (Holliger, et al.) Neos 10816.

Robert Dowland, et al. "Musical Banquet." Monika Mauch, soprano; Nigel North, lute. ECM 1938.

Percy Grainger. Lincolnshire Posey: Music For Band. Dallas Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin. Reference Recordings RR-117.,

Jonathan Harvey. Body Mandala, Timepieces, Tranquil Abiding, White as Jasmine, …Towards a Pure Land. NMC D-141.

Leo Ornstein. "Fantasy and Metaphor." Sarah Cahill, piano. New Albion NA138.

Scriabin. The Solo Piano Works: Complete. Maria Lettberg, piano. Capriccio 49586 (8CD + DVD).

Stravinsky. Symphony In Three Movements; Symphony of Psalms, Symphone in C. Rattle, Berlin. EMI 07630.

Jesús Villa-Rojo. Concerto platescero. Serenata. Concerto 2 (Version B). Naxos 8.570443.


Harrison Birtwistle. The Minotaur. Opus Arte OA 1000D, 2DVD.

John Cage. Variations VII (9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering). E.A.T./Artpix.

Unsuk Chin. Alice in Wonderland. Kent Nagano, Bayerische Staatsoper. Medici Arts 2072418.

Vladimir Deshevov. Ice And Steel. Will Humburg, Saarländisches Staatorchester ArtHaus Musik 101 323.


Anthology: "Africa Scream Contest: Raw and Psychedelic Afro Sounds from Benin and Togo 70s." Analog Africa AACD 063.

Anthology: "BIPPS: French Synth Wave 1979-85." Everloving EVE020.

Anthology: "Can't Stop It II: Australian Post-Punk 1979-84." Chapter CH57.

Anthology: "Give Me Love: Songs of the Brokenhearted, Baghdad 1925-1929. Honest Jon's HJRCD.

Anthology: "The George Mitchell Collection: Volumes 1-45." Blues field recordings. Fat Possum FP1114-2 (7CD + 48 page booklet).

Anthology: "The In-Kraut, Vol. 3: Hip Shaking Grooves Made In Germany 1967-1974." Marina MA72.

Anthology: "Living Is Hard: West African Music In Britain, 1927-1929." Honest Jon's HJRCD033.

Anthology: "Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970s. Soundway SNDWCD 009 (2CD).

Kevin Ayers. Songs For Insane Times. EMI Harvest UK 521 5570 (4CD).

Dolly and Shirley Collins. The Harvest Years. EMI UK 28404-2 (2CD).

Georges Cziffra, piano. Ses Enregistrements Studio 1956-1986. EMI France 213251 (40 CD).

Herbie Hancock. The Prisoner. Blue Note 25649-2.

Billie Holiday. Performance and Radio. ESP-disk' 4039 (5CD).

Hugh Masakela. Home is Where The Music Is. Blue Thumb/Chisa/Verve BTS 6003.

Olivier Messiaen. 1908-1992: The Anniversary Edition. EMI France 17466 (14CD).

Marcelle Meyer, piano. Ses Enregistrements Studio 1925-1957. EMI France 384699 (17CD).

Microscopic Septet. History of the Micros: Vol. 1: Seven Men In Neckties. Vol. 2 Surrealistic Swing. Cuneiform RUNE 236/237 & 238/239 (2 twofers).

Yves Montand. Unreleased, Rare and Essential. DRG 8494.

Conlon Nancarrow. Studies for Player Piano, Vol 1-4 (Original 1750 Arch Recodings). Open Minds OM 1012/15-2 (4CD + 50 page booklet).

Paul Robeson. Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939. EMI 15586-2 (7CD).

Special Honor to ESP-disk' for their quality reissues in good sound with excellent notes of albums that have been out of print or licenced through various sources for decades.


This year's "Who Woulda Ever Guessed I'd Love This Since I Only Love The First Half of His Career" Award shared by:

Al Green. Lay It Down (despite trendy but unnecessary although well-chosen duets). Blue Note 48449.;

Paul McCartney a/k/a The Fireman. Electric Arguments. MPL/ATO 21640.


Clean Feed.


Crouton Music.


Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music Of The Beatles. Geoff Emerick, with Howard Massey. Forward by Elvis Costello. Gotham Books.

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