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  1. Anthony Braxton / The Complete Arista Recordings (Mosaic)

  2. Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano / Mostly Coltrane (ECM)

  3. Wadada Leo Smith/Jack DeJohnette / America (Tzadik)

  4. Vijay Iyer Trio / Historicity (ACT)

  5. Donny McCaslin Trio / Recommended Tools (Greenleaf)

  6. Enrico Rava / New York Days (ECM)

  7. David Binney / Third Occasion (Mythology) (also free downloads in the "Gig Download" area)

  8. Tony Malaby / Paloma Recio (New World)

  9. Miguel Zenon / Esta Pleña (Marsalis Music)

  10. Tomasz Stanko Quintet / Dark Eyes (ECM)

Our Rock'n'Roots Man

Why I Don't Have A Top 10 for 2009

I entered 2009 under duress, much as the rest of us did. Nobody had much money, so buying a ton of records or whatever… not easy. Not that I feel like I missed much, but it wasn't like there was a hell of a lot in Los Angeles to see or do this year.

I saw Bob Dylan for the first time, in Hollywood, at the Palladium. It was October, and Charlie Sexton had just rejoined the band. It was a great rock'n'roll show, with Bob tearing mostly into his recent songs with a very enthusiastic band. I loved it.

A few weeks later, Robert Crumb appeared at UCLA (Royce Hall) in an onstage interview where he discussed his life and work, as a tie-in to his illustrated Book of Genesis volume. It was fantastic. Crumb's a great talker, and his view on his own work is as fascinating and informed as the work itself.

My favorite club show was Andre Williams, in full Black Godfather mode, playing the slimiest, meanest rhythm'n'blues show I've seen in a really long time. He opened with "Agile, Hostile, and Mobile." He looked like Black Satan, and he performed with an evil rarely seen in Hollywood. "Baconfat" and "Jailbait" both sounded like brand new, and Andre gave these beastie bitches a lesson they'll never understand. [Thanks, Skip. Just bought me some Andre Williams, a name new to me. - Ed.]å

The other club show I dug hard was Candye Kane, whose records I'd enjoyed for years but who I'd never seen live. I fell for her within seconds of her first song.

For TV, not a great year. My favorite show, King Of The Hill, went off the air. There's still 30 Rock at least. And South Park.

I went to India, which was the cultural highlight of my year (see my blog, for reports). I didn't see too many movies this year. On the plane to India, I saw Up! and a very mainstream Bollywood romantic comedy called Love Aaj Kal. I loved the former and found the latter to be better than most of what you get on planes.

In short, I had a lot of fun around the house, downloaded a lot of old music, and played new music with my pals. Not a bad year, but I'd love some good new music to be recorded in 2010.

Our Resident Ethnomusicologist, Improvisor & Composer

Greetings from Istanbul! This year's list includes world, avant classical, improvised, and early musics-mixed together into a single alphabetical order. Some of the CDs are older, but I just recently obtained them; and I think you'll love them. The Naga music from India and Burma (2004), for example, is stunning, and well worth any special effort to obtain it. Likewise, I could not get the Scelsi DVD (2007) until 2009, but it provides thrilling new insights into both the music and its reception, making it a cornerstone of any library. Oh yeah, the really new stuff is great too!

Alessandro BOSETTI. African Feedback. Errant Bodies. Book and CD. Delightful book containing transcriptions of interviews Bosetti conducted in African villages, where he played avant-garde music to people and asked for their comments. His choice of pieces itself is fascinating, as are the listeners' reactions. The accompanying CD contains some of Bosetti's own music. 2007.

Earle BROWN, editor. Earle Brown—A Life in Music, Volumes 1 and 2. Wergo WER-69282, and 69312. Reissues from the Contemporary Sound series selected by Earle Brown, from 1960 to 1973. Each volume contains three CDs, each reissuing an LP. Brown was a brilliant composer and listener, and his selection of composers and works was remarkable prescient, resulting in a perfect representation of the 1960s avant-garde. The vinyl, originally on Time/Mainstream, has been out of print since 1978. Volume 1: Concert Percussion for Orchestra; Stockhausen-Kagel; Live Electronic Music Improvised (MEV and AMM). Volume 2: Works for Chamber Orchestra (Nono, Maderna, Berio); New Music from London (Maxwell-Davies, Birtwistle, Bedford, Orton); Feldman-Brown. Four more planned volumes will complete the series. 2009.,261751.html

Antoine BUSNOIS (1430-1492). L'Homme Arme-Six Masses. Cantica Symphonia, directed by Giuseppe Maletto. Glossa. 2009.

Ertugrul Oguz FIRAT. Leaven of Anatolia. Istanbul: AK Muzik, AK-914-2. The third album from this maverick composer/painter/author. Includes a beautifully illustrated booklet with extensive notes by the composer in Turkish and English. 2009. Paintings and information at

Mats GUSTAFSSON. The Thing. Bag It! The Thing consists of Paal Nilssen-Love, Ingebrigt Håker, and Mats. Oslo: Smalltown Superjazz. 2009.

Jonathan HARVEY. Complete String Quartets and Trio. Played by the Arditti Quartet. Aeon 2CD-0975. 2009.

Georg Friedrich HAAS. Works for Ensemble. Munich: Neos. CD 10919. Thanks to the folks at SFRP, I've been discovering the breadth and depth of Haas over the past year, through many broadcast recordings. This album marks an important addition to the discography of a highly underrepresented composer. 2009.

INDIA; BURMA. Naga: Songs from the Mist. Stirn-Van Ham Archives. Outstanding field recordings and documentation of remarkable music from ethnic minorities. 2004.; also available in the United States from

IRAN. Voices from the Land of Iran: An Anthology of Vocal Styles and Techniques. 3 CDs. Tehran: Mahoor Institute, CD 139. An amazing collection demonstrating the vast range of singing techniques from the different ethnic groups of Persia, one of the cradles of Indo-European culture. Includes an excellent booklet in English and Farsi. 2006.

Charles IVES. Psalms (Complete Recording). Holzgerlingen: Haenssler Classic. 2008.

KURDISH/Turkey. Dengbej Kerem. Lo Lo Lawiko. Mus: Gunes Film Klip ve Muzik, no number. Cassette only. Proof that traditional singing in Turkey is alive and well outside the hegemonic recording studios of Istanbul. Beautiful singing in the Kurdish bard tradition, from Mus, in the southeast. Accompaniment includes the mey, a double-reed instrument similar to the duduk, played by Aziz Kurtar. 2009. No website or U.S. distributor, but ask your Kurdish or Turkish-speaking friend to call the producer, Remzi Maral, at +90-436-212-2302.

KURDISH/Iraq. Mihemed Arif Cizrawi. Ciyaye Singale; and Yar Gewre. Istanbul: Aydin Muzik Yapim. These two albums by one of the beloved masters include the full song texts, but in Kurmanji only. 2009. No U.S. distributor, but request them from

KURDISH/Turkey. Dengbej Zahiro. Bisare Ceto; and Keva Guzel. Two albums from one of the greatest bards. Istanbul: Umut Muzik & Film. 2009. No U.S. distributor, but request them from

KURDISH/Turkey. Heme Haci. Dewre. Istanbul: KOM Muzik Yapim, CD-204. 2009. In Turkey:; in Germany:; in the United States:

KURDISH/Turkey. Sakiro. Sahe Dengbejan. A series of 24 CDs and 2 VCDs of unaccompanied bard singing by one of the shapers of the tradition. Unfortunately, the production is sloppy, with fluctuating volumes, truncated tracks, incorrect labeling, mastering at wrong speeds, etc. Nonetheless, his recordings are essential. The visuals in the VCDs only consist of scraps of footage originally recorded without sound, an old photograph or two, and poorly shot modern scenes of Sakiro's homeland; the music is from the CD series. Istanbul: Cagdas Muzik. 2009. No U.S. distributor, but request them from

KURDISH/Turkey. Yezidiler-Ezidi Religious Music. Istanbul: Kalan Muzik Yapim, CD 451 - 452. An important release documenting, for the first time, Yezidi music from southeastern Turkey, plus examples from Armenia, Iraq, and Syira. Includes a 248-page booklet in Turkish, English, and Kurdish (in that order). The notes on Ezidi music are based on Nahro Zagros' doctoral dissertation. 2009.

MONGOLIA. Chants Diphoniques de l'Altai Mongol [Xoomij Overtone Singing from Mongolia]. CD and DVD. Buda Musique. 2008.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA. Re-counting Knowledge in Song: Change Reflected in Kaulog Music. Birgit Druppel. Boroko [Port Moresby]: Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. Book with compact disc. Includes rare, beautiful, and remarkabale recordings from the island with one-sixth of the world's languages. The remarkables include panpipes played with flutter-tonguing, overtones made with the assistance of an impaled insect's buzzing wings, singing with "dissonant" second intervals, and well-recorded funeral wailing. 2009. To order, contact

Evan PARKER/John WIESE. C-Section. Second Layer SLR001. 2009.;

RUSSIA. Baku: Symphony of Sirens: Sound Experiments (Music, Poetry, and Agitprop) in The Russian Avant Garde 1908-1942. RER Megacorp RER RAG 1&2, 2CD with 72-page hardbound book, bonus disc with the first 150 copies. 2008.,

RUSSIA. Altai-The Song of the Golden Mountains, Siberia Volume 10. Buda Musique. CD 67239. 2009.

Giacinto SCELSI. Collection Vol. 3. A well-annotated album with the first recording of "Ballata" and new performances of the great orchestral works "Aion," "Hymnos," and "Four Pieces for Orchestra on a Single Note." Essential. Stradivarius STR-33803. 2009.

Giacinto SCELSI. Giacinto Scelsi/Hans Zender-Klang und Sinn, Musica Viva-8. Wergo DVD NZ-64. Wonderfully illuminating documentaries on, and complete performances of, Scelsi's "Hymnos," "Four Pieces on one Note," and "Natura Renovatur," plus Zender's "Bardo." Zender is one of the most important champions of Scelsi's music, having known him since the 1960s, which enables him to provide insights into Scelsi's music and life. Zender conducted the world premieres of many of Scelsi's orchestral works, decades after they were written. His own piece is for cello and orchestra, calling for the cellist to use a Michael Bach bow which enables the performer to play all four strings at once. It was thoughtful of Wergo to assign this to number 8, which was Scelsi's number; he wrote a book of poems called Octologo, and chose the date of his own death as "when the 8s line up," 8-8-88; by our calendar he died in the early morning of the ninth, but by the Indian reckoning (he was profoundly influenced by Indian philosophy) he died on the 8th because the new day begins at dawn rather than midnight. By the way, the Lachenmann and Xenakis volumes in this Musica Viva series are also outstanding. 2007.

Giacinto SCELSI. Preludi, Serie I-IV. Alessandra Ammara, piano. Arts Music SACD 47721-8, hybrid playable on normal and SACD players. A revelation of the breadth and creativity of Scelsi's earlier period, these preludes include pre-echoes of some of the sounds that were later to appear in the musics of Gyorgy Ligeti and Cecil Taylor . World premieres beautifully played and recorded (only the first series had been recorded before). 2009.

Cecil TAYLOR. Cecil Taylor: Jazz Master Class Series from NYU. Excellent documentation of Cecil at work. Gary Giddins presents a thrilling discussion of Cecil's music, from New York University in 2004. Artists House/NYU AHmc1, distributed by Hal Leonard. DVD, 166 minutes. 2008.

TONGA. Palu Vava'u Tupou and Veiongo Fakaua, ladies-in-waiting of the Tongan queen, perform three songs, recorded in 1954 after singing for Queen Elizabeth in the United Kingdom. You can download them for free, and click an internal link to see a photo of the singers, at the wonderful Excavated Shellac site:

TURKEY. Sonbahar [Autumn]. Soundtrack to the award-winning film. Powerful music by Aysenur Kolivar, Yuri Ryadchenco, Sumru Agiryuruyen, and Onok Bozkurt. 2009.; available in the United States from

Iannis Xenakis. Xenakis Edition No.10: Complete String Quartets. The Jack Quartet. Mode 209,


As always, one can't possibly keep up with all the new releases, and many discs only hit the deck after the calendar year has gone, or you discover some wonderful older things you just have to tell people about. Below are the things that made my life especially rich in 2009.


Paul Dunmall and Paul Rogers. Folks History. Duns Limited Edition DLE 063, 4 CDs.

Brian Groder, Burton Greene, Rob Brown, Adam Lane, Ray Sage. Groder & Greene. Latham 5409-2.

Keith Jarrett. Testament: Paris/London. ECM B0013427-02, 3 CDs.

Sylvain Kassap, Denis Lavant, Ramon López, Franck Médioni, Claude Tchamitchian. Ascension, Tombeau de John Coltrane. RogueArt ROG-0022.

Chris Kelsey 4. Not Cool {As in, "The Opposite of Paul Desmond."} Tzazz Krytyk.

Kirk Knuffke Quartet. Bigwig. Clean Feed CF107CD,,

Eyal Maoz & Assif Sirkis. Elementary Dialogues. Ayler ayIDL-104, download only.

Joe McPhee. Angels, Devils & Haints. CjR7, 2CDs,

Dom Minasi. Dissonance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder. Konnex KCD 5235.,

Nmperign. Ommatida. Intransitive int035.

Nuts (Benjamin Duboc, Rasul Siddik, Itaru Oki, Didier Laserre, Makoto Sato). Symphony for Old and New Dimensions. Ayler ayl- CD-088.

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. The Moment's Energy. ECM B0013023-02.

Evan Parker/ John Wiese. C-Section. Second Layer SLR001,,

Dave Rempis Percussion Quartet. The Disappointment of Parsley. not two MW811-2.,

Cecil Taylor. The Jazz Master Class. Artists House/NYU AHmc1, DVD,

Fay Victor Ensemble. Cartwheels Through The Cosmos. Artistshare 88450208583. Ok, so the album's two years old but I just got it now. This singer is amazing.,


John Adams. Dr. Atomic Symphony; Guide to Strange Places. Saint Louis SO, David Robertson, cond. Nonesuch 468220-2.

Anthology: "Baku: Symphony of Sirens: Sound Experiments (Music, Poetry, and Agitprop) In The Russian Avant Garde 1908-1942." RER Megacorp RER RAG 1&2, 2CD longbook with 34 pages hardbound, bonus disc with the first 150 copies.,

Georges Aperghis. Crosswind. Alter Ego, Rasch. Volte-face. Signaux. Kairos 0012942KAI.,

Ludwig van Beethoven. Symphonies 1-9 and Overtures. Anima Eterna, cond. Jos van Immerseel. Zig Zag Territoires ZZT080402.6, 6 hybrid SACDs.,

Heiner Goebbels. The Italian Concerto: The Italian Concerto/Writing II, Ou Bien Sunyatta, Die Faust Im Wappen, So That Bloood Dropped To The Earth. I dischi idi angelica ida024,,

Jonathan Harvey. Complete String Quartets and Trio. Arditti Quartet. Aeon AECD 0975, 2 hybrid SACDs.

Rued Langaard. Complete Symphonies. Danish National SO, Choir and Vocal Ensemble, cond. Thomas Dausgaard. dacapo 6.200001, 7 CDs.,

Per Norgaard. Works for soprano and instruments: Seadrift; Nova Genitura; Fons Laetitia. Bente Vist, soprano. dacapo 8.226067.,

Giacinto Scelsi. Preludi, Serie I-IV. Alessandra Ammara, piano. Arts hybrid SACD 47721-8.;

Salvatore Sciarrino. Orchestral Works. Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, cond. Tito Ceccherini. Kairos/Rai Trade 0012802KAI, 3 CDs.,


Jonathan Dove. The Adventures of Pinocchio. David Parry, cond. Opera North. Opus Arte OA 1005 D, 2 DVDs, 3h33m.,,

Olivier Messiaen. Saint François d'Assise. Ingo Metzmacher, cond. De Nederlandse Opera. Opus Arte OA 1007 D, 3 DVDs, 4h35m.,,


Rickie Lee Jones. Balm In Gilead. Fantasy FAN-31760-02.,

Najma Akhtar and Gary Lucas. Rishte. World Village LLCD005.,

Iakovos Nafpliotis. Byzantine Music - Orfeon-Odeon Recordings 1914-1926. Kalan CD 464, 5 CDs + 125 page book in English, Turkish and Greek.

Odetta. Evening Star. Her final recording, gorgeous Christmas songs (which I otherwise can't abide) with acoustic accompaniment, but mostly just Bill Lee on bass. Silverwolf Records 1103.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Echoes Hypnotiques: From The Vaults of Albarika Store 1969-1979. Analog Africa AACD 066.

Pariah Piranha. People People. Queer Control Records.,

Buffy Sainte-Marie. Running For The Drum. Appleseed APR CD1117, CD + DVD.,

Algeria. Gasbah Flutes from Northeast Algeria. Buda Musique BUD 7739, CD + DVD.,

Mongolia. Chants Diphoniques de l'Altai Mongol (Xoomij Overtone Singing from Mongolia). Buda Musique BUD 7742, CD + DVD.,

Uzbekistan. Karalpakistan: Voices of the Ancestors. Buda Musique BUD 7797, CD + DVD.,


Air, with Henry Threadgill. Air Song. Whynot/Candid WWHNCD 79403,

Anthology: "Fire In My Bones: Raw + Rare + Otherworldy African-American Gospel 1944-2007." Tompkins Square TSQ 2271, 3 CDs.

Anthology: "The 100 Club Anniversary Singles - 6T's 1979-2009" (Rare '60s and '70s Northern Soul). Kent CDKEND 323.

Anthology: "Topic Records: Three Score & Ten - 70 Years Of The Oldest Independent Record Company In Great Britain: A Voice To The People." Topic70, 7 CDs in 10" x 10" hardcover book.

Anthology: "Les Urnes de l'Opéra 1907-1912." 48 discs were buried in the Paris Opera in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years: now. EMI France 206267-2-3, 3 CDs.

Anthology: "Where The Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968." Rhino R2 519759, 4 CDs in 9" x 11" hardcover book.

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters. Nothing But Good: 1952-1962. Bear Family BCD 16795 EK, 5 CDs + hardcover LP-size book.

The Beatles In Mono (remasters). Apple 5099969945120, 12 CDs in hardcase.

The Beatles (Remasters). Apple5099969944901, 15 CDs + DVD. Yes, they're terribly worth it.

Anthony Braxton. The Complete Arista Recordings of Anthony Braxton. I confess I didn't actually acquire this, but it made me listen to all my Braxton/Arista LPs again, and I have them all. This is a must-have. Mosaic 242, 7 CDs.

Monsterrat Caballé. Icon: Great Italian Operatic Recordings. EMI 64845, 4 CDs.

Roger Chapman and the Shortlist. Riff Burglar/ Live At Munster Hall. (Burglar is just okay; the 2 CD Live is ferocious!) Beat Goes On BGO CD825, 3 CDs.

Mitty Collier. The Chess Singles 1961-1968: Shades of Mitty Collier. Kent/Ace CDKEND 301.

Rev. Gary Davis. Live at Gerdes' Folk City February 1962. Stefan Grossman SGGW 114/5/6, 3 CDs.

Link Davis. Gumbo Ya-Ya: Best Of 1948-58. Rev-ola CD REV 252.

Walt Dickerson, Wilbur Ware, Andrew Cyrille. Tell Us Only The Beautiful Things. Whynot/Candid WWHNCD 79401,,

Woody Guthrie. My Dusty Road. Rounder 661 1161-2, 4 CDs + book in replica suitcase.

Roy Lee Johnson. When A Guitar Plays The Blues. Bear Family BCD 16321.

Lamb. Sign of Change. Wounded Bird WOU 3003.

John Martyn. Solid Air: Deluxe Edition. Island 531 793-3, 2 CDs.

Esther Phillips. Release Me: Reflections of Country & Western Greats. Acrobat ACRCD 305,

The Slits. Cut/uncut: Deluxe Edition. Island (UK) 5321250, 2 CDs.

Steeleye Span. A Parcel of Steeleye Span (Their First Five Chrysalis Albums 1972-1975). EMI UK 85436-2, 3 CDs.

Sly and The Family Stone. Woodstock Experience: Sunday August 17, 1969 / Stand! Epic Legacy 48241, 2 CD + poster.

Sylvester and The Hot Band. The Blue Thumb Collection. Hip-O Select/Geffen B0012921-02,

Rufus Thomas (et al.) His R&B Recordings 1949-1956. Bear Family BCD 16695 AH,

Antonio Vivaldi. Les chefs-d'oeuvre de Vivaldi/ Vivaldi Masterworks. [Concertos, Sonatas and Vocal Works]. Decca/Universal France 442 9337, 40 CDs. Hurray for the index; boo for the spacers inside the box.


Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Blood On The Cat's Neck. Gemini CollisionWorks. The Brick Theatre, Brooklyn, NY,

Horton Foote's The Orphan's Home Cycle. Director, Michael Wilson. Signature Theatre Company, NYC.

Marcio Local at GlobalFest, Webster Hall, NYC. A smoking set; I hope this Brasilian's albums soon catch fire like the live act did.,

Theresa Rebeck's The Understudy. Cast: Julie White, Justin Kirk, Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Director, Scott Ellis. Roundabout Theatre Company, Laura Pels Theatre, NYC.

Steve Swell (trombone) and Jason Kao Hwang (violin). Downtown Music Gallery, Sunday In-Store Free Music Series, NYC. July 26, 2009.,,

Cecil Taylor Speaks Volumes (piano, poetry), Merkin Concert Hall, NYC, March 28, 2009.


The Secret Policeman's Balls (1976, 1979, 1981, 1987, 1989). Amnesty International/Shout Factory SF 11030, 3 DVDs,,


Vince Aletti. The Disco Files 1973-1978: New York's Underground, Week by Week.

Desdemonne Bardin. Jazz Zoom: Carrying It On - Photos and Interviews. 13x13inch hardbound. DVC Press/Overtime Records.,

Jacques Bisceglia, photographs. Steve Dalachinsky, poems. Reaching Into The Unknown: 1964-2009. 12x12inch, 440 pages. RogueArt.

César Vallejo. The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition. Translated by Clayton Eshleman, foreword by Maria Vargas Llosa. University of California Press.

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