Friday, January 02, 2009

Wall Street Journal: The Best Span . . .

Jazz these days has no one single source or sound, and that's a good thing. Many of the musicians on my top-10 list have been covered in these pages during the course of 2008 -- guitarist Lionel Loueke, clarinetist Evan Christopher, singer Cassandra Wilson, pianist Guillermo Klein, the Microscopic Septet. But here are five more -- reflecting the influence of three continents and as many generations -- who stood out.

Charles Lloyd
"Rabo de Nube"

Forty years ago, saxophonist Charles Lloyd was a pop star; his 1966 album, "Forest Flower," sold a million copies. These days he must content himself with a place among jazz's elder masters, revered not least for an ability to conjure near-mystic moods from jazz vernacular. Much like the band led by saxophonist Wayne Shorter, yet in a very different way, Mr. Lloyd's current group reinvents the quartet format, investing it with unpredictable organic possibility. Pianist Jason Moran, a brilliant bandleader himself, is one key. No less elemental are drummer Eric Harland and bassist Ruben Rogers. The three much younger musicians feed more than follow Mr. Lloyd. And he, playing tenor saxophone and, on occasion, alto flute and tarogato (an Eastern European reed instrument), is by turns hard-blowing and ruminative. He's expansive in his musical discourse yet without a wasted note.

Click here for the Rest of the Best.