Baker’s Dozens

by Josef Woodard

YEAR IN REVIEW: Years come, years go, and as
one number yields to the next, music scribes struggle to make sense
of the beautifully anarchic flow of culture, recorded and live.
It’s just the way of things, an attempt to put the inherently mad
and subjective world of culture in a tidier perspective. What
follows, then, are two “Baker’s Dozen” lists of 2006 recordings and
local live shows most likely to stick to the overworked memory
banks of one professional music addict’s mind.

ON RECORD: Tom Waits, Orphans (Anti-). In which
the friendly, growling artist musters yet more remarkable music
from multiple angles — bittersweet quasi-jazz, street corner
babble, faux roadhouse roughhousing — onto a three-disc opus worth
sinking into.

Marisa Monte, Universo ao meu Redor (Metro Blue). This sparkling
and smart Brazilian charmer pays tribute to the samba culture, in
ways simultaneously seductive, traditional, and fresh.

John Coltrane, Fearless Leader (Concord/Prestige). Before
Coltrane’s ventures eastward and inward in the ’60s, he was
producing some brilliant variations on the slightly bent “straight
ahead” jazz for Prestige, culled here in a must-own package.

Trio Beyond, Saudades (ECM). The best “electric jazz” album of
the year finds guitarist John Scofield, drummer Jack DeJohnette and
organist Larry Goldings recasting the influence of Tony Williams’s
old Lifetime band with a masterfully personalizing touch.

Sonny Rollins, Sonny, Please (Doxy). As a full house at Campbell
Hall witnessed this fall, the great tenor saxist, at 76, is back on
the scene with a sweet and soaring expressive power, not to mention
emotional generosity.

Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet, Memories of T (Concord). Monk’s
old drummer revisits his boss/colleague’s towering songbook, in an
intriguing piano-less septet format, with ear-massaging

Paul Motian Band, Garden of Eden (ECM), Paul Motian, On
Broadway, Vol. 4 (Winter & Winter). The poetic, time-goosing
drummer/bandleader Motian, now 75, has been a critic’s fave for
years and is expanding his audience of late, while continuing to
make some of the greatest “new” jazz on the scene. For the
uninitiated, these two albums — one new, one reissued — offer a
strong introduction to his genius. Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Solo (Blue
Note). This Cuban-born legend has a command of his instrument and
musical material, not to mention an increasingly subtle touch,
which he brought in solo form to Campbell Hall two years ago and
ensnares for perpetuity on this amazing album.

Weather Report, Forecast: Tomorrow (Columbia/Legacy). Wrongly
typecast as a ’70s “fusion” band, Weather Report, in retrospect,
was one of the finest and most distinctive groups in jazz history,
resistant to easy labeling. This three-disc set reminds us of the
power and inventive ingenuity of the band that Joe Zawinul and
Wayne Shorter built (with ample help and charisma from Jaco
Pastorius during his memorable tenure).

Charles Lloyd, Sangam (ECM). Santa Barbara-based tenor man
Lloyd’s special, free-spirited trio project, with percussionists
Eric Harland and Zakir Hussain, began its life as a tribute to the
late Lloyd ally Billy Higgins, in a concert at the Lobero. That
performance was recorded and released by ECM this year: besides
being one of the best albums in Lloyd’s discography, it is the
first major live jazz album recorded in Santa Barbara (unless we
grant at least semi-jazz status to Joni Mitchell’s Shadows and
Light, recorded at the Santa Barbara Bowl and featuring Pastorius,
Pat Metheny, and Michael Brecker).

LOCAL CONCERTIZING: What follows is a blur of
the happiest memories from the live music arena, of all genre
stripes: John Prine/Jim James, Arlington; Sonny Rollins, Campbell
Hall; Paul Galbraith, Museum of Art; Jeff Beck, Arlington; Fiona
Apple, Damien Rice, Bowl; Jean-Michel Pilc Trio, SOhO; Ojai
Festival: opening night, Trimpin’s realizations of Conlon
Nancarrow’s “Player Piano Studies,” Robert Spano reading John
Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing”; Gary Burton Quartet Revisited, Lobero;
Chick Corea & Touchstone, Campbell Hall; Dee Dee Bridgewater,
Campbell Hall; Brad Mehldau, Lobero; Tierney Sutton, Lobero; Moutin
Reunion Quartet, SOhO. (Got e?


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