20171126_143110 cropSome new things that came out in 2017…I can’t check out everything I want to, but I try. My recent listening lists here.

Miles Okazaki – Trickster (Pi)
John Abercrombie – Up and Coming (ECM)
Ralph Towner – My Foolish Heart (ECM)
King Crimson – Live in Chicago (Panegyric/Inner Knot)
Vijay Iyler – Far From Over (ECM)
Gary Peacock – Tangents (ECM)
Matt Mitchell – Forage (Screwgun)
Matt Mitchell – A Pouting Grimace (Pi)
Tyshawn Sorey – Verisimilitude (Pi)
Dave Stryker – Strykn’ Ahead (Strikezone)
Peter Bernstein – Signs Live! (Smoke Sessions)
Brian Eno – Reflection (Warp)
Bjork – Utopia (One Little Indian)
Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert (Resonance Records)
Roscoe Mitchell – Bells for the South Side (ECM)
Sarah Cahill, Terry Riley – Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley (Irritable Hedgehog)
Pat Martino – Formidable (HighNote Records)
Thelonious Monk – Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (Sam Records)
Ferenc Snétberger – Titok (ECM)
Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan – Small Town (ECM)
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil – Incidentals (ECM)

20171126_143110 crop


Ten+ albums that moved me when I was a teen, everybody is listing them on Facebook this week. In 1973, I was 13.

Jeff Beck – Blow by Blow/Wired
Pat Metheny – Watercolors
Ralph Towner – Solstice
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
Johnny Winter – Progressive Blues Experiment
Steve Hillage – Fish Rising
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds of Fire
Yes – Relayer
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Frank Zappa – Zoot Allures
ZZ Top – Fandango
Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery
Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

20160305_105007Hey gang…here’s some things I noticed in 2016. Budget restrictions mean I couldn’t check out everything I wanted to.

Here’s lists of things I listened to in 2016. I’ve been keeping track so I can go back and see if I need to go back and listen to anything again.

Rough year, let’s hope 2017 is better!

No particular order…


Ches Smith with Craig Taborn and Matt Maneri – The Bell (ECM)
Bill Frisell – When You Wish Upon a Star (Okeh)
Nels Cline – Lovers (Blue Note)
Ralph Alessi – Quiver (ECM)
Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Time/Life: Songs for the Whales and Other Beings (Impulse!)
Henry Threadgill’s Ensemble Double-Up, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
Wadada Leo Smith: America’s National Parks (Cuneiform)
Tyshawn Sorey – The Inner Spectrum Of Variables (Pi)
Kris Davis – Duopoly
Masabumi Kikuchi – Black Orpheus (ECM)
Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch)
John Scofield – Country for Old Men (Impulse!)
Gavin Bryars – The Fifth Century, Contemporary Music for Voices and Saxophones (ECM)

Reissues and Historical

Anthony Braxton – Quintet (Basel) 1977 (Hatology)
Peter Erskine with John Taylor and Palle Danielsson – As It Was (ECM)
Bill Evans, Some Other Time: The Lost Session from The Black Forest (Resonance)
Larry Young: In Paris: The ORTF Recordings, 1964-65 (Resonance)
Frank Zappa / Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object (Zappa)

A lot of cool releases from ECM

Markus Stockhausen, Florian Weber – Alba (ECM)
Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison – In Movement (ECM)
Andrew Cyrille Quartet – The Declaration of Musical Independence (ECM)
Vijay Iyer, Wadada Leo Smith – A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM)
Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus, The Distance (ECM)


Thomas Koner – Tiento de la Luz (Denovali)
Bing & Ruth – Tomorrow Was the Golden Age
Brian Eno – The Ship (Warp)

Want List

Richard Poole, Marilyn Crispell, Gary Peacock: In Motion (Intakt)
Kepler Quartet, Ben Johnston – String Quartets Nos. 6, 7 & 8  (New World Records)
Mary Halvorson – Away With You (Firehouse 12)

George Grella’s 2016 list

The Big City

52 of the best new releases of the year, 52 out of the the 430 (as of this writing) new releases I listened to. Every year I fiddle with how to make and present these lists, and the idea here is obvious; one record to every week. For this I used the criteria of releases that I would gladly listen to, non-stop, for an entire week. That is, music that not only satisfied critical thinking, but that was a complete pleasure in the way it swamped critical thinking and just occupied the pleasure centers of my mind and body. Each note or sound was like a brick in a marvelous structure, and I wanted to hear it being built, piece by piece, over and over again. I could add an “honorable mentions” list with recordings that could move in an out of my 52, depending on mood, but I’ll that…

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George Grella 2016 best Jazz

The Big City

Let me qualify that header before things get out of control here: this not only snapshot of constantly shifting thoughts, but specifically conforms to the ballot Francis Davis sent out for his 11th annual Jazz Critics Poll. Despite NPR losing interest in jazz, they are still going to host the poll, the results of which will be up sometime in December. So I guess that’s something.

Now, one explanation and one major caveat. My experience with these releases—what led me to choose and rank them—is that, among the bevy of fine new jazz recordings I’ve heard this year (at least 200), these are the ones that completely satisfied me without any critical thought. I mean this in the best way; I listened but gave myself over completely to the music, and trusted each and every moment to bring me musically and logically to the next. The music occupied my mind…

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No particular order…


Jack DeJohnette – Made in Chicago
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil – You’ve Been Watching Me
John Luther Adams – The Wind in High Places
Max Richter – SLEEP
Harvey Valdes – Roundabout
Jurica Jelic – Cognitive Dissonance
Jurica Jelic – Sve nijanse Dinare / All shades of Dinara
James Ross- Bardo Thodol and Heaven
Marco Oppedisano- Resolute
Keith Jarrett- Creation
Joseph Benzola – Tuareg
Africa Express Presents… Terry Riley’s In C Mali
Björk – Vulnicura
Kenny Wheeler – Songs for Quintet
Gary Peacock – Now This
Julian Lage – World’s Fair
Vijay Iyler – Break Stuff
Jerry Pergolesi, Contact, Brian Eno – Discreet Music
David Cross & Robert Fripp – Starless Starlight


Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo
Jimi Hendrix – Freedom: the Atlanta Pop Festival
King Crimson – Live at the Orpheum
King Crimson – Thrak box


John Abercrombie – The First Quartet box
Led Zeppelin reissues

Want list: things I want to check out. Based on previous experience, these look pretty good.

Matt Mitchell – Vista Accumulation
Milford Graves/Bill Laswell, Space/Time – Redemption
Stephen Haynes – Pomegranate
Pat Metheny and others – Hommage à Eberhard Weber
Mary Halvorson – Meltframe
Rudresh Mahanthappa – Bird Calls
Anna Thorvaldsdottir – In The Light of Air
Karlheinz Stockhausen – Complete Early Percussion Works (Mode)
Harmonia – Complete Works

edit: things I heard later

Valentina Lisitsa plays Philip Glass – The Hours, Metamorphosis, Mad Rush



songbirdsongs *

 Opus One


A Northern Suite/Night Peace

 Opus One


Forest Without Leaves

 Owl Records


The Far Country * 

New Albion


Earth and the Great Weather

New World Records


Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing *

New World Records


Dark Wind

Cold Blue Music


The Light That Fills the World *

Cold Blue Music


In the White Silence *

New World Records


Strange and Sacred Noise

Mode Records


The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies *

Cantaloupe Music


for Lou Harrison *

New World Records


red arc/blue veil * 

Cold Blue Music


The Place We Began *

Cold Blue Music


Four Thousand Holes 

Cold Blue Music



Mode Records



Cantaloupe Music


Become Ocean * 

Cantaloupe Music


The Wind in High Places *

Cold Blue Music


Just Strings, John Luther Adams, Lou Harrison *

Microfest Records



Cantaloupe Music


The Stone People

Cantaloupe Music

* = listen

2012 – Cold Blue Two (Cold Blue artist compilation with Sky with Four Sons by John Luther Adams )

2012 – Cornelius Dufallo – Journaling (Innova, includes Three High Places by John Luther Adams with Cornelius Dufallo, Violin/Electronics)


Alex Ross’ rough diagram of Become Ocean.

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