1. Tricky at the Cajun House: A mesmerizing performer and innovator who kicked butt in front of a few hundred people. By contract, only had to play for 45 minutes. Played hard for two hours.
2. Mose Allison at Timothy's: Mose Allison at age 70. Great pianist. Great vocals. Great lyrics. How much truth can a world stand?
3. Pat Metheny at Scottsdale Center for the Arts: Leading the mercurial drummer Brian Blades and bassist Larry Grenadierin a trio. Guys who don't have to prove how fast they can play to let you know that they can do anything they want.
4. Buddy Strong: He's 18, and plays a mean Hammond B-3 organ, bass and drums at Faith Tabernacle, his dad's church in South Phoenix. Catch him on Sunday mornings there before he goes nationwide.
5. Ray Davies at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts: The ageless Kink is a well-respected man whose show really got me.
6. Mingus Big Band at the University of Arizona: I spoke to Sue Mingus, the great man's widow, before the gig. She said that Charles' last live performance had been in Phoenix in 1977, at the old DoubleTree Inn. I told her I'd been there, and how wonderful it had been. She said she hoped that I enjoyed this show every bit as much. I did.
7. Montreal Jazz Festival: Spent six days there in early July. Great town, even greater festival. Among others, heard John Scofield, Cecil Taylor, Maria Joao, Joe Lovano, James Carter. Also saw King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp turn down an interview request by retreating into the fetal position.
Top 10 Jazz Records of 1998 (in alphabetical order):
1. James Carter, In Carterian Fashion Monster technique, cool tunes, hot band, big heart equals young saxophone great.
2. John Coltrane, Live at the Village Vanguard--the Master Takes The classic quartet of Coltane, Tyner, Jones and Garrison at jazz's classic venue doing classic tunes. In other words, a classic.
3. Miles Davis, The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions Miles once said he'd changed the course of music five or six times. These 1969-70 sessions document one of those times.
4. Bill Frisell/Fred Hersch, Songs We Love Guitarist Frisell is beyond category. Pianist Hersch has a master's touch. Together, they're magical.
5. Charlie Haden/Kenny Barron, Night and the City A promise: This ethereal CD will put your soul at ease. Seamless work by two jazz Hall of Famers.
6. Maria Joao, Cor Songstress from Portugal performs magically on this eclectic set. A true original.
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7. Bill Laswell, Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-74 When Miles' On the Corner came out in '72, most jazzheads wouldn't give it second listen. Now, the prolific Laswell is giving them a second chance.
8. Greg Osby, Zero Inventive alto saxophonist with a kick-ass band that's gotta be killer live. He has developed his own sound, which is a good thing.
9. Danilo Perez, Central Avenue One of jazz's brightest lights on the keyboards, the Panamanian oozes joy in every tune.
10. Zawinul Syndicate, World Tour One of jazz's all-time greats, 65-year-old Joe Zawinul--of Cannonball Adderly and Weather Report fame--still creating fresh, magnificent music with a fiery band of young cats.