KCCK Producers' Top 10's for 2012

Mark Yother
Bob Stewart
Gordon Paulsen
Bob De Forest
Bob Naujoks
Ron Adkins
Craig Kessler
Doug "DJ" Jackson

Mark Yother: Monday-Friday 6 a.m. - 10 a.m. / Sundays 6 a.m. - 9 a.m.

1) Wes Montgomery - Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance)

For my younger colleagues, music of the 1950s easily qualifies as "vintage" -- for me, it's more like the 1920s through the 1940s, largely depending on the quality of audio restoration. For my CD of the year, however, I choose some recordings from the mid-'50s: "Echoes of Indiana Avenue" with Wes Montgomery and his brothers Buddy and Monk and various sidemen. The brothers honed their musical skills in the joints along Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis, with Wes in particular sometimes holding down a factory job and working two musical gigs, all in the same day. Producer Michael Cuscuna says the long-forgotten tapes were up for sale on e.bay when they came to his attention. The songs are almost all standards, and I bring them to your attention. Extra credit for the superior program notes and photos.

2) Beegie Adair - The Real Thing - Live (Green Hill)

3) Lorraine Feather - Tales of the Unusual (Jazzed Media)

4) Amina Figarova - Twelve (In + Out)

5) Stacey Kent - Dreamer in Concert (Blue Note)

6) Mark Masters Ensemble - Ellington Saxophone Encounters (Capri)

7) Steve Turre - Woody’s Delight (High Note)

8) Dr. Michael White - Adventures in New Orleans, Volume 2 (Basin Street)

9) Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann - Turn Signal (Capri)

10) Yotam - Brasil (JLP)

Bob Stewart: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

1) Equilateral - Loud and Dark (Realtown)

This is the third release from this Eastern Iowa-based quartet, the second in their current configuration. The band has created a sound uniquely its own with an angular quality reminiscent of Monk. The compositions, all originals by the band's members, are fresh and engaging. The playing is superb, with a cohesiveness borne out of years of playing together as a unit. Kudos to reed man Chris Merz, trumpeter Brent Sandy, bassist Greg Mazunik and percussionist Eric Thompson for this gem of contemporary jazz.

The rest of my favorites in alphabetical order:

Johnathan Blake - The Eleventh Hour (Sunnyside)

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet - Into the Air (Ear Up)

Anat Cohen - Claroscuro (Anzic)

Kurt Elling - 1619 Broadway: the Brill Building Project (Concord)

Stacey Kent - Dreamer in Concert (Blue Note)

Virginia Mayhew - Mary Lou Williams: the Next 100 Years (Renma)

Pat Metheny - Unity Band (Nonesuch)

Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society (Heads Up)

Mads Tolling Quartet - Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty: Live at Yoshi's (City Hall)

Gordon Paulsen: Monday-Friday 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.

1) Jazz Soul Seven - Impressions of Curtis Mayfield (BFM Jazz)

Not all all-star groups live up to the greatness of its individual members when brought together for a specific recording project, but in this particular instance The Jazz Soul Seven certainly does and proves indeed that the sum is, at the very least, as great as its parts. This super-heated super band reimagines in a thoughtful and refreshing way, through a combination of outstanding improvised solos and tight ensemble arrangements, the musical legacy of soul/R&B legend Curtis Mayfield. There are groove laden and especially soulful versions of several of Mayfield's iconic songs from People Get Ready to Move on Up to music from Superfly (Freddie's Dead) and from the Mayfield-led pop group, The Impressions (I'm So Proud). The album benefits from an incredible line-up of top-drawer artists including Grammy Award winning drummer Terri Lynne Carrington, Phil Upchurch (guitar), Bob Hurst (bass), Wallace Roney (trumpet), Ernie Watts (saxophone), Russ Ferrante from the Yellowjackets (keyboards), and the late percussionist Master Henry Gibson who had a 17 year collaboration with Curtis Mayfield. Other songs include It's Alright, We're A Winner, Superfly, Beautiful Brother Of Mine, Check Out Your Mind, Keep On Pushing, Gypsy Woman and Amen.

Writing on line for Thomas R. Erdmann said, "Rarely, only very rarely, is a recording released that brings together a host of the greatest jazz musicians on which they all play to the highest of standards…these musicians don't just find common ground, they prove straight-ahead jazz proclivities can reside side-by-side with soul jazz backings" and, "If you want to hear some of the best musicians, of any era, truly burn-it-up look no further than this marvelous recording."

2) Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society (Heads Up)

3) Pat Metheny - Unity Band (Nonesuch)

4) Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood - In Case the World Changes Its Mind (Indirecto)

5) Dirty Dozen Brass Band - Twenty Dozen (Savoy)

6) Chick Corea/Gary Burton - Hot House (Concord)

7) Kurt Elling - 1619 Broadway (Concord)

8) Maceo Parker - Soul Classics (Razor & Tie)

9) Mads Tolling - Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty (City Hall)

10) Melody Gardot - The Absence (Verve)

Bob De Forest: Saturdays 6 p.m. - Midnight ('Da Blues / Crawfish Circuit / Melting Pot)

1) Tedeschi Trucks Band - Everybody's Talkin' Live (Sony)

2) Warren Haynes Band - Live at the Moody Theater (Stax)

3) Curtis Salgado - Soul Shot (Alligator)

4) Muddy Waters/Rolling Stones - Checkerboard Lounge '81 (Eagle)

5) Taj Mahal - Hidden Treasures '69-'73 (CBS)

6) Anders Osborne - Black Eye Galaxy (Alligator)

7) Scrapomatic - I'm a Stranger (Landslide)

8) Chuck Leavell - Back to the Woods (Evergreen)

9) Michael "Iron Man" Burks - Show of Strength (Alligato)

10) The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - Between the Ditches (Side One Dummy)

Bob Naujoks: Sundays: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. (Gentle Jazz)

1)Wes Montgomery - Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance)

Three guitarists and a couple of retro vocal groups head my 2012 Top Ten-that's half my list right there. Very welcome was the issue of Wes Montgomery recordings done in Indianapolis back in the mid-50s. Not a reissue, these were unheard for decades. Locally Pat Smith joined with bassist Rich Wagor for some duets and a fine album. They supported it with live performances in Eastern Iowa. Then another guitarist, Eric Skye from Portland, re-imagined the classic Miles' album, Kind Of Blue. Skye made my Top Ten several years ago too. The retro vocal group albums do not echo the Manhattan Transfer or New York Voices, but are throwbacks to the Mills Brothers and Andrew Sisters and all that "hep" jazz of the 1940s.

2) Pat Smith & Rich Wagor - Iowa Duets (Smith/Wagor)

3) Eric Skye - Another Kind of Blue (Skye)

4) Uptown Vocal Jazz - Hustlin' For a Gig (Housekat)

5) Sylvia Herold & the Rhythm Bugs - The Spider & the Fly (Herold)

6) Dan Block - Duality (Miles High)

7) Anat Cohen - Claroscuro (Anzic)

8) Kurt Elling - 1619 Broadway (Concord)

9) Christian McBride - Conversations with Christian (Mack Avenue)

10) Houston Person - So Nice (HighNote)

Ron Adkins: Sundays: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Gentle Jazz)

1) Cheryl Bentyne - Let's Misbehave (Summit)

You can have the sweetest voice in jazz, but if you don't bring to the song a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership, then it all sounds a little hollow. Cheryl Bentyne -- one fourth of the Manhattan Transfer -- has spent her career taking ownership of every song she sings. There isn't an insincere note on the whole CD. Each track sounds fresh, whether we've heard it covered a dozen times before or a hundred. Listeners immediately realize just how much she relishes the challenge of finding a new avenue of interpretation, and different way of expressing an emotion. And the best part is that Bentyne's voice actually is one of the sweetest in jazz!

2) Todd Boston - Touched By The Sun (Gita)

3) Fourplay - Esprit de Four (Heads Up)

4)Trombone Shorty - For True (Verve Forecast)

5) Joe Jackson - The Duke (Razor & Tie)

6) Chick Corea/Gary Burton - Hot House (Concord)

7) Lorraine Feather - Tales of the Unusual (Jazzed Media)

8) Melody Gardot - The Absence (Verve)

9) Fred Hersch - Alive At The Vanguard (Palmetto)

10) Hugh Masekela - Jabulani (Listen 2/Razor & Tie)

Craig Kessler: Saturday Noon - 4 p.m. (Jazz Corner of The World)

1) Art Pepper - Unreleased Art Pepper Volume 7 - Osaka, Japan (Widow's Taste)

This is the latest in a series of fabulous live performances from the "vault" of Laurie Pepper. This two-disc set gives us the complete 11/18/80 performance that includes Art's finest quartet from late in his career - George Cables,piano; Tony Dumas,bass; and Carl Burnett,drums. These are searing, exciting versions of many of his tunes of the day (Landscape; Ophelia; Y.I.Blues; Make A List), Pepper classics from earlier days (Straight Life and Over the Rainbow, now "owned" by Pepper), and earlier jazz classics (Cherokee; Donna Lee). The highlight for me is an unfettered quartet version of the H. Carmichael classic,"Winter Moon", which would soon be released on his famous Galaxy release with strings - "Winter Moon". Laurie also includes some of Art's "talk" between each of the tunes -- always a treat to hear Art speak. This Osaka live date is another in a long line of must-have records by one of the greatest alto players of all time. Art Pepper was an extremely rare bird who was always at the top of his game - from his beginnings around 1943 until his pre-mature end in 1982.

2) Equilateral - Loud And Dark (Realtown Records)

3) Ed Cherry - It's All Good (Positone)

4) Frank Kimbrough Trio - Live At Kitano (Palmetto)

5) Avishai Cohen (trumpet) - Triveni II (A2Z Entertainment)

6) Kirk Knuffke/Ted Brown - Pound Cake (Steeplechase)

7) Ted Nash - Creep (Plastic Sax)

8)John Surman - Saltash Bells (ECM)

9)Denny Zeitlin - Wherever You Are: Midnight Moods For Solo Piano (Sunnyside)

10) Hans Glawishnig - Jahira (Sunnyside)

Doug "DJ" Jackson: Saturdays 8 a.m. - Noon (Smooth Brunch)

1) Gerald Albright/Norman Brown - 24/7 (Concord)

As I reveal my top pick for 2012, I have to "honorably" mention Gary Honor's cd, Heads & Tales. But it came down to these as my top ten picks. At the top of the list for 2012 is the collaboration of Gerald Albright and Norman Brown, and their release "24/7". A perfect pairing of two world-reknown artists who share the spotlight perfectly on this project, but with a proven past that they can hold their own individually. Enjoy Gerald and Norman. They're good anytime..."24/7."

2) Julian Vaughn - Breakthrough (Trippin N Rhythm)

3) Paul Brown - The Funky Joint (Woodward Avenue)

4) Euge Groove - House Of Groove (Shanachie)

5) Vincent Ingala - Can't Stop Now (Vincent Ingala)

6) Nils - City Groove (Baja/TSR)

7) Najee - The Smooth Side Of Soul (Shanachie)

8) Greg Adams - East Bay Soul 2.0 (Ripa Records)

9) Neamen Lyles - So Free (N1 Studios)

10) Ragan Whiteside - Evolve (Randis Records)