TOP 10 ALBUMS FOR 2011

ROGER MITCHELL picks his favourite albums for the year

A top 10 is a little like a star rating — how can diverse albums be assessed against each other according to some sort of merit test? But I’ve been happy over the past few years to prepare such a list for the Sunday Herald Sun‘s Play liftout because it is another way for people to hear about albums they may like to buy and enjoy. Reviewers were given 20 words in which to describe each album.

I chose from albums I’d reviewed during the year, and some I have not reviewed yet. The main test I applied for this top 10 was to ask myself which albums I had played most.

1. Sandy Evans

When the Sky Cries Rainbows

Evans’ suite expresses love and hope amidst suffering in this inspirational journey evoking life’s myriad hues and states of mind.

2. Luke Howard, Janos Bruneel

Open Road

Belgian Bruneel’s warm, muscular bass complements the pure, cool and often pensive Howard, drawing out the pianist’s brooding power.

3. Tim Stevens Trio

Scare Quotes

Textures are tangible, timbres and tempos vary as the trio’s ability to build tension and hold our attention never wavers.

4. Browne, Hannaford, Anning

Shreveport Stomp

Superbly creative and uncompromising modern jazz that dips its lid to Monk, Parker, Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and Ornette Coleman.

5. Origami

The Blues of Joy

Dreamy, slow openers unfold to playful verve, then darkly tense and restless, edgy pieces exploring timbre, dynamics and saxophone versatility.

6. Inside Out

In Cahoots

Marc Hannaford’s pianistic mastery matches the mellow musings, larrikin playfulness and shimmying, soaring and blazing sinuosity of Paul Williamson’s trumpet.

7. The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra

Kristin Berardi Meets the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra

The ensemble’s subtlety, control and empathy give Berardi space to weave her evocative, finely crafted vocals between layers of instrumentation.

8. The Andrew Dickeson Quintet

Weaver of Dreams

In his debut as leader, drummer Dickeson arranges classic tunes and a swinging line-up to deliver them to a live audience.


9. Nick Haywood Quartet

1234

Simple tunes develop complexity in the hands of this quartet, guided by bassist Haywood with a commitment to collaborative spontaneity.

10. Leigh Barker

The New Sheiks

Turn your home into a gig with this lively, warm, irresistibly toe-tapping ensemble’s take on good old blues-infused jazz.

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