At long last, it's the Nextbop Best Albums of 2011 episode of The Line-Up. There's not a whole lot more I could say that I haven't said already about these selections. Once again, thanks to the whole Nextbop staff for having such great taste (especially my partner-in-crime, Seb, who I somehow forgot to mention in my closing but want to make sure I try to articulate a mere fraction of the love and appreciation I have for him and all he's done for this site and bringing me on to make something I consider pretty cool) and explaining that taste in your own distinct voices that I love to pick over. Everyone involved in jazz-- musician, critic, and fan alike-- has had what I think is a rather monumental 2011. I feel a lot of great promise for 2012.
The Line-Up for 30 December 2011
I knew this list was going to be interesting. We've got a pretty diverse staff of writers with different sorts of taste. As diverse as our jazz list is for this year, when lumping every other genre of music together and giving everything a ranking, it doesn't lead to the typical lockstep decisions. We had a lot of ties. It's a sort of interesting list.
I was recently asked to define what trend ran through jazz in the past year and I found I couldn’t think of anything definitive about that other than the fact that I like how definitive that was. This all came about when I was thinking about my picks fo best album of the year. Did my list lean more toward rock influences? European? Electronic? Black-influenced? I realized that in this past year, I've loved jazz of all sorts (and to be frank, while I'm disappointed in George Benson's Guitar Man, I'm not nearly as disappointed as some critics have been. It's equally as good as 2005's Absolute Benson and certainly better than his most recent foray with Al Jarreau. It's present-day, smooth Benson; it has its time and place. Know what you're getting into.) as much as I love music of many sorts. My tastes outside the genre reflect diversity as much as my tastes within the genre do the same. It would seem based on the variety of music made in jazz this year that this is a good thing rightfully getting recognized. Fortunately, I have come to work with a fine group of young folks who feel the same way that I do and their respective lists reflect the same divergent ecclecticism. When all the votes were tallied, these are the ten albums that the Nextbop staff considered the best albums of 2011. Some of our lists you’ve seen already; others were listed but not elaborated upon. However, If there's anything we should know about jazz in 2011 is that jazz is not only alive, it has grown. It is broad. It’s all over the place. And it’s all the better for it.
The Nextbop staff is compiling its lists of the best albums of 2011 in jazz and all other genres. We’ll release our mass lists during the last week of December but we want to make sure everyone’s individual lists have the chance to shine.