First, there are so many albums that I left off of these lists. I put a few honorable mentions at the end, but there are still so many great albums I’m leaving off. 2009 was a great year for music. I used play counts as one of the measurements of “Best” which really just means “Favorite” to me. Feel free to disagree or pass your list on in the comments section.
Han Bennink Trio
Bennink with Joachim Badenhorst, bassclarinet/clarinet, and Simon Toldam, piano. Covering one of my favorite tunes, Fleurette Africaine from Money Jungle, was a good start. But really, there isn’t a bum note on this whole album. And the last track with vocalist is haunting and may be my favorite track. If you didn’t pick this one up, you most definitely should.
Stolas: The Book of Angels, Vol. 12
Baron, Caine, Cohen, Douglas, Lovano, and
Zorn. ‘Nough said.
Vijay Iyer Trio
One of the most talked about records of the
year. Amazing writing, amazing playing.
Wadada Leo Smith/Jack DeJohnette
I got hip to Wadada Leo Smith after FONT
recognized his achievements. I haven’t gone
over a lot of his catalog, but I know that this
duo record kills it.
David S. Ware
One of the many records I believe I was hipped
to via my favorite jazz blog Destination:Out.
Very highly recommended. The blog and
My love of all-things-Bill-Frisell goes pretty
deep. Always interesting, always beautiful.
This album is all acoustic music composed
with images by early-American photographer
Michael Disfarmer in mind — great
packaging with shots of the Arkansas town-
folk. Wish there was an LP version.
A Single Sky
I may be biased, but I assure you I’m not
shilling here. Fantastic album. One of his best.
Inspiration Information Vol 3
Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics
Afro-rhythms, psychedelic production — what
you I ever want?
| Dusty Groove
Still haven’t listened to this one all that much
since I just picked it up, but the playing is
superb by everyone involved.
A Hawk And A Hacksaw
[The Leaf Label
Eastern-European inspired, mostly instrumental
compositions by the drummer of the now
defunct Neutral Milk Hotel. Couldn’t really put
this one on my rock list. Nor does it really
belong on the jazz list. But it had to
[Drag City | Amazon]
Chances are when O’Rourke touches something, my ears find it to be gold. This is one long instrumental piece (split to two for the LP) that winds it’s way through solo and layered acoustic guitar passages, and larger group sounds. KILLER.
The Ruminant Band
Produced by Graham Gibson at Clava/4
Dueces, for fans of airy folk-pop tunes with a
touch of Allman Bros guitar harmonies, and
Wes Anderson movie soundtracks.
Wilco (The Album)
One of my favorite bands of all time. This one
is sunnier than past recordings. Strongly
recommend checking out the B-side on the You
7″, Unlikely Japan
All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
One of the seminal Chicago indie-bands
delivers again. This one is a soundtrack to a
film Tim Rutili wrote. Mostly acoustic guitars
with interesting percussion and organic
sounding electronic soundscapes.
A record very much outside of my normal
listening habits. Really interesting harmonies
on this one, and the production is super-
interesting. Electronic stuff a la Bjork or
maybe a more boundary-pushing Feist.
Neko has a huge voice. Alt-country-esque
writing, but many tunes here have interesting
forms with no chorus. Recorded in Neko’s
barn in Vermont. And her guitar player Paul
Rigby rules. Joey Burns and John Convertino
from Calexico help out as well.
Sometimes I Wish Were An Eagle
Another Drag City release. Not as strong as A
River Ain’t Too Much To Love
released as his
former moniker Smog, but still a fantastic
album. A voice like Johnny Cash in a way. Wry
and witty lyrics. Sounds like he’s playing in your
What started as one of my most overrated
records slowly became one of my favorites of
the year. Interesting harmonic and melodic
content, and great drumming throughout.
Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Another great folk-rock record from this year.
Tuneful writing and dynamic vocals. Great live
America [Reissue], John Fahey
[4 Men With Beards | Dusty Groove
FAVORITE REISSUE I’D NEVER HEARD
Rock: …For the Whole World To See, Death
Jazz: Codona Trilogy, Codona
Sonic Youth, The Eternal
Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca (which I left off because I think it’s the most overrated record of the year)
Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs
Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
Herculaneum, Herculaneum III
Donny McCaslin, Declaration
Paolo Fresu & Uri Caine, Think