In no particular bleedin’ order:
1) Claire Ritter, Greener Than Blue
(Zoning) Chamber jazz full of gentle warmth and quick wit.
2) Lukas Ligeti, Mystery System
(Tzadik) Contemporary notated composition (sometimes referred to as "classical") integrating jazz, Martin Denny exotica, electronic and African music that’s both creative and eminently approachable.
3) Von Freeman, The Great Divide
(Premonition) Hearty hard bop with some "out"/avant monkey-wrenches lovingly thrown into the mix; a tribute to the influences of Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker helmed by Chicago’s legendary intrepid, wily sax-symbol.
4) Mekons, Punk Rock
(Quarterstick) The long-lived eclectic rock & roll band (25 years & still ticking) bravely revisits/remodels their back catalog.
5) Julie Lee, Stillhouse Road
(Compadre) Those enjoying the jazz/country/folk fusion direction of Norah Jones’ Feels Like Home
need to check this out, as she adds more jazz, country, folk, blues, sounding like a virtual synthesis of young Dolly Parton, pre-1995 Lucinda Williams and 20s jazz singer Connee Boswell.
6) Emeline Michel, Rasin Kreyol
(Times Square) Charming, soulful, subtle, lush Haitian pop imagine if Ronnie Spector grew up in Haiti.
7) Heptones, Deep In The Roots
(Heartbeat) Classic roots-reggae vocal trio harmony with a touch of dub.
8) Jupiter Trio, Beethoven & Shostakovich Piano Trios
(Bridge) A different kind of "piano trio": piano, violin, & cello and it’s worth noting how much of this sounds "contemporary."
9) Dr. John, N'Awlinz: Dis, Dat, or D'Udda
(Blue Note) The good Doctor’s New Orleans symphony.
10) Marilyn Crispell Trio, Storyteller
(ECM) With Mark Helias & Paul Motian, Crispell weaves a translucent tapestry that’s both melodic and "free" simply beautiful!
Honorable mentions: Courtney Pine, Devotion
(Telarc); Elvis Costello, The Delivery Man
Reissues/collections: Herbie Hancock/VSOP, Live Under The Sky
(Columbia/Legacy); Sam Rivers, Contours
(Blue Note); The Treniers, They Rock! They Roll! They Swing! The Best of
(Collectables); Bobbie Gentry, Chickasaw County Child: The Artistry of
(Shout! Factory); Mamie Smith, Crazy Blues: The Best of
; Tony Bennett, Cloud 7