Tom Abbs: Lost & Found (Year End Top 10 review)

In choosing the best whack jazz record, I believe you can’t really go by instrumental prowess, because in reality, all of these guys can play at the highest levels. The ones that can also conjure up sharp reactions in the listener’s mind that forces them to process what they heard and not be a passive listener are the kind of whack jazz music that does its job the best. That’s just the kind of primal sounds one hears coming from Tom Abbs’ Lost & Found. It socks you in the sonar solar flexes and just when you think you’ve figured it out, Abbs & Co. mixes it up with a flurry of jagged jabs to the harmonics. The spontaneity of these 18 tracks are compacted in short, intense spurts of expressive passages that rarely go longer than three minutes. That was by design, according to the bassist/cellist leader, who also picked up a tuba at times. Accompanied by saxophonist/flautist Brian Settles, violinist Jean Cook and drummer Chad Taylor, the four get out whatever alien sound is needed to give Abb’s compositions character and just the right mood. From the Alyer-isms found on “Lost” to the afro-centric grooves found on “Found,” Lost & Found is brimming with more ideas than a Mensa brainstorming session.

Back when I review this record six months ago, I was already thinking that it would end up in this spot: “I get the feeling that Lost And Found is going to be one of the more creative and standout free jazz records of the year.” And even though I’ve come across plenty of great avant garde jazz records since then, no one has struck that sweet spot more directly than Tom Abbs.

Andrew Gilber/Seattle Times 2009 Top 5 Jazz recordings

1.  Thomas Marriott, “Flexicon” (Origin)
2.  Ernestine Anderson, “A Song For You” (HighNote)
3.  Anouar Brahem, “The Astounding Eyes of Rita” (ECM)
4.  Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, “Off & On” (Left Coast Clave)
5.  Jackie Ryan, “Doozy” (Open Art Productions) World Music Top 10 2009

1. Warsaw Village Band – Infinity
2. Khaled – Liberté
3. Oumou Sangare – Seya
4. Sarazino – Ya Foy!
5. Mamer – Eagle
6. Madera Limpia – La Corona
7. Various Artists – Legends of Benin
8. Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Companions
9. Mulatu Astatke – New York, Addis, London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975
10. Ba Cissoko – Seno Jazz Top 10 for 2009

1.  Vijay Iyer Trio – Historicity
2.  Jack DeJohnette – Music We Are
3.  Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – One Day in Brooklyn
4.  Trio Subtonic – Cave Dweller
5.  Alex Cline – Continuation
6.  Steve Lehman Octet – Travail Transformation and Flow
7.  Henry Threadgill – This Brings Us To, Vol. 1
8.  Ben Allison – Think Free
9. Tony Wilson Sextet – The People Look Like Flowers Last
10.  John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble – Eternal Interlude

Steve Greenlee ( 2009 Jazz Top 10

1. HEAVEN ON EARTH “Heaven on Earth’’
2. JERRY BERGONZI “Simply Put’
3. JD ALLEN “Shine!’’
4. WADADA LEO SMITH “Spiritual Dimensions’’
5. KAT EDMONSON “Take to the Sky’’
7. VIJAY IYER “Historicity’’
8. DARIUS JONES TRIO “Man’ish Boy’’
10.  RUDDER “Matorning’’

All Music Guide 2009 Best Albums list

Matias Aguayo: Ay Ay Ay (Left Field House)
Lily Allen: It’s Not Me, It’s You (Indie)
Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Indie)

Antipop Consortium: Flourescent Black (Underground Rap)
Dan Auerbach: Keep it Hid (Indie)
Baroness: Blue Record (Sludge Metal)
Bibio: Ambivalence Avenue (Indie)
The Black Crowes: Before the Frost/Until the Freeze (Classic Rock)

Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish I Were an Eagle (Alternative)
Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young (Hipster Rock)
Neko Case: Middle Cyclone (Alternative)

Roseanne Cash: The List
Dalek: Gutter Tactics (Underground Rap)
Dallas Wind Symphony: Lincolnshire Posey
Dam-Funk: Toeachizown (Contemporary R&B)
The Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca (Indie)

The Dream: Love vs. Money (R&B)
Bob Dylan: Together Through Life

Fever Ray: Fever Ray
The Fiery Furnaces: I’m Going Away

The Flaming Lips: Embryonic
Jan Garbarek Group – Dresden: In Concert (Jazz)
Girls: Album
Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown
Grizzly Bear: Veckatimist
Paul Hillier: David Lang: The Little Match Girl Passion
Hudson Mohawke: Butter (Left Field Hip Hop)
Shafiq Husayn: Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka (Left field Hip hop)
Japandroids: Post Nothing
Norah Jones: The Fall
Kid Cudi: Man on the Moon (Left Field Hip Hop)
King Midas Sound: Waiting for You (Experimental Dub)
Kronos Quartet: Floodplain
La Roux: La Roux
Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster
Miranda Lambert: Revolution
Sondra Lerche: Heartbeat Radio
Little Boots: Hands
Madness: The Liberty of Norton Folgate
Major Lazer: Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do
Manic Street Preachers: Journal for Plague Lovers
Jun Markl: Messiaen
Mastodon: Crack the Skye
Maxwell: Blacksummer’s Night
Mika: The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Mos Def: The Ecstatic
Os Mutantes: Haih…Ou Amortecedor
Maki Namekawa – Philip Glass: Piano Music
Neon Indian: Psychic Chasms
David “Fathead” Newman: The Blessing (Mainstream Jazz)
Brad Paisley: American Saturday Night (Country)
Pelican: What We All Come to Need
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

A Place to Bury Strangers: Exploding Head
Roberto Juan Rodriguez: The First Basket
St. Vincent: Actor
Shakira: She Wolf
Sonic Youth: The Eternal
Sunn O: Monoliths and Dimensions
Super Furry Animals: Dark Days/Light Years
The Swell Season: The Joy
David Sylvian: Manafon
Tanya Morgan: Brooklynati (Underground Rap)
Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures
Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi
Moritz Von Oswald Trio: Vertical Ascent
Sara Watkins: Sara Watkins
Weezer: Raditude
Wilco: Wilco (The Album)
The xx: The xx
Yeah Yeah Yeahs!: It’s Blitz


I bolded the records I heard from the list.
Most of them I disagree with.
For example, I can’t believe they put Norah Jones’ record on the list.
And Lady Gaga is more about spectacle than music.
I do want to check out King Midas Sound and see if that album works for me.

Rolling Stone 2009 Top 10

1. U2: No Line on the Horizon
2. Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream
3. Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
4. Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3
5. Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown
6. Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca
7. Neko Case: Middle Cyclone
8. The-Dream: Love vs. Money
9. The xx: The xx
10. Sonic Youth: The Eternal

Me:  I’m not a huge fan of this list.  In my opinion, neither U2 or Bruce Springsteen are producing work that justifies #1 or #2 on the list.  The U2 record, I thought was particularly weak.  I didn’t like the Neko Case record or the Green Day record.  This list has music publicists written all over them.  I know Sonic Youth has been a critic’s darling for a generation, but I think they’re overrated.  The only record on this list I like was the Dirty Projectors’ record, it’s pretty creative.

There you have it.