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Below, you'll find a compilation of all album reviews done by local KIOS jazz and blues staff.

Jazz Junction Best Of 2012

As usual I have trouble confining my annual “Best of the year” list to the traditional ten and have thus weaseled my way around the issue by adding a few vocal releases and reissues. Your sympathetic tolerance is appreciated. Our hungry ears were substantially rewarded through the year with these fine recordings:

Frank Basile Modern Inventions – independent through CD Baby - Omaha native and baritone burner Frank Basile leads a vibrant sextet on this refreshingly straight-ahead release.

Jerry Bergonzi Shifting Gears – Savant - Veteran saxophonist Bergonzi has a husky, burnished tenor tone and a delightful manner of negotiating intricate phrases on his horn that at once seems effortless and cooks with seasoned aplomb.

Graham Dechter Takin' It There – Capri Records - Chops aplenty. An impressive release with lots of rhythmic variations, establishing Dechter at the forefront of current guitarists.

Towner GalaherUptown! - Rhythm Royale Records - Drummer Galaher leads a meat and potatoes organ combo with a three horn front line through a program of originals and numbers from the jazz book with fine statements by the group.

Takuya KurodaSix Aces – independent through CD Baby - Kuroda's trumpet leads a sextet date featuring original compositions and stimulating musicianship that's straight-ahead and in-the-groove.

Tom Matta Big Band Components – independent through CD Baby - A superb big band effort with first-class composing, arranging and soloing. Nothing raucous or blaring – just well-orchestrated substance.

Bob Mintzer Big Band For The Moment – Manchester Craftsmen's Guild - Stellar musicianship and alluring arrangements contribute to the appealing flow of a performance comprised of selections evoking the spirit of Brazilian music.

Steve Turre Woody's Delight – High Note - Turre scores another direct hit with an album that welcomes the listener with attractively conceived and executed sounds that are at once easy to enjoy and artistically rewarding.

Manuel Valera New Cuban Express – Mavo Records - Vivid, rhythmically-charged music from the Cuban pianist, imbued with influences of the Cuban son, bolero, danzon and rumba beats.

Pharez Whitted For The People – Origin Records - The leader's trumpet spearheads a sharp, cooking group through an intriguing program of music. Chris says it's a “bright, optimistic, heartfelt session” and it's useless to disagree.


Cheryl Bentyne Let's Misbehave – The Cole Porter Songbook – Summit Records - First-class singer, tons of Cole Porter tunes, impeccable arranging and accompaniment. What more do you need to know?

Connie Evingson - Sweet Happy Life – Minnehaha Music - Evingson's pleasing mid-range voice is soothing as a summer's breeze and the music wafts about the listener in much the same fashion as she sings the lyrics of Norman Gimbel.

Stacey KentDreamer in Concert – Blue Note - Kent's soft voice, conversational style and an enjoyable repertoire make for a thrilling vocal outing, recorded live in Paris. The quartet, featuring her husband, Jim Tomlinson, on tenor saxophone, adds to the appeal of this fine date.

Kathy KosinsTo The Ladies of Cool – Resonance Records - A personalized nod to Anita O' Day, Julie London, June Christy and Chris Connor, the concept is cool and the execution is delightful.


Wes Montogmery – Echoes of Indiana Avenue and Bill Evans Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of The Gate – Resonance Records - Both of these albums are previously unreleased sessions. The Wes Montgomery dates to his Indianapolis days circa 1957/58 and provides a marvelous insight into his exhilarating playing before he had a recording contract. The Bill Evans release is two CDs and finds the trio in excellent form at New York's Top of the Village Gate in 1968. These exciting and well-produced projects from Resonance Records feature large booklets with information and photographs.