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Last Call: Best of 2014

For fans of adventuresome jazz, 2014 certainly had a rich grab bag of audio gems to choose from. Here are the finest releases of the year.  Thank you for listening!

Miles Davis / Miles At The Fillmore /Columbia-Legacy: It is a thrilling experience to hear Miles Davis and his band achieve the impossible over and over again in this rollercoaster ride of four nights of performances from June, 1970 at the Fillmore East In New York City.

Bad Plus / Inevitable Western / Okeh: A band well known for their fearless re-arrangements of pop classics into unpredictable jazz explorations, The Bad Plus settles in for a program of all original tunes, delivered in a freewheeling, no hands barred style that is essentially the Bad Plus.

John Coltrane / Offering / Resonance Records:  The legendary saxophonist, with preacher-like wails, leads a 1966 band with special guests in a fiery, inspired free jazz performance that is available in its entirety for the first time.

Nels Cline Singers/ Macroscope /Mack Avenue Records: One of the most adventuresome and dynamic guitarists in jazz or rock is Nels Cline.  Active since 1977 in a wide variety of genres, he is the guitarist for the alternative rock band, Wilco. Cline's command of the guitar is such that Spin magazine in 2012 named him the 43rd greatest guitarist of all time. He is also the leader of the Nels Cline Singers, a band which has explored the frontiers of jazz music on several recordings over the last decade.In Macroscope, Cline's virtuoso guitar work is in full display in a series of ten shifting musical scenes. 

Robin Eubanks and Mental Images/Klassik Rock Vol. 1/ Artistshare: Trombonist Robin Eubanks and his band Mental Images present bold reinterpretations of rock anthems from Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone on a new release, which also features five new original tunes.

Wayne Escoffery Quintet/ Live At Firehouse 12/ Sunnyside: Escoffery is a saxophonist whose career is on the fast track to wider recognition, having worked with legendary trumpeter Tom Harrell in recent years. Escoffery and his band(including keyboardist Rachel Z) paint captivating portraits on several tunes that leave the listener wanting more.

Charles Lloyd/ Manhattan Stories/Resonance: In the first phase of his career Charles Lloyd's impact on 1960s jazz and popular music was immense. Here, in two dates from 1965, including a spirited series of tunes recorded at the famous Slug's Saloon in New York, Lloyd's immense artistry becomes readily apparent. 

And some other fine recordings worthy of mention:

Theo Croker/ Afro Physicist/Okeh
Kavita Shah/ Visions / Inner Circle Music
Archie Shepp & the Attica Blues Orchestra / I Hear the Sound /Archie Ball
Jason Adasiewicz/ Sun Rooms /Delmark
Lynn Riley and the World Mix/ Say What /Independent Release
Ginger Baker /Why?/Motema
Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana /Mehliana: Taming the Dragon/Nonesuch Records
Jae Sinnett / Subject To Change/ Independent Release
Bill Frisell / Guitar In The Space Age/Okeh
Jeff Coffin Mutet / Side Up/Ear Up Records
Jane Ira Bloom/ Sixteeen Sunsets / Outline Music

Chris Cooke has been a voice on public radio in Omaha since 1989. Working at KVNO-FM during college, Cooke hosted a weekend progressive jazz show on the station in addition to working as an on-air announcer. In November 1992, Cooke signed on at KIOS-FM and has been there ever since. He has hosted the Tuesday and Thursday editions of Jazz in the Afternoon since 1996 and has hosted Last Call since that year. A long time fan of jazz music, Cooke enjoys talking with the musicians who make jazz music and presenting those conversations with listeners. When not hosting or listening to jazz, on record or in person, Cooke maintains a busy schedule as a self-employed web design consultant.
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