This list is a look back on 2011 in jazz. The following, in no particular order, are the album and concert reviews, articles, and interviews written in 2011 that I found most fun to read (or in some cases, to write).
1. Interview: Composer and Arranger Ryan Truesdell on the Gil Evans Project
James Hall spoke with composer and arranger Ryan Truesdell about a project that involved recording the previously unrecorded work of Gil Evans. The project's development has been documented on ArtistShare, and features interviews with Evans' colleagues, lessons on his music, and a glimpse into the process of preparing his newly-discovered works for performance.
2. Concert Review: The Colin Vallon Trio
Douglas Detrick caught the Colin Vallon Trio at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan. He writes about their unconventional approach to the piano trio, in which dynamics were as much a part of the music as harmony or melody.
3. Interview: Trumpeter Cuong Vu on His Approach to Jazz Standards
Douglas Detrick spoke to Cuong Vu about his album Leaps of Faith, on which the trumpeter brings vivacity back to "part of the body of work that people consider to be played too many times; to be beaten to death."
4. Album Review: 'Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster'
Jon Lindhorst reviews Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster, one of the greatest recording sessions in jazz. It features two kings of swing, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, "dueling" it out with help from the Oscar Peterson quartet.
5. Concert Review: Darius Jones Trio at Littlefield
Douglas Detrick reviewed saxophonist Darius Jones' trio at Littlefield in Brooklyn. Jones' playing is marked by inimitable energy.
6. Interview with Pianist Bill Carrothers
James Hall spoke to pianist Bill Carrothers about what it's like to be a jazz musician in the boonies.
7. Interview with Vocalist Peter Eldridge
Charlie Christenson interviewed vocalist Peter Eldridge about the difference between being a jazz singer and a singer who sings jazz. Also, the interview makes evident the rapport between Christenson and Eldridge, which you won't want to miss.
8. Album Review: Gilad Hekselman's 'Hearts Wide Open'
On Hearts Wide Open, Gilad Hekselman understates his virtuosity, and creates sweeping landscapes with hints of Americana and folk music, which is not only beautiful, but interesting since Hekselman in from Israel. Also, his music inspires saxophonist Mark Turner to take what is arguably his most soulful ever on the song "Understanding."
9. Interview: Vocalist Theo Bleckmann
James Hall interviewed vocalist Theo Bleckmann about his impossible-to-classify and strikingly unique music.
10. Album Review: Miguel Zenón's 'Alma Adentro
Saxophonist Miguel Zenón's Alma Adentro pays hommage to some of the best Puerto Rican popular songwriters with lush and updated arrangements by Zenón, and orchestrations by Guillermo Klein.
11. Album Review: 'Ghosts of the Sun' by Bill McHenry
Jonathan Lindhorst reviewed Bill McHenry's Ghosts of the Sun, which features the drummer Paul Motian in prime form. Motian passed away on November 22nd of 2011, a day after this album was released.
12. Performance Review: 'Brooklyn Babylon' at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
Jonathan Lindhorst reviewed Brooklyn Babylon, a collaboration between composer Darcy James Argue and visual artist Danijel Zezelj. The piece, which combines music with a narrative driven by live painting, tells the story of a fictional Brooklyn in which there is a struggle between city dwellers and fat cat developers.