1. Omar Sosa & NDR Bigband: Ceremony
This was the first 2010 release I received. I got a review copy in November of 2009, and nothing else all year gave it a serious challenge for the top spot on my favorites list. It’s the perfect blend of Latin, African, and European jazz styles. Omar Sosa, the composer and pianist, was raised in Cuba and has deep roots in the culture and religion of West Africa. Jaques Morelenbaum, the arranger and cellist, comes from Brazil and brought his bossa nova background to the table. And the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) Bigband, the jazz orchestra of North German public broadcasting, is one of the great big bands playing today. Together they put together an extremely enjoyable and celebratory record that I kept dipping into all year long. This may have been my easiest choice, as this was a favorite of mine from the first moment I dropped the needle.
Beyond this recording, there was a lot of great international jazz released this year. Mulatu Astatke and Frøy Aagre made my list of favorites. Sunna Gunnlaugs from Iceland wasn’t far behind. And I’ve mentioned releases from The Espen Eriksen Trio, Elephant9, Jaga Jazzist, and Bushman’s Revenge (all from Norway) in previous posts.
My full list of Favorites of 2010 is archived in the Resources section of this website.