I love jazz. But in a kind of idiosyncratic way. Not free-form dissonant stuff. No Dixieland. I know there are names (like post-bop or whatever) that jazz geeks use for various genres, but I don't know what any of them mean. I just like what I like. And here are some of my favorites of the last two decades:
Joshua Redman -- "Elastic" -- This trio recording with Sam Yahel and Brian Blade has some riveting sax solos, funky changes, and catchy melodies. These guys click.
Mark Isham -- "Blue Sun" -- Mark Isham is a spooky trumpet player, and this album catches an "L.A. late at night" kind of vibe. I love Doug Lunn's electric bass lines.
Arild Andersen w/ Vassilis Tsabropoulos and John Marshall -- "The Triangle" -- A piano trio that rumbles like tectonic plates moving. I'm not sure how they manage such a powerful yet melodic sound.
Marc Johnson -- "Shades of Jade" -- Some really haunting melodies, with the unique piano style of his wife, Eliane Elias, and Joey Baron's ridiculous drumming.
Pat Metheny -- "Secret Story" -- Really ambitious, complex waves of sound, drawing from classical, world music, and modern jazz, yet always melodic, with some really quiet, emotional numbers changing the mood just before it gets to be too much.
Peter Erskine, Palle Danielsson, and John Taylor -- "You Never Know" -- This piano trio does a lot of somewhat free-form stuff, but they mostly maintain a sense of structure and melody. This was the first of this trio's four discs, and to my ears the best.
Steve Khan -- "Got My Mental" -- I love Steve Khan's unique guitar playing, and in this trio setting (with some additional percussion giving it a slightly Latin feel at times) with Jack Dejohnette and John Patitucci, it's like a sound convoy.
Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua, and Dave Carpenter -- "Badlands" -- Another piano trio featuring the amazingly tasteful drumming of Peter Erskine, this disc features Alan Pasqua's unique piano playing and compositions, which are at once incredibly melodic yet have surprising changes.
John Scofield -- "Bump" -- I love John Scofield's guitar playing. His style changes from album to album, ranging from classic jazz guitar to distorted electrified funk. This is more on the electric side, and kind of brings up images of a funky jazz bar in a distant galaxy.
Marc Johnson -- "Sounds of Summer Running" -- This disc conjures up exactly what the titles says. It sounds like a gorgeously sunny morning in a beautiful small farm town somewhere in the heartland of America. Featuring two great and very different guitarists meshing surprisingly well together (Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell). Plus Joey Baron on drums. 'Nuff said.
Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and Michal Miskiewicz -- "Trio" -- This young Polish piano trio's first album is quietly sublime. As delicate as a butterfly's wings.
Jonathan Kreisberg -- "The South of Everywhere" -- One of my very favorite young jazz guitarists, this album has drive, melody, and fantastic musicianship.