Ambrose Akinmusire, “When the Heart Emerges Glistening”
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Best of jazz 2011: Chris Barton

Ambrose Akinmusire, “When the Heart Emerges Glistening”
It’s one thing to expect great things from an artist’s major label debut, it’s another pleasure entirely to have those expectations exceeded.  (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein, “Bienestan”
Often a duet in name only led by Goldberg (pictured) on piano and composer-arranger Klein on Fender Rhodes, but on “Bienestan” they frequently tap the expert rhythm section of Matt Penman and Eric Harland.  (Emra Islek)
Endangered Blood, “Endangered Blood”
Though the name sounds like a drive-in horror movie classic, there’s nothing to be scared of in this sharply swung collection led by the dueling saxophones of Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega and the constantly shifting rhythmic backbone from avant-garde veterans Trevor Dunn and the octopus-armed drummer Jim Black. (Mauro Zorzi)
Jeff Gauthier Goatette, “Open Source”
Gauthier is an enduring force for good around the local scene as chief of the Cryptogramophone label and co-producer of the Angel City Jazz Festival, and his expressive violin has never sounded stronger than on this electronics-shaded album.  (Jeff Gauthier)
Matana Roberts, “Coin Coin Chapter One: Les Gens De Couleur Libres”
Roberts’ ambitious, intensely personal collection recalls the politically charged “Fire Music” of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with a passionate exploration of slavery and her family history through spoken word and searing ensemble playing. (Brett Walker / Constellation Records)
JD Allen Trio, “Victory!”
Like a long-simmering sauce that’s been reduced to its most potent essence, this 12-track, 37-minute album from the saxophonist doesn’t waste a note or single breath. (Crush Boone / Sunnyside Records)
Colin Vallon Trio, “Rruga”
Maybe the only jazz recording released in 2011 to draw musical cues from Turkish folk and Thom Yorke, this album from the young, Swiss-born pianist advances a longtime legacy of European jazz with empathetic ensemble playing and a rich variety of textured, evocative twists that sidestep convention. Pictured: Samuel Rohrer, Colin Vallon and Patrice Moret. (Nadia F. Romanini / ECM Records)
Bill McHenry, “Ghosts of the Sun”
A subtle, spacious recording led by McHenry’s restless saxophone, the album reveals new hidden dimensions with each listen courtesy of gestural guitar filigrees from Ben Monder and a typically understated, elliptical turn from the late drummer Paul Motian. (Mary McHenry / Sunnyside Records)
Shane Endsley and the Music Band, “Then the Other”
Coming out of the genre-hopping former L.A. fixtures Kneebody, the group’s trumpeter Shane Endsley delivers an album heavy on New Orleans-honed swing and head-bobbing instrumental workouts with the help of the great Craig Taborn on piano. (Red Cat Publicity)