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Best albums of 2009 - Jazz / Chris Barton

Like the rest of the recording industry, jazz clearly has its issues going into 2010. But rumors of its death remain greatly exaggerated. In the last 12 months, a variety of performers released remarkable, forward-looking music that in some cases showed little regard for barriers between genre or culture. A sampling of the year's best, ranked from 1 to 10. 1. Vijay Iyer, "Historicity" (Act Music + Vision): No record defined the jazz landscape in 2009 quite like this release on a German label from a New York-based piano trio led by the son of Indian immigrants. Backed by an acrobatic rhythm section of Marcus Gilmore and Stephan Crump, Iyer delivered a complex yet accessible mix of originals and covers from both the jazz firmament (Andrew Hill) and cutting-edge pop (M.I.A.). Pictured: Stephan Crump, left, Marcus Gilmore and Vijay Iyer.
Like the rest of the recording industry, jazz clearly has its issues going into 2010. But rumors of its death remain greatly exaggerated. In the last 12 months, a variety of performers released remarkable, forward-looking music that in some cases showed little regard for barriers between genre or culture. A sampling of the year’s best, ranked from 1 to 10.

1. Vijay Iyer, “Historicity” (Act Music + Vision): No record defined the jazz landscape in 2009 quite like this release on a German label from a New York-based piano trio led by the son of Indian immigrants. Backed by an acrobatic rhythm section of Marcus Gilmore and Stephan Crump, Iyer delivered a complex yet accessible mix of originals and covers from both the jazz firmament (Andrew Hill) and cutting-edge pop (M.I.A.).

Pictured: Stephan Crump, left, Marcus Gilmore and Vijay Iyer.
(Lynne Harty / ACT Music)

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