For several years now, this issue has been the one in which we look back at the year in the world of jazz. We do so both seriously and humorously, with respect and irreverence. We beg forgiveness for any slights, intended or unintended, in our lively Year in Review section, but if we jazz people can’t laugh at ourselves, then we’ve got bigger issues.
In 2005, new yet old recordings from dead legends such as Coltrane, Monk, Davis, Parker and Mingus dominated not just the Reissues category, as we would expect, but also the New Releases category, thanks to uncovering of lost tapes and masters. Some of that same musical archaeology carried into 2006 specifically with Mingus’ live recordings, as well as some great box sets collecting Davis, Coltrane and Sonny Stitt. However, the polls this year reflected a different theme-that of redemption by living legends. Three elder statesmen of jazz-Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins and Andrew Hill-demonstrated that even as septuagenarians they can make music that challenges and engages listeners on every level. The public and critical acclaim for these artists was not a matter of nostalgia. Coleman, Rollins and Hill are still very much in the vanguard of this music, even after careers spanning over half a century each. Each highly influential. Each entirely individualistic. Now as then.