While pondering my favorite music releases of 2011, I was struck by two things; the abundance of originality and depth in the "my cup of tea" genre, and Geez Louise were there a lot of live albums this year. There were also some great DVDs, which is why I'm referring to this as a favorite "releases" list instead of an "album" list as I have in the past. So here they are - my favorite releases of 2011 in no particular order:
Amazing live CD and DVD releases chronicling the 2010 New Universe Music Festival. Includes great performances by John McLaughlin, Wayne Krantz, Alex Machacek, Jimmy Herring, and others. I was honored to help contribute to the DVD by conducting the backstage interviews which appear on disc 2.
Fantastic writing and playing. Shows a stronger prog influence than Garsed’s earlier work. Bassist Ric Fierabracci make a big impact here as well.
Taylor’s remarkable debut seamlessly blends modern jazz and electronica influences in one of the year’s most original and engaging releases. The all-star line up includes Ric Fierabracci, Steve Tavaglione, Dave Weckl, and other heavyweights.
Noy’s latest showcases his quirky originality and tones in a context that’s more bluesy than his previous work. Love the writing on this one.
Killer heavy fusion album with Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller on bass, and Marco Minnemann on drums. A great platform for Govan’s overall talents.
Awesome prog-fusion disc that may be Sherinian’s best solo release yet. Has a throwback 70s Jeff Beck vibe at times. Guests include Steve Lukather, Tony MacAlpine, and Joe Bonamassa.
Great writing and lines from one of the west coast’s coolest fusion guitarists. Includes two burning live tracks. Features Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Babko, and Dennis Hamm among others.
Killer live disc featuring a single set recorded at the Baked Potato, plus two additional tracks from other performances. Includes great contributions from Mike Keneally.
Other favorites from 2011:
Gerald Gradwohl Group - ABQ Live and Raw
Jeff Richman & Chatterbox - The Line Up [Interview]
Bryan Baker, Bob van Luijt & Sebastiaan Cornelissen - 011 Amsterdam
John Escreet - The Age We Live In
Johnny Hiland - All Fired Up
CAB - Live on Sunset
Gannin Arnold - Five World Class Drummers DVD
Rudder - Live at Rockwell Music Hall NYC DVD (Not one note of guitar on this, but the band and DVD are super cool.)