Fred Jung’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 1998

Fred Jung’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 1998

If I were shipwrecked on Gilligan’s Island, the following releases would be the only things keeping me from “accidentally” killing Gilligan and spending the rest of my days in the Professor’s bamboo and coconut shell jail. I reviewed over 200 CD’s this year and listened to well over 400 and these are my top ten releases of ’98. They are in no particular order of importance, just alphabetically by artist. So the envelope, please…

Art Ensemble of Chicago
“Coming Home Jamaica”
Atlantic Records

Recorded two years ago, “Coming Home Jamaica” is the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s first studio album in six years. Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors, and Famoudou Don Moye invite you to be their guest of honor and treat you with invigorating contemporary music.

James Carter
“In Carterian Fashion”
Atlantic Records

I once saw Carter cuss out an unruly audience member with his tenor sax, and he is just as entertaining and explosive on his new release. A smoking record from the most promising musician to come along since Wynton Marsalis, it is one of jazz’s true superheroes taking on the organ combo. Ask Santa for it.


Dave Douglas
“Magic Triangle”
Arabesque Recordings

A quartet recording featuring tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, “Magic Triangle” is the latest release from one of the most impressive trumpeters to emerge in the ’90s. Douglas won the first annual New York Jazz Awards “Trumpeter” category and he delivers with some of the best performances of his career. Keep an eye on this heavy-hitter.

Gerard Hagen
“Far Horizons”
Resurgent Music

“Far Horizons” defines the phrase “diamond in the ruff”. Released by the Orange County based Resurgent Music label, it did not receive the national recognition it deserved, but that didn’t stop this album from being this year’s finest piano record. “Far Horizons” can be purchased by contacting Resurgent Music at


Rahsaan Roland Kirk
“Aces Back To Back”
32 Jazz

“Aces Back To Back” is as revolutionary and as complex as the man himself and it follows another Roland Kirk release on 32 Jazz that made the top ten last year, “Dog Years in the Fourth Ring”, making 32 Jazz the chief curator for the legendary cult figure’s music. A must for all Kirk-ites.

lavajazz.gif (11489 bytes)The Lounge Art Ensemble
“Lava Jazz”
Fuzzy Music

Drummer Peter Erskine, bassist Dave Carpenter, and saxophonist Bob Sheppard are about as lounge as the ’70s were hip. What they are is the West Coast’s most dynamic trio. Why “Lava Jazz” didn’t get more radio play and press is what is wrong with jazz today.


Greg Osby
“Banned in New York”
blue Note

If Blue Note is to return to its prominence of yesteryear, Osby is the kind of musician they need to sign and record. For a great while now, the media has unfairly lambasted Osby for his inclusion of hip-hop and rap elements into his music, but those detractors should all be quieted by “Banned in New York”. Live in every sense of the word, “Banned in New York” is Osby’s finest record to date.

ribot.jpg (3358 bytes)Marc Ribot
“Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos (The Prosthetic Cubans)”
Atlantic Records

Forget about an autopsy, there is a simpler test. Play this CD. If their feet aren’t tapping, they’re dead.


Vienna Art Orchestra
“American Rhapsody”
RCA Victor

Guest artist Joe Lovano’s heart-wrenching rendition of “But Not For Me” is the year’s finest moment on record. It is worth the price of the CD itself.

Anthony Wilson
“Goat Hill Junket”
MAMA Records

One of my few indulgences in life is to lay in my hammock in my backyard and smoke a nice, robust cigar, accompanied by a demanding single malt scotch or a rich merlot. So consequently, I am always on this endless quest to find the suitable music to support my very expensive habit. And thus, “Goat Hill Junket” has passed my ultimate test, it is cigar worthy. It should be required listening for all music lovers and offers a brilliant glimpse into the music of the finest young guitarist to hit the scene in years.


I love lists and in a year that had more fine releases than any other that I can remember, I had to include a “If I Had Another Suitcase” list. So, if I were stranded on the before mentioned Gilligan’s Island and had an extra suitcase, the following would be included.

Eric Alexander, John Hicks, George Mraz, Idris Muhammad
Bright Moments
“Return of the Lost Tribe”
Ravi Coltrane
“Moving Pictures”
RCA Victor
Joe Lovano
“Trio Fascination”
blue Note
Brad Mehldau
“Songs: The Art of the Trio, Volume 3”
Warner Brothers
Leon Parker
Columbia Records
Marcus Printup
“Nocturnal Traces”
blue Note
Chucho Valdes
“Bele Bele en la Habana”
blue Note
David S. Ware
“Go See the World”
Columbia Records
Randy Weston