Top 2010 Pop and Jazz: Jason Moran, Kanye West

2. KEITH JARRETT AND CHARLIE HADEN “Jasmine” (ECM) There’s renewal and then there’s refinement, and this first duo recording from the pianist Keith Jarrett and the bassist Charlie Haden, both masters, delivers its melodies on a velvet cushion. But the music isn’t decorous; it glows with maturity and patience.

3. JOANNA NEWSOM “Have One on Me” (Drag City) The ingenious sprawl of Ms. Newsom’s songwriting, like the flinty self-possession of her harp playing, found ornate expression in a three-CD set that riffed on Laurel Canyon pop without losing its modern bearings. Even at their most gossamer the songs are rooted in strong melody, while the singing is meticulous, sensuous and, finally, soulful.

4. KANYE WEST “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) Voracious and hermetic, paranoid and cocksure, Mr. West’s klieg-lighted extravaganza is a mess of contradictions. But it’s so immersive, psychologically as well as sonically, that even with a yacht’s worth of cameos, the feeling it leaves is both seductive and punishingly solitary.

5. MARY HALVORSON QUINTET “Saturn Sings” (Firehouse 12) The guitarist Mary Halvorson has often held the jazz tradition at arm’s length, but here she augments her devilishly supple trio with a sure-footed front line of trumpet (Jonathan Finlayson) and alto saxophone (Jon Irabagon). That calculated shift finds her surveying post-bop protocols from a pragmatic vantage, with an eye toward whatever she can use.

6. BENOÎT DELBECQ TRIO “The Sixth Jump” (Songlines) Cross-hatched African polyrhythm, postmodern classical piano technique, the fluidity of modern jazz improvisation: they’re all in play for Mr. Delbecq, whose beguiling trio, with the bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel and the drummer Emile Biayenda, brings a cool gleam to its intrepid debut.

7. MARNIE STERN (Kill Rock Stars) This self-titled CD, the third album from this indie-rock guitar-slinger, yokes emotional exhortation to physical exertion for a series of ecstatic, elegiac anthems. The guitar work and drumming blaze, but the open-hearted fervor resonates most.

8. CHRIS LIGHTCAP’S BIGFOOT “Deluxe” (Clean Feed) A righteous dispatch from the New York jazz grid, full of streamlined rhythm and stark, suggestive harmony. With his upright bass, Mr. Lightcap creates a pivot point for the companionable contrast of two searching tenor saxophonists, Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby, both in exceptional form.

9. KRIS DAVIS, INGRID LAUBROCK, TYSHAWN SOREY “Paradoxical Frog” (Clean Feed) So much possibility rumbles from this improvising collective — with Ms. Davis on piano, Ms. Laubrock on tenor saxophone, Mr. Sorey on drums, and all three contributing tunes — that you don’t have time to fixate on its free-jazz pedigree, or wonder who’s running the show.

10. BIG BOI “Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty” (Def Jam) His rat-a-tat cadence and sly syncopation intact, Big Boi finds solid footing in the OutKast afterlife — or hiatus, or whatever — and deftly connects with a savvy guest list. Though hardly the year’s most inventive hip-hop release, it’s endlessly engaging, skillful all the way through.

Top Songs

ARCADE FIRE “Modern Man” (Merge)

RICK ROSS FEATURING CEE LO “Tears of Joy” (Maybach Music/Slip-N-Slide/Def Jam)

ROBYN “Dancing on My Own” (Konichiwa/Cherrytree)

JAMEY JOHNSON “Even the Skies Are Blue” (Mercury Nashville)

DRAKE FEATURING ALICIA KEYS “Fireworks” (Cash Money/Universal Motown)


CEE LO GREEN “____ You” (Elektra)

SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS “I L U” (Vagrant/Ghostly International)

BEST COAST “When the Sun Don’t Shine” (Mexican Summer)

VILLAGERS “Becoming a Jackal” (Domino)

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One Response to Top 2010 Pop and Jazz: Jason Moran, Kanye West

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