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Best New Jazz/Improvised Music Albums of 2011

This is the point at which I'm supposed to ponder the immediate present and near future of jazz and improvised music. Not gonna do it. No matter how dire the straits of the music industry, changing distribution and presentation, etc., this music will continue to be made because it has to be made, and artists feel compelled to keep it going despite travails. It's all about the music and its amazing power for catharsis, its ability to lift us and inspire us. So without further ado, here's what inspired me most in 2011.

1. Richie Beirach: Impressions of Tokyo (Outnote)

I was going to call this a comeback, but Beirach (above) hasn't exactly been gone, certainly not as far as recordings are concerned -- he's had 18 released under his name in the past 11 years, plus collaborations (one of those appears further down this list). I guess I think of it as a
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