Roy Powell/ North by Northwest- Well informed young british pianist reflects but doesn't regurgitate Bud Powell, Chopin or any of his other influences. John Marshall (Soft Machine) and Arild Andersen who has put out several fine recordings on ECM are still doing some of their best work on this one.
Wayne Horvitz/ Sweeter Than The Day- One of the best sounding SACDs I've heard. A few of Horvitz's more haunting compositions resurface here. This is the Zony Mash line up working in an unusually contemplative vein.
Jon Balke & Magnetic North Orch. (ECM) Very carefully considered juxtopositions of piano, cello and bass harmonics, the recording has an exceptionally tactile and delicate quality (even for ECM). It also has lots of low end punch and authoritative reed work.
John Ehlis Ensemble/San Carlos- John Tchicai may be the best known player on this disc, but no one musician dominates. The recording at times develops a huge deep soundstage, and mostly has a relaxed, but never boring or formulaic feel. The ensemble uses a wide range of woodwinds, percussion instruments, bass and some gorgeously expansive guitar sounds.
Sylvain Luc/ Trio SUD- Obviously French acoustic guitar/bass/drums trio, at times recalling Django and even Leo Kottke, but there's definitely alot of hard work and discovery that's unique to this trio on both of their records (this one like the discs above shows that digital recordings are getting better).
Scott Colley/ Initial Wisdom- Colley is a great young bass player, I think this is his best so far, it's cracking with energy without seeming chaotic. The quieter passages don't get sappy or cliched and Colley's compositions aren't in any way dwarfed by the Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis tunes covered on this cd.
Joel Harrison/ Transience, this one is alot different than his 3+3=7 disc. On that one guitars and drums were delivering well organized tricks and audio hallucinations that did a good job of challenging the listeners eqilibrium. This is much more serene, (but still pretty warped at times) kind of like a better recorded and more cerebral Clubfoot Orchestra. On alot of the disc, the composition is what gets you. The piano, saxes, bassoon, trombone, bass and drums often make you think this couldn't be a guitar player's record.
There are so dang many great recent recordings that are worth checking out, it could be a full time job to just scratch the surface. Here are a few more that I'm too lazy to keep on inadequately summarizing:
Dave Douglas/The Infinite
Tomaz Stanko/Soul of Things
Jack West/Big Ideas
Eberhard Weber/Endless Days
Fima Ephron/Soul Machine
The Other Quartet/Sound Stains
Hans Fahling Quart./Hamburg
White Widow/(Han Bennink-Mark Helias-Michael Moore)
UMO Jazz Orch./Transit People
Henry Threadgill/Everybodys Mouth's a Book
John Stetch/Heavens of a Hundred Days