Ten Recordings of 2009 The year in jazz: Wrapping up the Top

By Neil Tesser from Chicago Jazz Music Examiner
December 2009

#1 – Pierre Dørge & New Jungle Orchestra, Whispering Elephants (SteepleChase). Three decades after establishing his New Jungle Orchestra, the Danish guitarist Pierre Dørge continues to ply the same unlikely mix of West African rhythms, tunes inspired by Ellington and Monk, rambunctious horn arrangements, and his own kora-influenced guitar – and yet he never runs out of fresh ideas or infectious novelty. Novelty alone wouldn’t cut it, though. Dørge has continually refreshed his creative wellspring by opening himself to other world-music inspiration (including music of China and the Middle East) as well as that of the Chicago avant-garde, and the music here exhibits further depth and expansion of his basic concept. As usual, Dørge wrote almost all the tunes on this, the NJO’s best album in several years – engrossing, witty, and transportive. And if you can’t also smile to this music, you should check for botox poisoning. (Though copyrighted 2008, this album actually arrived at the very beginning of 2009, which is why it qualifies here.)