1. Kanye West- Graduation
I can't disagree with the man- he's "doing pretty good as far as geniuses go."
2. The Frames- The Cost
The stunning video for "People Get Ready" exemplifies the album's exposed Irish nerves.
3. Robert Glasper- In My Element
How do you successfully combine hip hop and jazz? You don't play it. You imply it.
4. White Stripes- Icky Thump
The Houses of the Holy have been relocated to Michigan.
5. UGK- Underground Kingz
Like Houston in July, it's sprawling, steamy and imbued with a nasty funk. Farewell, Pimp C.
6. Jay-Z- American Gangster
Hova touches down in the holy era of classic soul.
7. Wynton Marsalis- From the Plantation To the Penitentiary
An angry Wynton is an entertaining Wynton.
8. Alison Krauss- A Hundred Miles Or More
She's never more convincing than when she's selling out.
9. OK Jones- Elephantoms
I disagree with almost all of fellow music scribe Richard Gintowt's opinions, but I'm in complete accord with every nuance of his music.
10. Kenny Wayne Shepherd- 10 Days Out: Blues From the Backroads
Don't mock this pick before you've viewed the video of the project's opening song. The kid stays out of the way of Cootie Stark, Neal "Big Daddy" Pattman, Etta Baker, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, David "Honeyboy" Edwards and several other elder statesman. 10 Days Out is a completely unexpected treasure.
11. Spanish Harlem Orchestra- United We Swing
The definition of joy.
12. Mac Lethal- 11:11
"I hate your boyfriend!"
13. Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner- Ojos Negros
It comes across far better in ECM's studios, but here's a taste of the duet's sublime art.
14. The Bad Plus- Prog
The future of jazz? Fine by me.
15. Caetano Veloso- Ce
16. The Nels Cline Singers- Draw Breath
Bring the noise.
17. Tinariwen- Aman Iman
You want soul music? Start here.
18. Autumn Defense- Autumn Defense
The modest throwback to '70s country-rock is charming.
19. Lil Flip- I Need Mine
I vividly recall the exact moment I fully embraced the music of today's thugs. Darn right, I was scared. Still am.
20. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
I'm shocked that this doesn't resonate more deeply with me. (I think it's somehow connected to my loathing of Bruce's Magic.)
21. David Witham- Spinning the Circle
Jazz was once surprising, funny and compelling. With Witham, it still is. Try
22. Mark Olson- The Salvation Blues
The roots icon is battered, bruised and humbled, as detailed in this stark video.
23. Alicia Keys- As I Am
It might not happen until Joe Henry produces her in 2031, but Keys will eventually make my favorite album of all time. Until then, I'll consider As I Am's best moments a preview.
24. Pendergast- Between the Bottle and the Pulpit
Their roots-rock sound may be out of favor, but the Kansas City band's true grit will sustain.
25. Angelique Kidjo- Djin Djin
The most commercially calculated album on my list was made by a diminutive 47-year-old Beninese woman. I loved 2007!
Can't get enough? My favorite 25 songs of 2007 are here. My favorite 25 shows of 2007 are here. And the Top 10 lists of dozens of Kansas City residents are posted at the Star's music blog.