Runners Up: Christabel and the Jons, Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Wes Lunsford Trio
Or, that is to say, any band that includes Donald Brown in it. Originally from Memphis, East Tennessee’s best-known jazz pianist is a former member of Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers, with several albums of his own (hear Piano Short Stories) and has been a familiar figure in town for 20-odd years, giving us reason to wonder why we deserve one of the great living jazz pianists in our midst. Lately he’s been playing regular free (!) shows at the S&W Grand on Saturday nights, with a small bebopish combo and guest vocalists sitting in. He’s also the star of the recent local-jazz compilation Tenors and Satin.