• Sidsel Endresen and Stian Westerhus

In my experience the typical path for jazz and improvised-music artists is to start out by experimenting and then, as they find their voices, solidify their practice—which in many cases means becoming more conventional, or at least more predictable. Norwegian singer Sidsel Endresen stands that template on its head. She became an international figure in the early 90s with a couple of beautiful albums for ECM that wedded folk-jazz a la Joni Mitchell to wide-open spaces, moody improvisation—trumpeter Nils-Petter Molvaer was part of her band then—and ruminative melody. That music holds up well today, but I wouldn’t call it challenging.