Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ten fave jazz albums of 2015 (with promises of more to come)

2015 turned out to be a very eventful and busy year. So much so that I felt it necessary to cut down on many tasks and assignments I have previously performed with at least some sort of regularity, such as posting Listening Notes review updates on this site. It also means that my usual "fave jazz of the year" post is a tad late. Still, I thought what I could was post my ballot -- still more or less my ten favorite jazz albums of the year that was -- for NPR's Jazz Critics Poll, the results of which were announced earlier this December. I hope of following this up with a more comprehensive list early in the new year.

While such rankings may seem like a final judgement of sorts, they are at least in my case far more arbitrary. What differs a number 5 from a number 7, say. Often, very little if anything at all. Still, there was no way to look past the fact that the album in my top spot -- held by the wonderful Welcome Back, a duet record between the pianist Irene Schweizer and drummer Han Bennink in which the two veterans converse with such joy, wit, effortlessness and knowledge through European and American jazz idioms and beyond, with tasteful splashes of South-African melodies and rhythms -- was an album I enjoyed and played more than any other this past year. As for those ranked below, they are all excellent records in their own rights, as are many of those that didn't make the cut this time around (and that I hope to cover in the aforementioned future follow-up post). I don't really have the time to post any further comments on any of these at present, but all save the albums ranked at 9 and 10 have been previously reviewed by me in either Musikkmagasinet or Jazznytt. Though none of them have been translated at present, excerpts and/or pdf-files of the relevant reviews can be made available upon request. Until next year.

  1. Irene Schweizer & Han Bennink, Welcome Back (Intakt)
  2. Kirk Knuffke, Arms & Hands (Royal Potato Family)
  3. Chris Lightcap, Epicenter (Clean Feed)
  4. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls (ACT)
  5. Max Johnson, Something Familiar (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  6. Darius Jones, Le Bebe de Brigitte (AUM Fidelity)
  7. Henry Threadgill, In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi)
  8. Mike Reed, A New Kind of Dance (482 Music)
  9. Gebhard Ullmann, Hat and Shoes (Between the Lines)
  10. James Brandon Lewis, Days of FreeMan (OKeh)

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