Friday, February 03, 2017

Fave Jazz Recordings of 2016

Below you'll find my picks of the best jazz recordings of 2016. A tad late, I'll concede, especially considering some publications seem to think the year ends in November. Then again, even those of us who write about music professionally come across gems that for whatever reason had slipped us by way into the following year and beyond. I'll also once again note that the past year was an eventful one for me personally speaking, so I did not get to play as much music as I normally would and will have to play catch-up on several notable and/or hyped releases for a while yet. Still, with a good few 2017 recordings having been moved to the front of the listening queue already, I felt this was as good a point as any to post a 2016 list. You may also want to have a look at my NPR Jazz Critics Poll ballot, which I posted in late December.

2016 may have been a rough year on several fronts, but musically there was a lot to be elated by, such as Steve Lehman's Sélébéyone, the powerful beyond jazz-and-hip hop meeting ground that more than any other project proved it is more fruitful to ignore boundaries than to build walls between them. Then there was veteran trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quintet who conjured up America's National parks in their vast expanse and minute details, with stirring bluesy undertones. Mary Halvorson took another step as a composer and set up intriguing interplay between her often angular guitar patterns with steel guitarist Susan Alcorn's gliding lines, plus long time compatriots John Hébert and Ches Smith returning by her side. And that's just three of the many intriguing jazz albums I heard last year. Here's the list (an asterisk denotes I've had a review of the recording published) 

The 15 best, more or less in order of preference:
  • Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Sélbéyone (Pi Rcordings) *
  • Wadada Leo Smith Golden Quintet: America's National Parks (Cuneiform)
  • Mary Halvorson Octet: Away With You (Firehouse 12)
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Anna Högberg Attack (Omlott)
  • Jane Ira Bloom: Early Americans (Outline) *
  • Roswell Rudd, Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn, Balázs Pándi: Strength & Power (RareNoise)
  • Damana (Dag Magnus Narvesen Octet): Cornua Copiae (Clean Feed)
  • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (Rogue Art) *
  • Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance (ECM) *
  • James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter (BNS Sessions)
  • Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Otis Was a Polar Bear Roayl Potato Family)
  • Aruán Ortiz Trio: Hidden Voices (Intakt Records) *
  • Greg Ward & Ten Tongues: Touch My Beloved's Thought (Greenleaf Music) *
  • Murray, Allen, Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motema Music)
  • Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi Recordings)
15 more on heavy rotation:
  • Peter Brötzmann, William Parker, Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale (CD version, Otorku) *
  • Eric Revis Trio: Crowded Solitudes (Clean Feed) *
  • Jason Roebke Octet: Cineman Spiral (NoBusiness Records) *
  • Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio: Desire & Freedom (Not Two)
  • Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Yellow Red Blue (Paintbox)
  • Cortex: Live in New York (Clean Feed) *
  • Marylin Crispell, Gary Peacock, Richard Poole: In Motion (Intakt)
  • Gutbucket: Dance (Gut Records)
  • Bennett / Johnston/ Mezzacappa / Rosaly: Shipwreck 4 (NoBusiness Records) *
  • Nick Fraser Quartet: Starer (self-released)
  • Moskus: Ulv Ulv (Hubro) *
  • Tyshawn Sorey Double Trio: The Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi Recordings)
  • Julie Kjær 3: Dobbeltgænger (Clean Feed)
  • Rich Halley 5:  The Outlier (Pine Eagle Recordings)
  • Nate Wooley, Hugo Antunes, Jorge Queijo, Mário Costa, Chris Corsano: Purple Patio (NoBusiness Records)
Other notable recordings I thoroughly enjoyed:
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Sedimental You (Clean Feed)
  • JD Allen: Americana (Savant Records)
  • Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (Clean Feed)
  • Harald Lassen & LAB Trio: Rainbow Session (Hagen Recordings)
  • I.P.A.: I Just Did Say Something (Cuneiform) *
  • Rønnings Jazzmaskin: Jazzmaskin! (Losen Records)
  • Rudy Royston Trio: Rise of Orion (Greenleaf Music)
  • Kenny Barron Trio: Book of Intuition (Impulse/Universal) *
  • Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense: Moving Still (Pi Recordings)
  • Momentum: Momentum (Clean Feed)
  • Festen: Festen (Clean Feed) *
  • No Project Trio: Vol. II (FMR Records)
  • Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Real Enemies (New Amsterdam)
  • Jeff Lederer's Brooklyn Blowhards: Brooklyn Blowhards (Little (i) Music)
  • Hanna Paulsberg Quartet: Eastern Smiles (Odin) *
  • Fail Better: OWT (NoBusiness Records)
  • Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM) *
  • Nakama: Most Intimate (Nakama Records)
  • Thomas Borgmann, Max Johnson, Willi Kellers: One For Cisco (NoBusiness Records)
  • Matt Brewer: Unspoken (Criss Cross)
  • Mats Eilertsen: Rubicon (ECM)
  • David Helbock Trio: Into the Mystic (ACT)
  • Monkey Plot: Here I Sit, Knowing All of This (Hubro) *
  • Protean Reality: Protean Reality (Clean Feed) *
  • Avishai Cohen: Into the Silence (ECM)

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...