Friday, December 20, 2019

Fave music (i.e. mostly jazz/"jazz") of 2019

I've often been wary of posting year-end favorites until sometime into the new year, mainly since from experience something interesting invariably pops up at later dates that demands my consideration. Be that a late release that hits the sweet spot, or something that has flown under ones radar, the latter being an example of why -- in spite of the many groans they inspire -- I still find year-end lists useful: something might pique your interests when it's placed among other stuff you admire picked by a person whose taste you trust.

Whether I am to be trusted or not I'll leave up to you to decide. In any case, as years have gone by I've become less stressed out that such list should somehow be final. They are, for me, a report of how things stand at the time it is posted. And on that note, if you arrive at this list after the personal ballots for the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, in which I voted, have been published, and something doesn't quite square with my ballot, that's because this list has been posted at a later date and for whatever reason, something felt slightly different this time around. That said, even if album X placed slightly higher than Y on one compared to the other, chances are I still like them both a hell of a lot.

With that out of the way, here's a list of my favorite jazz and jazz adjacent albums released over the past year or so, stopping at 40 because I have to stop somewhere. Plus, with an additional list consisting 10 fave "other" releases, that makes 50.

The best of the best:
  • James Brandon Lewis: An UnRuly Manifsto (Relative Pitch Records)
  • Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (Moserobie Music Production) 
  • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys a Record (ODIN)
  • Anna Webber: Clockwise (Pi Recordings)
On heavy rotation:
  • Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (Firehouse Records)
  • Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (Clean Feed)
  • Emmeluth's Amoeba: Chimaera (Øra Fonogram)
  • Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (Budapest Music Center Records) 
  • Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi Recordings) 
  • Federico Ughi: Transoceanico (577 Records)
  • Matt Brewer w/Mark Shim and Damion Reid: Ganymede (Criss Cross Jazz)
  • Dave Rempis, Brandon Lopes & Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic Records)
  • Gebhard Ullmann: mikroPULS (Intuition Records)
  • DKV & Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time (6CD, Catalytic Sound)
  • jaimie branch: FLY or DIE II: bird dogs of paradise (Internaional Anthem)
  • Nature Work (Jason Stein/Greg Ward/Eric Revis/Jim Black): Nature Work (Sunnyside) 
 Thoroughly enjoyed:
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance (Gearbox Records)
  • Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (Birdwatcher Records)
  • Tomeka Reid Quartet: Old New (Cuneiform Records)
  • The Big Yes: The Big Yes (Nakama Records) 
  • Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (The Royal Potato Family)
  • Rich Halley Quartet: Terra Incognita (Pine Eagle Records)
  • Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi Recordings)
  • Petter Eldh: Petter Eldh Presents Koma Saxo (We Jazz)
  • The Attic (Rodrigo Amado, Goncalo Almeida, Onno Govaert): Summer Bummer (NoBusiness
  • The Big Yes: The Big Yes (Nakama Records) 
  • Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic Records)
  • Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction (Out Of Your Head Records)
  • Junius Paul: Ism (International Anthem
  • William Parker/In Order to Survive: Live/ShapeShifter (AUM Fidelity)
  • Fire! Orchestra: Arrival (Rune Grammofon)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi Recordings)
  • Somersaults (Tobias Delius / Olie Brice / Mark Sanders): Numerology of Birdsong (West Hill Records)
  • Fredrik Ljungkvist Trio: Atlantis (Moserobie Music Productions)
  • Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research: Impromptus and Other Short Works (WhyPlayJazz)
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It... (Clean Feed)
  • Aila Trio: Aila Trio (Hoo-Ha Recordings)
  • Nick Mazzarella Trio: Counterbalance (Astral Spirits)
  • Christian Meaas Svendsen + Nakama + Rinzai Zen Center Oslo: New Rituals (Nakama)
  • Burton Greene / Damon Smith / Ra Kalam Bob Moses: Life's Intense Mystery (Astral Spirits)
  • Griot Galaxy: Kins (Third Man Records)
  • Clifford Jordan: Glass Bead Games (Purple Pleasure Records)
  • The Quintet: Events: 1998-1999(PNL) [Disclaimer: I wrote liner notes for this release]
  • Detail: Day Two (NoBusiness Records)
  • Sam Rivers: Emanation (NoBusiness Records)

Non-jazz releases:
  • Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel (Thrill Jockey)
  • Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (Drag City)
  • Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel (Partisan) 
  • Little Simz: GREY Area (Age 101)
  • Ekiti Sound: Abeg No Vex (Crammed Disc)
  • Eddy Current Suppression Ring: All In Good Time (Castle Face)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (Intercscope)
  • Broen: Do You See the Falling Leaves (Su Tissue)
  • black midi: Schlangenheim (Rough Trade)
  • Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! (Jagjaguwar)

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