Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fave Jazz of 2017 and the 2017 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

The results of the 2017 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, as usual conducted by Francis Davis, were posted on the 20th of December. The winner in what I thought would be a close race from a year with so much great jazz, but no clear consensus recording, turned out to be Vijay Iyer Sextet's Far From Over in something of a landslide. Further proof that Iyer is cementing a place as a universally respected artist. It was one of several excellent albums from what turned out to be a terrific year for jazz in the running for place on my ballot, losing out in the very last minute. Which is to say, on any other day it might have been included, as could a handful of others.

For me as I'm sure for many others, it makes little sense to set a top 10 in stone. Heck, a top 10 itself doesn't really make all that much sense. By the end of a given year, my fave list usually consists of a few -- most often three or four, sometimes less rarely more -- releases that have engaged, enthralled and moved me profoundly in ways that set them apart from all the other great music I might have heard that particular year. After that, there's a selection from a further pile of terrific albums that float in the zone just below. Picking the remaining releases from that stack to create a top 10 is a rather off the cuff exercise, the results depending on several, seemingly haphazard things such as day form, how recently I've heard a particular recording, and so on and so forth.

In any case, my ballot for the 2017 Jazz Critics Poll can be accessed via this link (more specifically on this page: scroll down or do a page search). But for my personal run down of my favorite jazz albums of the year, I'll instead go with the format I have used in recent years, and separate them into a three categories that makes more sense to me. Happy listening, and Happy Holidays!

  • William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen July 3., 2017] -- The New York eminence has achieved similar artistic heights previously, but the juxtaposition of his two celebrated quartets -- one groove focused and bop-tinged, the other more abstract and experimental, with Parker and drummer Hamid Drake's distinctive rhythmic interplay the beating heart of both -- mirrors two sides of Parker's qualities as composer, band leader and musician, providing a rich picture of a remarkable artist in the process. Few if any create avant-jazz this warm, engaging, energetic, burning and soulful as Willim Parker does.
  • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Febrary 27., 2017] -- Angles 9 come at you as a boisterous, mini big band, with poignant melodies, similarly captivating rhythms and deceptively unruly music that mines the tension between sorrow and joy, with winning results.
  • Harriet Tubman (feat. Wadada Leo Smith): Araminta (Sunnyside Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 6., 2017] -- Araminta is at once the most unsettling yet uplifting and powerful collection of music Harriet Tubman have made yet, and one of this year's most gripping listening experiences.
  • Trio 3 (Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman): Visiting Texture (Intakt Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 10., 2017]
  • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 29., 2017]
  • Eric Revis: Sing Me Some Cry (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • AKMEE: Neptun (Nakama Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 19., 2017]
  • Cortex: Avant-Garde Party Music (Clean Feed)[reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, October 16., 2017]
  • Mike Reed, Flesh & Bone (482 Music) [reveiwed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, August 28., 2017]
  • Aki Takase & David Murray: Cherry - Sakura (Intakt Records)
  • Matt Mitchell: A Pouting Grimace (Pi Recordings)
  • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Live In Europe (Clean Feed)
  • Kate Gentile: Mannequins (Skirl Records) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over (ECM) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, September 18., 2017]
  • Nate Wooley: Knknighgh (Minimal Poetry for Aram Saroyan) (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • Team Hegdal: Vol. 4 (Particular Recordings Collective)
  • Alexander Hawkins: Unit[e] (self-released) 
  • Hegge: Vi är ledsna men du får inte längre vara barn (Particular Recordings)
  • Lisa Mezzacappa: avantNOIR (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 20., 2017]
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 6., 2017]
  • Pedro Melo Alves' Omniae Ensemble: Omniae Ensemble (Nischo)
  • Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Fukushima (Libra Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, December 18., 2017]
  • Large Unit: Fluku (PNL) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, December 18., 2017]
  • Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM) 
  • Liza Mezzacappa: Glorious Ravage (self-released)
  • David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York 2010 (AUM Fidelity) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Peace (Libra Records)
  • Pereservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is (Legacy)
  • Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (TUM) [reviewed for Jazznytt #245]
  • CP Unit: Before the Heat Deadth (Clean Feed)
  • Tyshawn Sorey: Versimilitude (Pi Recordings) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, August 21., 2017]
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition: Agrima (self-released) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, November 20., 2017]
  • Roswell Rudd-Fay Victor-Lafayette Harris-Ken Filiano: Embrace (RareNoise) [reviewed for Jazznytt #245]
  • FCT (Francesco Cusa Trio meets Carlo Atti): From Sun Ra to Donald Trump (Clean Feed)
  • Eivind Opsvik Overseas: Overseas V (Loyal Label) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 20., 2017)]
  • Kirk Knuffke: Cherryco (SteepleChase)
  • Atomic: Six Easy Pieces (Odin) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Febrary 27., 2017]
  • Nicole Mitchell and Haki Madhubuti: Liberation Narratives (Black Earth Music)
  • JD Allen: Radio Flyer (Savant) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • Goncalo Almeida-Rodrigo Amado-Marco Franco: The Attic (NoBusiness)
  • Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis (Pi Recordings) 
  • Miguel Zenón: Típico (Miel Music) 
  • Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records) 
  • Max Johnson: In the West (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • Jonas Sjøvåg, Karl Seglem, Sigurd Hole: West Wind Drift (Shipwreckords)
  • Angelica Sanchez Trio: Float the Edge (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #243]
  • Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day Quartet: On Parade in Parede (Clean Feed) 
  • Billy Meier: Introducing... Billy Meier (Just For the Records)
  • The Mess (Brandon Lopez, Chris Corsano, Sam Yulsman): Holy Holy (Tombed Vision Records)
  • Brandon Seabrook: Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis)
  • The Necks: Unfold (Ideologic Organ)
  • Trespass Trio: The Spirit of Pitesti (Clean Feed) 
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Linjedalsleiken (Ponca Jazz Records)
  • Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline) 
  • Roligheten: Homegrown (Clean Feed)
  • The Microscopic Septet: Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues (Cuneiform Records) 
  • Amor Amok: We Know Not What We Do (Intakt Records) 
  • Roots Magic: Last Kind Words (Clean Feed)
  • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise Records)
  • Mind Games: Ephemera Obscura (Slean Feed)
  • Tim Berne's Snakeoil, Incidentals (ECM) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, September 18., 2017]
  • Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk (TUM) [reviewed for Jazznytt #245]
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Audun Kleive: Politur Passiarer (Losen)
  • Ross Hammond: Follow Your Heart (Prescott Recordings)
  • Jeremy Pelt: Make Noise (High Note)
  • Julia Ulehla & Aram Bajakian/Dálava: The Book of Transfigurations (Songlines Recordings)  
  • 1982: Chromola (Hubro)
  • Noah Perminger: Meditations on Freedom (self released)
  • Ahmad Jamal: Marseille (Jazz Village) 
  • Friends & Neighbors: What's Wrong (Clean Feed)
  • Ben Allison: Layers of the City (Sonic Camera Recordings) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
  • Jeremy Pelt: Make Noise! (HighNote)
Reissues and vault music:
  • Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM) 
  • Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Karyobin (Emanem)
  • Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) (Sam Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 8., 2017)
  • Winston Mankunku Ngozi Quartet: Yakhal' Inkomo (Jazzman Holy Grail Series)

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