The top 10 must-have jazz CDs of ’16
Here’s my Top 10 list for 2016. This year’s selections were taken from CDs (still hanging in there!) and vinyl (who would’ve seen that coming 20 years ago?) as well as streaming, Bandcamp and downloads from helpful people in the music industry. It’s getting harder to navigate the depths of sound being made available. Is there such a thing as too much music? Not a chance. Check out the 4th Annual NPR Jazz Critics Poll at NPR.org, where this list was included, to see the results from more than 140 writers from around the USA.
Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio, “Perfection”
(Motema). There was a time when it seemed like tenor saxophonist David Murray was releasing an album every week. He’s slowed down the output significantly in recent years, and now nearly everything he sends out to the world is a stunner. This collaboration with pianist Geri Allen and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is everything superior jazz should be: exciting, heartfelt, inventive … this is one release whose title is not hyperbole.
Mary Halvorson Octet, “Away With You”
(Firehouse 12 Records). Halvorson makes superb recordings because her compositions are as compelling as her twisted guitar vocabulary. She’s one of the premier sonic creators of the age. Don’t miss out.
Steve Lehman, Selebeyone
(Pi). Avant-Jazz and Senegalese rap merge brilliantly, thanks to an artist dedicated to forging exhilarating new paths.
Jack DeJohnette, “In Movement”
(ECM). DeJohnette’s drums interact with the offspring of two members from the classic John Coltrane Quartet – saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (one of his solos here was just nominated for a Grammy) and bassist Matthew Garrison, yielding an hour of spiritual magic.
Anthony Braxton, “3 Compositions”
(EEMHM) 2011 (Firehouse 12 Records). The highly imaginative composer and saxophonist simultaneously released three box sets in 2016. This set employs his most expressive collaborators and fresh layers of technology to forge some of his most beguiling music ever.
Hearts & Minds, “Hearts & Minds”
(Astral Spirits). Chicago’s Jason Stein (bass clarinet, comedian Amy Schumer’s older brother) appeared on numerous recordings this year, but this quirky, noisy trio date is the one I returned to the most.
Sao Paulo Underground, “Cantos Invisiveis”
(Cuneiform Records). Another artist who releases large quantities of sound every year, trumpeter Rob Mazurek’s “world music” fusion project can border on the otherworldly. This is a glorious blowout all the way through.
(Out-Line). Bloom’s latest trio date proves once again she is among the finest living practitioners of the unwieldy soprano sax. George Coleman, “A Master Speaks”
(Smoke Sessions Records). This octogenarian-tenor saxophonist and Miles Davis alumnus records too infrequently. This graceful set is one of the warmest recordings of the year.
(Northern Spy). A fearless free jazz piano-drums duo, just like they did it in the ’60s – but the recording quality is better now.
Reissues: Larry Young, “In
Paris, The ORTF Recordings”
(Resonance Records); Count Basie And Lester Young, “Classic 1936-1947 Count Basie And Lester Young Studio Sessions” (Mosaic); Cherry-Tchicai-Schweizer-Francioli-Favre, “Musical Monsters” (Intakt Records). In person: Katie Glassman
and present their annual Winter Swing Show at Dazzle on Dec. 11, and tenor sax master Houston Person appears there Dec. 16-17 … Denver’s Dotsero will play their holiday show at the Soiled Dove Underground on Dec. 16 … pianist Annie Booth appears at Nocturne on Dec. 17.