Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Top ten albums of 2015 (continued!)

"Symbiosis" Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio:

One of the constantly under estimated talents on the British jazz scene, Rollins has produced a series of albums that merit attention. This 2015 selection is a terrific example of both solo-ing and a group playing together who have a complete understanding of what Rollins, as leader, is trying to do and showcases his trombone playing really well. If you get an opportunity to see this band on the road - take it!

"New Ansonia" Misha Mullov-Abbado:

Abbado is the bass player on this album, but it's a real group effort, with Tom Green counterpointing the alto sax playing of Matthew Herd. All the tracks are his own compositions except for the version of Earth Wind & Fire's "September" and they are terrific. The album was co-produced by Julian Joseph and it's difficult not to hope that a follow-up happens sooner, rather than later.

"All in" Beats and Pieces Big Band":

This 13 piece band not only managed to produce this album, but also toured with it. It's a regret that I didn't get to see them because the album is such a splendid example of just how good British Jazz is in 2015. There's a huge variety of styles on the album and Ben Cottrell who is named as 'Director' manages to allow space for a goodly amount of solo-ing, as well as some really great ensemble playing. It's out on the Efpi label, and is well worth hunting down.

"Floating Points" Elaenia:

  An album that appeared with some help from the Momentum Music Fund through the Arts Council of Great Britain. It straddles a range of what used to be called 'styles' but in the 21st century could be described as classical jazz electronica- but even that doesn't do it justice. It's this years left field choice on the list, and is largely the work of Sam Shepherd with help from a whole diversity of sources.  So no apologies for it making the top ten, it's an album that I've listened to consistently since I got it, and fits a plethora of moods.

"Strata" Ivo Neame:

If you're familiar with his existing back catalogue you'll find this an album that pushes the boundaries further out. Neame is joined by an interesting array of musicians including vibes player Jim Hart and sax player Tori Freestone. The result is a mixture of the unexpected all based on strong tunes all written by Neame himself. It's a fascinating expansion of boundaries, an indication of even more exciting work to come and is a very satisfying and enjoyable album.

So you think that's the end?

Shocked by the fact that there's not an American in sight in the top ten (John Scofield nearly made it!) I'm allowing myself an eleventh, which is actually a bit of a cheat. I have a friend called Ian who travels extensively abroad (and I mean extensively!) and is kind enough to bring me back CD's he's browsed, usually in transit lounges, but this next one I didn't get 'til this year, although it was probably released on the German 'Pirouet'  label in 2014 It's thoroughly recommended;

"Ramshackle Serenade"  Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart:

Comfort music if you like, but a trio that are so clearly at ease with each others playing that it mixes up some seamless self compositions with other tracks by artists as diverse as Horace Silver and Antonio Carlos Jobim. They all allow each other space to develop solidly constructed solo's. I have no idea whether it's readily available in this country or not, but it is worth seeking out.

That's it then! 2015 in eleven albums that have consistently blown me away, and probably bear no relation to any other top 10 albums of the year - but hey! It's my list. Enjoy!

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