Sunday, 4 December 2016

Top Ten of 2016 10-5

Ooh! It's that difficult time of year when I have to try and condense a whole year's worth of new releases into a top  10. 2016 is perhaps more difficult than it's been in the past because of the plethora of new releases that have surged into the in-box at Phonic.FM. Like previous years I'm going to cheat and add a 'bubbling under' album for each of the two posts I make, but unlike other years I'm going to maker it a 10 to 1 choice. Get ready to quibble!

10. "Evidential" - Mike Hobart.

I often wonder when new albums arrive whether they'll live up to the 'blurb' that publicists so often use to hype up the product. This album exceeds anything that I had expected, and is a  good example of how 'new' British jazz is going through such a good phase. There are no histrionics, just straight ahead playing with strong material and great arrangements. The album was produced by Derek Nash who made it onto my "albums of 2015" list, and is well worth seeking out to listen to. Continued listening hasn't diminished its power.

9. "Heritage" - Richard Bona.

Multi-instrumentalist Bona has brought together an Afro-Cuban band of great power and versatility and written some great material which bounces along with a strong horn section and three percussion players which include Bona himself. The album melds the African roots with a definite Cuban sensibility with the whole album looking towards the 'heritage' that is the title. This could be the antidote to post-Christmas lethargy.

 8. " Blues and Ballads" - Brad Mehldau Trio.

Brad Mehldau is a prolific recorder of material and he's graced several albums as a sides-man during 2016, but in a trio format with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums he's left to extemporise across a range of different tunes which originally appeared in a variety of musical styles. He tackles Lennon and McCartney (And I love her) Charlie Parker (Cheryl) and my favourite, Buddy Johnson's "Since I fell for you". This is not a get up and grab you by the throat album, but one that gradually gives more and more with repeated listenings.

7. "Blackwater" - Henrik Jensen's followed by Thirteen.

Probably my favourite gig on the year was this band in Ashburton. It helps that bass player Jensen was able to gather together the band that is on the album and gets luminary help from Esben Tjalve on piano ( his first solo album is expected in early 2017) Andre Canniere on trumpet and flugelhorn (of which more later!) and the extraordinary Antonio Fusco on drums. The compositions range across a number of different styles, but the playing and togetherness of the band is quite notable. If you haven't yet caught up with this Jellymould release it's a situation you ought to rectify quickly.

6. "All about melody" - Russell Malone.

Anyone who listens to the show must know that Russell Malone is one of my favourite guitar players and this album, on High Note is an excellent example of what he does well, that is to say play some consummate guitar backed by a band that are familiar with his work and style and back him superbly. The material is from a wide range of sources from Sonny Rollins "Nice lady" Freddie Hubbard's "One the real side" and Bob Brookmeyer's "Jive Hoot" as well as just one self composition and the traditional "He's gone away" Listened to a lot since its release.

5. "Out of the Sky" - John Etheridge & Vimala Rowe

 The simplest of concepts. A man who plays the guitar and a woman who sings. This, however, transcends all of that because John Etheridge is an ethereal guitar stylist who I think is vastly under-represented in recorded form and a lady whose voice is an excellent foil to what Etheridge does. This is not to belittle Vimala Rowe, who if the publicity is to be believed simply asked Etheridge of perform with her (or was it the other way round?). However it happened, this is just superb.

One that missed the cut:

Crimson: Delta Saxophone Quartet -

I love this album.  Gwilym Simcock  arranged a set of King Crimson originals for a saxophone quartet, and adds his own edge to an eclectic choice of Crimso originals, with two from my favourite album "Starless and Bible Black". It's not recorded what Robert Fripp thought of this, but I hope he's delighted by what they've done. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next and I'm only sorry that this missed the top 10 at the last moment.

So there are albums ten to five. Four to one, and two more 'near misses' are the subject of the blog I'll post next week.

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