Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Fifteen to nine - The Edge of Jazz Top 15 albums 2017 (Part One)

These albums aren't in any particular order (although the #1 is an outstanding disc)

"Together as one" - Dinosaur.

Amazing even the band themselves,this became a Mercury Prize nomination. Although  Laura Jurd's previous work has been outstanding, this band seems to have finally given her a context in which to frame  her trumpet playing. This is not to detract from the other members of the band who play an integral part of what they set out to do. Infused with sometimes unexpected electronica this laid down a direction for what happens next.

"Meet Lionel Loueke" - Vampires.

Having been aware of what the Vampires had done in the past the band had given no indication that given the eclectic support of Lionel Loueke they would be able to produce anything so satisfying. The album fuses their antipodean roots to Loueke's African inspired playing. The result was a pot pouri of a broad series of styles and influences, and an obvious delight in each others playing. You'd never guess that this was a one-off album that you can only hope gets repeated in another outing sometime in the future.

"Isang" - Camilla George Quartet.

There seems to have been quite a number of fusion albums this year where there has bee a coming together of a whole series of different cultural reference points and some excellent composing. This is one of the best of the genre. Not only because of Camilla George's Sax playing but  also because it's
performed by a band who have bonded together to become more than the sum of their parts, especially the outstanding piano playing of Sarah Tandy.

"Stretch Music" - Christian Scott.

The re-appearance on the vinyl album. 2017 had the unexpected bonus of record companies starting to provide 12" slabs of black vinyl again. This is one of two albums that will appear in this category. It's not really clear when Scott recorded this magnificent set, but remarkable because of his delightful trumpet playing set against a range of different musical genres. I saw him play this year (jaw dropping and nothing like the Miles Davis sound-alike tag that he undeservedly picked up). A magnificent treat - especially when played loud!

"Up and coming" - John Abercrombie.

It's difficult to describe Abercrombie's style of playing, laid back hardly nails it. What marks this set out as being so good is the comfort of the group work. I can't remember whether this is the first set with Marc Copeland on piano but he adds a counterpoint to where Abercrombie wants to go. The whole album is great, but I especially like the great reading of Miles Davis's "Nardis"

"Landed in Brooklyn" - Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr.

Whoever decided to record the brothers in the US with an all star backing band provided an album that I've played an awful lot. They provide trumpet (Julian) and piano (Roman) and all the tunes, but get stellar help from their US support - especially Donny McCaslin who turned up on all sorts of albums during the course of the year (including his own solo effort). It's a rich fusion of their German roots and the influence of being in America. Some really strong tracks ( try SNCF)

"Aytche" - Joseph Shabason.

I know nothing much about Shabason - whose name I have mercilessly mis-spelt during the year. The album is a jazz ambient fusion. However, describing it thus barely does it justice. I would guess that it's minimalist sound has as much to do with scarcity of resources as anything else but its flow and nuance makes it highly listenable. In fact, now that I've sat down to write about it I can do no better than put it on the turntable and play it again. Left field and highly recommended.

The remaining eight will follow next week!

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