Jazzwise Top 20 Jazz Albums of 2015

If a learned friend informed you a year ago, dear readers, that the album of 2015 might possibly be a triple concept album by a previously unknown artist who insisted on giving the whole shebang a title so toweringly grand and top heavy it would have had the Trade Descriptions Act office crawling all over it, you would have been on the phone immediately booking said learned friend into the Priory for a somewhat extended stay. Or maybe just wrote their blatherings off as another of Kanye West’s latest god-like delusions. But 12 months is a long time in the jazz game and yesterday’s flights of fancy can be today’s building blocks of the future. Welcome then to LA-based saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s debut triple album, The Epic: a gloriously expansive, sense-tickling spiritual jazz masterpiece encompassing three CDs, 17 tunes, a 10-piece band, a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-piece choir and 172 action packed minutes (count’em) that had writer Kevin Le Gendre awarding it a 4 star recommended accolade when he reviewed it in the May issue. And judging by the colossal amount of votes the album racked up in our critics poll, he wasn’t the only writer whose block was severely rocked. The Epic is that rare thing. A brand new, musically and conceptually rich work that arrived unheralded out of leftfield and grabbed the almost universal attention of the jazz world’s forward looking brethren. An album firmly rooted in jazz’s deepest traditions that scopes out the future with brio and brain. A hugely, heart-warmingly encouraging portent in this age of shrinking CD sales and diminishing attention spans, and yes, it’s available as a triple vinyl set too. Well, what are you waiting for… Jon Newey, Editor in Chief

kamasiKamasi Washington The Epic

Brainfeeder 

Moving from hard swing to funk to some of the digital age sensibilities scoped out by Thundercat, this is an album of progressive present day thinking that willfully acknowledges its debt to the past, as befits the ongoing relationship between the two. So if there is a sample of a Malcolm X speech it is relevant to the current political debate: There’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim. There is something very right about the premise and execution of this work. (Kevin Le Gendre)

 

schneiderMaria Schneider Orchestra The Thompson Fields 

Artist Share 

This album is both profound and memorable. Schneider, who delights in breaking open the rigid structure of cyclical forms in jazz with writing that explores theme, variation, development and recapitulation is also a master of shifting tonal densities – one glance at the doubles the reed section have to contend with, plus a brass section all doubling on flugel horns, means some of the tone colours she dreams up are breathtaking. (Stuart Nicholson) 

 

loosetubesLoose Tubes Arriving 

Lost Marble

Here’s the highly-anticipated third and final instalment in the ‘live’ trilogy of recordings from Loose Tubes’ farewell residency at Ronnie Scott’s in 1990. Following on from Dancing on Frith Street in 2010 and Säd Afrika in 2012, the new CD Arriving comes with a few unexpected bonus tracks that wouldn’t have figured in the series’ curator Django Bates’ initial plans for the set. It’s a very significant addition: they’re compositions commissioned by BBC Radio 3 from the already legendary Ronnie’s 30th anniversary comeback residency last year by the newly-resurrected Loose Tubes. Although they seem to mark the end of the reconciliation, the title Arriving suggests otherwise; Loose Tubes could, let’s hope, be around for a while yet. With eight further gems from the original Tubes repertoire, the band’s musical palette is as idiomatically broad as its musicians were diverse. If you’ve got the first two CDs then this one’s a no brainer. But listening to both 1990 and 2014 versions, it becomes clear that this is one reunion that isn’t just dependent on celebrating past glories. (Selwyn Harris) 

 

Charles LloydCharles Lloyd Wild Man Dance

Blue Note

This is a truly memorable album; perhaps the finest of Lloyd’s career and destined to become a classic. This remarkable sixpiece suite was commissioned by the Jazztopad Festival in Wrocław, Poland and was recorded at the piece’s premiere. It marks a memorable return to the Blue Note label for whom Lloyd last recorded in 1985. The addition of Sinopoulos and Lukács subtly alter the sonic ambience of the saxophone quartet, their presence adding mystery and gravitas, while Cleaver emerges as a superb colourist as well as time-keeper, perfectly framing Lloyd’s lyrical flights. (Stuart Nicholson)

 

RudreshRudresh Mahanthappa Bird Calls

ACT

Each piece represents an examination of Charlie Parker’s legacy in the here and now in a “detailed and holistic way”. Mahanthappa’s unselfconscious drawing on musical tradition of the Carnatic music of South India during his improvisations adds a degree of colour and the unexpected. This blend of the local and the global (yes, Parker’s music went global in the 1940s thanks to the gramophone record) is what makes this take on Parker wholly original and absorbing. (Stuart Nicholson)

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Dave Holland and Evan Parker line-up for Vortex Fundraiser ahead of new album

Dave Holland and Evan Parker line-up for…

Two of British jazz's biggest names – former Miles Davis...

Read More.....
Get The Blessing’s ‘Bristopolis’, Dame Evelyn Glennie and Pee Wee Ellis for Bristol Jazz & Blues Fest

Get The Blessing’s ‘Bristopolis’, Dame E…

The programme for the sixth edition of the Bristol Jazz...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine, Zara McFarlane and Evan Parker added to full Cheltenham Jazz Fest line-up

Courtney Pine, Zara McFarlane and Evan P…

The full programme has been revealed for this year's edition...

Read More.....
Daring Dutch drummers Han Bennink and Joost Lijbaart for UK dates

Daring Dutch drummers Han Bennink and Jo…

Heavyweight Dutch jazz bands Quartet NL and Under the Surface...

Read More.....
GoGo Penguin bring the beats to the Roundhouse

GoGo Penguin bring the beats to the Roun…

GoGo Penguin, the Blue Note-signed Manchester piano trio whose fusion...

Read More.....
Sugimoto Activity Surge: Studio News and UK Dates

Sugimoto Activity Surge: Studio News and…

Phantasm of fragmentary restraint, Japanese guitarist Taku Sugimoto, jostles with...

Read More.....
Vula Viel electrify Elgar Room

Vula Viel electrify Elgar Room

What do Swaledale in North Yorkshire and Western Ghana have...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine heads-up Jazz For Labour in Leatherhead

Courtney Pine heads-up Jazz For Labour i…

Having blown up a storm at the inaugural 2015 Jazz...

Read More.....
Andrew McCormack's Graviton Hit The Ground Running At Ronnie's

Andrew McCormack's Graviton Hit The Grou…

  The acoustic at Soho's iconic venue changes quite considerably according...

Read More.....
Jaimie Branch, Moor Mother and Jeff Parker Among the Acts at Austin's Sonic Transmissions Fest

Jaimie Branch, Moor Mother and Jeff Park…

  Texan Templars of outlier audio releases, Astral Spirits, have combined...

Read More.....
Zakir Hussain Crosscurrents, Parliament-Funkadelic, Tony Allen, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia announced for Love Supreme

Zakir Hussain Crosscurrents, Parliament-…

The first tranche of names to appear across the Love...

Read More.....
Saxophonist Roberts Braves The Outlands

Saxophonist Roberts Braves The Outlands

US saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts, arguably best known for...

Read More.....
Helena Kay leads Women In Jazz celebration at 100 Club

Helena Kay leads Women In Jazz celebrati…

Ella, Nina, Billie, Dee Dee – figures so distinguished that...

Read More.....
Alex Hitchcock/Tom Barford Quartet's Twin Tenor Frontline Fires At The Verdict

Alex Hitchcock/Tom Barford Quartet's Twi…

The twin tenors tradition has a long history, stretching back...

Read More.....
Award-winning bassist Gary Crosby OBE recovering following a stroke

Award-winning bassist Gary Crosby OBE re…

Jazzwise received this statement from Trudy Lister of Tomorrow's Warriors...

Read More.....
Clark Tracey and Brotherhood of Breath - The Music Of Chris McGregor Among The Manifold Delights At South Coast Jazz Fest

Clark Tracey and Brotherhood of Breath -…

Last week saw the highly successful South Coast Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Caine Sprouts Chamber Music Chomps At Ambitious Brussels Fest

Caine Sprouts Chamber Music Chomps At Am…

  One of the Brussels Jazz Festival's best gigs came three days...

Read More.....
Nubya Garcia, Maisha and Triforce surf new wave of UK jazz at We Out Here album launch

Nubya Garcia, Maisha and Triforce surf n…

Like all the best creative scenes, London's emergent and youthful...

Read More.....
Høiby And Kinch Lead Brits Charge At Brussels Jazz Fest

Høiby And Kinch Lead Brits Charge At Bru…

There were three dominant artist groupings during the Brussels Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Video Premiere: Fire! Take Hold With 'The Hands'

Video Premiere: Fire! Take Hold With 'Th…

Check out Martin Malm’s psychotropic Brakhage-influenced flicks for ‘The Hands’...

Read More.....
Earth, Wind & Fire confirmed for Love Supreme Jazz Festival 2018

Earth, Wind & Fire confirmed for Lov…

The organisers of this year's sixth edition of the Love...

Read More.....
Simon H Fell: Raggedy And Rhapsodic At Kings Place

Simon H Fell: Raggedy And Rhapsodic At K…

The image that graces the souvenir booklet of Kings Place's...

Read More.....
Theon Cross and Shirley Tetteh join Courtney Pine for Inner City Ensemble

Theon Cross and Shirley Tetteh join Cour…

Following the announcement that multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney...

Read More.....
Paul Towndrow presents Charlie Parker with Strings for Glasgow concert series

Paul Towndrow presents Charlie Parker wi…

Fresh interpretations of the landmark Charlie Parker with Strings recordings...

Read More.....
Hugh Masekela (04/04/1939 – 23/01/2018)

Hugh Masekela (04/04/1939 – 23/01/2018)

As South Africa continues its development in the post-apartheid era...

Read More.....
South Coast Jazz Festival Crests The Big Wave

South Coast Jazz Festival Crests The Big…

  Now in its fourth year, the South Coast Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Julian Lage brings Appalachian jazz apocalypse to Pizza Express

Julian Lage brings Appalachian jazz apoc…

Perhaps it's a canny coincidence that's there's a tune on...

Read More.....
Marlene Verplanck 1933-2018

Marlene Verplanck 1933-2018

  On stage, Marlene Verplanck stood quite still, diminutive and always...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet burn at New York’s Winter Jazzfest

Sons of Kemet burn at New York’s Winter …

Winter Jazzfest is a big deal in New York City...

Read More.....
Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet captivate at Kings Place

Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quart…

The conventions of a jazz performance are so well established...

Read More.....
Baptiste Curates Capital Coltrane Day

Baptiste Curates Capital Coltrane Day

Award-winning saxophonist and Jazzwise 2017 end-of-year-chart podium-maker Denys Baptiste curates...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Andy Sheppard, Nigel Kennedy and Roller Trio added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival line-up

Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Andy Sheppar…

Things are hotting up for this year's 22nd edition of...

Read More.....
Cloudmakers Five make it rain with new album and tour

Cloudmakers Five make it rain with new a…

Vibrant vibes-led group Cloudmakers – the long-running trio featuring vibes...

Read More.....
Scottish saxophonist Helena Kay wins Peter Whittingham Award

Scottish saxophonist Helena Kay wins Pet…

Emerging Scottish saxophonist/bandleader Helena Kay (pictured) has been announced as...

Read More.....
Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy talks about Classic Album Sunday sessions at Jazz Café

Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy talks about Class…

Camden Town's revamped Jazz Cafe presents series of album playbacks...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Delving into Benedict Taylor's solo viola explorations on A Purposeless Play @Subverten @benedmusic https://t.co/p8gOudAAXv
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Dave Holland and Evan Parker line-up for Vortex Fundraiser ahead of new album https://t.co/LmmDPARMwg https://t.co/LPY7hWUUa3
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA