This list was originally posted on Facebook in December of 2014. The best (solely in my opinion) albums from the year revealed a day at a time via aJN’s Daily Tunes, with the final list published on 19th December. I thought that if only for posterity, the first aJN ‘Best of…’ list should be on the blog somewhere, so here it is. Besides, it will give the 2015 list a point of reference.
So… in absolutely no particular order…
Hedvig Mollestad Trio – “Enfant Terrible” – Jazz-rock and heavy on the rock, a third album of joyously distorted guitar-led instrumentals.
Andrea Motis & Joan Chamorro Quintet, feat. Scott Hamilton – “_Live at Jamboree_Barcelona” – Sweet, perfectly old-fashioned (classic!) and yet, not without its surprises. I enjoy the ‘Great American Songbook’ style of vocal jazz but I’m rarely impressed by modern takes on it. I was by this.
Fire! Orchestra – “Enter” – Big band jazz with a beautiful free edge, drawing on the NY Downtown scene at a few points but the results are wholly Nordic. A massive winter warmer of an album.
Mike Cooper & Chris Abrahams – “Trace” – Divine and delicate ambient atmospherics created by two restless experimenters from opposite hemispheres.
Møster! – “Inner Earth” – Awesome, frenzied, killer sax’n’guitar avant noise-jazz. Plus, inspired by Jules Verne, what more could you ask for? I absolutely loved this.
Aram Bajakian – “There Were Flowers Also in Hell” – Noise, rock, avant-garde, blues, gospel, jazz, fusion… name a genre (or make one up) and Aram Bajakian probably touches on it on this non-stop demonstration of just what can be done with a guitar.
Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – “Soused” – Drone, doom, huge vocal aerobatics and drama, there’s really nothing else quite like it.
Moskus – “Mestertyven” – Second album from Moskus that more than delivers on the promise of their first. There’s strong competition out there, but I think Hans Hulbækmo made it as my favourite drummer of the year.
Free Nelson Mandoomjazz – “The Shape of Doomjazz to Come / Saxophone Giganticus” – Is it wrong of me not to be able to get enough of this album? Heavy music with a sense of humour flirting around the edges. New album due Feb-Mar ’15 – can’t wait!
Marcel·lí Bayer – “1680” – There was actually another album on this list but then, in mid-December, I heard Marcel·lí Bayer present this live. A delicious and haunting sequence of solo pieces for saxophones and clarinets. Just special.
An honourable mention goes to possibly the most ambitious, bizarre, dada, game-playing jazz release of the year:
Mostly Other People Do the Killing – “Blue” – a note-for-note recreation of the Miles Davis classic, “Kind of Blue”. Why? Why not?