The Best Jazz & Noise of 2015…?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve posted 10 Daily Tunes on Facebook, slowly revealing the aJN top ten albums of 2015. Some things to bear in mind…

  1. This is, of course, a highly subjective list.
  2. The criteria were, a) what I liked, b) variety, c) there is no c), just a) and b), mainly a).
  3. All lists (being modes of comparison) are invidious.
  4. However, lists are still fun.
  5. If you asked me for a top ten tomorrow, this list might well be different.
  6. There were an awful lot of recordings in “11th” place.

So… in absolutely no particular order…

Tenors of Kalma“Electric Willow” (Yellowbird) – Finnish trio of Jimi Tenor, Kalle Kalima and Joonas Riippa… by turns groovy, poppy, electronic, hippy, and just freaking out odd, this is a uniquely strange album that’s nevertheless highly accessible. This clip is a live performance of “The Missing Page 1964”, which can also be found on Kalima’s 2010 album, “Loru”.

Orrù, Mar, Rocha “Live at MIA 2015” (EndTitles) – an improvised music festival in a tiny Portuguese town, a trio of musicians who only met just before the gig, and an hour or more of fluid, coherent and strangely heartwarming improvisation. (Adriano Orrù – double bass and objects; Maria do Mar – violin; Luiz Rocha – clarinet and bass clarinet)

 

Elephant9 with Reine Fiske“Silver Mountain” (Rune Grammofon) – prog-jazz? jazzy prog? progressive rock-informed improvisatory excess? Label it how you will, this is a huge album (full review here).

Mural“Tempo” (SOFA) – 3 discs, 3+ hours, just 3 musicians: Jim Denley (wind instruments); Kim Myhr (12-string guitar, zither); Ingar Zach (gran cassa, percussion). It’s sculptural sound art, it’s a meditative improvisation, it’s a little bit spiritual. Recorded in the Rothko Chapel, full review here.

 

Blood Quartet “Dark Energy” (Jacquard / HandTheDj / Boston Pizza) – artfully bludgeoning noise meets single note exploration, debut recording from a Barcelona collaboration between Mark Cunningham and Murnau B. Their first gig was pretty damn good too.

 

Free Nelson Mandoomjazz“Awakening of a Capital” (RareNoise) – direct and heavy, infused with (pulp?) literature, humorous, what more could you want? Very happy that this year, all three from FNMDJ (Rebecca Sneddon, Paul Archibald and Colin Stewart) have been gracious enough to feature in the 7 Questions interviews.

Alguns Homes Bons“Golluts” (Discordian) – diverse, unpredictable, tricksy and fun free jazz, featuring siblings Genís and Marcel Bagés with collaborators Pol Padrós, Àlex Reviriego and Joan Mas. Full review here.

 

David Vélez“Unaware” (Linear Obsessional) – drone, throb, hum… bliss out to Vélez’s instant installation that changes according to the shape and sounds of your surroundings.

 

Møster!“When You Cut Into the Present” (Hubro) – more Norwegian prog-jazz. Kjetil Møster is on the aJN end of year list for the second year running. Care to make it three…? Full review here.

Giulia Valle“Líbera” (Temps) – It may be a cliché but the glue between each distinct track is the strong musical vision of bass-player Valle. Surrounded by some of the best musicians the city and region has to offer, this is another Barcelona-based project. Read Giulia Valle in her own words here.

 

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Finally, it’s not jazz, or noise, or – as far as I know – improvised, but this remains one of my favourite short releases of the year so I’m giving it an ‘honourable mention’ here whether you like it or not. 😉

Maria Arnal & Marcel Bagés“Remescles, acoples i melismes” – four traditional Iberian songs, each about a different kind of love, just Arnal’s incredible voice combined with Bagés’ often-distorted electric guitar. By turns sweet, demanding, caressing, and downright chest-wrenching. Labels are irrelevant, this is great music.