The Best Jazz & Noise of 2016…?

Top ten lists. Aren’t they awful? Always incomplete. Always missing your favourite album.

Well, this is aJazzNoise’s (my) top ten albums – that I’ve listened to – in 2016. It won’t be your top ten. And if I’d heard all the great music you have then maybe it would look very different. But I haven’t and it doesn’t. Deal.

Anyway, justifications and weasel-y caveats aside, and in no particular order, this is it.

Every album here grabbed me on some unconscious, non-rational level but also provided a good dose of conscious intriguery… in other words, they made me feel AND think. Which is a pretty good combination. The only other criteria was a desire for some variety. I could easily have knocked out a top ten full of, say, wild jazz skronk, or free improvisation, but however good the music, after a while the ear becomes ‘numb’ to the joys and subtleties and so… I like to offer variety.


paradigm-shift-coverFrancesco Chiapperini’s Insight
Paradigm Shift
(Aut Records)

“…a bassless, drumless space in which guitar, piano and reeds are let loose to roam and explore.” Full review here.


orbain-unit-coverOrbain Unit
(Repentino Records)

A super-intense reeds-guitar-bass-doublepercussion ensemble with great nuance and subtlety. Debut release from Repentino. More please!


deep-red-coverBlood Quartet
Deep Red
(HangTheDJ Records & Feeding Tube Records)

“The guitar, bass and drums build a series of dark, jagged, post-everything landscapes and the effects-laden trumpet splashes bright yet foreboding colours, mostly red.” Full review here.


Ulv Ulv
(Hubro Music)

This 3rd disc is a quantum leap into hauntingly spacious, experimental territory with the hardanger fiddle of guest Nils Økland adding new sound possibilities that are fully exploited.


a1044627845_10Can Can Heads
Old Fart’s Neck

“Weird, wonderful, noisy and strange – just don’t ask who the “old fart” is, or why John Wayne seems  to be on the cover…” Full review here.


VOSTOKPiccola Orchestra Gagarin
(Whatabout Music)

“…multiple modes of entry – African rhythms, re-worked traditional songs, almost-classical grandeur, free noise, etc. – and you’re bound to be sucked in by at least one of them.” Full review here.


The B of D - coverJ. Peter Schwalm
The Beauty of Disaster

“…a prolonged exploration of electronic-acoustic textures; abstract yet hardly random – every tone, every nuance, carefully positioned, having a place in the grander scheme.” Full review here.


spain-is-the-placeRicardo Tejero, Colin Webster, Marco Serrato, Borja Díaz
Spain is the Place
(Raw Tonk)

Raw Tonk is my go-to label for quality free improvisation… and this quartet disc is (for me) kind of their showroom piece: unafraid, dense & intense, communication on a telepathic level, just a couple of minutes can put me in an altered state.


the-rite-of-trio-coverThe Rite of Trio
Getting All The Evil From The Piston Collar!

“Angular, muscular, sometimes brutal, occasionally tender (soulful even) – a kind of car crash between a classic guitar-bass-drums jazz trio and prog-rock-fusion.” Full review here.



Free Nelson Mandoomjazz
The Organ Grinder

“…perfect blend of atmospheric doom-y riffs and free jazz splashing …as effortlessly free, brutal and uncluttered as ever. More so, in fact.” Full review here.


And if 10 isn’t enough or you want a little evidence of my struggle here, the following 10 discs could easily – if I’d maybe had a better night’s sleep or a different breakfast – have found a place on the above list…