My Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2016

My Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2016

Following my Top 5 Classical albums of 2016, here’s my take on Jazz this year.

2016 was tricky with regards to Jazz albums. Actually, usually I build these top 5 lists simply from my 5 star reviews. The thing is, in 2016 I only had one single 5 star Jazz album, GoGoPenguin’s latest release. All others are “only” 4 stars, but still I can wholeheartedly recommend all of them!

 

Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues And Ballads

Brad Mehldau Trio Blues and Ballads 24 88 Nonesuch 2016

I mentioned it before, I’m not always a fan of Brad Mehldau.

I have The Art Of The Trio vol. 3 in my 25 essential Jazz albums and find it to be a true gem of piano jazz, but run away from many of his more recent releases (YMMV).

This one again is really to my taste, he goes back to his roots, and does it well!

See my initial review here.

GoGoPenguin – ManMade Object

GoGo Penguin Man Made Object 24/44 Blue Note 2016

As mentioned above, the only 5 star album in this list. As you can see in my initial review, this is probably the true successor to Esbjörn Svenssons trio, bringing the Jazz trio into the age of Electronica.

Keith Jarrett – A Multitude of Angels

Keith Jarrett A Multitude Of Angels Modena Ferrara Torino Genova Solo Concerts ECM 2016

A new Keith Jarrett solo album is always an event, even if in this case we’re talking about previously unreleased material from 20 years ago. As you can see in my recent review, I really like it.

Paolo Fresu Richard Galliano Jan Lundgren: Mare Nostrum II

Paolo Fresu Richard Galliano Jan Lundgren Mare Nostrum II (24/88) ACT Music

Check out my review here. Essentially, if you like the accordion, get this. If you don’t like the accordion, at least check it out. It is worth it.

 

Thierry Maillard – Il Canto Delle Montagne

Thierry Maillard Andre Ceccarelli Dominique di Piazza Il Canto Delle Montagne 24/88 2016 Ilona Records

See my review here, beautiful trio jazz from France.

Your turn now.

As you can see, I was struggling  a bit to find truly oustanding Jazz albums this year. I’m sure there’s stuff I must have missed. Please do point me to albums that I may not have seen or heard that you’d recommend in 2016!

 

You can find the albums here:

Brad Mehldau:  here (Qobuz) and here (Nonesuch’s own online store)

Keith Jarrett: here (Qobuz) or here (Amazon)

Paolo Fresu et al:here (Qobuz)

Thierry Maillard: here (Qobuz)

 

Esbjörn Svensson Trio Live In Hamburg

I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on my posts on my 25 essential Jazz albums. Many of them were asking why artist X, Y or Z wasn’t listed. Most of these had a point.

The Esbjörn Svensson Trio

One example is the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (e.s.t.). Why didn’t I list it? if we do a brief history of (no, not time, come on guys, I’m not Stephen Hawking) the Jazz Piano Trio, from its early starts in the 1950s with the like of Art Tatum, Errol Garner, and Oscar Peterson, I see three major steps in the development:

Bill Evans took this art form to a much higher intellectual level, and made sure all 3 musician are true partners. Keith Jarrett took over when Bill unfortunately left us and dominated the art for for twenty years, until a bunch of Scandinavians around Esbjörn Svensson came, and brought this art form to the 21st century, and introducing it to audiences way beyond the traditional Jazz audience, as there is a lot of rock and electronic influence.

So why the heck haven’t I reviewed any album of this trio yet (although to be fair I mention it regularly)? The answer is easy, e..t. is a bit too much out of the box for me on most of their albums (I’m a guy who’s extremely comfortable IN the box!). There’s usually some “craziness” going on, and quite often just a bit too much for my personal taste. That said, I fully recognize their importance. Unfortunately we lost an outstanding musician when Esbjörn died in a diving accident in 2008.

 Live in Hamburg

Esbjörn Svensson Trio Live in Hamburg

This 2007 live album (released on ACT) from a late 2006 concert (in Hamburg obviously) is just outstanding, and shows e.s.t. at their peak.

There is still some craziness ongoing (e.g. Definition of A Dog), but overall it is tame enough for my ears to really enjoy it,. And then, there is just tons of energy, including outstanding 17:39 minute long tracks like Dolores In A Shoestand. There is not a minute of boredom. This is two hours of pure adrenaline!

My rating: 5 stars

You can get it here (Qobuz), or go for the high quality 4 vinyl edition