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)

 

Mare Nostrum II – Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren

Who says the European Union doesn’t work?

On this album, we have an Italian (from Sardinia), a French, and a Swede, playing together. Isn’t this what the European Union was all about, before it became a bureaucracy?

I’ve already seen Paolo Fresu and Richard Galliano live. The former in a beautiful duo concert with Ralph Towner on Guitar (as recorded on the beautiful ECM album Chiaroscuro); and Galliano many years ago in a fantastic gig with Michel Portal on clarinet (check out their common album Blow Up to get an idea). Lundgren I only know from some albums I own (and like).

The three already played together on the first album, Mare Nostrum, which  was released in 2007. Now, many years later we get the successor album:

Mare Nostrum II (ACT 2016)

Mare Nostrum is Latin for “our sea” and was the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea.

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

We surely have a rather unusual combination of instruments here. Fresu often plays a Miles Davis-style dampened trumpet, which matches Galliano’s accordeon surprisingly well. Lundgren on piano plays his usually meditative style.

While these aren’t instruments you’d spontaneously assemble into a trio, this album again (like it’s predecessor) works surprisingly well.

My favorite tracks

I have two favorite tracks on this album.

No. 1 is Aurora.This is music for sitting on the deck of a sailing boat somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea with a nice chilled bottle of Rosé and feeling the warm breeze on your skin (sorry for this cheesy analogy, but I’m currently planning my summer vacation in Sardinia, so my imagination probably runs a bit wild…).

No. 2 is the beautiful cover of Satie’s Gnossienne, one of my favorite tracks by Eric Satie. Who know this simple composition could swing?

The only thing that this album could use is a bit more variety, we’re getting a lot of slow sentimental tracks, but I’d have loved at least one or two more uptempo songs, like Leklat.

But beyond this little complaint, this is beautiful music that is able to transport you elsewhere; and just enjoy the moment.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Highresaudio)