Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Five 2016 Albums I Didn't Hear Until This Year

My best of 2016 list was just five new albums.  Had I known about these five additional recordings, it could have been 10.

Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids - We Be All Africans
Learning about Strut Records this year was a treasure trove of great music.  One of their best newer releases was this album by Idris Ackamoor.  I don't really know much about it other than it sounds good.  Once discovering Strut Records, I checked out every single recording on that label, and this is one of the ones that stood out.  Part African traditional music, part experimental jazz.


Psychic Temple - Plays Music for Airports
Music for Airports, as played by Bang on a Can Allstars, is one of my favorite all-time CDs.  When I learned of this interpretation of that music I was all ears.  Psychic Temple has taken Brian Eno's classic minimalist composition and loosened it up in electrifying ways.  The bonus track, Music for Bus Stops, ventures even farther into Electric Miles territory.  I only wish I had been able to order this on vinyl when it came out.


Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
Morby has put out another album since Singing Saw - called City Music - but for now I'm still catching up on this 2016 release.  There's a reserved, unresolved nature to the songs, waiting to break free.  Kevin Morby's secret weapon might be guitarist Meg Duffy.  She plays that instrument with a skill and depth that seems increasingly hard to come by.


Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom - Otis Was A Polar Bear
From the tradition of great albums with drummers as the band leader.  I may be naive, but the music here sounds as good as anything I could find by digging decades deep into a jazz catalog.  Otis Was A Polar Bear should have more recognition than it has received.  Cornet, clarinet, violin, bass and piano - those instruments combine with Miller's drumming to give this an almost chamber music, Third Stream type of feel.


Nolatet - Dogs
Yeah, this sounds modern but I really can't tell you why.  On the other hand it should be from another time.  The tunes come across as familiar even on first listen, like they are culled from some kind of public domain of the mind meld.  Dogs always seems to go by too fast - ephemeral...not even there.  I swear I heard this in the 90's.


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