Monday, December 21, 2015

Top 8 of 2015

Here's my Top 8 for music for 2015.  I was aiming for a top ten list but it ended up being just eight (I've gone over ten in past years; I'm actually not sure how many times I've actually landed on ten).  I found that there wasn't much that jumped out at me this past year and said "I"m great".  Also, I suspect that there's a fair amount of music that I just missed, just didn't hear.  Anyway, enjoy the list.


Alice Coltrane – Universal consciousness
A reissue, originally from 1971.  Not quite as good as World galaxy from the following year (World galaxy wins out due to the guru + organ + funky drummer version of “A love supreme”) but still a classic of freak jazz.  It’s a swirl of spirituality (mostly of the Hindu variety), Coltrane’s harp and organ, skittering percussion, and spooky strings.

Miles Davis – At Newport 1955-1975: the bootleg series vol. 4
A 4-CD survey of Miles Davis’ musical styles recorded live at the Newport Jazz Festival.  It’s got an all-star session with Monk and others, the first and second great quintets, and a load of stuff from Davis’ rock years.

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Terraplane
Steve tackles the blues, mostly.  A few of the tracks are in rock mode.  Not his best but it’s fun.  Anyone who can make a song called “Baby, baby, baby (baby)” work deserves some kudos.

Grateful Dead – 30 trips around the sun: the definitive live story
Not the 80-CD version, only a 4-CD edition, documenting one song from one show from each of the 30 years of the Dead’s existence. Many nice choices, some expected and some unexpected.  The material from the later years is better than I thought it would be.

Last Exit – Iron path
Another reissue, the only studio album from the avant jazz supergroup.  Featuring noise rock getting together with free jazz, it’s a nice antidote to the masses of mushy jazz that exist in the world.

Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra – Galactic parables: volume 1
More crazed cosmic music from the prolific Mazurek and gang.  Sounds like Sun Ra on steroids plus more electronics and spoken word.

Richard Thompson – Still
More very good songs and playing from the (almost) always excellent Thompson.  I like it better than his last release, Electric; things just seem about a half-notch better here.

Ryley Walker – Primrose green
Yes, Ryley has listened to an awful lot of Tim Buckley, John Martyn, and Pentangle and this clearly shows on this recording.  That being said, there are far, far worse influences to be showing plus the album simply works.  The supporting musicians are from the jazz world, which seems to add much to the proceedings.

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