The narrator of Jean-Jacques Schuhl's 2002 novel Ingrid Caven
muses, "I like the connection, the splice, not the things themselves; what's between them, their rapport. Two ideas, images, the bridge between two harmonies for the jazz musician..." It's an interesting esthetic statement regarding jazz: that part of the music's appeal lies not in its components, but in its power to make connections among those components. A heady and appropriate benediction for this list of 2015 records that I listened to again and again. Jazz makes connections between itself and other musicspirituals and the blues; Afro-Cuban and world music; hip hop and contemporary composition; even the workings of your body in Steve Coleman
's great 2015 release. Accordingly, you'll find plenty of non-jazz in my list. In the spirit of Schuhl's epitaph, I encourage you to enjoy what's between these varied musical statements. Long Beach rapper Vince Staples's "Get Paid" sounds great next to Congolese polyglots Mbongwana Star's "Malukayi," for example. And your reaction to those two records will color how you hear the two mighty Roscoe Mitchell
covers in the records below (one by guitarist Mary Halvorson
, the other by Mitchell's fellow Chicagoans Mitchell, Reid and Reed). And the Mitchell covers will lead you to the mercifully reissued Sonny Sharrock
, in the company of Elvin Jones
and Pharoah Sanders
... and so on!
So many records! And if you're lucky, still the same excitement of discovering something new. Even if the thrill has changed in character. You're not so likely to be holding your newly-bought vinyl on the bus, in restless anticipation of playing the records once you got home; now, you're probably checking the mail every day for your new CDs. Or just listening to artists' Bandcamp sites the minute you hear about them. But there's still that excitement, and I'm grateful to have experienced it many times over this year, with the records arrayed below. These are organized in alphabetical order, by the way; but Kendrick and Kamasi are indisputably tied for the top spot in my book. Enjoy.