Jeff Dayton-Johnson's 2015 Mixtape

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

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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 music—spirituals 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.

Steve Coleman & The Council of Balance
Synovial Joints
(Pi Recordings)

Invite the Light
(Stones Throw Records)

Miles Davis
Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975 (The Bootleg Series, v.4)

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment

The Edge Of Daybreak
Eyes of Love
(Numero Group)

Ghostface Killah & Badbadnotgood
Sour Soul
(Lex Records)

Mary Halvorson
(Firehouse 12 Records)

The Internet
Ego Death
(Odd Future/Columbia)

Ata Kak
Obaa Sima
(Awesome Tapes from Africa)

Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp A Butterfly
(Top Dawg Entertainment)

Mbongwana Star
In Kinshasa
(World Circuit Records)

Makaya McCraven
In the Moment
(International Anthem)

Myra Melford
Snowy Egret
( Enja/Yellowbird)

Nicole Mitchell / Tomeka Reid / Mike Reed
(482 Music)

Eve Risser
Des pas sur la neige
(Clean Feed Records)

Cecile McLorin Salvant
For One To Love
(Mack Avenue Records)

The Maria Schneider Orchestra
The Thompson Fields

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah aTunde Adjuah
Stretch Music
(Ropeadope Records)

Sonny Sharrock
Ask the Ages
(M.O.D. Technologies)

Sly and the Family Stone
Live at the Fillmore East (LP version)
(Epic Records)

The The Souljazz Orchestra
(Strut Records)

Vince Staples
Summertime '06
(Def Jam)

Sun Ra and His Arkestra
Gilles Peterson Presents: To Those of Earth... and Other Worlds
(Strut Records)

Chucho Valdes
Tribute to Irakere: Live in Marciac
(Comanche Music)

Kamasi Washington
The Epic

Charles X
The Revolution... and the Day After
(Tentacule Records)

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