With all the year end lists floating around, I thought I’d share my favorite new albums of 2017. I’m sure I missed a lot of stuff, since I know I spent a lot of 2017 listening to things I had missed in previous years. Anyway, here’s some albums I enjoyed, in no particular order. Hopefully you find something new to check out.
Far From Over – Vijay Iyer Sextet Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
This album has topped many “best of” lists this year, and for good reason. It has everything I love about his trio releases (angular, over the bar line solo riffs; rhythmic displacement; hard grooves; and personal interplay), just transferred to a larger group format so that more people get in on the fun.
Regina – Becca Stevens Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
I recently read an article calling Becca Stevens’ music “jazz-adjacent”. I think that makes sense. Catchy, almost poppy, grooves, that give you much more. Also including guest spots from Laura Mvula and Jacob Collier, this one shouldn’t be missed.
Open Book – Fred Hersch Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
I only discovered Fred Hersch a year or two ago (I know, it’s a little embarrassing). Since then I have amassed quite a large collection of his works. This is a stunning solo outing showing his mastery of the standard repertoire, especially Monk and Jobim. The standout on the album is Through the Forest a 20 minute free improvisation taking Hersch to some new places.
Body and Shadow – Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
Brian Blade is one of the greatest voices in drumming today. His mastery isn’t just that he knows all the licks. He knows when to play them. After multiple listens, the one word I would use to describe this album is “warm”.
Kinfolk: Postcards from Everywhere – Nate Smith Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
Here we have another drummer led band. Full of hip-hop and funk influences, this album obviously has a solid groove and unquestionably great drumming. We also get to hear Smith’s compositional abilities, which ended up earning him two Grammy nominations this year.
My Foolish Heart – Ralph Towner Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
Ralph Towner has been recording killer solo guitar albums for decades, and this is no exception. This album is mostly originals, save the title track. Towner’s signature compositional style is on full display here. The standout track for me is Dolomiti Dance.
Rosa Dos Ventos – Anat Cohen and Trio Brasileiros Amazon – Itunes – Spotify
I love Brazilian music. I especially love choro. This is a solid choro album featuring four amazing musicians. There isn’t much more to say other than you should listen to it.
Lucy in the Sky – Peter Sprague Purchase
This is another solo guitar album. Peter Sprague is an amazing arranger. His treatment of standards, and quite a few Beatles tunes, is fantastic. This is one of those albums I can never get tired of. His groove and arrangement of Triste is a standout track for me.
Nerve – Nerve Purchase
Jojo Mayer brings us another Nerve album. Jojo Mayer is amazing at stretching the limits of what drummers can accomplish. This album is heavy, loud, and full of electronics. Like I said, it’s great.
That’s it from me. I’m sure as soon as I post this I will think of things that I missed. Oh well, we’ll just have to catch up next year.