09 December 2015: best of 2015 part 1

st germainThis week I needed to start the programme with a tune from an album that is not a jazz record but is one that I love and cannot stop playing. Sure, there are elements of jazz in the record but there is also electronic programming and, most importantly, the sounds of Senegal and Mali flowing throughout the recording. I am talking of the 2015 release of Ludovic Navarre better known as St. Germain and St. Germain is the title of this new record. It is truly rooted in the eclectic spirit of Cosmic Jazz; I am sure any of our followers and listeners will love it – essential. For a different take on the first single released from the album, try this Atjazz remix of Real Blues.

The UK magazine Jazzwise has published its Albums of the Year 2015the epic4 in the December 2015/January 2016 edition. I played four tunes from albums that appear in that list and which we have featured this year. Top of the Jazzwise list and probably high on any jazz lovers list for 2015 was Kamasi Washington’s triple CD The Epic. I chose the opening track from CD1 which exemplifies the mix of large orchestral sounds with spiritual, choral voices that is a distinctive feature of the album. Ironically, it hasn’t featured at all in Grammy nominations which have just been announced. Washington was one of the stars of two sell out shows at the London Jazz festival this year – for a taste of the festival listen to this podcast.

I was delighted to see a favourite record of mine, Ahmad Jamal’s Live in Marciac at No. 6= in the chart. I have said, played and written so much about this record that I will not add more. The same goescharles lloyd for Charles Lloyd whose Wild Man Dance is at 4=. Finally, to complete my quartet of tunes and to make a neat combination of two from long-established jazz greats and two from young artists who should be around for years to come, I played Cecile McLorin Salvant who is at 6= alongside Ahmad Jamal. She has the ability through her vocal delivery to make a familiar song sound fresh, unique and original in its presentation and is backed by top-rate musicians. The record has been a surprise and a delight to me.

This edition of Jazzwise has published a Top 20 list of new releases and a Top 20 list of reissues. There are many more great albums on these lists and we’ll be featuring more in future shows. Buy the magazine to find out more and check out articles – including one on Kamasi Washington. A conversation at the end of last week with someone who has played music with saxophonist Steve Williamson persuaded me to play a tune from Black Top which features Steve Williamson alongside Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas. Watch them on our video below. Here they play at the Jazz in the Round shows at the Cockpit Theatre, London. Finally, to continue our mission to feature Polish jazz musicians the show ended with a piece from the wonderful, flowing pianist Michal Wroblewski.

  1. St. Germain – Family Tree from St. Germain
  2. Kamasi Washington – Changing of the Guard from The Epic
  3. Ahmad Jamal – Sunday Afternoon from Live in Marciac
  4. Charles Lloyd – Flying Over the Odra from Wild Man Dance
  5. Cecile McLorin Salvant – The Trolley Song from For One to Love
  6.  Black Top – Nubian Archaic Step Dub from #One
  7. Michal Wroblewski – Warsaw Blues from City Album

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