For our last Rhythm Planet show of 2017, we revisit my favorite jazz releases of the year. I absolutely love jazz, so it was a bit of a Sophie’s Choice to select this short list from all the music I’ve enjoyed this year. There are also just seven cuts on this playlist as jazz tracks tend to be longer.
We begin with two singers whose stars are shining bright. Gregory Porter pays tribute to his idol Nat “King” Cole, while Jazzmeia Horn honors Betty Carter. Both Porter and Horn are exceptionally talented singers who really do justice to their heroes, and I would not be surprised if one of them picked up a Grammy for these two releases.
Jazz master Charles Lloyd’s new Blue Note album, Passin’ Thru, features live recordings from concerts in Montreux, Switzerland and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The album’s title harkens back to Chico Hamilton’s classic 1962 album of the same name, in which a young Charles Lloyd played tenor sax and flute. This new album by Charles Lloyd is one of his best in years.
Talented French horn virtuoso Ken Wiley comes next with his Urban Horn Project. The song “Mingling” also features nice flute work by Dan Higgins.
The jazz world lost guitar master John Abercrombie in August, so Up And Coming became his swan song album. I love the group he plays with—pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Joey Baron. The quartet has been together for years and shares a telepathic musical communication, which jazz fans call “radar ears.”
We close with two excellent recordings by trios. First, pianist Aaron Parks’s stunning ECM album Find the Way is one of those albums that you can listen to from beginning to end. There’s not a bad track in the mix. Ditto for the latest from French drummer Guilhem Flouzat, with Desmond White on bass and beautiful piano from Sullivan Fortner. The album titled A Thing Called Joe is probably named after the classic song “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe,” the last track on the record.
That wraps it up for Rhythm Planet and 2017. I look forward to sharing more new music with you in the new year!
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 12/29/17
- Gregory Porter / “Pick Yourself Up” /Nat “King” Cole & Me / Blue Note
- Jazzmeia Horn / “Tight” / A Social Call / Prestige
- Charles Lloyd New Quartet / “Nu Blues” / Passin’ Thru / Blue Note
- Ken Wiley / “Mingling” / Urban Horn Project / Krug Park Music
- John Abercrombie Quartet / “Flipside” / Up And Coming / ECM
- Aaron Parks, Ben Street, Billy Hart / “The Storyteller” / Find The Way / ECM
- Guilhem Flouzat Trio / “Midnight Mood” / A Thing Called Joe / Sunnyside