Every year music fans are bombarded with best of lists, all of which tend to have the same music on it, good and bad. So here is my list of albums for 2016 that I think you should listen to. Some available on Spotify, others on Apple Music or Itunes. This was another year that proves we still have remarkable artists out there who are making extraordinary music. My playlist this month features tunes from this list is at http://spoti.fi/2i0w3yh. If you are on Spotify and want to hear the music I’m listening to anytime, type glutton folly in the search box.
Jack DeJohnette / Matt Garrison / Ravi Coltrane, ‘In Movement’ The amazing Jack DeJohnette brings together two offspring from days past—bassist Jimmy Garrison’s son Matt and saxophonist John Coltrane’s son Ravi for a set of music that is both riveting and inspiring. One can’t help hear the influence of producer Manfred Eicher, which has remained constant for decades, but that does not get in the way of the artists giving us some fresh 21rst century jazz. For purchase on Itunes as ECM shuns Spotify.
Pat Metheny Unity Group ‘The Unity Sessions’ The great Pat Metheny brings us another great effort with Ben Williams, Chris Potter, Giulio Carmassi, and Antonio Sanchez, performed live with a diverse set of compositions, including some of my favorite Metheny tunes like Two Folk Songs, Ornette Coleman’s Police People, Roof Dogs, and a solo acoustic medley of great older tunes that PM has been playing live for some time now. A solid effort that can be listened to in one great sitting. On Spotify and Itunes.
Drive-By Truckers ‘American Band’ Is this the best album of the year? Maybe so if you like their version of alternative country rock. Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley and the band have crafted an album on that reflects the frustrations many have with the ignorance in today’s society. They do it with passion and power that is invigorating, despite the sorrow in its messages. One critic has commented that the band “is too smart to think they have solutions, but they can point out what we need to work on”—damn straight. This one can be played loud all the way through, and you’ll be glad for it. On Spotify and Itunes.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings ‘Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg’ I’m a big fan of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, who are regulars at Telluride Bluegrass Festival and some of the best Americana songwriters out there. This new release chronicles outtakes and alternative versions from the 1996 T-Bone Burnett-produced album ‘Revival.’ It’s crisp and full of emotion and reflects an Appalachian aesthetic. We need to remember this music and keep it in our vocabulary.
Snarky Puppy ‘Culcha Vulcha’—Jazz Rock Fusion is alive and well in 2016, and it’s in the form of the great Snarky Puppy. This is a big band that plays carefully composed, diverse pieces of jazz rock glory. Whether it’s percussion and synths, or cool bass riffs and horns, SP has carved a prominent place for themselves in this year’s cauldron of great music. The tunes sound like classic seventies, but then they don’t, it’s so fresh and modern.
Umphrey’s McGee ‘Hall of Fame, Class of 2015’ I wait every year with great anticipation for the new HOF album from Umphrey’s McGee and this one is smokin’ hot. Each year the HOF albums are prepared with direct fan input on the best live performances of the year, which exceeds 100 shows. Be sure to play the January 30th Utopian Fir from Cincinnati, and the August 14th rendition of Wife Soup where the band is joined by the Chicago Mass Choir. On Spotify and Itunes.
Anders Osborne ‘Flower Box’ Released on the heels of ‘Spacedust and Ocean Views,’ the great New Orleans rocker puts together an uplifting set of stories and great blues-infused rock and roll. Osborne and his band have been touring almost constantly the past few years, and it shows. I like the ambitious Old Country and the classic rocker Strong. On Spotify and Itunes.
The Impossible Gentleman ‘Let’s Get Deluxe’ The UK has always produced great progressive bands, and one I’m listening to is the Impossible Gentleman. They have an impressive lineup, including the highly accomplished Gwilym Simcock on piano, and horn, Mike Walker on guitar, Adam Nussbaum on drums, Pat Metheny Group veteran and producer Steve Rodby on bass, and Iain Dixon on sax, clarinet, and flute. The result is sophisticated, multilayered compositions that show influences from Metheny/Mays to some of the old Canterbury bands, all from a young perspective. Dig it on Spotify or Itunes.