The lists below are my choices from the 400 or so CDs that I received for review during 2015. Nota bene: All of my choices are in alphabetical order by artist and thus are equally rated.
10 BEST NEW RELEASES
Michael Gibbs & the NDR Big Band, Play A Bill Frisell Set List (CUNEIFORM RECORDS) Milford Graves & Bill Laswell, Space / Time – Redemption (Tum Records) Mary Halvorson, Meltframe (Firehouse 12 Records) Fred Hersch, Solo (Palmetto Records) Mikko Innanen, William Parker and Andrew Cyrille, Song For A New Decade (Tum Records) Bill Kirchner, An Evening of Indigos (Jazzheads) Nicholas Payton, Letters (Paytone Records) Maria Schneider Orchestra, The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare) Wadada Leo Smith & John Lindberg, Celestial Weather (Tum Records) Henry Threadgill & Zooid, In for a Penny in for a Pound (Pi Recordings)
3 BEST REISSUES
Billie Holiday, Banned From New York City - Live 1948-1957 Live (Uptown Records) Eddie Condon & Bud Freeman, Complete Commodore & Decca Sessions (Mosaic) Wild Bill Davison, The Jazz Giants (Sackville/Delmark)
BEST VOCAL RELEASE
Kim Nazarian, Some Morning (Kimj Music)
BEST DEBUT RELEASE
Caili O’Doherty Padme (ODO Records)
BEST LATIN JAZZ RELEASE
Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet, 10 (ZOHO)
NOTABLE 2015 RELEASES
Tiffany Austin, Nothing But Soul (Con Alma Music) Michael Blum, Commitment (Michael Blum Music) Dan Brubeck, Celebrating the Music & Lyrics of Dave & Iola (Blue Forest Records) Dheepa Chari, Patchwork (DheepaChari.com) Shareef Clayton, North & South (Harlem River Records) Anat Cohen, Luminosa (Anzic Records) Steve Coleman & Council of Balance, Synovial Joints (Pi Recordings) Joseph Daley Warren Smith Scott Robinson, The Tuba Trio Chronicles (Joda Music Records) Mary Foster Conklin, Photographs (MockTurtle Music) Connie Crothers Quartet, Deep Friendship (New Artists Records) Laurie Dapice, Parting the Veil (LaurieDapice.com) Caroline Davis, Doors: Chicago Storylines (ears & eyes Records) Dahi Divine, The Element (dahidivine.com) Sinne Eeg and Thomas Fonnesbaek, Eeg – Fonnesbaek (Stunt Records) Eli & The Hot Six, Contemporary Classic Jazz Live (Delmark) Laszlo Gardony, Life In Real Time (Sunnyside Records) Michael Gibbs & the NDR Bigband, In My View (CUNEIFORM RECORDS) Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow Is My Turn (Nonesuch Records) Marty Grosz Meets the Fat Babies, Diga Diga Doo (Delmark) The H2 Big Band, It Could Happen (Origin Records) Jeff Hamilton Trio, Great American Songs - Through the Years (Capri Records Ltd) Rich Halley 4 and Michael Vlatkovich, Eleven (Pine Eagle Records) Scott Hamilton and Jeff Hamilton, Live In Bern (Capri Records Ltd) Lafayette Harris Jr, Bend to the Light (Airmen Records) Christian Howes, American Spirit (Resonance Records) INNERrOUTe, Fourmation (Planet Arts Recordings) Eugenie Jones, Come Out Swingin’ (Open Mic Records) Emma Larsson, Sing To The Sky (Origin Records) Ingrid Laubrock, Ubatuba (Firehouse 12 Records) Jennifer Leitham, Mood (S)Wings (Sinistral Records) Roberto Magris Trio & Herb Geller, An Evening With Herb Geller & the Roberto Magris Trio (Jmood Records) Gillian Margot, Black Butterfly (Hipnotic Records) Susie Meissner, Tea for Two (Lydian Jazz Records, LLC) Billy Mintz, The 2 Bass Band . . . Live (Thirteenth Note Records) Bob Mintzer Big Band, Get Up! (MCG Jazz) Mipso, Old Time Reverie (Robust Records) Wes Montgomery, In the Beginning (Resonance Records) Jack Mouse & Scott Robinson with Janice Borla, Three Story Sandbox (Tall Grass Records) Luis Munoz, Voz (Pelin Music) Buell Neidlinger and Marty Krystall, Criss Cross - Live at the Red Sea (K2B2 Records) Larry Novak Trio, Invitation (Delmark) Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motema Music) Dion Parson & 21st Century Band, St. Thomas (United Jazz International, LLC) Lisa Parrott, Round Tripper (Serious Niceness Records) Cristina Pato, Latina (Sunnyside Records) Roberta Piket, Emanation: Solo 2 (Thirteenth Note Records) Bucky Pizzarelli, Renaissance: A Journey From Classical to Jazz (Arbors Records) Reggie Quinerly, Invictus (Redefinition Music) Gloria Reuben, Perchance To Dream (MCG Jazz) Cheryl Richards, Adam Caine & Nick Lyons, If Not for You (New Artists Records) Scott Robinson Julian Thayer, ? (ScienSonic Recordings) Pete Rodriguez, El Conde Negro (Destiny Records) Molly Ryan, Let's Fly Away (MollyRyan.com) Matthew Shipp Mat Walerian Duo Live at Okuden, Uppercut (Esp Disk Ltd.) Deborah Shulman, My Heart’s in the Wind (Summit Records) Sonny Simmons, Reincarnation (Arhoolie Records) Daniel Smith, Jazz Suite for Bassoon (Summit Records) The Spanish Donkey Raoul (RareNoise Records) Norbert Stein Pata Messengers Play Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Karussell (Pata Music) Lew Tabackin, Soundscapes (Lewtabackin.com) Sweet Sue Terry and Friends, Live at the Deer Head Inn (Deer Head Records) Ryan Truesdell Presents Gil Evans Project: Live at Jazz Standard, Lines of Color (ArtistShare) Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours, Spirit Warrior (Picaro Records) The Weave, Knowledge Porridge (TheWeavemusic.com) Carrie Wicks, Maybe (Oa2 Records) Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Clyde Alves, Megan Fairchild, Alysha Umphress, Elizabeth Stanley, On the Town: New Broadway Cast Recording (PS Classics)
The Ivory Ladies Aletha and Myrtyle and Other Melrose Pianists 1932-1942: A Discography (chbooks.info) Humphrey Lyttelton, In Canada (Sackville/Delmark) J.R. Monterose, Live In Albany 1979 Live (Uptown Records) Sonny Sharrock, Ask the Ages (M.O.D. Technologies) This Ain't No Mouse Music!: The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records (DVD) (Kino Lorber) Various Artists, Spiritual Jazz 6: Vocals (Jazzman Records Limited)
W. Royal Stokes was the 2014 recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association’s Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism Award. He has been observing the jazz, blues, and popular music worlds since the early 1940s. He was editor of Jazz Notes (the quarterly journal of the Jazz Journalists Association) from 1992 to 2001 and has participated in the annual Down Beat Critics Poll since the 1980s. He hosted his weekly “I thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say . . . .” and Since Minton’s on public radio in the 1970s and ’80s. He has been the Washington Post's jazz critic and editor of JazzTimes and is the author of The Jazz Scene: An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990 (Oxford University Press, 1991), Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson (Temple University Press, 1994), Living the Jazz Life: Conversations with Forty Musicians about Their Careers in Jazz (Oxford University Press, 2000), and Growing Up With Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk About Their Lives and Careers (Oxford University Press, 2005). Volume 1 of his trilogy of novels Backwards Over, Rufus Has Been on the Lam, saw publication in June 2015. (Volumes 2 & 3 will see print over the course of the winter and spring 2015-16.) He is currently at work on a memoir and The W. Royal Stokes Jazz, Blues & Beyond Reader.