WWOZ Hosts' Favorite Recordings of 2016

Published on: November 28th, 2016


Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee


WWOZ's show hosts have begun compiling their lists of the best CDs of 2016. When it's time to shop for your favorite music lovers (or yourself!), let those-in-the-know point you to the latest great New Orleans, Cajun, Jazz or Blues tunes.

Derrick Freeman | T.R. Johnson | Duane Williams | Sondra Bibb | Carrie Booher | Funky T | Allan "Alski" Laskey | Raymond Kent | Boudin Man | Breaux Bridges | Andrew Grafe | Charles Laborde & Jim Hobbs



Derrick Freeman , host of the Wednesday edition of the New Orleans Music Show, 11a - 2p

1. Corey Henry "Lapeitah"
Funk to a tee! The production by Brian J is spot on. The record is a great representation of what the band sounds like live. Which is a rarity now a days. Henry's arrangements are "Tremazin" and the guest are all my favorite singers.

2. Nigel Hall "Ladies and Gentlemen Nigel Hall"
Flawless throwback arrangements and slick production(Eric Krasno) all brought together with the incendiary voice of Nigel Hall. The musicians and the musicianship is at an all time level on this one.

3. The Bootleg Operation(Tricia Boutté & Paul Longstreth) "Workin Rollin"
This stellar duo is part musical genius and part comedic gold. These are excellent renditions of some great American songs. Backed by a killer rhythm section and special guests like Leroy Jones and Alex McMurray. This record is sure to become an istant classic.

4. The Grïd "Evasive Maneuvers"
Do not sleep on this record! Alex Joseph Hall is a force to be reckoned with. This band is what New Orleans needs right now. The execution of the tracks mixed with the live instruments gives me a bombastic feeling. Nesby Phips is incredible. "Let's Take Flight" should be dance track of the year.

5. Alison McConnell "These Walls"
I love the songs on this record. I feel the emotions she's trying to convey. Good song writing is just good song writing. And Alison's voice is undeniable.

6. Jamie Bernstein "You Don't Know Me"
Now if you wanna hear an artist that's "saying something" Jamie is your guy. It's all in the lyrics. So poetic and poignant. The music is deep and haunting without being disturbing. "One Man's Hands" featuring the Zion Harmonizers with lift anyone's spirit.


T.R. Johnson, host of the Tuesday edition of Jazz from the French Market, 4-7p

Top Ten Jazz Albums of 2016:

1. Jeff Parker’s “The New Breed”
2. Nels Clines’s “Lovers”
3. Marcus Strickland’s “Nihil Novi”
4. JD Allen’s “Americana”
5. Sao Paolo Underground’s “Cantos Invisiveis”
6. Derrick Hodge’s “The Second”
7. Mary Halvorson’s “Away with You”
8. Dave Douglas’s “Dark Territory”
9. Nicholas Payton’s “Textures”
10. Vijay Iyer and Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith’s “A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke”

Best Latin Album:
Omar Sosa and Paolo Frasu – “Eros”

Best Vocal Album:
Esperanza Spalding – “Emily’s D+Evolution”

Best Debut Album:
Trapper Keaper – “Trapper Keaper”

Other great albums of 2016 not ranked, just offered in rough alphabetical order by artists’ first name):

Ben Wendel – What we bring
Bill Charlap – Notes from New York
Bob Dylan – Fallen Angels
Brad Mehldau – Blues and Ballads
Charlie Hunter – Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth
Cuong Vu – Meets Pat Matheny
Dwiki Dharamawan – Pasar Klewer
Donny McCaslin – Beyond Now
David Grubbs Prismrose
Dave Douglas – Dada People
Dave Anderson – Blue Innuendo
Dan Weiss – 16 Drummers
Ergo – As Subtle as tomorrow
Empirical – Connection
Fred Hersch – Sunday Night at the Vanguard
Guillermo Klein – Los Gauchos V
Herlin Riley – New Direction
Henry Threadgill – Old Locks and Irregular Verbs
John Scofield – Country for Old Men
Keefe Jackson and Jason Adasiewicz – Rows and Rows
Liberation Music Ensemble – time/life
Logan Richardson – Shift
Murray Allen Carrington – Perfection
Michael Blanco – Spirit Forward
Michael Blake – Fulfillment
Matt Wilson’s Big Happy Family – Beginning of a Memory
Marquis Hill – The way we play
Norah Jones – Daybreaks
Thumbscrew -- convallaria
Takuya Kuroda Zigzagger
Robert Glasper ArtScience
Wolfgang Muthspiel – Rising Grace



Duane Williams, host of What's New, Sundays 10p - MIDNIGHT

Kind of Blue reissued on blue vinyl - Miles Davis
Just great to hear the man at work all over again.

Brave Enough - Lindsey Stirling
A taste of Celtic music with a modern rise. We normally see a band rise up from Royal Street, but this artist made her rise on YouTube.

Songs of Struggle and Hope by Agustin Lira - Agustin Lira
A reissue of protest songs from the sixties which haven't been outdated given the current social climate.

You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen
It was better when I could say his latest album instead of his final album.

Countdown (Bonus Track Edition) - Joey Alexander
This kid is an impressive piano player at the age of thirteen. It's fun to hear him grow as an artist. He's performing the works of others now, but in time he'll likely begin to compose his own material.

Breathless - Terence Blanchard featuring The E Collective



Sondra Bibb , host of the Wednesday edition of Jazz from the French Market, 4 - 7p

Miles Davis Quintet “Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Volume 5

A Tribe Called Quest “We Got It From Here, Thank You for Your Service”

Dejohnette/Coltrane/Garrison “Movement”

Pat Metheny “The Unity Sessions”

”Logan Richardson “Shift”

Avishai Cohen “Into the Silence”

Renee Rosnes “Written in the Rocks

Anderson.Paak “Malibu”

Erroll Garner “Ready Take One"

Jeff Parker “The New Breed”

Kevin Hays “North”

Tom Harrell “Something Gold, Something Blue”

Murray Allen + Carrington Power Trio “Perfection”

Robert Glasper Experiment “ArtScience”

Orrin Evans “#knowingishalfthebattle”

Esperanza Spalding “Emily’s D+Evolution”



Carrie Booher , substitute host & 'OZ's Digital Content Editor

Corey Henry Lapeitah

Professor Longhair Live in Chicago

Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra Make America Great Again!

Leyla McCalla A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey

Miss MEC So Damn True

Allen Toussaint American Tunes

The Spirit of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors When That Morning Comes

Smoking Time Jazz Club Make A Tadpole Holler Whale

Pat Reedy & the Longtime Goners Highway Bound

Luke Winslow King I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always

Various Artists The Musical Mojo of Dr. John

Herlin Riley New Direction

Tuba Skinny Blue Chime Stomp

Leroy Jones I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout New Orleans

Anders Osborne Spacedust & Ocean Views

Robin Barnes Songbird Sessions EP

Naughty Professor In The Flesh




Here's my top picks for Crescent City soul in 2016:

Matters of the Heart - Eric Lindell

Apache - Aaron Neville

River's on Fire - John "Papa" Gros

The Last Leaf 5/6/13 - Papa Grows Funk

Th Wild New Orleans Piano and Productions of Allen Toussaint 1958-1962 - Allen Toussaint

Live in Chicago - Professor Longhair

Don't kill my groove! - Ernie K-Doe

The Soul Queen of New Orleans - Irma Thomas

Here Come the Seltzermen - The Meyers

Tick Tock Tick - Will Porter

The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: Celebrating Mac & His Music - Various Artists

Boppin By the Bayou: Drive Ins & Babydolls - Various Artists

New Orleans Funk Vol 4: Voodoo Fire in New Orleans - Various Artists



Allan "Alski" Laskey, host of The Rhythm Room, Fridays, 10pm-MIDNIGHT

Best Of 2016 (no particular order) :

Femi Temowo - The Music Is The Feeling. Afro-Jazz from the London based Nigerian artist with backing by The Engines Orchestra.

Macy Gray - Stripped. Acoustic jazz with a touch of reggae. Revisiting her back catalog with a couple of covers.

Bitori - Legend Of Funaná (The Forbidden Music of The Cape Verde Islands). Accordion fueled roots dance music. Banned for political content.

Anthony Joseph - Caribbean Roots. Trinidadian spoken word with soca and afrobeat backing. He also fronts: Mop Mop - Lunar Love. Futuristic Jazz-funk from France.

Willie Nelson - For the Good Times A Tribute to Ray Price. Willie covers one of his major influences.

Van Morrison - Keep Me Singing. The master, still going strong.

Lakou Mizik - Wa Di Yo. Fresh take on compa and rara from Haiti.

Beverley Knight - Soulsville. Recorded in Memphis with the Hi Rhythm Section. Real deal southern soul.

Bunny Wailer - Solomonic Singles 1 & 2 1969 - 1986 . 45’s from reggae legends own label. Many never released outside of Jamaica.

Otis Redding - Live At The Whisky A Go Go; The Complete Recordings 1966. Massive 6 disc set of Otis live. Essential.

Calypso Rose - Far from Home. New release from the queen of soca. Modern take on calypso classics.

Alicia Keys - Here. Who knew. Strong new release, great lyrics.

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band - 55. Steel drum reggae and funk.

Fela Kuti - The Best of the Black President. 2 disc set chosen and edited by his son Femi Kuti. Powerful music.



Raymond Kent, host of The Morning Set on Fridays, 6-9am

Here are my favorites of 2016:

Esperanza Spalding’s “Emily’s D+ Evolution”– This one was locally and widely ignored, but it belongs.

Allen Toussaint’s “American Tunes” – Restrained, but never less than beautiful throughout.  

Delfeayo Marsalis’ Jazz Orchestra, “Make America Great Again!” – a true triumph. 

Snarky Puppy’s “Culcha Vulcha” – alternately subdued and wildly energetic, this one’s a keeper. 



Boudin Man, host of the Kitchen Sink, Wednesdays, 10pm-Midnight

Boudin Man's Favorites 2016:

Bob Dylan, Fallen Angels

Bob Dylan, The Real Albert Hall 1966 Concert (Vinyl)

Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings (36 CD Box Set)

Morning 40 Federation (45), "Conception / Wild White Tear"

Chill, Take It From The Blind Side

The Lost Bayou Ramblers (12”ep), "Aloha Golden Meadow / Cote Clair"

Creole String Beans, Golden Crown

Allen Toussaint, American Tunes 

Egg Yolk Jubilee, Crux of the Yolk

The Melatauns, Bards of Melatonia

Roddie Romero & The Hub City All-Stars, Gulf Stream

Michael Juan Nunez, Rise

Bas Clas, In Wonderland

Go Kinba (Digital), "O Sweet So Nice / Saint Cecilia"

Lucinda Williams, The Ghosts of Highway 20

Maradeen, Above The Horizon



Breaux Bridges, host of the Wednesday edition of The Morning Set, 6-9am

I listened to a lot of terrific music this year on the following CDs:
Christian Winther – Refuge in Sound
Wolfgang Muthspiel – Rising Grace
Edward Simon – Latin American Songbook
Amina Figerova – Blue Whisper
Dr. Lonnie Smith – Evolution
Renee Rosnes – Written in the Rocks
Herlin Riley – New Direction
Ark Ovrutski Quintet – Intersection
Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matt Garrison – In Movement
Nolatet – Dogs
Julian Lage – Arclight
George Coleman – A Master Speaks
Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau -- Nearness
Warren Wolf – Convergence
Fabrizio Sotti Trio -- Forty
René Marie – The Sound of Red
Cyrus Chestnut – Natural Essence
Chris Cheek – Saturday Songs
Corey Christiansen – Factory Girl
Will Goble – Consider the Blues
Hiromi & The Trio Project – The Spark
Murray, Allen, & Carrington Power Trio – Perfection
Kenny Garrett Quintet – Do Your Dance!
Jane Ira Bloom – Early Americans
Frank Catalano & Jimmy Chamberlin – Bye Bye Blackbird
Mimi Jones – Feet in the Mud
DE3 (Duane Eubanks) – Live at Maxwell’s
Orrin Evans – #knowingishalfthe battle
Steve Turre – Colors for the Masters
Benny Golson – Horizon Ahead
Denny Zeitlin – Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions
Charlie Hunter – Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth
Rez Abassi & Junction – Behind the Vibration
Bill O’Connell – Heart Beat
Fred Hersch – Sunday Night at the Vanguard
Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads
Kevin Hays – North
John Daversa – Kaleidoscope Eyes: Music of the Beatles
Tierney Sutton Band: The Sting Variations
Antonio Adolfo – Tropical Infinito
Ben Wendel – What We Bring
Throttle Elevator Music – IV
Joey Alexander – Countdown
Will Calhoun – Celebrating Elvin Jones
Enrico Pieranunzi – New Spring: Live at the Village Vanguard
Jim Snidero – MD66
John Scofield – Country for Old Men
The Wee Trio – Wee + 3
The Bad Plus – It’s Hard        
Black Art Jazz Collective – Presented by the Side Door Jazz Club
Eric Hargett – Steppin’ Up
George Cables – The George Cables Songbook
Tom Harrell – Something Gold, Something Blue
Donny McCaslin – Beyond Now
Alyssa Allgood – Out of the Blue
Aziza – Aziza
Frank Kimbrough – Solstice
Jason Miles & Ingrid Jensen – Kind of New (actually released in late December 2015 but I didn’t discover it until 2016)

Of special note are the following excellent CDs that were released in 2016 but were comprised of older recordings that had not, for one reason or another, been released previously:

Erroll Garner – Ready Take One
Bill Evans – Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest
Lyle Mays – The Ludwigsburg Concert 
Stan Getz – Moments in Time
Larry Young – Live in Paris: The Ortf Recordings
Joe Lovano Quartet – Classic! Live at Newport
Woody Shaw – The Tour, Vol. 1



Andrew Grafe, host of the Blues Electric, Mondays 2-4 pm

Robert Finley: "Age Don't Mean a Thing"

Jontavious Willis: "Blue Metamorphosis"

Rolling Stones: "Blue & Lonesome"

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes: "It is what it is"

Lydia Loveless: "Real"

Bobby Rush: "Porcupine Meat"

Bombino: "Azel"

Durand Jones & the Indications: Self-titled

Shovels & Rope: "Little Seeds"

Dale Watson: "Live at Big T's Roadhouse"

Dwight Yoakam: "Swimming Pools, Movie Stars"

Richard Williams: "Tell The Truth"

Jimbo Mathus: "Band of Storms"

William Bell: "This is Where I Live"

Drive-By Truckers: "American Band"



Charles Laborde and Jim Hobbs, hosts of Sunday's Cajun & Zydeco Show, Noon-2pm, AKA "Lache Pas!"

Best Cajun, Creole and Zydeco recordings of 2016

1. Barry Jean Ancelet and Sam Broussard "Broken Promised Land."  Swallow Records.

Nominated for a Grammy, this two-person recording features multi-instrumentalist Sam Broussard, of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, and Barry Jean Ancelet.  Broussard set Ancelet's Cajun French poetry to music in an invigorating extension of Cajun and Creole music.   

2. Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars. "Gulfstream."  Octavia Records.  Also nominated for a Grammy, "Gulfstream" is wonderful collision of swamp pop, rhythm 'n' blues, zydeco and Cajun from a mature artist.  Eric Adcock plays organ and Derek Huston, saxophone. Allen Toussaint penned two tracks.  

3. Mid-City Aces. "Mid-City Aces" Self-released.  Three very talented, New Orleans-based musicians best known for their work with other bands team up to revive classic Cajun tunes.  Gina Forsyth is also Bruce Daigrepont's fiddle player.  Cameron Dupuy plays fantastic accordion, and his dad, Michael, does work on the guitar.  

4. Lee Benoit. "Louisiana Cajun Style."  Self-released.Best Cajun, Creole and zydeco recordings of 2016 

5. Forest Huval.  "Forest Huval."  Self-released.

6. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. "Live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2016." Munckmusic.

The latest version of the band, with Eric Adcock on organ and female backup vocals at the excellent Jazz Fest Fais Do-Do Stage.

7. Bruce Daigrepont. "Bienvenue Sud de la Louisiane."  Self-released.

Bruce's second self-released CD, chock full of original Cajun French songs.

8. 'Tit Monde. Live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2016. Munckmusic.

A Cajun-country trio with two women and one man, leading to excellent harmony singing and Cajun standards along with Cajun-flavored versions of older country songs.

9. Belton Richard. Live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2016. Munckmusic.

The accordion master is in fine shape with a full dancehall band on his only live recording.  Unfortunately, his voice definitely sounds more and more strained as the set goes on.

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