WWOZ Hosts' Favorites for 2015

Published on: November 12th, 2012

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Vinyl in the studio
Vinyl in the studio. Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee.

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Louisiana Music Factory

WWOZ's show hosts have begun compiling their lists of the best CDs of 2015. 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.

T.R. Johnson | Carrie Booher | Andrew Grafe | Sondra Bibb | Jennifer Brady | Boudin Man | Russell Shelton | Olivia Greene | Allan "Alski" Laskey | Ol' Man River | Breaux Bridges | Jim Hobbs & Charles Laborde

T.R. Johnson Jazz from the French Market with T.R. Johnson

Here’s my list for Best “Jazz” of 2015 – not in rank order, but rather alphabetical by album title —T. R. Johnson

BEST JAZZ OF 2015:
Arms and Hands – Kirk Knuffke
Bird Calls – Rudresh Mahanthappa
Break Stuff - Vijay Iyer
Breathless – Terrence Blanchard’s E-Collective
Brazen — Dave Douglas
Charm – John Ellis & Double-Wide
Covered – Robert Glasper Trio
For Someone to Love – Cecile McLorin Salvant
Gaia – Lionel Loueke
High Risk – Dave Douglas
Lamplighter – Kirk Knuffke
Let the Bells Ring On – Charlie Hunter Trio
Letters – Nicholas Payton
Live at Monterey – Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas
Little Cross – Kirk Knuffke
Shadows in the Night – Bob Dylan
Stretch Music – Christian Scott
Suite Caminos – Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Synovial Joints – Steve Coleman
Tokyo Adagio – Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Triangles and Circles – Dafnis Prieto
Ultra Violet – Nick Mazzarella
Wild Man Dance – Charles Lloyd

Carrie Booher 

Nigel Hall "Ladies & Gentlemen... Nigel Hall"
1970s soul/funk revival done so right, and with a modern twist.

Smoking Time Jazz Club: "Everything Is Righteous"
My favorite jazz band in New Orleans right now. There's no one alive today who does 1920s-era New Orleans jazz better than these guys.

Haruka Kikuchi "Music Granola"
I love traditional jazz. Haruka's originally from Japan but has the fire of Treme within her and that trombone. Seriously love her!

Courtney Barnett 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit'
She's not usual 'OZ fare, but this is definitely near the top of my 2015 list. Courtney is keeping rock'n'roll alive.

The Deslondes "The Deslondes"
The old-time country 'Time to Believe In' is my favorite track from these cowboys.

The Session "Live at Snug Harbor"
One of many groups of super talented young, local musicians keeping the New Orleans jazz flame alive.

Christian Scott "Stretch Music"
Christian never ceases to stretch himself as an artist, and is bringing the jazz and music industry along with him with this one.

The New Orleans Jazz Vipers "Going Going Gone
Up-tempo, danceable trad jazz. Frenchmen comes to your home stereo.

Daria & the Hip Drops "Hipnotic"
This is just fun!

The Bridge Trio "The Search: Departure"
Another set of NOCCA graduates doing right in the modern jazz world.

Andrew Grafe Blues Eclectic with Andrew Grafe

JB Hutto & the Hawks--"Hawk Squat" (reissue)
Leo "Bud" Welch--"I Don't Prefer No Blues"
Jason Isbell--" Something More Than Free"
Wilco--"Star Wars"
Dwight Yoakum--"2nd Hand Heart"
The Deslondes--"The Deslondes"
Christian Scott--"Stretch Music"
James McMurtry--"Complicated Game"
Barrence Whitfield & the Savages--"Under the Savage Sky"

Sondra Bibb Jazz from the French Market with Sondra Bibb

Not in any particular order...
1) Ben Williams “Coming of Age”
2) Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah “Stretch Music"
3) Kamasi Washington “The Epic”
4) Cecile McLorin Salvant “For One to Love”
5) Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp A Butterfly”
6) Terence Blanchard featuring E-Collective “Breathless”
7) Robert Glasper Trio “Covered: Recorded Live at Capitol Studios”
8) Kendrick Scott Oracle “We Are The Drum”
9) Charles Lloyd “Wild Man Dance”
10) Perez, Patitucci, Blade “Children Of The Light”
11) Orrin Evans “The Evolution of Oneself”
12) James Farm “City Folk”
13) St. Germain “St. Germain”
14) Irvin Mayfield “New Orleans Jazz Playhouse”
15) Eliane Elias “Made in Brazil”
16) John Coltrane “A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters”
17) Pat Metheny Group “Phase Dance…Live, 77”
18) Miles Davis “The Last Word - The Warner Bros. Years”
19) Nicholas Payton "Letters"
20) Antonio Hart "Blessed"

Jennifer Brady 

Colin Lake, One Thing That's For Sure
Played it loud and often - saw him perform a few times this year and loved every minute of it

Leo Bud Welch, I Don't Prefer No Blues, "Girl in the Holler"

Little Freddie King, Messing Around Tha Living Room

Patti Griffin, Servant of Love

Boudin Man Kitchen Sink with A.J. Rodrigue and A.A.

Boudin Mans Favorites 2015

Grateful Dead, Fare Thee Well (Box Set)
Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night
Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series Volume 12 Collectors Edition/ Deluxe Edition
Lonely Lonely Knights, Lonely Lonely Knights
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, “Freedom Tower” No Wave Dance Party 2015
Colin Lake, One Thing That’s For Sure
79RS Gang, Fire On The Bayou
Swamp Dogg, The White Man Made Me Do It
Jimbo Mathus, Blue Healer
Tin Men, On The Shady Side
Rickie Lee Jones, The Other Side of Desire
King Khan & BBQ Show, Bad News Boys
Miss Pussycat, Anthropomorphizer (Puppet Show Soundtracks)
Weather Warlock, Sunset Waits For No MAN
Nigel Hall, Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall
Warren Storm, The Bad Times Make The Good Times, Classic Texas Recordings 1964-1986

Russell Shelton The Morning Set with Russell Shelton

Here are some things I found interesting this year (in no particular order):

Arms and Hands – Kirk Knuffke
For Someone to Love – Cecile McLorin Salvant
Letters – Nicholas Payton
Stretch Music – Christian Scott
Live at Snug Harbor - The Session
The Epic - Kamasi Washington
Expedition 2 - Wolff & Clark
Our Great Awakening - Khari Allen Lee & the New Creative Collective
Patina - Stockton Helbing
Golden State II - Harris Eisenstadt
Canada Day IV - Harris Eisenstadt
De Profundis (from the depths) - Andrew Bishop
Basic Truths - Barry Stephenson
To Duke - Matthew Shipp Trio
Dawn - Mike Osborne
Graffiti - JD Allen
Crisis - Amir ElSaffar
Radiate - Liberty Ellman
Hand in Hand in the Hand of the Moon - Billie Davies
A Dance and a Hop - Josh Berman Trio
Our Roots - Geof Bradfield Quintet

Olivia Greene Fresh Fig Jam with Olivia Greene

Top Trad Jazz CDs of 2015

I've limited my Top Trad of 2015 list to ten CD releases. For integrity's sake, I included for consideration only those releases which I was actually able to listen to. Here they are in alphabetical order.
- Olivia Greene

Charlie Halloran & the Quality 6 - Charlie Halloran & the Quality 6 (indie)
Haruka Kikuchi – Music Granola (indie)
Sasha Masakowski & The Sidewalk Strutters – Old Green River (indie)
The Messy Cookers Jazz Band – That's My Home (indie)
Aurora Nealand & Tom McDermott - City Of Timbres (indie)
New Orleans Jazz Vipers - Going! Going! Gone (indie)
New Orleans Steamcog Orchestra – Victory Through Steam (indie)
Greg Ruby & The Rhythm Runners – Washington Hill Stomp (indie)
Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers - #imsoneworleans (Basin Street Records)
Smoking Time Jazz Club - Everything Is Righteous (indie)

And a Most Honorable Mention for their 2015 monthly online digital releases:

Panorama Jazz Band (PanoramaJazzBand.com)

Allan "Alski" Laskey The Rhythm Room with Allan "Alski" Laskey

Top releases 2015. No particular order.

Dexter Story "Wonderm". Mix of east african styles merged with pop and jazz influences.

Akua Dixon "Akua Dixon" Jazz cellist with a classical bent.

Cymande "A Simple Act Of Faith". Old school funksters (Brothers On The Slide etc.) with a new release.

Lila Downs "Balas y Chocolate". Mexican-American artist covering a wide range of indigenous styles mixed with pop and world touches.

Galactic "Into the Deep". Top funk band is also the modern Booker T. and the M.G.'s backing a wide range of artists.

Speedometer "No Turning Back". British band channeling socially conscious funk from the early 1970's.

Zomba Prison Project "I Have No Everything". Recorded live at a maximum security prison in Mozambique. Heavy duty.

Souljazz Orchestra "Resistance" Combining multiple influences (funk, jazz,afrobeat and latin. One of the tightest bands going.

Gospel Machine "Your Holy Ghost". Indie rock/gospel hybrid.

Pops Staples "Don't Lose This" Unfinished recordings completed by his daughter Mavis.

Robert Glasper "Reckoner". Forwarding thinking jazz pianist with a live in studio release.

Dave and Phil Alvin "Lost Time". Real deal Americana.

Los Lobos "Gates of Gold". No explanation needed.

Ol' Man River The Spin Cycle with Ol' Man River

Here is Ol' Man River's Best of... They are in no particular order.

Gangstagrass - American Music
Marc Stone - Poison & Medicine
The Deslondes - The Deslondes
Christian Scott - Touch Music
Nigel Hall - Ladies and Gentlemen Nigel Hall
79ers Gang - Fire on the Bayou
Colin Lake - One Thing That's For
The Bad Plus Redman -The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
Galactic - Into The Deep
Papa Mali - Music is Love
Chris Mule' - Down To The Bottom
George Porter Jr - Its Time to Funk
Woodenhead - Live at Tipitinias
Zeke Fishhead - No Fun
Feufolliet - Two Universes
Brent Rose - The Unexpected Guest
Louie Ludwig and the Moss Pickers, Elevation 13
Naughty Professor - Out On a Limb
Brint Anderson - Covered in Earl
Funk Monkey - Funk Monkey
Johnny Sansone - Lady on the Levee

Breaux Bridges 

Favorite Jazz Records 2015

Rudresh Mahanthappa – Bird Calls
Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra – The Thompson Fields
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Stretch Music
Chris Potter – Imaginary Cities
Joshua Redman & The Bad Plus – The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
Béla Fleck & Chick Corea – Two
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
Jim Snidero – Main Street
Charlie Hunter Trio (feat. Bobby Previte & Curtis Fowlkes) – Let the Bells Ring
Stanley Clarke, Bireli Lagrène, Jean-Luc Ponty – D-Stringz
Wayne Horvitz – Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places for Richard
John Scofield – Past Present
Avishai Cohen Trio – From Darkness
Terell Stafford – BrotherLee Love
Vijay Iyer Trio – Break Stuff
Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance
Perez Pattitucci & Blade – Children of the Light
Antonio Sanchez – Three Times Three
Antonio Sanchez & Migration – The Meridian Suite
Brad Mehldau – 10 Years Solo Live
Tim Warfield – Spherical
Jeff “Tain” Watts – Blues, Vol. 1
Orrin Evans – The Evolution of Oneself
Mark McGrain & Plunge – IN for the OUT
Ben Williams – Coming of Age
Stockton Helbing – Patina
Tigran Hamasyan – Mockroot
Steve Wilson & Wilsonian’s Grain – Live in New York: The Vanguard Sessions
Steve Gadd Band – 70 Strong
Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Tokyo Adagio
Myra Melford – Snowy Egret
Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas – Sound Prints: Live at Monterrey Jazz Festival
Cyrus Chestnut – A Million Colors in Your Mind
Cassandra Wilson – Coming Forth by Day
Cory Weeds – Condition Blue: The Music of Jackie McLean
Michael Gibbs and the NDR BigBand — Play a Bill Frisell Set List

Jim Hobbs and Charles Laborde Cajun and Zydeco with Charles Laborde or Jim Hobbs

Best Cajun, Creole and zydeco CDs of 2015
By Jim Hobbs and Charles Laborde

Dwayne Dopsie. Calling Your Name. Sound of New Orleans. Searing zydeco from a son of Rockin' Dopsie.

Feufollet. Two Universes. Feufollet. Cajun, country and rock had a baby, and it's the new recording by Feufollet, long known for their experimentalist leanings.

Doug Kershaw & Steve Riley. Face To Face. Valcour Records. Two bad boys of Cajun music meet and survey Cajun music on vocals, violin and accordion and reprise Kershaw's "Louisiana Man."

Lil Nathan. Face to Face - Nate the Great. Cha Cha. Son of Nathan Williams, Lil Nathan is rapidly maturing into a major force in zydeco.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Voyageurs. Mamou Playboys. The latest in a long line of recordings from the band that's pushing Cajun into the future.

T'Monde. Yesterday's Gone. Single and harmony vocals from the best young trio in Cajun music, with a strong country influence.

The Revelers. Get Ready. Swamp pop for the twenty-first century from Blake Miller and band.

And one non-Cajun recording by a Cajun:
Al Berard. Incredible Journey. Independent. The long-anticipated all-guitar double album from Al "Pyook" Berard, the great Cajun singer and instrumentalist whose life ended far too early in 2014.

And two books:

Todd Mouton. Way down in Louisiana. UL Press, 2015.
Clifton Chenier as the center of the south Louisiana musical universe and all those planets that orbit him. From the popular OffBeat writer, with lots of photos and images.

Sara Le Menestrel. Negotiating Difference in French Louisiana Music : Categories, Stereotypes, and Identifications. University Press of Mississippi, 2015.
How do we decide what is Cajun, Creole or zydeco music? For academic types.

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