Chicago Reader – Peter Margasak’s favorite albums of 2015

By Peter Margasak

20) Mette Henriette, Mette Henriette (ECM)
19) Eve Risser, Des Pas Sur la Neige (Clean Feed)
-French pianist Eve Risser has played in all sorts of contexts lately, including the New Songs with first-rate Scandinavians and her homeland’s Orchestre National de Jazz. But she saved her boldest work for this solo debut, one of the most creative demonstrations of prepared piano I’ve ever heard. Using a variety of devices (including an Ebow) to generate hovering, sustained tones, Risser uncovers a rich sonic world, assembling the results of her research with unerring compositional logic.
18) John Luther Adams, The Wind in High Places (Cold Blue)
17) Naçao Zumbi, Naçao Zumbi (Circular Moves)
16) Jeph Jerman & Tim Barnes, Matterings (Erstwhile)
15) Ryley Walker, Primrose Green (Dead Oceans)
14) Amir ElSaffar & the Two Rivers Ensemble, Crisis (Pi)
13) Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth, Epicenter (Clean Feed)
-The second album by Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth celebrates the bassist’s adopted hometown of New York: the title Epicenter refers to the city’s position in the world of jazz, and his compositions reflect its melting-pot ethos. Saxophonists Tony Malaby and Chris Cheek, inventive drummer Gerald Cleaver, and brilliant keyboardist Craig Taborn (playing a lot of Wurlitzer here) join Lightcap to dig deep into a collision of African grooves, postbop modes, classic minimalism, and blues, all of it given a thoroughly contemporary drive. And as though the album weren’t New York enough, it closes with a terrific cover of the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”
12) Vijay Iyer Trio, Break Stuff (ECM)
11) Mary Halvorson, Meltframe (Firehouse 12)
10) Michael Pisaro, A Mist Is a Collection of Points (New World)
9) Mbongwana Star, From Kinshasa (World Circuit)
8) Josh Berman Trio, A Dance and a Hop (Delmark)
7) Yarn/Wire, Currents Vol. 3 (Yarn/Wire)
6) Liberty Ellman, Radiate (Pi)
5) Jack DeJohnette, Made in Chicago (ECM)
4) International Contemporary Ensemble, Anna Thorvaldsdottir: In the Light of Air (Sono Luminus)
3) Joanna Newsom, Divers (Drag City)
2) JD Allen, Graffiti (Savant)
1) Henry Threadgill Zooid, In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi)


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