The Free Jazz Collective – Albums of the Year 2015


2015 was another exciting year for the Free Jazz Collective. We welcomed several new reviewers: Peter Gough, Eric McDowell, Joel Barela, Lee Rice Epstein and Derek Stone and had over 1600 albums on the review list to do … oh, if we could only reviewed each and every one! Anyway, typical laments aside, here is our collective album of the year and then everyone’s top 10 lists – please let us know what your picks are!

The Top 10

This year’s top album of the year was a tough one. When all the votes were tallied, we were at tie for the top place, only after an unprecedented run off vote, we present the top album of 2015:

Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler, Chris Corsano – This Is Our Language (Not Two Records)
Stephen Haynes – Pomegranate (New Atlantis)
Vox Arcana – Caro’s Song (Relay)
Agustí Fernández – River Tiger Fire (Fundacja Słuchaj!)
Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor – Tales of the Unforeseen (TUM)
Eve Risser – Des pas sur la neige (Clean Feed)
Luís Vicente, Théo Ceccaldi, Valentin Ceccaldi, Marcelo dos Reis – Chamber 4 (FMR)
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Pt. 3: River Run Thee (Constellation)
Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love – Candy (PNL)
Pascal Niggenkemper – Look with Thine Ears (Clean Feed)
And now, in no particular order, our reviewer’s top 10s and more…

Stef Gijssels

Luís Vicente, Théo Ceccaldi, Valentin Ceccaldi, Marcelo dos Reis – Chamber 4
Gush – The March
Eve Risser – Des Pas Dans La Neige
-A great musical journey on pian by one of the most fascinating pianists of the moment
Larry Ochs – The Fictive Five
Stephen Haynes – Pomegranate
Deux Maisons – For Sale
-Unique musical vision
Joëlle Léandre, Delbecq, Houle – 14, Rue Paul Fort, Paris
Joe Hertenstein, Pascal Niggenkemper & Thomas Heberer – HNH
-Fantastic trumpet, bass, drums trio redefining the format through inventive music
Baloni – Ripples
-A wonderful and poetic trio of clarinet, viola and double bass
Earth Tongues – Rune

Paul Acquaro

Mette Rasmussen / Chris Corsano Duo – All The Ghosts At Once (Relative Pitch Records)
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil – You’ve Been Watching Me (ECM)
Pulverize the Sound – Pulverize the Sound (Relative Pitch)
Nicole Mitchell, Tomeka Reid & Mike Reed – Artifacts (482 Music)
Marcelo dos Reis & Angélica V. Salvi – Concentric Rinds‏ (Cipsela)
Cortex – Live! (Clean Feed)
-This Norwegian quintet plays ‘classic’ free jazz with vim and vigor, and live they are just on fire.
Ken Vandermark & Nate Wooley – East by Northwest (Audiographic)
Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love – Candy (PnL)
Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor – Tales of the Unforeseen (TUM)
Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House – Roulette of the Cradle (Intakt)

Lee Epstein

Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three : River Run Thee (Constellation)
Amir ElSaffar – Crisis (Pi)
Susana Santos Silva – Impermanence (Susana Santos Silva)
Vijay Iyer – Break Stuff (ECM)
Dave Douglas Quintet – Braze n Heart (Greenleaf)
Nate Wooley – Battle Pieces (Relative Pitch) / Nate Wooley Quintet (Dance To) The Early Music (Clean Feed)
I am absolutely cheating here, though I don’t think either of these records can exist without the other. Both find Wooley and his respective groups fully committing to his unique vision.
Eve Risser – Des Pas Sur La Neige (Clean Feed)
-Some albums, you can’t really be prepared for. Even the marketing material didn’t aptly describe Risser’s patient, challenging, and ever-shifting prepared piano.
Nicole Mitchell, Tomeka Reid, Mike Reed – Artifacts (482 Music)
Henry Threadgill Zooid – In For A Penny, In For A Pound (Pi)
Jacob Garchik – Ye Olde

Martin Schray

Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Pt. 3: River Run Thee (Constellation)
Kammerflimmer Kollektief: Désarroi (Staubgold)
Pascal Niggenkemper – Look with Thine Ears (Clean Feed)
-It’s hard to believe that Niggenkemper creates these various sounds without any electronics
Peter Brötzmann: Münster Bern (Cubus Records)
Nate Wooley Quintet: (Dance to) the Early Music
-Wooley plays the music of Wynton Marsalis – unusual, fresh, and extremely well-played
Switchback: Switchback (Multikulti)
Gush: The March (Konvoj Records)
Baloni: Ripples (Clean Feed)
-Clarinets/saxophones, viola and bass produce magical sound colors between improv and new classical music
Nick Mazzarella/Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten/Avreeayl Ra: Azimuth (Astral Spirits)
Jeff Henderson/Tom Callwood/Anthony Donaldson: The Voice of an Angle (iii Records)

Troy Dostert

Matt Mitchell – Vista Accumulation (Pi)
Rudresh Mahanthappa – Bird Calls (ACT)
Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble – Crisis (Pi)
Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor – Tales of the Unforeseen (TUM)
Maria Schneider Orchestra – Thompson Fields (Artistshare)
Vijay Iyer Trio – Break Stuff (ECM)
Potsa Lotsa Plus – Plays Love Suite by Eric Dolphy (jazzwerkstadt)
Kris Davis Infrasound – Save Your Breath (Clean Feed)
-Charting new paths in composing for medium-sized groups, Davis continues to impress and dazzle. A moody, mysterious, and bewitching record.
Lama and Joachim Badenhorst – The Elephant’s Journey (Clean Feed)
-A highly creative ensemble, with adept use of electronics and particularly fine trumpet work from Susana Santos Silva.
James Falzone’s Renga Ensemble – The Room Is (Allos Musica)

Peter Gough

Evan Parker, John Edwards, Eddie Prévost, Christof Thewes, Alexander von Schlippenbach – 3 Nights at Cafe Oto (Matchless Recordings)
Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler, Chris Corsano – This Is Our Language (Not Two Records)
Paal Nilssen-Love – Cut and Bleed (Ideal)
Nick Fraser, Tony Malaby, Kris Davis – Too Many Continents (Clean Feed)
Dead Neanderthals – Worship The Sun (Relative Pitch)
John Dikeman, Dirk Serries, Steve Noble – Obscure Fluctuations (Trost)
Stephen Haynes – Pomegranate (New Atlantis)
Vox Arcana – Caro’s Song (Relay)
Pascal Niggenkemper – Look With Thine Ears (Clean Feed)
Michael Zerang and The Blue Lights – Songs from the Big Book of Love (Pink Palace)

Paolo Casertano

Paal Nilssen-Love – Cut and Bleed (iDeal Recordings)
Roscoe Mitchell Quartet – Celebrating Fred Anderson (Nessa Records)
Peter Evans Quintet – Destination: Void (More Is More Records)
Evan Parker, Joe Morris and Nate Wooley – Ninth Square (Clean Feed)
-My gratitude to some of my favourite musicians in general – each of them with so many great releases during this year – and to one of the labels with the highest quantity/quality ratio
John Butcher – Nigemizu (Uchimizu)
Brötzmann – Münster Bern (Cubus Records)
Stefan Keune, Dominic Lash, Steve Noble – Fractions (NoBusiness)
Bobby Bradford / Frode Gjerstad Quartet – The Delaware River (NoBusiness)
Pulverize the Sound – Pulverize the Sound (Relative Pitch)
Mats Gustafsson Nu Ensemble – Hidros6 Knockin’ (NotTwo)

Tom Burris

Tomeka Reid Quartet (Thrill Jockey)
Vox Arcana – Caro’s Song (Relay)
Matthew Shipp – To Duke (RougeArt)
Marcelo Dos Reis / Angelica V. Salvi – Concentric Rinds (Cipsela)
Upsilon Acrux – Sun Square Dialect (New Atlantis)
Nate Wooley Quintet – (Dance to) The Early Music (Clean Feed)
-The farthest-out of modern trumpeters interprets.. Wynton Marsalis?!? It’s very great. Shut my mouth.
Daniel Levin Quartet – Friction (Clean Feed)
-Levin’s music continues to progress as it becomes more approachable, making this his finest effort as a leader to date.
Mary Halvorson – Meltframe (Firehouse 12)
Kaja Draksler & Susana Santos Silva – This Love (Clean Feed)
-Thoughtful trumpet and piano improvisations operating somewhere near intuitive genius. Both musicians are in peak form these days & this collaboration magnifies each of their respective gifts.
Michael Bisio – Accortet (Relative Pitch)

Antonio Poscic

Matana Roberts – COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee
Luís Vicente, Théo Ceccaldi, Valentin Ceccaldi, Marcelo dos Reis – Chamber 4
Pascal Niggenkemper – Look with Thine Ears
-An incredible solo album on which Niggenkemper guides us through a maze of impossible sounds extracted from his prepared bass.
Kris Davis Infrasound – Save Your Breath
-Pianist Kris Davis and her octet comprised of some of the best musicians around embark on an adventure that is equal parts atmosphere, focused improvisation, and surprising subtleties.
Peter Brötzmann – Münster Bern
Pulverize the Sound – Pulverize the Sound
Vox Arcana – Caro’s Song
Rodrigo Amado/Joe McPhee/Kent Kessler/Chris Corsano – This is Our Language
Benjamin Duboc & Alexandra Grimal – Le Retour D’Ulysse [Promenade] Rudresh Mahanthappa – Bird Calls

Derek Stone

Schlippenbach Trio – Features
Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler & Chris Corsano – This Is Our Music
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil – You’ve Been Watching Me
Bram de Looze – Septych
Ivo Perelman, Mat Maneri & Tanya Kalmanovitch – Villa Lobos Suite
Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp – Callas
Luis Vicente, Marcelo dos Reis, Valentin Ceccaldi, Theo Ceccaldi – Chamber 4
Matana Roberts – COIN COIN Ch. 3: River Run Thee
Mary Halvorson – Meltframe
Pulverize the Sound – Pulverize the Sound

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