Every year we invite musicians, DJs and readers of this blog to send us their five favourite albums or tracks of the year. The selections by our contributors for 2017 are eclectic and cross many genres. See what you think of their choices…
Please feel to tell us about your favourite albums or tracks in 2017 in the comments box below the post.
A DJ, Producer and owner of Pamper Records. His last album is DJ Kicks 50th Anniversary.
Soulphiction: Get It Right
International Pony vs LoSoul: International Snootleg
Ark: Punkadelik (Mr Oizo Remix)
International Pony: Solid Gold
Songwriter and broadcaster on BBC Radio 6 Music
St Vincent: Masseducation
Benjamin Zephaniah: Revolutionary Minds
Lisa Knapp: Til April Is Dead: A Garland Of May Songs
Hamell On Trial: Tackle Box
Jim White: Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Nancy Kerr, Folk Singer of the Year BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015. She has recorded over 20 albums including Station House (with James Fagan and Robert Harbron), Sweet Visitor, Murmurs (with Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting) and her latest album Instar.
Purcell’s Polyphonic Party: An Invitation To Dance
Luke Daniels: Singing Ways To Feel More Junior
Magpie Lane: Three Quarter Time
Rafiki Jazz: Har Dam Sahara
Chris Foster: Hadelin
ORPHY ‘VIBES’ ROBINSON
Member of Black Top and presenter at Delite Radio. Robinson has played, recorded or toured with numerous artists including Don Cherry, Evan Parker, Carleen Anderson, William Parker, Robert Wyatt, Lester Bowie, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Robert Plant.
Kevin Eubanks: East West Timeline
Philip Baden Powel: Notes Over Poetry
John Beasley: Monkestra Vol 2
Jazzmeia Horn: A Social Call
Meg Morley: Can’t Get Started
Somi: Petite Afrique
Nate Smith:Kinfolk; Postcards From Everywhere
Harriet Tubman: Araminta
Keyon Harrold: The Mugician
China Moses: Nightintales
Vijay is a pianist, composer, bandleader, producer, electronic musician and professor at the Department of Music at Harvard University. As leader and co leader he has recorded at least 23 albums including Blood Sutra, Historicity, Solo and Break Stuff. His latest album is Far From Over.
JLin: Black Origami
Jen Shyu: Song of Silver Geese
Esperanza Spalding: Exposure (studio live stream)
Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa
Roscoe Mitchell: Bells for the South Side
Walthamstow Folk Club and Steve White & the Protest Family. Check out their latest album Protest For Dummies.
Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
Opening with a gourd banjo (the earliest American ancestor of the instrument, and one which make the sound angels make when they talk in their sleep) and climaxing with a kick arse rock ’n soul blow out and with great politics too. This is a sensational album.
Melrose Quartet: Dominion
Dominion doesn’t really break any new ground but it’s selection of great material played with skill, love and real heart was an absolute joy.
Viv Legg and Thomas McCarthy: Jauling The Green Tober
The first album of traveller singing recorded in Britain since Ewan MacColl put one together decades ago and the first curated and produced by travellers themselves. Two singers from different traveller traditions, one of whom is too shy to regularly perform at formal concerts take it in turns to sing their songs. Shorn of any accompaniment, I bet this is the most austere recording in the Dream Deferred list this year. I reckon it might be the most complex too.
Lal and Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus; ; Songs Of Mystery, Love, Loss And Hard Soil
A beautiful re-issue of a famous lost album from the early seventies. Wintery as hell and packed with astonishing harmony lines which twist around each other like the briar over Barbara Allen’s grave. During the recording of Child Among the Weeds it was discovered that the arrangement wasn’t in a key anyone present could sing. The moment Bob Davenport unleashes his broadsword of a voice to simply annihilate the problem is simply sublime.
Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan
Three griots – hereditary musicians and story tellers from West Africa in collaboration with the always restless Kronos Quartet. Mesmerising – I suspect there is a witch hiding somewhere in the grooves of this record.
A pianist who has performed with Melody Gardot and the Philadelphia Improvisation Orchestra.
Jóhann Jóhannsson: Orphee
Víkingur Ólafsson: Philip Glass: Piano Works
Kurtag: Complete Works For Ensemble And Choir
Danish String Quartet: Last Leaf
Los Angeles Percussion Quartet: Beyond
Musician whose new album Insanity vs Humanity is out now.
I just discovered this band and now I think they are amazing. The guitarist is like an African JJ Cale.
Garland: 14 Steps
I just love the words and the story he tells
Willie Nile: Every Grain Of Sand
I didn’t know this Dylan song and now I love it and Willie’s version
Ben Arnold: Nobody’s Hurting Like Me
I’ve been touring with Ben and think this song is just terrific.
Jeffrey Gaines: Come Out Tonight
He’s amazing singer songwriter from Philly and I think this song is damn near perfect.
One of the founders of Rock Against Racism and the co-author of the new book Reminiscences of RAR: Rocking Against Racism 1976-1982.
Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
Beautifully crafted songs and music in the US radical folk tradition.
Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over
Driving, imaginative ensemble playing, my favourite jazz album this year.
Traditional music from Puglia, Southern Italy. Tremendous.
Benjamin Zephaniah: Revolutionary Minds
A poet that never fails to thrill. Musically thrilling too! Here he really lets his hair down.
Maryam Saleh, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Maurice Louca: Lekhfa
Contemporary Egyptian dance floor beats. Warm wrap up stuff to get you dancing through to Spring.
Lal and Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus; Songs Of Mystery, Love, Loss And Hard Soil
Best re-issue of the year. One of the great albums in the English folk tradition, by two great songwriters.
DJ and radio presenter. You can catch her radio show featuring uplifting soul, funk, hip-hop, RnB and Rare Groove every Wednesday on www.urbanjazzradio.net
Stormzy: Gang Signs and Prayers
I never thought I’d have a grime artist constantly playing but I found this album beautiful and thoughtful and have listened to it again and again
Christian Scott: Ruler Rebel, Diaspora, The Emancipation Procrastination
Ok this is three albums but Scott has released them as a project, The Centennial Trilogy so I’m counting them as one choice
Amp Fiddler: Amp Dog Knights
He always does interesting stuff and this includes Moodyman and some J Dilla. Well worth checking out
Tom Glide: Divas Got Soul
An excellent line up of female vocalists and I’ve found myself playing this repeatedly
Trombone Shorty: Parking Lot Symphony
Actually I’ve put this one in really to suggest that if he does a gig near you, go to it, you won’t be disappointed! Seeing him live was one of my highlights of a good year for live music
A member of The Fred Hampton Appreciation Society whose new album is out now.
One delightful discovery in 2017 was harpist Alina Bzhezhinska who in November opened the Coltrane tribute night at the London Jazz Festival. Here she is performing an Alice Coltrane composition.
Ambrose Akinmusire: A Rift In Decorum (Live at the Village Vanguard)
This was also my gig of the year at Ronnie’s, especially the drumming of Justin Brown.
Dwight Trible: Inspirations
By now a rare kind of vocalist (think somewhere between Leon Thomas, Gil Scott-Heron and Johnny Hartman) doing a series of covers. Donny Hathaway’s Tryin’ Times probably the standout and utterly relevant track.
Trio Dakali and Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan
A global fusion that is surprisingly attractive over repeated listenings. Ideal driving music!
Another welcome surprise was pop-soul Kiwi Jordan Rakei’s band who I saw at the Love Supreme festival. While George Benson peddled turgid Vegas lounge-music on the main stage JR was kicking up a storm in one of the tents. Here he is at The North Sea Jazz festival a month previous.
• Would add a quick mention for Stuart Cosgrove’s excellent book ‘Memphis 1967: The Tragedy of Southern Soul’.
Here at Dream Deferred…
Arca: By Arca
This artist has worked with Björk, Kanye, FKA twigs and Frank Ocean. This his third album is a masterpiece of pared down industrial noise, electronic soundscapes and operatic hymns.
Jlin: Black Origami
Black Origami is dark, relentless, powerful and demands total concentration. In the world of electronic music, nobody but nobody is doing it anything like this.
Four Tet: New Energy
A beautiful electronic album with echoes of Alice Coltrane’s harp.
Karen Gwyer: Rembo
Techno at its most inventive. The track titles – Why is there a long line in front of the factory and The Workers Are On Strike was enough to hook me in.
Mankunku Quartet: Yakhal Inkomo
Winston “Manaunka” Ngozi should be regarded as a giant of Jazz, but like so many other black South African musicians his music was never released outside the Apartheid state. Released in 1968 the music is reminiscent of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter refracted through the prism of the Cape Town scene. This is without doubt my favourite reissue of 2017.