Charles LloydEXPAND
Charles Lloyd
D. Darr

Favorite Jazz Albums of 2015

Editor's Note: Westword's resident jazz expert, Clubs Editor Jon Solomon, picks his favorite jazz albums of the year.

ADVENTURES IN JAZZ
While there were a number of great straight-ahead jazz albums released this year, some of my favorites (the top ten are listed below) were more on the adventurous side, including albums by two musicians with Colorado ties: Ben Goldberg, an East High School graduate who was in the Citywide Jazz Band and later moved to the Bay Area, and Rudresh Mahanthappa, who grew up in Boulder and now lives in New York.

1. Charles Lloyd — Wild Man Dance (Blue Note)
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who has released some remarkable albums over the last decade, is in superb form on this six-part suite that was recorded live in Poland. 

2. Gary Peacock Trio — Now This (ECM)
Bassist Gary Peacock, long-time member of Keith Jarrett's trio, teams up with pianist Marc Copland and Joey Baron for some stunning interplay throughout this nuanced album.  

3. Ben Goldberg — Orphic Machine (BAG Production)
Over the last few years clarinetist Ben Goldberg has released some outstanding forward-thinking albums, like 2013's Unfold Ordinary Mind, but with Orphic Machine, Goldberg, along with Nels Cline, Ron Miles, Carla Kihlstedt, Myra Melford and others, have created a gorgeous disc that's rooted in jazz yet has pop sensibilities. 

4. Chris Potter Underground Orchestra — Imaginary Cities (ECM)
While Potter's previous album, 2013's The Sirens, was quite ambitious in scope, the brilliant reedsman takes things a step further with a much larger ensemble that includes string players. 

5. The Bad Plus and Joshua Redman — The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (Nonesuch)
Over the last fifteen years, the Bad Plus has established itself as one of the most exciting trios in jazz, and this collaboration with renown tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman is just as bold as some of the trio's more recent work. 

6. Rudresh Mahanthappa — Bird Calls (ACT)
Rather than play Charlie Parker tunes on this tribute to the venerable saxophonist, Rudresh Mahanthappa instead uses some of Bird's harmonic, melodic and rhythmic ideas to create the original songs on this exhilarating album.  

7. Stefano Battaglia Trio — In the Morning (ECM)
Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia, along with bassist Salvatore Maiore and drummer Roberto Dani, elegantly render the music of American composer Alec Wilder on this live album. 

8. Matthew Shipp Trio — The Conduct of Jazz (Thirsty Ear)
Matthew Shipp has long been an innovative bad-ass on the piano, and The Conduct of Jazz just makes that even more clear. 

9. Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers Ensemble — Crisis (Pi)
Amir ElSaffar, one of the trumpeters in the world who can play microtonal music, melds Middle Eastern modes and modern jazz on this outstanding album. 

10. John Patitucci — Brooklyn (Three Faces)
While John Patitucci is one of the world's finest jazz bassists on this album Patitucci (along with guitarists Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas and drummer Brian Blade) pays homage to the music he grew up listening to in Brooklyn — funk, blues, soul, Afrobeat as well as jazz. 

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