I say “we” because Valerie and I discovered and experienced most if not all of these together. Not necessarily stuff that was released in 2018, but that we discovered (or rediscovered) and enjoyed this past year.
Various Artists, A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper
Each song re-imagined by a contemporary jazz artist, sometimes recognizable, sometimes not so much, always invigorating.
Hear Mary Halvorson’s “With A Little Help From My Friends” on YouTube
Donny McCaslin, Blow.
The new fusion? Smart jazz-rock with hooks. Great show at The Sinclair in Cambridge.
Hear Donny McCaslin’s “Club Kidd” on YouTube
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Live at KEXP
Old school soul, baby! These guys burned it up at Atwood’s Tavern last June. Love Jimmy James’ guitar work!
Watch the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s half-hour KEXP set on YouTube
Jenny Scheinman live at Big Ears
The Mischief and Mayhem outfit veered between punk and jazz, klezmer and noise; Jenny’s violin and Nels Cline’s guitar trading ferocious licks and squonks.
Watch Mischief and Mayhem on YouTube
The Curtain Society 30th Anniversary show at Bull Mansion, Worcester
Wonderful to see and hear these guys, with years of experience under their belts, reprise their catalog to a full house of fans.
Hear The Curtain Society’s “Two Wonderful Stars” on YouTube
Sons of Kemet, Your Queen Is a Reptile
Jazz beyond genre, black power, nine songs, nine queens.
Watch Sons of Kemet’s “Your Queen Is A Reptile” video on YouTube
Schaun Tozer, Intelligence OST
Vancouver-based crime drama from the mid-2000s. The series is addictive, with sympathetic characters on all sides of the law. And Schaun Tozer’s score (beats, synths, sitars) is perfect (and memorable).
Hear Schaun Tozer’s theme music for Intelligence on YouTube
Olafur Arnalds, Broadchurch OST
Understated, evocative music for a great British detective series.
Hear Olafur Arnald’s theme music for Broadchurch on YouTube
Charles Lloyd and the Marvels, Vanished Gardens
I’m sure this made lots of album-of-the-year lists – how could it not, with Lloyd, Lucinda Williams, Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz involved?
Hear Charles Lloyd and the Marvels cover Hendrix’s “Angel” on YouTube
Margaret Glaspy, Emotions and Math
Her Telecaster playing (through a cranked tweed Champ) is luscious, and the songs run through your head for days.
Watch Margaret Glaspy’s Tiny Desk Concert on YouTube
Henri Texier, Sand Woman
Belatedly discovered this French jazz bassist, active since the ’60s. Manu Codjia’s exciting, often surprising guitar work almost steals the show.
Hear Henri Texier’s “Amir” on YouTube
McNally Waters, McNally Waters
Singer-writer Larry John McNally (he wrote Rod Stewart’s hit, “The Motown Song”) teams up with Roger Waters’ son Harry (!) for a collection of catchy, rootsy songs.
Hear McNally Waters’ “Muscle Shoals” on YouTube