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Matthew Ruddick

Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Sunday, 20 December 2015 08:58

Best Of 2015 - Our Recommended Albums

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It's been a year of growth at Kind Of Jazz, as we added new writers, and as a result, we were able to publish far more CD and gig reviews than in 2014. There were so many good jazz albums released this year, and such a variety, that we struggled to narrow down our choices into a Top Ten. In the end, we think we produced a balanced list - five European artists and five North American artists. Likewise, we managed to find room for a few younger artists on our list. So here it is - our Top Ten, and five more that were highly recommended, but didn't quite make the cut. We hope you enjoy our recommendations, and look forward to hearing your feedback.


Our Top Ten, in alphabetical order:


Nat Birchall - Invocations: Birchall reignites Coltrane's late 60s muse for the spiritual but not religious milleniums. Seductive, confident and made in Britain. (Simon Cooney)

Chris Minh Doky - New Nordic Jazz: The whole album makes it clear that Nordic Jazz is in fine fettle. The lands across the North Sea are fertile and rich with innovative musicians who are tilling the jazz soil and unearthing some beautiful music which has that wonderful mix of openness, melancholy and laid-back nature that one often associates with the Nordic region. (Rob Mallows)


Kyle Eastwood - Timepieces: His most conventional-sounding album to-date, it shows a new musical maturity and connects his past with what should be a promising future as one of the leading bass players of his generation. (Rob Mallows/Erminia Yardley)

Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra - Into Forever: The influence of Alice Coltrane, and to a lesser extent, the early 1970s recordings of McCoy Tyner, can still be heard, but the Orchestra has a markedly different feel second time around. (Matthew Ruddick) 


ISQ - Too: These are, without exception, quite memorable tunes, which will burn their way into your head with repeated listens. Serra’s singing is superb, perhaps at its most effective when she sounds bruised and vulnerable, but equally capable of light and shade. (Matthew Ruddick)


Pixel - Golden Years: In their haunting sung style, right-angle lyrics and creative band sound, they exemplify why the Nordic region is at the cutting edge of much in jazz at the moment. (Rob Mallows)


Cecile McLorin Salvant - For One to Love: For One to Love is a beautiful construction - melodic, sad, innovative and most of all, stupendously performed. She also writes with no fear, with a new and fresh approach to lyrics that is to be admired.  (Erminia Yardley)


Christian Scott - Stretch Music: Stretch Music throws a number of genres into a melting pot, and the result is an amazing stew, bursting with flavours and sounds – that does away with traditional jazz themes and solos, and leaves you feeling excited about what the future might hold. (Matthew Ruddick)


Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest - Sylva: While the purists might turn their nose up at their populist soundscapes and penchant for hard grooves, they are I think a welcome shot in the arm for jazz and live music, bringing new listeners to the world of jazz in all its forms, which can’t be a bad thing. (Rob Mallows)


Kamasi Washington - The Epic: For the most part, The Epic lives up to its name. It is a quite dazzling debut, bursting at the seams with ambition, and at its best, the most exciting jazz album I’ve heard in many years. (Matthew Ruddick)



Also highly recommended:


John McLaughlin - Black Light: This new album, with eight new McLaughlin-penned tracks, shows that he’s still as vital a part of the modern jazz scene as ever and producing quality music. (Rob Mallows)


Brad Mehldau - Ten Years Solo Live: A majestic collection from our favourite pianist, who effortlessly blends such a vast array of influences. (Matthew Ruddick) 

Maciek Pysz - A Journey: His primary influence is Al Di Meola, but one can also hear hints of Ralph Towner in his playing. The new album has a warm, Mediterranean flavour, which is well suited to the travel theme that runs through the album. (Matthew Ruddick)


Emily Saunders - Outsiders Insiders: An excellent second album, that blended vocal virtuosity, warm Brazilian melodies, intelligent lyrics and an adventurous spirit. (Phil Acio)

Rogier Telderman Trio – Contours: Telderman is a gifted pianist and composer, with a good ear for melody. As with EST, this band has potential crossover appeal beyond jazz enthusiasts, and could go far. (Matthew Ruddick)



Read 6047 times Last modified on Monday, 21 December 2015 17:45

Our Contributors


Rob Mallows

London Jazz Meetup owner and fan of ‘plugged in’ jazz.

Simon Cooney

By day a full time Londoner in tv news. By night jazzaholic

Fernando Rose

I love my jazz and I bless the funk. I play percussion for all and sundry and go by @Mr Cool.

Grae Shennan

Laboratory scientist with a love of evolving music that defies boundaries. 

Hilary Robertson

Jazz-obsessed freelance writer and saxist.

Kim Cypher

Saxophonist, vocalist, composer, band leader and radio show presenter. Follows dreams and loves to celebrate great music and musicians.

Fiona Ross

Fiona is the founder of the award winning organisation Women in Jazz Media. She was the guest editor in chief for the 2020 edition of Jazz Quarterly and writes for many publications across the globe.

Wendy Kirkland

Jazz pianist and singer with wide musical tastes spanning latin through fusion to bebop and swing. Cat fanatic.

Elana Shapiro

From Manchester, currently living in Berlin. Lover of jazz, RnB, and soul inspired music.