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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Free Jazz Blog's Top Album(s) of 2019

Sigmar Polke - Ohne Titel (Schallplatten)
Here it is, the long awaited top album of 2019! Culled from the top 10 lists of the collective, we then conducted a poll among all contributors over the past year and now we're happy to announce this year's winners.

The top spot goes to Matana Roberts' Coin Coin Chapter 4: Memphis. Roberts is not new to the blog, in fact she received the top album of the year in 2013 for Coin Coin Chapter 2: Mississippi Moonchile.

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (Constellation Records)

Martin Schray, in his review of the album, writes in his review:
The waiting has come to an end - Matana Roberts is back with the fourth chapter of her outstanding Coin Coin series, which has rightfully been praised as the most interesting long-term project in modern jazz. For those not familiar with the idea of the project: the first three Coin Coin albums, Gens de Couleurs Libres, Mississippi Moonchile, and River Run Thee, released between 2011 and 2015, were supposed to present history from a different perspective. Coin Coin has been planned as a 12-part magnum opus based on the life story of the former slave and later entrepreneur Marie Thérèse Coincoin, who lived in Louisiana at the turn of the 18th to the 19th century and was an ancestor of Roberts, whose parents moved from the South to Chicago and also used Coincoin as a nickname for their daughter. The project is therefore also a personal quest for one's own roots, but in the sense of an alternative historiography it’s much more than that. As a result, this album - like its predecessors - is both field research, political intervention, and sound event at the same time.

In second place, we are pleased to present for the first time NYC based percussionist Whit Dickey with his excellent double album release.

Whit Dickey / The Tao Quartets - Box of Light & Peace Planet (AUM Fidelity)

Lee Rice Epstein writes in his review:
Both sets are credited to what Dickey calls his Tao Quartets, a nod to the universalism at the heart of this music. There has always been a strong, spiritual center to his music. Now, nearly a decade after his previous albums, with an audible gap in the world of free improvisation left by Ware and Campbell’s ascensions, it’s clear just how vital a presence Dickey’s compositional voice is, when he takes on the role of bandleader. Much like Perelman and Shipp, with whom he’s never stopped collaborating, Dickey’s leadership is somewhat suggestive: each song has an overall shape and general destination, but the six performers collectively guide the music.
And in a tie for third place we have:
Our heartfelt congratulations and appreciation to all of the artists who we were able to cover, and everyone whom we wish we had the resources to cover. We all acquire and listen to much more than we would ever be able to write about, and there are many other recordings, artists, and labels that we hold in high regard.

So thank you to all of the contributors (the collective) who have given their time and energy to keeping the Free Jazz Blog alive. We've now reached the venerable age of 12 and as a volunteer organization  - which is how many in Internet years? 

Finally, thank you to all of our readers who share in the love of the challenge of improvised and experimental music.

There it is, 2019 is over, onto the next!

- Paul Acquaro


Jon Beaumont said...

Thank you for your blog. I'm a relative newcomer to jazz in and I love the free/avant garde genre. So, this blog is a fantastic guide to what's out there.

Anonymous said...

welcome back, Jon!