2015 was a year of many great jazz releases. These releases are some of the more soulful ones. Christian McBride’s Trio released a live album Live at the Village Vanguard that features his trio with Christian Sands on piano and Ulysses Owens Jr. on the drums. The tracks are a mix of very soulful tunes, especially their interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “The Lady in My Life” and Rose Royce’s “Car Wash”. There are also a few original compositions, including Christian Sands’ “Sand Dune”. When listening to this album it’s almost as if you were present at the concert. McBride is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, bass player alive today and has performed alongside many greats over the years. He’s still running his Big Band alongside the Trio. The Big Band often performs at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola; the Trio is a better fit for the smaller Village Vanguard (also known for hosting many trios live recordings over the years, including Bill Evans’ and Brad Mehldau’s).
Wayne Shorter’s rhythm section with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Brian Blade on drums also released a trio album. This release is very different from McBride’s, as it features a lot more free improvisation. Even without Wayne Shorter on this recording, he is very much heard, because his inspiration has had a huge impact on the rest of the group. It’s interesting to see how these guys deal with the free improvisation without Wayne, especially since they have had his back for nearly 15 years.
A few years ago Terri Lyne Carrington released her Mosaic Project album featuring some of the finest women in jazz today, including Gretchen Parlato, Esperanza Spalding, and Helen Sung. She also had some legends added to her list of collaborators, such as Sheila E. and Nona Hendryx. Her latest release, built around a more soulful focus, features great artists such as Lizz Wright, Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan, and Valerie Simpson, among others. Her opener, “Come Sunday” (a tribute to the late great Duke Ellington), takes off in a different direction than the original. This album is my personal favorite from 2015. Terri once again has shown her various shades of brilliance: not just performing as a drummer, but filling the roles of bandleader, composer, arranger, and producer.
Jamison Ross who not only is a drummer but a singer as well was recently nominated for “Best Jazz Vocal Album” at the Grammys for his album entitled Jamison. His career has really taken off after his win in the Thelonious Monk competition in 2012. Bassist Ben Williams is also an exciting player whose name is starting to be heard in a lot of places. He released Coming of Age earlier this year. Most of the tunes are originals by Ben, but the release also features a few covers, include Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Be on the watch out for all the above artists since they are constantly featured on different albums. These are my picks of some of the great albums released in 2015 — I highly recommend looking into what else has been released during the year!