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LA Times' Best Jazz of 2016

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Friday December 16, 2016

From The Los Angeles Times

Best of 2016: Jeff Parker, Jack DeJohnette and Mary Halvorson continue pressing jazz forward
By: Chris Barton

After a fractious election year that saw misogyny and bigotry woven into the political discourse, some took comfort in the hope for art becoming energized in the years ahead with the fire of resistance.

Some of the most memorable albums of 2016, however, offered magnetic expressions of a musician’s personal journey, whether via guitarist Jeff Parker finding inspiration in his homes of Los Angeles and Chicago in the “The New Breed” or JD Allen reexamining the broader significance of the blues with his trio album “Americana.” More topically, it was a 2011 recording of the late Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra released this year maybe spoke most passionately for the protection of the natural world with “Song for the Whales.”

Where will the voices behind these albums and others from this year take us going forward? Stay tuned.

Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison “In Movement” (ECM) An unquestioned jazz master, DeJohnette offered a multi-generational summit meeting that reflected two of his early collaborators, John Coltrane and Jimmy Garrison. Teamed with the sons of the longtime bandmates, DeJohnette leads a lush survey that includes Coltrane’s “Alabama,” Miles Davis and Bill Evans’ “Blue in Green” and a stormy take on Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Serpentine Fire.”

Brad Mehldau, “Blues and Ballads” (Nonesuch) It’s become easy to take Mehldau’s capacity for invention behind the piano for granted, but this contemplative venture is one of his trio’s loveliest, most immediate outings yet. In 2016 you could argue the last thing we needed was another jazz recast of the Beatles, but then Mehldau pulls at all the spaces and destinations within “And I Love Her” and proves you wrong.

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