Avant Music News Best of 2014

To the extent that these lists mean much of anything, here are our favorite recordings of 2014. Many of our favorite albums have been reviewed here at AMN, and these reviews have been linked in the list below. Also, let me add the usual disclaimer that this list is incomplete, I have not heard all 2014 releases, and probably missed a few really good ones. Enjoy.

Albums of the Year:

Max Johnson – The Prisoner
Dan Weiss – Fourteen

Best of 2014:

Led BibThe Good Egg
John Luther Adams – Become Ocean
Rodrigo Amado / Wire Quartet – Wire Quartet
Oren Ambarchi / Eli Keszler – Alps
Änglagård – Prog på Svenska – Live in Japan
Sam Boshnack / Quintet – Exploding Syndrome
Anthony Braxton – Trio (New Haven) 2013
Brownout – Brownout Presents Black Sabbath
Tom Carter & Pat Murano – Four Infernal Rivers
Chemical Clock – Bad Habitat
Nels Cline / Singers – Macroscope
D.C. Improvisers Collective – In the Gloam of the Anthropocene
John Dikeman – The Double Trio
Tomas Fujiwara Trio – Variable Bets
Barry Guy / New Orchestra – Amphi / Radio Rondo
Mary HalvorsonReverse Blue
Ross Hammond – Humanity Suite
Howlround – Torridon Gate
If, BwanaThe Rationale for a Space Telescope
Jack O’ The Clock – Night Loops
Peter Kerlin / Octet – Salamander*
Steve Lehman / Octet – Mise en Abîme
Magma – Rïah Sahïltaahk
Ross Martin / Max Johnson / Jeff Davis – Big Eyed Rabbit
Jim MatheosHalo Effect
Rob Mazurek and Black Cube SP – Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost
Otavan Veret – Otavan Veret
Reconnaissance Fly – Flower Futures
Steve Roden / Stephen Vitiello – The Spaces Contained in Each
tetema – Geocidal
Ken Thomson / Slow Fast – Settle
Thumbscrew (Halvorson / Formanek / Fujiwara) – Thumbscrew
Touch and Go Sextet – Live at the Novara Jazz Festival
U Sco – Treffpunkt
Peter Van Zandt Lane – HackPolitik
Andrew Weathers / Seth Chrisman – Louella

Honorable Mentions:

2TE – Freund, Der Sub Divo
After the Rain – The Night Must Fall
Rodrigo Amado / Motion Trio / Peter Evans – Live in Lisbon
Rodrigo Amado / Motion Trio / Peter Evans – The Freedom Principle
APUH! – Ett
Jon Armstrong / Jazz Orchestra – Farewell
Jonathan Badger – Verse
Aram Bajakian – There Were Flowers Also in Hell
Guy Barash – Facts About Water
Matthew Barnson – Sibyl Tones
Jon Batiste / Chad Smith / Bill Laswell – The Process
Battle Trance – Palace of Wind
Raoul Björkenheim / eCsTaSy – eCsTaSy
Black Dirt Oak – Wawayanda Patent
Philip Blackburn Music of Shadows
Tyler Blanton – Gotham
Jaap Blonk / Sandy Ewen / Damon Smith / Chris Cogburn – North of Blanco
Bogdo Ula – Cult of the Harmonic Oscillation
Piero Bittolo Bon – Jump the Shark
Bord à Bord – Bord à Bord
Anthony Braxton with Kyoko Kitamura, Erica Decker, Katherine Young – 12 Duets (DCWM) 2012
Lucas Brode – Prixvyou
Brute Force – Brute Force
Taylor Ho Bynum / Tomas Fujiwara – Through Foundation
Chris Campbell – Things You Already Know
Carrier / Lambert / Lapin – The Russian Concerts Vol. 2
Cellar and Point – Ambit
Chicago Underground Duo – Locus
Ty Citerman – Bop Kabbalah
Combat Astronomy – Time Distort Nine
Jeff Cosgrove / Matthew Shipp / William Parker – Alternating Current
Bryan Counter and Satchel Forrester – Twice Stopped
Tomasz Dabrowski / Kris Davis / Andrew Drury – Vermilion Tree
Anthony Davis – Notes from the Underground
Kris Davis – Massive Threads*
Dead Neanderthals – Prime Dead Neanderthals and Machinefabriek – DNMF
Deadwood – Sheolic
Desiderii Marginis – Hypnosis
Djam Karet – Regenerator 3017
Pierre Dorge / Torben Westergaard / Tyshawn Sorey – Like Salamanders We Survive
Mark Dresser / Gerry Hemingway / Assif Tsahar – Code Re(a)d
Peter Epstein / Quartet – Polarities
EXEDO – Waul
Falsetto Teeth – Boiling High Idol
Fazzini-Fedrigo XYQuartet – XY
André Foisy – The End of History
Fred Frith / John Butcher – The Natural Order
Gauci / Knuffke / Filiano – Chasing Tales
Ben Goldberg / Adam Levy / Smith Dobson – Worry Later
Milford Graves / Bill Laswell – The Stone (Back in No Time)
Grey Frequency – Immersion
The Grip (Peters / Marshall / Skinner) – Celebrate
Rich Halley / 4 – The Wisdom of Rocks
Ross Hammond / Grant Calvin Weston – Blues and Daily News
Happy Family Minimal Gods
Phil Haynes / No Fast Food – Corner Store Jazz
The Heliocentrics / Melvin Van Peebles – The Last Transmission
Michael Hersch / Blair String Quartet – Images from a Closed Ward
Icepick (Nate Wooley, I.Haker-Flaten and C.Corsano) – Hexane
Ideal Bread – Beating the Teens
In Slaughter Natives – Cannula Coma Legio
Indigo Mist (Cuong Vu / Richard Karpen) – That The Days Go By And Never Come Back
Jon Irabagon / Mark Helias / Barry Altschul – It Takes All Kinds
Miguel Isaza – Uji
Max Johnson / Trio – The Invisible Trio
Darius Jones – The Oversoul Manual
JÜ / Møster – JÜ Meets Møster
Reid Karris – Ambiens Sonitus
Kayo Dot – Coffins on Io
Keith Kelly – The People Who Left
Khost – Copper Lock Hell
Bernd Klug – Cold Commodities
Knifeworld – The Unravelling
Igor Krutogolov / Karate Band – How to be a Crocodile
Helmut Lachenmann / JACK Quartet – Complete String Quartets
Lamia Vox – Inlumaeh (EP)
Dominic Lash / Quartet – Opabinia
Led Bib – The People in Your Neighbourhood
Neil Leonard – For Kounellis
Locrian – The Crystal World
Chris Lynn / Daniel Barbiero – Augmented Landscapes
David MacBride – A Special Light
Machine Mass / Dave Liebman – Inti
Sava Marinkovic – Evocation
Marsen Jules (Martin Juhls) – At GRM
Marsen Jules (Martin Juhls) – Beautyfear
Ryan McGuire – Civilian
Medeski, Martin & Wood / Nels Cline – Woodstock Sessions (Vol. 2)
Mesektet – Towards a Bleak Sun
Method of Defiance – Phantom Soundclash Cut-Up Method: One
Szilárd Mezei / International Improvisers Ensemble – Karszt
Paul Mimlitsch / Andre Darius / Martin Pozdrowicz – Outsiders
Nicole Mitchell / Black Earth Ensemble – Xenogenesis II: Intergalactic Beings
Mole (Aanderud / Takeshi / Hecht) – RGB
Thurston Moore / John Moloney – Caught on Tape – Full Bleed
Joe Morris Quartet – Balance
Mostly Other People Do The Killing – Blue
N.E.W. (Steve Noble, John Edwards, Alex Ward) – Motion
Keir Neuringer – Ceremonies Out of the Air
Noiseless Ensemble – No Noise
Adriano Orru – Palimpsest
Ed Palermo Big Band – Oh No! Not Jazz!!
Ashley Paul – White Night
Pharoah (Sanders) and The Underground Spiral – Mercury
Phurpa – The Magic Rituals of the BON Tradition
Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida – Welcome in the Void
Anthony Pirog – Palo Colorado Dream
Bobby Previte – Terminals
Martin Rach -Shores of Bare Lands
Abbey Rader – The Message
Reutoff and Sal Solaris – Eigengrau
Eric Revis – In Memory of Things Yet Seen
Steve Roach – Bloodmoon Rising
Jason Roebke – Combination
Rent Romus / Lords of the Outland – The Proceedings of Dr. Ke
Daniel Rosenboom Quintet – Fire Keeper
Jonathan Rowden Group – Becoming
Dylan Ryan / Sand – Circa
JC Sanford Orchestra – Views from the Inside
Sax Ruins – Blimmguass
Dirk Serries – The Origin Reversal
Shrine – Nihil
Nathan Parker Smith – Not Dark Yet
Wadada Leo Smith – The Great Lakes Suites
Wadada Leo Smith / Bill Laswell – The Stone (Akashic Meditation)
Wadada Leo Smith / Hardedge – The Nile
Wadada Leo Smith / Jamie Saft / J. Morris / B. Pandi – Red Hill
Sonar – Static Motion
Elias Stemeseder / Devin Gray / Anna Webber – Jagged Sphere
Marco Stroppa – Upon a Blade of Grass
Natsuki Tamura / Alexander Frangenheim – Nax
Thisquietarmy – Alter of Drone
Tramuc and Darius – Rebirth of Time
Treha Sektori – Severh Sehenh
Trepaneringsritualen – Perfection & Permanence
Tristan Perich / Vicky Chow – Surface Image
Matt Ulery – In the Ivory
Various Artists – My God, It’s Full of Stairs
Various Artists – Great Performances from the JOLT Festival Basel
Scott Wheeler – Crazy Weather
Wolvserpent – Perigea Antahkarana
Woven Entity – Woven Entity
Jack Wright / Ben Wright – As If Anything Could be the Same

* Late 2013 releases that we did not consider for our best of 2013 list.

Sam Boshnack Quintet West Coast Tour

From Samantha Boshnack:

Composer/Trumpeter Sam Boshnack’s primary small ensemble as a leader, this band thrashes and bounds through tightly woven twists, tunnels and cliffs with the deftness and precision of a chamber ensemble and weight of a rock band. The beautifully quirky, high-energy Quintet performs original jazz compositions that pack a power punch. The Sam Boshnack Quintet has performed at the JazzPop series at the Hammer Museum (LA), Earshot Jazz at Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum (Seattle), Center for New Music (San Francisco), and the Outset Series by the Creative Music Guild (Portland), among others. The Quintet features Sam Boshnack (trumpet, voice & compositions), Beth Fleenor (clarinets & voice ), Alex Chadsey (piano & keyboard), Isaac Castillo (bass), and Max Wood (drums).


Sunday, January 25 – Portland, OR
Turn Turn Turn
8 NE Killingsworth St.
21+ / 8pm
Admission: sliding scale $5-7
Opening: Get Smashing Love Power
[Noah Bernstein (alto sax) / Reed Wallsmith
(alto sax) / Andre St. James (bass) /
Tim DuRoche (drums)]

Monday, January 26 – Olympia, WA
Rhythm & Rye
311 Capitol Way N.
Admission: $5 suggested donation

Tuesday, February 3 – Seattle, WA
Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave S.
All Ages / 8:30pm
Admission: Donation

AMN Reviews: Anthony Braxton – 12 Duets (DCWM) 2012 (2014; Tricentric Foundation)

nbh904_coverAnthony Braxton‘s Tricentric Foundation has put its recent emphasis on boxed sets, with this one being the biggest of the bunch so far. Consisting of a dozen hour-long performances, 12 Duets (DCWM) 2012 pairs Braxton with three ladies in duo configurations.

Across this long collection, Braxton lays down various unsettling drones, over which he improvises on a variety of instruments (sopranino, soprano, alto, baritone, and bass saxes, as well as contrabass clarinet). Along with his texture and tone, Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Erica Dicker (violin), or Katherine Young (bassoon) work in the foreground.

Ms. Kitamura provides various spoken word segments, warbles, and squeaks on the first four recordings. Not exactly scat singing, she puts together spoken phrases, nonsense words and throat sounds. On the next four recordings, Braxton’s drones take on a more ominous feel, while his sax playing remains bright. Above this juxtaposition, Ms. Dicker adds violin improv. Scratchy at times, more conventional at others, she bows the whole extent of the instrument, evoking a wide and engrossing range of themes that exhibit her classical and improv experience. Bassoon is one of my favorite instruments, and Ms. Young is no slouch. Having said that, the instrument is downplayed a bit on the final four recordings. Not to say that it isn’t present – but instead she plays it percussively and to set moods.  In fact, it often meshes so closely with Braxton’s playing and the electronics, the result is more of a unified wall of sound that the other two-thirds of this set.

These duets involve Braxton and his collaborator moving in different directions, sometimes as if they were unaware of each other’s presence. The fact that this strategy works is a testament to the respective skills of each. This is a long and challenging, but ultimately rewarding, listen.  If you are a Braxton fan and like your music on the disturbing side, these 12 sets are essential.