Not necessarily in any order:
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Waited for this record for many years. The songwriting is superb, living up to the bar she set on the last two records. Both structurally and lyrically, the record is full of surprises and bears many repeat listenings. And the production is exquisite, layered. Hope it doesn’t take this long for the next one.
Steve Lehman - Dialectic Fluorescent. Caught Lehman as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival and got hooked on his brand of avant garde jazz. Record on repeat in the car for months, making sense. Love the covers of Coltrane and the tune “Pure Imagination.” In fact, his playing is reminiscent of Coltrane, modal and abstruse. The record is definitely out there, pushing the boundaries of tone, melody, rhythm. Love it.
Father John Misty – Fear Fun. Hat’s off to the producer, Jonathan Wilson, who took these songs, which are good, and helped make them great. Great backing band, great arrangements. Heard one of the songs in Seatac the other day piping through the airport.
Hardcoretet – Do It Live. Local musicians shine on this record. Love how the compositions unfold, morph. Can really hear the dynamics between the players on the tunes.
Lorde – The Love Club EP. Gotta include it, even though “Royals” has been played to death. The rest of the songs on the EP are great. Shout out to Joel Little, responsible for the production.
Steve Lehman Trio lived up to expectation as “affirmed in the jazz vanguard” -- shit they killed it to a packed house standing room only at The Royal Room. It was precision jazz done with total tact. Started out with a Chick Corea tune that established the tone for the evening – we were in safe hands. Then did one of their own from their most recent record, Dialectic Fluorescent. Super complex, intricate, drums and bass superbly aligned, and Lehman’s lines modal, abstruse, engaging. Then a more straight up number of Duke Pearson’s, love hearing players like this switch it up and play it straight, well sort of. More then from their new record, the bass player, Matt Brewer, given a chance to shine on one tune and the drummer, Damion Reed, on the next, taking a gorgeous solo with mallets, creating melody on the drums. Lehman’s compositions are beguiling, sometimes hard to tell where the composition ends and the improvisation starts. Played a Coltrane tune (Lehman: “Yeah, he’s pretty good”) and ending with their take on the song, “Pure Imagination,” which worked on many levels, speaking to the imagination of the entire set, the ability to keep pushing jazz while acknowledging tradition. Great show.