Best of 2019

SOME FAVORITE CDs 2019 by András Goldinger, Music Buyer

 

IN HEAVY ROTATION

Rhiannon Giddens, Amythist Kiah, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell, SONGS OF OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS (Smithsonian Folkways) – Rhiannon Giddens convened a women’s quartet, determined to reclaim the African American banjo traditions, upend the legacy of minstrelsy—and to connect those histories to today’s political landscape.

Leyla McCalla, THE CAPITALIST BLUES (Jazz Village) – Ms. McCalla (see above) also has a solo album bringing songs from the Haitian, Afro-Caribbean diaspora, with Cajun and classic New Orleans flavors as well.

Rhianon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi, there is no OTHER (Nonesuch)

Daymé Arocena, SONOCARDIOGRAM (Brownswood) – A powerful young Cuban vocalist

Angélique Kidjo, CELIA (Verve) – Ms. Kidjo’s tribute to the Cuban-born “Queen of Salsa,” Celia Cruz

Yola, WALK THROUGH FIRE (Nonesuch) – A powerful new British voice explores Southern country& soul

Rachael & Vilray, RACHAEL & VILRAY (Nonesuch) – Rachael Price (of Lake Street Dive) in ’30s and ’40s jazz songs

Joan Shelley, LIKE THE RIVER LOVES THE SEA (No Quarter) – Memorable acoustic songs and voice

Vampire Weekend, FATHER OF THE BRIDE (Columbi) – VV return with 18 perfect pop songs

Bon Iver, I, I (Jagjaguwar) – Justin Vernon unveils his fourth Bon Iver album.

Luther Dickinson & Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, SOLSTICE (New West) – Vocalists Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Sharde Thomas, the Como Mamas, and Allison Russell are out front of the North Mississippi All-Stars.

POP/ROOTS

Leonard Cohen, THANKS FOR THE DANCE (Columbia) – Posthumous songs, completed by friends & family

Allison Moorer, BLOOD (Autotilic) – A powerful tie-in to her memoir, also entitled Blood (Da Capo)

Brittany Howard, JAIME (ATO) – The Alabama Shakes vocalist’s first solo album, full of funk, jazz, blues.

Sudan Archives, ATHENA (Stones Throw) – Singer, songwriter, violinist, producer Brittney Parks

Michael Kiwanuka, KIWANUKA (Interscope) – British R&B/folk/soul

Mavis Staples, WE GET BY (Anti) – Celebrating her 80th birthday with powerful work

Buddy & Julie Miller, BREAKDOWN ON 20TH AVE. SOUTH (New West) – Their first album in ten years

THE HIGHWOMEN (Elektra) – Supergroup w/ Brandi Carlile, Marren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby

Sleater-Kinney, THE CENTER WON’T HOLD (Mom + Pop) – Corrine Tucker, Carrie Brownstein & Janet Weiss

Dori Freeman, EVERY SINGLE STAR (Blue Hens) – From Galax, Virginia w/ a gorgeous voice & songs

Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith, SONGS FROM THE BARDO (Smithsonian Folkways) – A collaboration featuring spoken word, pianos, droning violin and cello, Tibetan lingbu (flute) and dranyen (lute),

Gary Clark, Jr., THIS LAND (Warner Brothers) – The Austin blues guitarist with his most ambitious album yet.

Vagabon, VAGABON (Nonesuch) - Laetitia Tumko’s second

Lizzo, CUZ I LOVE YOU (Atlanti) – The vocalist/songwriter/flutist took the R&B world by storm

JAZZ

Tomeka Reid Quartet, OLD NEW (Cunieform) – Cellist Tomeka Reid w/ Mary Halvorson (guitar), bass & drums

Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, GLITTER WOLF (RPF) – The drummer sextet’s: pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and bassist Todd Sickafoose.

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Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller, PARLOUR GAME (RPF) – A melodic quartet: violin (Jenny), piano, bass & drums

Guillermo Klein, LOS GUACHOS CRISTAL (Sunnyside) – The Argentinian composer, pianist and arranger’s big band

Miguel Zenón, SONERO: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miel) – The alto saxophonist & quartet play the music of Puerto Rican sonero Ismael Rivera (1931 – 1987).

Melissa Aldana, VISIONS (Motema) – Chilean tenor saxophonist’s quintet w/ Joel Ross (vibes), piano, bass & drums

Kris Davis, DIATOM RIBBONS (Pyroclastic) – The pianist’s adventurous compositions in small & larger ensembles

Chris Lightcap, SUPERBIGMOUTH (Pyroclastic) – Bassist Lightcap assembles twin saxes, guitars, drums & keyboards

Matana Roberts, COIN COIN CHAPTER FOUR: MEMPHIS (Constellation) – Saxophonist, clarinetist, vocalist and composer Matana Roberts returns to her 12-part Coin Coin project

The Art Ensemble of Chicago, WE ARE ON THE EDGE: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi) – An expanded AEC, both in studio & live

Joel Harrison, STILL POINT: TURNING WORLD (Whirlwind) – Guitarist-led Indian-jazz project

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Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Chris Potter, GOOD HOPE (Edition) – Bassist Dave Holland, tabla master Zakir Hussain, and saxophonist Chris Potter have come together to play new jazz with a hint of Indian infusion.

Avishai Cohen & Yonathan Avishai, PLAYING THE ROOM (ECM) – Trumpeter Avishai Cohen and pianist Yonathan Avishai,

Old Masters

Ahmad Jamal, BALLADES (Jazz Village) – The venerable pianist, now aged 88, plays solo

Lee Konitz Nonet, OLD SONGS NEW (Sunnyside) – The alto master in a large ensemble

Reissues/New Re-discoveries

AMARCORD NINO ROTA (C vs D) – From 1981: fantastic jazz takes on Rota’s themes for Fellini films

John Coltrane, BLUE WORLD (Impulse) – Another newly discovered gem featuring John Coltrane’s “Classic Quartet”

Stan Getz, GETZ AT THE GATE: The Stan Getz Quartet Live at the Village Gate, Nov. 26, 1961 (Verve)

CLASSICAL

Myrga Gražinytė-Tyla / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, WEINBERG: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 21 (DG)

JULIA WOLFE: FIRE IN MY MOUTH (Decca) – For orchestra & chorus, honoring the victims in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Caroline Shaw / Attacca Quartet, ORANGE (Nonesuch) – Shaw’s works for string quartet

Piano

Conrad Tao, AMERICAN RAGE (Warner) – A powerful set: Frederic Rzewski, Aaron Copland, and Julia Wolfe

Beatrice Rana, STRAVINSKI / RAVEL (Warner) – The newest piano star on the scene

SCARLATTI: 52 SONATAS (Sony) – Lucas Debargue has selected 52 of the 555 Keyboard Sonatas for the piano

Igor Levit, BEETHOVEN: PIANO SONATAS COMPLETE (Sony) – Gilmore Prize winner’s traversal -- great

Jeremy Denk, c. 1300 – c. 2000 (Nonesuch) – A survey w/ connections from Machaut &  Mozart to Glass & Ligeti.

Fortepiano

SCHUBERT: SONATAS & IMPROMPTUS (ECM) – András Schiff on the Franz Brodmann fortepiano (1820)

HAYDN: PIANO SONATAS (Hyperion) – Fortepiano specialist Kristian Bezuidenhout

Strings

BACH: VIOLIN CONCERTOS (Harmonia Mundi) – Violinist Isabelle Faust & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Jennifer Koh, LIMITLESS (Cedille) – Violinist Jennifer Koh commissioned some of today’s leading practitioners to write duets for her, with each composer also playing.

Fretwork, IN NOMINE II (Signum) – The viol consort Fretwork

Danish String Quartet, PRISM II (ECM) – Beethoven late quartets w/ a related works by J.S. Bach & Schittke

Martin Hayes & Brooklyn Rider, THE BUTTERFLY (In a Circle) – Traditional Irish fiddler Martin Hayes and the contemporary classical string quartet, Brooklyn Rider

Vocals

Anne Sofie von Otter, A SIMPLE SONG (BIS) – Mezzo-soprano w/ Ives, Mahler, Bernstein, Strauss, Pärt & others

Stile Antico, IN A STRANGE LAND: Elizabethan Composers in Exile (Harmonia Mundi) – The English chamber choir

Gerald Finley & Julius Drake, SCHUBERT / BRAHMS (Hyperion) – Baritone Finley and pianist Drake

SCHUMANN: MYRTHEN (Sony) – Vol. 2 in the baritone Christian Gerhaher’s complete Schumann lieder

VIVALDI: MUSICA SACRA PER ALTO & ARIE E CANTATE PER CONTRALTO (Naïve) – Both volumes feature contralto Delphine Galou, with Accademia Bizantina, directed by Ottavio Dantone.

LOCAL

The Spellcasters, MUSIC FROM THE ANACOSTIA DELTA (Cuneiform) – A guitar tribute (Anthony Pirog, Joel Harrison, Dave Chappell) to the DMV’s Fender Telecaster masters—Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan.

RAMEAU: LES FÊTES DE L’HYMEN ET DE L’AMOUR ou Les Dieux d’Égypte (Naxos DVD) – DC’s own Baroque specialists, Opera Lafayette, in a fully staged production of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera-ballet

BOX SETS & REISSUES

COUNTRY MUSIC: Soundtrack to the Ken Burns Film (Sony) – 5 CDs bring Ken Burns’s epic, 16-hour history of country music to life

ANN ARBOR BLUES FESTIVAL 1969 (Third Man) – A historically all-star line-up

JAZZFEST: THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL (Smithsonian Folkways, 5 CDs & 136-page book) – Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash, TRAVELIN’ THRU, 1967 -1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 (Columbia) – Three CDs of great material (47 previously unreleased performances) featuring Johnny Cash and the Nashville Cats

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Bob Dylan, THE ROLLING THUNDER REVIEW: THE 1975 LIVE RECORDINGS (Columbia, 14 CDs)

Beatles, ABBEY ROAD: 50th Anniversary Remastered Edition (Capitol) – With an additional CD of alternate takes

THE TIME FOR PEACE IS NOW (Luaka Bop) – Gospel R&B from the 1970s

INTERNATIONAL

A-Wa, BAYTI FI RASI (BMG) – Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim are three sisters of Yemeni Jewish background,

Tinariwen, AMADJAR (Anti) – The Tuareg band from the Sahara Desert

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Party, LIVE AT WOMAD 1985 (Real World) – Nusrat was the king of qawwali, the electrifying, ecstatic Sufi devotional singing.

Kronos Quartet, PLACELESS (Valley) – Classical and modern Iranian poems sung by Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat

Lakou Mizik, HAITIANOLA (Cumbancha) – Explores the deep Afro-Atlantic traditions of Haiti and New Orleans.

The Good Ones, RWANDA, YOU SHOULD BE LOVED (Anti) – Farmers in rural Rwanda who began the band as a healing project after the genocide; they play acoustic guitars & sing beautiful harmony.

NIGERIA 70: NO WAHALA: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973 – 1987 (Strut) – Rare tracks

CONGO REVOLUTION: Revolutionary and Evolutionary Sounds from the Two Congos 1955 – 62 (Soul Jazz) – Charting the rise of Congolese music in the years leading up to independence

TRIBUTES

Mercury Rev, BOBBIE GENTRY’S THE DELTA SWEETE REVISITED (Partisan) – Bobbie Gentry’s 1968 album, with a different guest vocalist for each of the 12 tracks, among them Norah Jones Margo Price & Lucinda Williams.

COME ON UP TO THE HOUSE: Women Sing Waits (Dualtone) – Featuring Aimee Mann, Rosanne Cash, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Poebe Bridgers, Kat Edmonson, Patty Griffin, Courtney Marie Andrews, among others

MUSICALS

HADESTOWN: Original Broadway Cast Recording (WarnerClassics) – the Tony winner for Best Musical

OKLAHOMA! 2019 Broadway Cast (Verve) – Director Daniel Fish’s radical re-imagining

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (IN YIDDISH): 2018 Cast Recording (Time Life) – A revelatory production by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

David Byrne, AMERICAN UTOPIA ON BROADWAY (Nonesuch)

Because of delivery problems this year, your patience is appreciated.