Another "Best Of" 2017" from The Choice Bin/Rick Frystak

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 18, 2018 01:45pm | Post a Comment


This album, My Foolish Heart by Ralph Towner, could be my favorite release of 2017. Jazz meets classical concepts via virtuosic nylon string guitar impressions of Bill Evans' work. Bravo! Here's more:

Allan Holdsworth - The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever

A 12-CD box set of all of Allan’s original domestic releases in mini-LP style covers and exclusive 40-page booklet in the box! The most beautiful, terrifying and harmonically fascinating jazz fusion electric guitar and guitar synthesizer playing you will ever hear, sometimes a caged animal roaring to be released, sometimes like a butterfly landing on a lover's tear, with sensitive and sensational accompaniment. Allan passed away 2 weeks after this release, and I know he loved that it had come out and been made available. This music will go backout of print, so enjoy this while you can. A 12-LP vinyl box is out soon!

Thomas Newman - Thank You For Your Service [Soundtrack)]

Another instant classic from Tom, a real thinking man's "ambient" score in the mold of Ry, Johann and others, just moody as hell with it seems to just hang in the air. Every cue another fleshy variation. You know what Tom can do. This may only be a download as of this writing.

NOW EnsembleDreamfall

After some mighty dark organ sound comes composition as if a flower had opened, and this is the music to accompany the opening, with it's wonder, yet strong. John Supko's piece really hits with it's shimmering optimism. Overall, A terrific listen.

Nico Muhly - Howards End [Soundtrack]

Mr. Muhly is another terrific young classical composer who can take a movie or series this way and that with his music; but it’s where and when he chooses to do these things that make the film what it may become in the end. This is good stuff, maybe not so secreted away by the time you read this. The original was a singular ‘End’, so maybe there are lots of ‘Ends’ running around THIS movie, hence the added inspiration. It’s a lot of music, so maybe this is a series. (I’m supposed to know when I write these). And it’s a lot of emotional, beautiful music, a mix of keyboards and lovely strings. I’ve been playing this day in and day out for a while now.

John McLaughlin & 4th Dimension - Live at Ronnie Scott’s

An emotive driller going straight to the heart, dancing all the way. John says Its too hard to tour the US, and his arthritis is quite painful now, so these are the kind of scorchers he’ll be releasing now from the other side of the world. His playing is a fascinating blend of 50 years of mind blowing axe-wielding, with a little ballad and lots of ripping going on here, and some quite stunning percussion work by Ranjit Borot and the great Gary Husband (sometimes together). I heard Gary last week on the keys with this band and I can surely say that he is one of our most formidable keys men with utter command of fast, slow, sideways ballad, auto racing-inspired soloing; the entire gamut. What a career he has up ahead, and of course he’s clearly been inspiring John for ages, and who shows no sign of letting the arthritis take control of him. Seriously, he has matured into one of the greats on piano(s) without loosing a bit of his drum chops. John has a long history with Ronnie, and this is sort of a celebration of that relationship.

Dominic Miller - Silent Light

I love guitar music and this is as good as it (figer-picked nylon string with an occasional capo) gets. Mr. Miller has been spending most of his public career playing with other people’s records, but I really hope those days are over with this, his 6th to 7th album of his own. Incredible feel and chops, wonderful songs written mostly by Mr. Miller, and gorgeous ECM sound make this one of my favorite guitar albums ever! When I first got it, I played it over and over and over and over and…you get it. Now go get it!!

Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness

The very picture of the modern folksinger, starting with the cover, then the gorgeous, boozy and bluesy voice, terrific guitar chops, then the fascinating melodic and literary lyrical journeys that are you and me and all of us. Can’t say enough; again, a CD I played over and over and over, then I stopped so I wouldn’t tire of it. Magical.

Anouar Brahem - Blue Maqams

Luscious combination of the old and the new. The great Oud with maestro Anouar Brahem quietly grooving on the oud, while Jack Dejohnette, Dave Holland and a miraculous Django Bates find supporting and soloing spots naturally inspiring each other. Words can't describe the eirie feeling I get in this music and this mix. Sumptuous fire, yet a very calm and moody session, and Bates popping in dynamic earbending harmony and dissonance. A great listen.

Ryuichi SakamotoAsync

The inimitable Sakamoto-san with another record heavy in feelings and contemporary vibe, from church organ to glass tapping, always with ideas so full of depth is why I love this man. Mr. Sakamoto survived cancer, and this is his comeback album with every sound you'd expect from him and much more, and what sounds! So brilliant is his uniqueness and vision. In many places there are 2 ideas flowing at the same time purposely. Lots of field recordings playing with a symphonic piece, or synth notes repeating over a lovely chordal pad, both having nothing to do with each other? The duality he makes is the ying yang of a man who has conquered so much in his career. A disc of remixes is ready to go already. Bravo!

John Abercrombie Quartet - Up And Coming

John’s jazz guitar and composing has naturally progressed to this point, a totally personal style. Precise and swinging but not flashy or “shredding,” (he doesn't use a pick anymore) Marc Copland’s piano is so touching and impressive, with the quartet’s support lifting the piano and guitar into a melodic bliss, with embellishments only adding icing on this tasty cake. A natural extension of John’s last one, 39 Steps, this is a gem of contemporary jazz. The older dudes do it again. CD and gorgeous vinyl.

Bing & RuthNo Home Of The Mind

The ensemble led by David Moore, continue their explorations of the lines between classical new-music, experimental and ambient musics with this, their 4AD major label premiere. Waves of liquid chordal flux wash over the cinematic soundworld, subtle changes in the arrangements forming the feeling of movement between the blocks of tonality and harmonic timbre. Mr. Moore is onto something special, a music living within our souls without our knowing. They have a newer EP, Dorsal, that is quite interesting also.

Pascal Gaigne - Handia [Import]

Another gorgeous soundtrack by Mr. Gaigne, with tiny melodies connecting the larger ones. Lots of gut-wrenching emotion and dramatic melodics on this one, just what I was hoping for. Full orchestra recorded beautifully. Pascal has something beautiful each time he's he's written a serious project, especially his early work.

Other recommendations in no order:

Golfam Khayam / Mona Matbou Riahi - Narrante

Spooky and well played minimalist duos, really tuned in, almost sad portrayals with this guitar/clarinet duo from Iran. Nothing like it. The ECM reverb in full effect. Stays with you.

Hot Tuna - The Phosphorescent Rat

Our esteemed Jefferson Airplane members Jack and Jorma (and Bob Steeler) wipe the floor with old time power blues on this 1974 outing, amps on high, good recording, some nice originals. Their best ''loud'' record.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Plankton: Music For An Installation By Christian Sardet And Shiro Takatani

Sakamoto creates here an extremely minimal 50 minute piece as a soundtrack about... plankton. Waves of sound come and go...ebb and flow like an ocean with so much respect, lots of harmonics playing in the sound masses. This film will be outta sight.

Aaron Parks / Ben Street / Billy Hart - Find the Way

Telepathic jazz trio music is right here, good as it gets, gracefully pushed through by young Park's genius piano ideas. Jabali Billy Hart is up front and pushing. Highly recommended.

Taj Mahal - The Natural Blues

Amazing remaster that feels like you are in the room. And one of Taj's best LPs. Writing and players are superb.

Sir Richard Bishop - While My Guitar Violently Bleeds

He's been playing in this direction, steel string guitar improvisation and has been suggesting for quite awhile, but finally reaches his goal not on side 1 but side with side 2's epic "Mahavidya," a raga for the now, such interesting playing on guitar with tampura. This guy is really onto something.

And...All the King Crimson Global Mobile reissue complete box sets and single title remasters. words can express the love into this project.


William Eggleston - Election Eve 
A repro of his first book (Ed of 5) of the southern states around Jimmy Carter's election.

Matt Hennek - Woodlands 
Profoundly beautiful forest photography, so real and gorgeous, yet, like paintings. A masterful work. Must-see.

Charles Duvelle - The Photographs of Charles Duvelle: Disques Ocora & Collection Prophet

If have any these records in your collection, you owe it to yourself to check out the photography that graced the label. First class world music photos for first class music. Free 2-CD compilation included.

Don't miss Amoeba's own Joe Goldmark with one
of the best vinyl resource websites out there: VINYLBEAT.COM as
it shows the age of vintage of all the record labels, and great pix, too!

My radio extravaganza every 2ND Saturday 6am on KPFK FM, 90.7 and KPFK.ORG
You can stream for 2 weeks according to our NARAS deal.

-Special thanks to Rachael McGovern for production assistance

Relevant Tags

Best Of 2017 (19), Ralph Towner (2), Allan Holdsworth (3), Thomas Newman (2), Now Ensemble (1), Nico Muhly (3), John Mclaughlin (2), Dominic Miller (1), Julie Byrne (2), Anouar Brahem (1), Ryuichi Sakamoto (3), John Abercrombie Quartet (1), Bing And Ruth (1), Pascal Gaigne (2)