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Best Jazz/Improvised Albums of 2015

2 January 2016 11:16 PM, PST | www.culturecatch.com | See recent CultureCatch news »

1. William Parker: For Those Who Are, Still (Aum Fidelity/Centering)

I have been an admirer and observer of William Parker for a quarter century, but nothing prepared me for the impact of this three-disc set's final CD, which features an orchestral composition, Ceremonies for Those Who Are Still, which ranks high among the best orchestral music of the 21st century, and I'm including classical composers. In other words, don't cringe while imagining the usual jazz-with-strings hack job. There are moments in Ceremonies for Those Who Are Still -- particularly when the choir is singing Parker's poems of life and loss and creation -- when the grandeur of the year's most fashionable jazz album, Kamasi Washington's The Epic (also a three-cd set) comes to mind, but the difference -- the reason Parker's set ranks much higher -- is that his orchestrations are vastly more contrapuntal, colorful, individual, and just plain daring. »

- SteveHoltje

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