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Jazz Recordings of the Year - Finalists 2023(prest

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    Posted: 23 Nov 2023 at 10:23pm
What a terrific year it's been for new music from the jazzosphere! We've had the privilege of listening to and reviewing a whole heap incredible recordings to have been released by the most wickedly talented contemporary artists around. Over the course of the past 12 months, the team here have been whittling down our favourite new albums from across the globe, each of which has made its way to our Leamington Spa office for us to sink our teeth into and wrap our ears around. 

With a wide variety to choose from, the task was never going to be easy... but, with the help of our trusty reviews and weekly new release round-ups, we've revisited some of the most impressionable records from this year — ones we think deserve to take their newly-minted place in the jazz canon. 

The shortlist for this year's Presto Awards celebrates the veritable breadth of the current jazz scene both at home and abroad, which we hope you will see reflected in our choice of nominees. You can browse through the finalists below, and until 29th January 2024 we're offering discounts of up to 15% on almost all of the featured titles. As always, stay tuned for our winners announcement along with prizes for Label of the YearArchive/Reissue and Newcomer in Jazz on the evening of Thursday 7th December!

Jazz Recording of the Year - Nominees 

Alexander Hawkins Trio - Carnival Celestial (Intakt)

"...The synergy throughout the album’s dance-like structure exhibits the musicians’ playfulness in their adventurousness as they rise and fall in perpetual freeness." 

Alfa Mist - Variables (ANTI-) 

"Having emerged from the emotive hip-hop soundworld of London which often characterised his earlier work, this latest effort showcases the much in-demand keyboardist as he broadens into a more pensive and mature brand of mellowness."

Billy Childs - The Winds of Change (Mack Avenue)

"Childs has an exquisite lightness of touch which often imbues his faster bop playing with a carefree joyfulness, and, 35 years on from his debut as a leader, it’s great to hear that he’s lost not one jot of this spirit." 

Cécile McLorin Salvant - Mélusine (Nonesuch)

"The late Jessye Norman described Salvant as 'a unique voice supported by an intelligence and full-fledged musicality, which light up every note she sings'. Mélusine features a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the twelfth century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl."

Cecilie Strange - Beyond (April) 

"Always moving forward, the Danish saxophonist develops her sound as she leads her quartet in balancing sombre and contemplative moods with a delicate intensity of emotional feeling... Her affections are depicted through the quietly strong musicianship that calmly carries the listener from beginning to end."

Chris Potter - Got the Keys to the Kingdom: Live at the Village Vanguard (Edition)

"This broad-ranging set, recorded at the iconic New York venue, boasts a certain rawness in its unassuming simplicity. You can just feel the onstage electricity originating from the captivating interrelation of the players, before it bellows out through the immediate audience and beyond."

Emma Rawicz - Chroma (ACT) 

This gifted young multi-instrumentalist presents her first album on the prestigious and highly creative ACT label. On this fascinating release, Emma charts her experience as an already-mature performer and composer with a synesthetically-tinged array of tunes, each one exhibiting bright flecks of colour. 



Edited by snobb - 23 Nov 2023 at 10:27pm
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Fire! Orchestra - Echoes (Rune Grammofon) 

"Imagine David Axelrod’s Songs of Innocence fronted by Albert Ayler, and you’re halfway to having an idea as to what to expect from this new album. Full of imaginative twists and turns, this is an invigorating set for those after cutting-edge big band sounds..."

Helge Lien Trio & Tore Brunborg - Funeral Dance (Ozella) 

"Succinctly evoking his teacher [Misha Alperin]'s memory, this ensemble manages to avoid all the trappings of glib melancholia, offering instead a thoughtful and reflective fifty-five minutes of raw beauty. It is certainly a goal worth having pursued." 

Irreversible Entanglements - Protect Your Light (Impulse!) 

"Since releasing their explosive self-titled debut EP six years ago, the group have boldly gone from strength to strength, briskly expanding their sonic profile through a barrage of radical energy and experimentation."

James Brandon Lewis & Red Lily Quintet - For Mahalia, With Love (TAO Forms) 

"The enticing timbres of horns, string and percussion interact vividly in a riveting display of freeness, which, whilst audacious, remains fervently committed to its deep spiritual foundations." 

Joe Chambers - Dance Kobina (Blue Note) 

"Dance Kobina is an excellently-polished record which incorporates its jazz-adjacent influences with tasteful care, and it certainly helps having a veteran like Joe Chambers masterminding the project."

Johnny Hunter Trio - Divisions (Discus) 

"The punches come in thick and fast from this chordless trio as they scrupulously grapple between passages of strong melodic content and free improvisation... [tracing] the line between order and chaos, doing so with remarkable intricacy and feel." 

Joshua Jaswon Octet - Polar Waters (Ubuntu) 

"Embracing oceanic motifs, the music becomes intertwined with a canny selection of modern poems, this amalgamation of jazz, poetry, and storytelling serving as a testament to Jaswon's commitment to pushing the boundaries of his craft." 

Kahlil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble - Spirit Gatherer: Tribute to Don Cherry (Spiritmuse) 

"With the legendary spiritualist Dwight Trible on vocals, the multidirectional objective of this record is clear from the offset — it is at once an evocation of rituals past, as well as a vision of future possibilities."  



    Edited by snobb - 23 Nov 2023 at 10:31pm
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    Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Nov 2023 at 10:33pm

    Lakecia Benjamin - Phoenix (Whirlwind) 

    "The title of saxophonist and composer Lakecia Benjamin’s album couldn’t be more apt; quite literally rising from the ashes of trauma, her new album finds strength in her recovery."

    Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden (Constellation)

    "Weaving spoken word and varieties of disjointed musical smatterings, Roberts triumphantly tackles the saddeningly pertinent theme of reproductive rights... The sheer vitality of this potent sound quilt leaves no doubt as to the many durable talents of this mixed-media artist and much-respected figure of the free jazz scene."

    Matthew Halsall - An Ever Changing View (Gondwana) 

    "It is often the case that new listeners must approach jazz with an alarming deal of good faith if they are to so much as glimpse the woods for the trees. Halsall contradicts all that, offering a much needed antidote of accessibility to the relentlessness of today’s fast-paced world and cultural climate."

    Mette Henriette - Drifting (ECM)

    "Henriette's sophomore release is a concise effort, further succinctly capturing the cross-disciplinary artist’s talents in one organic blend. Embracing elements of her Sami-Norwegian identity, the ensemble delivers a delicate sense of intensity through its intuitive instrumentation of saxophone, cello and piano."

    Orrin Evans - The Red Door (Smoke Sessions) 

    "Employing a murderers’ row of talent both young and old, the pianist smoothly directs proceedings as he leads through a series of old favourites... A thoroughly enjoyable recording, held together by Evans’ capacity to share the spotlight in a truly welcoming fashion." 

    Sissoko Segal Parisien Peirani - Les Égarés (Nø Førmat!)

    "Throughout the set the engineers provide detailed and translucent sonics, with the group nicely positioned within the stereo picture, leaving the listener feeling like they’re sat in front of live musicians." 



    Edited by snobb - 23 Nov 2023 at 10:36pm
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