We are highly pro-flute and pro-Outkast around these parts so we are highly pro the surprise André 3000 solo debut; guests on this exploratory journey include Carlos Niño and Surya Botofasina. The Sunwatchers combine free jazz and rock continuing their series of scintillating releases. A surprising vocal jazz debut from Orbiting Human Circus (Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel and Music Tapes) encapsulates a great many sounds in and out of the genre—paying homage to anyone from Edith Piaf to Jon Brion—while maintaining creativity and originality. Palle Mikkelborg, Jakob Bro and Marilyn Mazur team up again for a stunning live release recorded at Copenhagen’s DR Koncerthuset. John Zorn gathers some of the best players in NYC free jazz to make another incredible record. Not to be outdone, drummer/composer William Hooker combines our aforementioned flute love with free jazz as well.
Young Bruce Liu, a 2021 winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition, transcends his age on WAVES, a collection of French piano music. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the LSO on the OST of the Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, which features guest-conducting from director/actor Bradley Cooper in the title role. An extended edition of Alexandra Streliski’s Néo-Romance means more gorgeous melancholy for all of us. A new recording of Arvo Pärt’s Tractus by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir will draw you into ECM’s New Series. And for harpsichord enthusiasts, Frenchman Pierre Hantaï performs a hundred Scarlatti sonatas.
French duo Air’s sophisticated, electro-pop debut Moon Safari gets a 24-bit Hi-Res reissue—finally! Matmos, given full reign of the soundscape catalog at Smithsonian Folkways, chose to sample bugs for their incredible release Return to Archive. The Connection Machine use funk as a backbone but dance as the foreground on the excellent Blackhole+. DJ Manny outdid himself on an instant-classic footwork record. DJ/producer David Holmes teams with his goddaughter Raven Violet for an unforgettable, message-driven electro-pop record.
Emilé Sande focuses on past relationships as a muse for a pop gem. The second full-length from PinkPantheress blends genres using hyperpop beats, R&B and rap tropes and pop bliss. The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz covers R.E.M., adding his pop-rock flair to a set of songs produced by former bandmate Michael Nesmith’s son Christian. The Kid Laroi, known mostly for beat-oriented collaborations, released a record of pop bangers that stand on their own despite a wealth of contributors. The first four albums of the late, great Tina Turner’s solo career, including the debut Tina Turns the Country On! and Acid Queen (inspired by her role in Tommy) make their streaming debuts.
The Beatles’ pair of reissues of their greatest hits (Red and Blue) added bonus tracks and a release of one of their “last song.” Two excellent live releases from Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan highlight performances off their beaten paths but still deliver on their brilliance. Dolly Parton’s first ever rock record came at the age of 77 and featured absolute giants of the industry. Scream returned with their first record in decades—DC Special sounds like they never should have stopped.
Cat Power recreates the legendary “Dylan goes electric” set at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in a daunting undertaking that shines both on her and the original artist. Blockhead’s newest crop of incredible beats comes with a who’s who of far-out rap collaborators. William Eggleston’s ambient/solo piano release showcases the achingly tender music side of the renowned photographer’s artistic portfolio. The delightful Neil Hamburger presents a record that, as is typical for him, blurs the line between depression and humor. Chris Stapleton’s Higher reaches a new zenith for the soulful country singer-songwriter.
Compiled by Sujan Hong, Jeff Laughlin, Nitha Viraporn/Qobuz USA