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Albums of the Year 2018: William Parker - Voices Fall From The Sky | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2018: William Parker - Voices Fall From The Sky

Albums of the Year 2018: William Parker - Voices Fall From The Sky

A profoundly beautiful paean to the human voice

Over three hours of uniquely rewarding music: William Parker

A 3CD set featuring 17 singers, 34 tracks and over three hours of uniquely rewarding music, my Album of the Year, Voices Fall From The Sky by the NYC-based musician, improviser, composer, educator and author William Parker, represented an inexhaustible treasure trove for lovers of song.

Cécile McLorin Salvant’s The Window offered yet more astonishing examples of her captivating art, whether breathing new life into Buddy Johnson’s ‘Ever Since the One I Love’s Been Gone’ or dusting down a hidden gem such as Cole Porter’s ‘Were Thine That Special Face’.

The Questions presented Kurt Elling’s musical response to our troubled times, with his immaculate legato squeezing the emotion out of every note of an eclectic song list that included Dylan’s end of days epic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and a sorrowing “American Tune”.

From the polyrhythmic delights of "Takes Three To Samba" to the rapturous funk of "The Reason", the irresistible hooks and ear-catching detail of Bansangu Orchestra’s self-titled debut featured in-the-pocket grooves, walls of sound of life-affirming puissance, plus exquisite, quicksilver solos.

Led by 2016 Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year Lauren Kinsella and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson, Snowpoet’s Thought You Knew was an album that evoked memory, loss, hope and more, and one that never failed to leave its alluring melodic mark.

Co-composed by vocalist/guitarist Kizzy Crawford and pianist Gwilym Simcock, Birdsong/Cân yr Adar fused disparate elements – jazz, folk, contemporary classical – into something utterly singular, sensuous and joyous, with the work’s bilingual text reflecting Crawford's deep love for the Welsh language.

Gwyneth Herbert’s Letters I Haven’t Written saw the vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist pouring her storytelling gift into 11 exquisitely crafted songs, with subjects ranging from the Windrush debacle (“You’re Welcome”) to her work with refugee families in the Calais Jungle (“Until The Dust Settles”).

Nominated in the ‘Live Experience of the Year’ category at this year’s Jazz FM Awards, Untamed by the vocalist, songwriter, producer and beatboxer Randolph Matthews drew from a fascinating array of source material to create a rich, enveloping, multilayered musical world.

A modern-day freedom song project celebrating the resilience of African-American culture, Tiffany Austin’s Unbroken was one of this year’s most compelling vocal albums. From civil rights anthems and gospel to standards and originals, Austin’s singing is as emotionally engaging as it is timbrally beautiful.

Two More Essential Albums of 2018

Cécile McLorin Salvant - The Window

Kizzy Crawford and Gwilym Simcock with Sinfonia Cymru - Birdsong/Cân yr Adar 

Gig of the Year

Jazzmeia Horn at Ronnie Scott’s

Track of the Year

Kurt Elling - “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall”

@MrPeterQuinn

Below: Listen to “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall” by Kurt Elling

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