September was an amazing month in jazz and it was nearly impossible to pick just six representative records. That said, we did it anyway—including the Qobuzissime-awarded Yussef Dayes’ Black Classical Music, Laufey’s aptly-titled Bewitched, a stunning reissue of Pharaoh Sanders’ Pharoah, Irreversible Entanglements’ most accessible but still wild and free Protect Your Light and little-known UK spiritual jazz collective Menagerie’s incredible The Shores of Infinity. Homenaje A Remedios Varo is technically an August release, but the John Zorn project was the first of the now-available Tzadik label to hit Qobuz, and it’s a new chamber ensemble with Brian Marsella, Julian Lage, Jorge Roeder and Ches Smith that’s worth your time.
Pianist Yuja Wang gives us another exhilarating album, Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos & Paganini Rhapsody recorded with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel. Qobuzissime-awarded French all-female vocal group Ensemble Esquisses debuted Par un matin exploring clean, sculptural sound, carefully honed by its conductor, Guillemette Daboval. Emerson String Quartet takes on the Second Viennese School repertoires with Bertrand Chamayou and Barbara Hannigan. Igor Levit explores Fantasias by Bach, Liszt, Berg, Busoni, and more. Tenor Jonathan Tetelman’s pristine and timeless Puccini repertoires accompanied by the Prague Philharmonia and Carlo Rizzi. The full Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by La Nuova Musica comes with a digital booklet filled with libretto and liner notes for those who wish to absorb it fully. A standout 2022 BBC Proms performance from Public Service Broadcasting with the 88-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra is newly remixed for those of us who couldn’t attend. Blind composer Moondog’s music gets reimagined by Brooklyn’s Ghost Train Orchestra and the legendary Kronos Quartet (who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year).
Viken Arman’s incredible, Qobuzissime-awared Alone Together is rooted in dance, soul and funk samples that create jaw-dropping beats. Nihiloxica offer a brilliant live drumming-inspired retort to new UK visa laws on Source of Denial. Loraine James continues to stretch out over many genres while retaining the glitch-hop backdrop of previous efforts. Vagabon stays up all night on the dance floor while Icona Pop’s Club Romantech is a renewed chance for dance-floor dance-pop love stories. Kiefer peeks further into jazz on his newest mixtape.
Olivia Rodrigo used a rock edge and a soaring, sad single to continue chart dominance with GUTS, while stalwart Kylie Minogue reinvents her dance persona on Tension. Allison Russell provides thoughtful, genre-spanning pop-folk on The Returner, Mykki Blanco truly melds anything from rock to rap and everything in between on Postcards From Italia and CHAI reform their already sharp sense of fun and boundaries on their self-titled record.
Rock, Indie & Alternative
The month in rock included a number of excellent reissues, the best of which came from The Replacements’ reworking of Tim which unearths long-buried vocals and muted guitar heroics to incredible results. The Breeders’ Last Splash turned 30 and, as if the album needed any help to be a classic, the inimitable J Mascis lends his vocals and guitar to bonus track “Divine Mascis.” Slowdive offers another stunning shoegaze collection in Everything is Alive, Speedy Ortiz try their luck with Rabbit Rabbit after a long absence, and Oakland’s Small Crush deliver indie rock musings with dreamy, sweet vocals on Penelope.
The return of Cannibal Corpse—with Erik Rutan now firmly in the groove—proves that fertile periods can come at any point in a band’s career. Chaos Horrific is one the best releases of a long death metal career. Armand Hammer utilizes a chilling sign seen around small town America, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips, to heighten their stranglehold on psychedelic rap. TENGGER’s traveling family band released their best record to date and De La Soul’s jazz-infused Buhloone Mindstate was reissued to celebrate its 30th anniversary and the late Dave Jolicoeur’s birthday. North Carolina’s Viv & Riley take new roads in Americana on Imaginary People and Margo Cilker reconciles her relationship with her Santa Clara Valley hometown in Valley of Heart’s Delight.
Compiled by Sujan Hong, Jeff Laughlin, Nitha Viraporn/Qobuz USA