As our regular readers know, we most frequently focus on Canadian roots and folk music. But we are eclectic listeners here, and we’ve started expanding our spotlight to include other genres. Canada, after all, has a vibrant and diverse music scene that we definitely want to explore and bring to light. (And if you aren’t familiar with blues or jazz, just dive in and listen… I bet you’ll find something you like!)
The following are blues and jazz albums that we’ve particularly enjoyed this year. It is by no means an exhaustive list and I’m sure there are numerous albums we’ve missed. (If you want to suggest some to us, tweet us @greatdkwonder and tell us about them.)
(There’s a Spotify playlist at the end of the article if you want to sample each album, or you can listen to full albums at the links provided. If you like any of the music, please 1) save the album to your Spotify account, and 2) consider buying the album and supporting the artist.)
Jason Buie, Driftin’ Heart (blues)
A wonderful album, hugely enjoyable and perfect commuting music. We interviewed Jason about the album and you can also read our more detailed thoughts about the project in the article.
The Gary Cain Band, Twangadelic Bluesophunk (blues)
Kitchener-based guitarist Gary Cain and his band really throw down the gauntlet with this album, a wondrous feast of great blues songs and stupendously good guitar playing. Read our detailed review here.
Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop, Rev (jazz)
This album just radiates with fun – which is not to say that it’s light or insubstantial… far from it. As I’ve listened to it, what I hear is the musicians’ joy in making music together, which shines through and makes this project truly enjoyable to hear.
Ellias/Copland/Vedady (ECV), Sticks and Stones (jazz)
If your listening tastes run more to quieter, contemplative music, this project might well be to your liking. This guitar/piano/bass trio delivers a set of tunes that are perfect for quiet evenings with your favorite comforting beverage in hand.
Rob Lutes, Walk in the Dark (blues)
A quietly excellent blues album, full of super guitar playing and Lutes’ soulful singing. This is the type of album that rewards repeated listening, as the lyrics unpack over time.
Alex Pangman, Hot Three (jazz)
This album, recorded directly to 78rpm, would be a total delight even if recorded straight to digital – the songs swing with enthusiasm and great skill, and Alex Pangman’s voice is a perfect match for the material she chooses. But the crackle of vinyl sound adds an even more authentic ring to what is a thoroughly enjoyable project. (Read our interview here.)
Diana Panton, solstice/equinox (jazz)
We first became aware of Diana Panton’s fabulous music thanks to our good friends at Dr. Disc in Hamilton, ON. This Hamilton native has a gorgeous voice, perfectly suited for jazz, and this project – thematically organized to traverse the four seasons in song – is a wonder to which I couldn’t stop listening for weeks. (Read our interview here.)
Jamie Reynolds, Grey Mirror (jazz)
This is one of those albums that is still revealing itself to me, even after multiple listens. But there’s gold in each listen to this delightful album by pianist Jamie Reynolds (who also shines on Wurlitzer) with support from guitarist Matthew Stevens and brass quartet The Westerlies.
Johanna Sillanpaa, From This Side (jazz)
Calgary-based singer Johanna Sillanpaa delivers this stylish and utterly delightful collection of songs. Her work is new to me but I’ll definitely be exploring her other albums ASAP.
Bria Skonberg, With a Twist (jazz)
Bria Skonberg is not only a terrific trumpeter but also an excellent singer, and this album shows off both talents with great panache. Totally enjoyable and listenable.
Steve Strongman, No Time Like Now (blues)
This is a breakout album of sorts for Steve Strongman, a more electrified, rock-based project than his previous work. Never fear, though – there are plenty of blues licks to remind the listener where he comes from.
Rachel Therrien Quintet, WDYT (Why Don’t You Try) (jazz)
Rachel Therrien is another excellent Canadian trumpeter with a terrific project out this year – this instrumental album is a fun listen (and bonus, the quintet includes saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps, who is one of Ici Musique’s Révélations artists for 2017-2018).
Listen to a song from each album above in our Spotify playlist: