I listened to a lot of music in 2015. Of course I lean heavily on old favorites (new favorites for my kids!) but here are some new or newish music I enjoyed this year.
1. The Real Group: Three Decades of Vocal Music. Released February 2015. I think I might have been the first person to buy a copy of this. (!) If you don’t already have every TRG album (I do), this is a great place to start. If you do, it’s got some new cuts on it, including the great opener, Scandinavian Shuffle.
2. Hamilton, An American Musical. I think if you look at the history of Broadway musicals, Hamilton will marks a new era, just as Oklahoma! and West Side Story did. Potent, compelling, beautiful, ingenious, and so fun to sing along with.
3. Voces8: Lux. I love the pure tone, thrilling sopranos, beautiful interpretations. I especially love that this British group happily mixes everything from Allegri to Esenvalds to Ben Folds on the same album. And it works!
4. The Swingles: Deep End. The Swingles celebrated their 50th anniversary with this great new album, which also began a new chapter in their history. Dance music and electronica are mixed with more traditional Swingles material and experimental cuts. I especially love “Burden.”
5. James Taylor: Before This World. This is James Taylor’s first album of originals since 2002. They hold up next to his best work. My favorite cut is Before This World/Jolly Springtime. At his best, including several times on this album, JT’s music sounds like it’s drawn from the flowing stream that includes all great traditional folk music.
6. Maria Schneider: The Thompson Fields. Maria is a lovely soul, and her music is thrilling and couldn’t be made by anyone but her. Her latest album is somehow more intense than all the other work I’ve enjoyed: more motion and emotion distilled into every bar.