Here is the selection of The Wicked Sound favorite / best compilation albums of 2021 (so far):
01. VA Indaba Is [Brownswood Recordings]
Brownswood released Indaba Is, a compilation of current South African improvised music and jazz. The project is a collaboration with 2 luminaries of the South African Music scene pianist/songwriter Thandi Nthuli and The Brother Moves On’s Siyabonga Mthembu who act as curators / musical directors on the project. South African townships were historically cosmopolitan places. Apartheid confined all classes in the same impoverished locations. Migration from across the country and the region meant kasi residents commanded many musical languages. The collection features eight tracks, attributed to Bokani Dyer, Lwanda Gogwana, The Brother Moves On, Thandi Ntuli, The Wretched, Sibusile Xaba and Iphupho likaBiko. Johannesburg, a city without a landmark water source, built on excavating the energy of its living dead, has never sounded so world-weary, and yet so ready to emerge out of the hold. With its unity of purpose, Indaba Is represents the crucible, untenable to the touch yet warm to the soul.
02. VA Mathias Modica presents Kraut Jazz Futurism Vol 2 [Kryptox]
The Kraut Jazz Futurism compilation shows what's cookin’ in the new German Jazz scene. Young German bands and a few of the international musicians working in Berlin now. Fresh artists that combine Jazz, Kraut Rock, Afro, Hip Hop and Electronica in a new way. Kryptox records head honcho Mathias "Kapote" Modica's Kraut Jazz Futurism compilation is evidence of a new musical wind blowing through Germany - especially in Berlin. After years of having been the techno capital of the world, the city now is embracing a much wider musical palette, attracting a new generation of sonic adventurists: international jazz musicians as well as German talents. These highly skilled performers are searching for something new, merging different styles and influences. It's a fact: jazz no longer 'smells funny.' And after London and L.A., Berlin is on its way to becoming a new hotspot for the next generation of jazz-influenced musicians, thanks to its free hedonistic spirit as well as a blossoming scene of new live clubs, festivals and happenings.
03. VA Outlines [ANMA & Cognitiva Records]
Cognitiva and ANMA Records present Outlines a snapshot of a new generation of exciting producers from across Europe, collaborating and mixing jazz, broken beat & house in exciting new ways. 10 tracks split into two parts on vinyl, featuring ones-to-watch Contours, Werkha, Footshooter, Allysha Joy, Karmasound and Domenico Sanna. ANMA and Cognitiva have not only curated the featured artists but have also instigated many of the collaborations featured. Label bosses Angelo and Piero see Outlines as “an open book, a narrative that looks to not only the future, but also considers the past. Sounds, cultures and colours come together on a mutual path”. An exciting collection of first dates, first collaborations that have yielded exciting mutant strains of jazz, funk, broken beat and house music.
04. VA J Jazz Volume 3 Deep Modern Jazz from Japan [BBE]
BBE Music presents J Jazz Volume 3, the latest in its definitive compilation series exploring the finest modern jazz from Japan. Since the first volume in February 2018, the J Jazz compilation series has showcased some of the most creative, inspired, and sought-after jazz recorded in Japan during a golden period spanning the 1960s to the 1980s. Illustrating the richness and versatility of the composers and musicians on this collection, the music spans a wide yet coherent range of styles: samba, funk fusion, modal, spiritual, post-bop, and bossa all combine to present an aural portrait of a jazz scene that was constantly moving and shifting its multiple musical centres of gravity.
05. VA WAMONO A to Z Vol. III - Japanese Light Mellow Funk, Disco & Boogie 1978-1988 (Selected by DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite & Chintam)[Wamono A to Z series, 180g]
WE ARE is a Wamono sound is the cream of the Japanese funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan. DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite is also a renowned remixer, compiler, producer, and professional DJ in Japan since the late eighties. DJ Chintam is a record collector and a record store owner, and a specialist of soul, funk, rare groove and disco music. This compilation features some of the best and rarest jazz-funk and rare groove tunes produced in Japan between 1978 and 1988. For this third chapter of the acclaimed Wamono series, Yoshizawa and Chintam unheard some of the best and rarest light mellow funk tunes and disco boogie bangers produced in Japan between 1978 and 1988. Put the needle on the record, turn up the volume and dig right now into the Wamono sound - the cream of the Japanese jazz, funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan!
06. VA We Jazz Records 7 Singles Box Vol. 3 [We Jazz Records]
The third 7" box set from We Jazz Records, including five 7" releases from 2020-2021 (WJ0711-WJ0715) and including a sheet with release info plus a We Jazz sticker. Features The Stance Brothers, Antti Lötjönen, Koma Saxo, Eric Malmberg, Otis Sandsjö and Tampo.
07. VA Color De Tropico Vol 2 Compiled by El Drágon Criollo & El Palmas [El Palmas Music]
Continuing where the first compilation left off, Color de Trópico Vol. 2 returns to Venezuela’s hedonistic, and hugely creative, period of the 60s and 70s to gather another selection of rare musical gems, reissued here for the first time on vinyl. This is reflected in the music of Color de Trópico Vol. 2, which is unashamed of its genre fluidity. This is a compilation that goes from La Retreta Mayor with their funky jazz opus Liquido Elemento, blazing with saxophones and trumpets, to the folkloric, yet groovy, sounds of Anselmo y su Conjunto, his Seis Pajueliao indicative of the llanera music migrating to the cities from Venezuela’s plains; Anselmo was known as the King of the Bandola for very good reason. From Caracas’ nightclubs to the countryside and then even to the ballrooms with Orquesta La Playa’s Negro Soy offering a grandiose, nostalgic dose of exotica with its Afro roots on full show.
08. VA Club Coco (compiled by Coco Maria) [Bongo Joe]
Bongo Joe presents Club Coco, a summery outernational Latin and afro rooted music compilation curated by Coco María. An attempt to give back something to music lovers around the world and print on an object a piece of the essence of the community that has been gathering around her weekly radio show at Worldwide FM. In many ways, the tracks of the album showcase how these artists use music to reconcile both their pride in Latin American and Afro culture as well as their interest in being part of the cosmopolitanism of big European cities. This LP gathers some of the inescapable artists that have been part of Coco María’s shows. The list includes Nico Mauskovic, La Perla, Meridian Brothers y Grupo Renacimiento, Graham Mushnik, La Redada, Alex Figueira, Frente Cumbiero, Les Pythons de la Fournaise, Romperayo, Malphino, Max Weissenfeldt and even Coco María herself.
09. VA Joseph Kabasele And The Creation Of Surboum African Jazz [Planet Ilunga]
Planet Ilunga continues its mission to uncover and highlight the overlooked yet epic achievements in the world of Congolese rumba. This time to tell the most spectacular story of all. This is the story of the creation of Surboum African Jazz, the first Congolese music label founded by a Congolese. Surboum African Jazz was owned and managed by the best singer of all time, Joseph Kabasele, alias Grand Kallé. The label's catalog during the period 1960–63 is largely dominated by Grand Kallé’s band African Jazz in its various formations. The band, which could rely in 1961 and 1962 on a real dream team of musicians (Docteur Nico, Dechaud, Rochereau, Manu Dibango, Roger Izeidi and Mujos among others), released in this period at least 212 songs. The second largest source of music for the label is Franco’s band O.K. Jazz with at least 136 released songs. Next, with at least 34 released songs comes Manu Dibango with his different formations. These were the first ever published songs of the late Manu Dibango. For this compilation, they chose an original selection of songs recorded by African Jazz in 1961 and 1962. They also included a few songs of Dibango’s bands in the final selection, in order to showcase the diversity and universal philosophy of Grand Kallé’s label.
10. VA DJ Amir Presents ‘Strata RecordsThe Sound of Detroit’ Volume 1 [180 Proof Records, BBE]
BBE Music in association with DJ Amir and180 Proof Records, released Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit – Volume 1, a new compilation taking in just a few highlights from the short-lived but hugely influential jazz imprint. With a raft of Strata material now entering the BBE Music catalog for the first time, joining together with already-released gems such at the long-lost Charles Mingus live album Jazz In Detroit, BBE Music asked 180 Proof founder and Strata catalog curator DJ Amir to compile a selection of tracks as an introduction to the uninitiated.