Here is the selection of The Wicked Sound favorite / best compilation albums of 2021:
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 The Kraut Jazz Futurism [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 Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana: Experiments in Latin Music 1975-85 Vol. 2 [Soul Jazz Records]
Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana: Experiments in Latin Music 1975-85 Vol. 2 is the new album compiled by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Records) that takes off in exactly the same vein as the much-acclaimed Vol. 1 - exploring the many styles that came out of Cuba in the 1970s as Latin and Salsa mixed with heavy doses of Jazz, Funk, and Disco to create some of the most dancefloor-friendly music every made! The music on this new album features a host of rarities from legendary Cuban artists such as Los Van Van, alongside Grupo De Experimentación, Farah Maria, Ricardo Eddy Martinez, Juan Pablo Torres, Grupo Sintesis and Orquesta Riverside, most of whose names remain largely unknown outside of Cuba but have long been favourite club tracks and secret-weapons in Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker's record boxes!
04. VA Spiritual Jazz 13 NOW! [Jazzman Records]
Volume 13 of the popular compilation series Spiritual Jazz turns our attention to what’s happening NOW in Spiritual Jazz music around the world. Over the course of 24 tracks and spanning 2 x 2LPs, Jazzman Records presents an overview of the contemporary exponents of Spiritual Jazz; musicians who are intent on bringing something personal to the table, as much as they recognize the importance of those who have paved the way for them. We feature music recorded within the past 20 years and from 15 different countries, including modern classics from veterans Steve Reid and Idris Ackamoor, providing a vital link between the past masters and the enlightened new generation.
05. 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.
06. 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!
07. VA Late Night Tales Version Excursion - Selected By Don Letts [Night Times Stories]
There’s a diverse mix of classic and new, with legendary figures like John Holt, The Tamlins and Cornell Campbell, mixed in with British veterans Mad Professor and the irrepressible Dennis Bovell, while (relatively) young striplings Kiko Bun, Emily Capell and Prince Fatty deliver the goods, with laidback Texan groovers Khruangbin also offering an exclusive bass heavy-delight. Cover versions became quite a thing in Jamaica and Don Letts aka The Rebel Dread (DJ, broadcaster and filmaker), following in that tradition, has dug deep with a selection of interesting dubbed out covers including thirteen exclusives. He added I wanted to carve out a space that was distinctly my own - something that reflected my musical journey and the culture clash that’s made me the man I am today.
08. VA Habibi Funk 015 An eclectic selection from the Arab world, part 2 [Habibi Funk]
Habibi Funk is dedicated to re-releasing a style of music that historically never existed as a musical genre. We use the term to describe a certain sound that we like from the countries of the Arab world. Habibi Funk 015 An eclectic selection from the Arab world, part 2 contains nichey pearls and often overlooked artists; resulting in a diverse range of styles from Egyptian organ funk, disco sounds from Morocco, an example of the lively reggae scene of Libya, political songs from Lebanon, soundtrack music from Alge- ria, a musical union between Kenya and Oman, and much more.
09. VA Delfonic & Kapote Illegal Jazz Vol 4 & 5 [Toy Tonics]
New editions of the Illegal Jazz edit series by Berlin's Delfonic & Kapote are focused on reworks of rare soul jazz and jazz funk-disco tunes from the 1970ies. Reworked for today's eclectic dancefloors. The first volumes of this series have been sold out very fast. A sign that the demand for jazzy music on international dancefloors is growing. Delfonic & Kapote took some old records of their collection and re-work some tracks in a way they get playable again on today's advanced dancefloors. The first parts of the series have been re-pressed up to 4 times, so the guys decided to go on. This time it gets even more jazz funky. And the tracks have been even more re-worked, not just edited. Own vocals, a lot of keyboard solos by Kapote and additional drums and arrangements.
10. 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.
11. VA Jazz Is Dead Remixes JID010 [Jazz Is Dead Records]
The final chapter in the initial run of Jazz Is Dead releases, Remixes JID010 continues the creative catharsis of an exhilarating new chapter in jazz music. Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad tapped nine iconic creators to reimagine their personal favorites from Jazz Is Dead’s catalogue to-date, who created striking new versions of songs by Marcos Valle, Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, Azymuth, João Donato, Doug Carn, Brian Jackson and The Midnight Hour. Holding the line taut like a bass string, Younge & Muhammad only invited those special musical alchemists who have previously participated in Jazz Is Dead happenings, or those who are slated to share that stage soon: Cut Chemist, DJ Spinna, Georgie Anne Muldrow, Akili, Shigeto, Pink Siiffu, Dibiase, Natureboy Flako, and Kaidi Tathum.
12. VA Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1 [Analog Africa]
It was in Benin City, in the heart of Nigeria, that a new hybrid of intoxicating highlife music known as Edo Funk was born. It first emerged in the late 1970s when a group of musicians began to experiment with different ways of integrating elements from their native Edo culture and fusing them with new sound effects coming from West Africa ́s night-clubs. Edo Funk Explosion series focusses on the genre’s greatest originators; Osayomore Joseph, Akaba Man, and Sir Victor Uwaifo. What unites these diverse musicians is their ability to strip funk down to its primal essence and use it as the foundation for their own excursions inward to the heart of Edo culture and outward to the furthest limits of sonic alchemy. The twelve tracks on Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1 pulse with raw inspiration, mixing highlife horns, driving rhythms, day-glo keyboards and tripped-out guitars into a funk experience unlike any other.
13. VA Color de Trópico 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.
14. 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.
15. VA Journeys In Modern Jazz Great Britain (1965-1972) [Decca]
The burgeoning British jazz scene of the 60s and early 70s is fully captured on this fine double album, compiled by Tony Higgins who has also been responsible for the excellent J Jazz series at position number 5. A deep dive into the one of most collectable jazz catalogues in the world, a selection of some of the rarest and most sought-after recordings from the 60s and 70s, a time when British jazz began to find its own identity. Drawn from the iconic labels of Decca, Deram, Argo, EMI Columbia/Lansdowne Series, Fontana, Mercury and Philips. Featuring amazing music from British jazz legends such as Don Rendell, Michael Garrick, Neil Ardley, Ian Carr, Dick Morrissey, Harry Beckett and more!
16. 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.
17. VA The Craig Charles Trunk of Funk Volume 2 [Soul Bank Music]
Craig Charles has been adding to his trunk of funk music since his youth, and now after almost 20 years hosting his world-renowned BBC6 Music and Radio 2 shows, DJing at clubs and festivals around the globe his reputation as an ambassador for all things soulful & funky is indisputable. The Craig Charles Trunk of Funk Volume 1 which hit the Official UK Album charts, Volume 2 contains all the trademark features Craig Charles fans have come to love. Trunk Of Funk draws together old and new music from all four corners of the globe into one beautiful collection.
18. VA DJ CAM & Frédéric Beneix present Wine4Melomanes [BBE Records]
DJ Cam & sommelier Frédéric Beneix present Wine4Melomanes, an eclectic and unique compilation album concept, matching fine wines with rare pieces of music produced in the same year. Connecting the complexity, sensuality, liveliness of a drink with the harmony, arrangements, voice, orchestration, rhythm and melody of a song, Wine4Melomanes tours France, Germany, Holland, the USA and even Slovakia in search of only the finest musical flavours. Ranging from jazz, to pop-rock, to blue-eyed soul from the early 70s right through to 2016, Wine4Melomanes is defined by its sense of musical opulence, with warm rich tones and understated quality evident throughout.
19. 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.
20. VA College Music Records College Music Presents Back on Track [College Music Records]
College Music Presents: Back on Track is a twenty-nine-track compilation featuring original music from artists and producers the world over. Back on Track aims to act as a beacon of hope after a tricky few years across the world. College Music Records invited some of the very best producers right know to create something that reflected a light at the end of the tunnel, and the end result is a wide array of uplifting vibes, from instrumental beats and jazzy joints to euphoric vocal breakbeats and lo-fi house, featuring the likes of Tennyson, Cookin Soul, Athletic Progression, L'indécis, Conor Albert and a lot more.