Here are Lanny Fields’ picks for the best albums of the year. This year’s list is marked by the inclusion of several debut and one-off recordings from recently formed ensembles, as well as small-bands featuring just two or three members; although a few old favorites did once again make the cut. Also notable this time around is a turn toward the noisier, freer, more avant-garde side of the musical spectrum, alongside groups representing traditional Appalachian and Irish music.
Rene Marie is an artist familiar to many of our listeners because she used to live and perform in Richmond. In the years since she moved away, she has recorded several critically acclaimed albums and with each new release has become more assured of her own artistic vision. Her most recent recordings have veered away from the standard songs that populate most jazz albums, instead focusing on her own songs. It came as something of a surprise that her new recording was a tribute album. It’s called “I Wanna Be Evil – With Love to Eartha Kitt.”