As in previous years, the selections for this 2015 round-up were made in accordance with a simple principle: only those releases that were reviewed at textura during 2015 were deemed eligible. Shown below, then, are the recordings to which we repeatedly returned and which repeatedly rewarded that return (all of the original reviews can be found in textura’s archives).
#3: PRISM Quartet: Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 (Innova Records)
One of the best things about PRISM Quartet’s 2015 double-CD set is its implicit promise of a second volume—which shouldn’t dissuade anyone from checking out the fulsome pleasures of this indispensible first. In contrast to the group’s 2014 release, People’s Emergency Center, which centered on compositions by the quartet’s tenor saxist Matthew Levy only, Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1 features pieces by fellow saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Liebman, Greg Osby, Miguel Zenón, Tim Ries, and Steve Lehman; even better, the saxophonists join Levy, Timothy McAllister (soprano), Zachary Shemon (alto), and Taimur Sullivan (baritone) on their respective selections. As strong as the release is as a whole, two pieces in particular leave a mark: Zenón’s lyrical ballad “The Missing Piece” and Osby’s hauntingly beautiful “Covenant of Voices.”