Best Improvisation 2021


Improvisation is often seen as inseparable from jazz. Sure, you often have to improvise in jazz, but improvisation is not bound to any one genre, and I’m going to prove that to you. Here are my favourite improvised pieces of music from 2021!


Number Five: i.o – The Complete 2021 Releases


Taken together, Blasted Sentinel, No Guardians for Rusted Remains, and The Same as My Red add up to an insane 2 309 minutes! That’s about 38 hours and a half! And before you ask: yes, I listened through it all. Not in one go, I paused for sleep, but it was a truly transcendental experience. These three humongous albums each have a personality of their own, but they definitely deserve a mention on my top 5.


Number Four: Toned – Tricky


Featuring three of my favourite improvisers, Toned is always impressive, and Tricky just reiterates that. Hop in for Leo Suarez’s outstanding percussions, Nathan Corder’s eclectic strumming, and Tom Weeks’s honking, you won’t regret it!


Number Three: Punkt. Vrt. Plastik – Somit


Another trio made up of some of my favourite musicians! I’m really blessed this year! Kaja Draksler on piano, Christian Lillinger on drums, and Petter Eldh on double bass. All three really come together on Somit, which is closer to your typical jazz sound than Toned was. Somit is just such a wonderfully magical album to listen to!


Number Two: 苦しみ – Chaos Remains


苦しみ (Kurushimi) is all improvised, but conducted! That grants them the ability to play a more cohesive improvisation including all-band stops, rests, tempo changes, and pretty much everything else that a pre-written composition can achieve! The result is quite baffling, and Chaos Remains is only the latest example of Kurushimi’s mastery of this sort of performance!


Number One: Kuba Cichocki & Brandon Seabrook – Brisk Distortions


Two masters of their craft playing my favourite kind of improv: the chaotic, hectic, neurotic kind. Alright, there are a few compositions hidden in there, but the vast majority of Brisk Distortions is improvised (please, check this video and others if you want). This album is just so much fun and pain!


Notable Releases

Hover over foreign scripts for pronunciation and romanization.

Thursday, 14 January

Sandy Ewen & Weasel Walter – The Paradox of Tolerance

64:28
free improvisation
New York, New York
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 22

Patrick Shiroishi – Hard Luggage

21:57
free jazz
Los Angeles, California
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Saturday, 23

Jun Trun Gor – Jun Trun Gor

57:37
free improvisation
Barcelona, Spain
Discordian

Tracklist (click to display)


Sunday, 31 January

The Simns 2 – Apartment Life

37:13
free improvisation
Brisbane, Australia
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Thursday, 4 February

Thom Nguyen – Exits

41:18
free improvisation
Vashon, Washington
Sige

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 5

Kuba Cichocki & Brandon Seabrook – Brisk Distortions

48:34
avant-garde jazz
New York, New York
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 19

Patrick Shiroishi & Dylan Fujioka – のの

29:28
free jazz
Los Angeles, California
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 26

苦しみChaos Remains

29:30
progressive metal, jazzcore
Sydney, Australia
Art as Catharsis

Tracklist (click to display)

Calle Neumann, Ketil Gutvik, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and Paal Nilssen-Love – New Dance

63:04
free jazz
Oslo, Norway
PNL

Tracklist (click to display)


Thursday, 4 March

Dolphin Worship – Cetacean Creation

87:57
free improvisation, noise
Chicago, Illinois
Neutral Archive

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 5

Patrick Shiroishi & Zachary Paul – Of the Shapes of Hearts and Humans

43:06
free jazz
Los Angeles, California
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)

Rafael Toral, Mars Williams, and Tim Daisy – Elevation

36:44
avant-garde jazz
Chicago, Illinois
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 19 March

Punkt. Vrt. Plastik – Somit

45:30
free improvisation
Berlin, Germany
Intakt

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 2 April

Patrick Shiroishi – Staying Human

20:13
free improvisation
Los Angeles, California
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Saturday, 3

Toned – Tricky

39:36
free improvisation
Brooklyn, New York
1039

Tracklist (click to display)


Tuesday, 27

Absolute Terror Field – Music for a Post-Empirical America

81:25
free improvisation, noise
Chicago, Illinois
Neutral Archive

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 30 April

Lisa Cameron & Sandy Ewen – See Creatures Too

105:27
free improvisation
Austin, Texas
Astral Spirits

Tracklist (click to display)


Wednesday, 5 May

Jennifer Allum, John Butcher, Ute Kanngiesser, and Eddie Prévost – Sounds of Assembly

48:27
free improvisation
London, UK
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 7

Chris Williams & Patrick Shiroishi – Sans soleil

65:11
avant-garde jazz
Los Angeles, California
Astral Spirits

Tracklist (click to display)

Claire Rousay & Patrick Shiroishi – Now Am Found

34:16
musique concrète
San Antonio, Texas
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)

Noel Meek, Guro S Moe, Martín Escalante, and Håvard Skaset – Scrap

39:57
free improvisation, noise
Christchurch, New Zealand
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Monday, 10

Roscoe Mitchell, Sandy Ewen, Damon Smith, and Weasel Walter – A Railroad Spike Forms the Voice

72:23
free improvisation
New York, New York
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 21

The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan – The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan

40:55
free improvisation, noise
Brussel, Belgium
Rat

Tracklist (click to display)


Thursday, 27

i.o – Blasted Sentinel

~1728:00
free improvisation, noise
Victoria, British Columbia
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)

i.o – No Guardians for Rusted Remains

~1033:00
free improvisation
Victoria, British Columbia
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)

i.o – The Same as My Red

~548:00
free improvisation
Victoria, British Columbia
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 28 May

Jessica Ackerley – Morning/Mourning

36:12
avant-garde jazz
Hawai’i
Cacophonous Revival

Tracklist (click to display)


Sunday, 20 June

Noel Meek & Patrick Shiroishi – Throw Away Your Books, Rally the Streets

44:51
free improvisation
Christchurch, New Zealand
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 9 July

Eric Zinman, Mario Rechtern, and Weasel Walter – Mermaids and Sirens Know

73:00
free improvisation
New York, New York
UG Explode

Tracklist (click to display)

Mike Forbes, Andrew Scott Young, and Weasel Walter – Hard Living

41:02
free improvisation
New York, New York
UG Explode

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 16

Camila Nebbia & Patrick Shiroishi – 壊れやすい人間

39:30
free jazz
International
Trouble in Mind


Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 30 July

Dylan DiLella – Human Shield

42:14
free improvisation, noise
Brooklyn, New York
Nefarious Industries

Tracklist (click to display)


Thursday, 5 August

Ted Byrnes – Moving My Body through Space

26:20
free improvisation
Cincinnati, Ohio
Arkeen

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 6

Michael Foster & Ben Bennett – Negative Externality

43:56
free improvisation
New York
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 27

Joëlle Léandre, Pauline Oliveros, and George Lewis – Play as You Go

43:59
free improvisation
Vienna, Austria
Trost

Tracklist (click to display)


Monday, 30 August

Alex Maerbach – Untitled on Broken Guitar

27:40
free improvisation
Chicago, Illinois
Neutral Archive

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 10 September

Jessica Ackerley & Daniel Carter – Friendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel

51:10
free jazz
New York, New York
577

Tracklist (click to display)


Tuesday, 5 October

The Antistandard – Ain’t Got Rhythm

40:54
free improvisation
Barcelona, Spain
Discordian

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 15

Fred Frith Trio – Road

104:08
free improvisation
Oakland, California
Intakt

Tracklist (click to display)

Paulina Owczarek & Peter Orins – You Never Know

56:34
free improvisation
France
Circum Disc


Tracklist (click to display)


Wednesday, 10 November

Jessica Ackerley – EP 1

18:35
experimental jazz
New York, New York
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 12

Daniel Wyche – Earthwork

42:47
free improvisation
Chicago, Illinois
American Dreams

Tracklist (click to display)


Friday, 26 November

Ava Mendoza – New Spells

37:51
free jazz
Brooklyn, New York
Astral Spirits

Tracklist (click to display)


Monday, 6 December

Alister Spence, Joe Williamson, and Christopher Cantillo – Curve

58:08
free improvisation
Sydney, Australia
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Wednesday, 15

Flouxus – Kind of the Blues

32:43
experimental jazz
Paris, France
Gigantonium

Tracklist (click to display)


Thursday, 16

John Russell, John Butcher, and Dominic Lash – But Everything Now Left before It Arrived

40:21
free improvisation
London, UK
Independent

Tracklist (click to display)


Wednesday, 29 December

Allen Moore, Ishmael Ali, and Bill Harris – Hearsay

free improvisation
Chicago, Illinois
Amalgam

Tracklist (click to display)


Best of 2021

01/01 – Best of Afrobeat
01/02 – Best of Atmospheric Black Metal
01/03 – Best of Avant-Garde Black Metal
01/04 – Best of Brutal Death Metal
01/05 – Best of Classical
01/06 – Best of Death Metal
01/07 – Best of Deathcore
01/08 – Best of Doom Metal
01/09 – Best of Folk
01/10 – Best of Grindcore
01/11 – Best of Hardcore
01/12 – Best Improvisation

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