Exclaim!'s Top 10 Improv & Avant-Garde Albums Best of 2016

Sarathy Korwar 
Day to Day
(Ninja Tune)
How often do you get to hear an album that combines post-bop jazz, avant-garde electronics and sacred Indian folk music — and does so with grace and skill?
For his debut album, Sarathy Korwar travelled back to India to work with and record Sidi musicians (Sufi Muslims of African heritage). The chanting and hand percussion from these sessions formed the bedrock for this album, and then Korwar invited some jazz musicians into the studio to interact with and modify the material further. Korwar plays kit drums, tabla and electronics, and a good chunk of the melodic work is also done by Shabaka Hutchings's bass clarinet and tenor sax.
If you want to pick out one specific technical detail to highlight the virtuosic musicianship here, it could be the way in which the sections with increased tempos creep up on your attention because of how they're informed by melodic content (and not merely a repeated loop getting faster).
Day to Day effortlessly conveys a very human sense of hope. It's truly inspirational.
Peter Ellman