David Bowie's ★ (Blackstar) sets a high benchmark for for the year, but to fully appreciate its influence and the tone it sets for jazz rock in 2016, we need to look back first.
Every year there seems to be a sort of prevailing music theme fans can take away from the year in culture, but 2015 had a lot of those and no one really surfaced as the top dog.
We saw another big year for '80s-style synth rock-pop bands such as Chvrches, Grimes and Jamie xx. Funk dominated the beginning of 2015 with "Uptown Funk" topping the charts and Tame Impala giving its psychedelic interpretations on the genre. And R&B had another huge year with The Weeknd controlling the charts (still waiting on that new album Frank Ocean). But, if one had to pick a winner it would be socially conscious rap that really took the driver's seat in 2015, pushed forward by the likes of Chance the Rapper, J. Cole, Ghostface Killah and of course Kendrick Lamar.
That push in the rap and hip-hop communities has coincided with a rise in jazz, not only in the music of the rappers above but also from artists such as Kamasi Washington who put out a literally The Epic album.
Bowie's fantastic new album ★ (Blackstar) sees this jazz trend extending into the rock world as he expands massively on his sound and breaks down any barriers he might have held before. It's a beautifully dark cacophony of sound and emotion that can leave you amazed or disturbed and a lot of artists are picking up on the same jazz sounds.
Kanye West's new single released this week features a preview of the Kendrick Lamar featured track, "No More Parties In LA," which has those jazz flavors to it. Jazz bassist, Esperanza Spalding, is back with a psychedelic rock album coming out in March. While we haven't heard much music from these acts yet, Gorillaz, Frank Ocean, De La Soul, Radiohead, James Blake, Modest Mouse and even Red Hot Chili Peppers all have the capability of expanding on this trend.
Check back around this time 2017, but we could see a resurgence of jazz this year and Bowie is just the start.