15 Great Albums You Didn't Hear in 2016

Rolling Stone critics choose LPs that flew under the radar

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Terrace Martin, 'Velvet Portraits’

Terrace Martin, 'Velvet Portraits’

This is a classic producer album, not in the post-millennial, Mark Ronson-writing-a-hit-song sense, but the kind of thick, woolly soul-jazz tapestry that Quincy Jones made in his pre-Michael Jackson days. There are a few boldfaced names here (Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington), but it's mostly Martin, fresh from assembling Kendrick Lamar's world-beating To Pimp a Butterfly, and a few session musician friends showing off what they can do as they explore California vibes as easily as David Axelrod once fused post-bop with orchestral ambition. From the down-home blues of "Patiently Waiting," where Uncle Chucc pairs with the Emotions (yes, of "Best of My Love" fame), to the vocoder G-funk of "Push," to the too-smooth yacht jazz of "Valdez Off Crenshaw," Martin and company do as they please, and the listener is all the better for it. Mosi Reeves

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