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2018 'Best of Jazz' Selected by JJA Members

These are the 2018 "Best of Jazz" lists and commentaries compiled by
Members of the Jazz Journalists Association.  They are displayed in the order received, with the most recent on top. 

It's up to each member to decide what to include in his or her post
--recordings, books, live performances or whatever--
how many choices to include, and how the post will be formatted.

Click the member's underlined name after the date to view that member's profile. You are invited to comment on the posts


  • 19 Dec 2018 10:36 AM | John Chacona
    My ten favorite (not necessarily best) releases of the year. 

    Usual disclaimers apply.  I only chose what I heard (I did not hear "Emanon" among other eminent releases). Submitted using the qualifying release date interval and the format of the NPR Poll.  I'm lazy.

    IMHO, this was a strong year, and my choices were arrived at without much angst. There were 62 releases that were finalists for this list, which, I think, speaks to the strength of the scene.

    Here goes:

    Ten best new releases

    Miles Okazaki:  Work (Complete, Volumes 1-6) (self)
    Makaya McCraven:  Universal Beings (International Anthem Recording Co.)
    Steve Coleman & Five Elements: Live At The Village Vanguard Vol. I (Pi Recordings)
    James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (Off Records)
    Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (ECM)
    Nik Bärtsch's Ronin:  Awase (ECM)
    Henry Threadgill / 14 or 15 Kestra: AGG:  Dirt... And More Dirt (Pi Recordings)
    Tyshawn Sorey:  Pillars (Firehouse 12)
    Thiefs: Graft (Jazz & People)
    Code Girl:  Mary Halvorson (Firehouse 12)

    Reissues or Historical albums

    Anthony Braxton:  Sextet (Parker) 1993 (Firehouse 12)
    John Coltrane: Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (Verve)
    Woody Shaw: Live In Bremen 1983 (Elemental Music)

    Best vocal album

    William Parker: Voices Fall From The Sky (Aum Fidelity)

    Best debut album

    Ben LaMar Gay:  Downtown Castles Can’t Block the Sun (International Anthem Recording Co.)

    Best Latin jazz CD

    Román Filiú: Quartería (Sunny Side Records)

  • 18 Dec 2018 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    My list of ten favorite 2018 releases, along with 25 other notable new recordings, and historical releases. Listed alphabetically, as I hate numerical rankings.

    Kenny Barron QuintetConcentric Circles (Blue Note)

    Eddie DanielsHeart of Brazil: A Tribute to Egberto Gismonti (Resonance)

    Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill StewartToy Tunes (Pirouet)

    Chris LightcapSuperette (Royal Potato Family)

    Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas/Sound PrintsScandal (Greenleaf)

    NolatetNo Revenge Necessary (Royal Potato Family)

    Joshua Redman/Ron Miles/Scott Colley/Brian BladeStill Dreaming (Nonesuch)

    Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big BandWest Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)

    Antonio Sanchez (featuring WDR Big Band)Channels of Energy (CamJazz)

    Wayne ShorterEmanon (Blue Note)



    John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse)

    Miles Davis and John ColtraneThe Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy)

    Charlie Haden & Brad MehldauLong Ago and Far Away (Impulse)

    Fred Hersch Trio, ‘97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto)

    Art PepperUnreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto (Widow’s Taste)


    25 other Notable Jazz Releases

    Antonio Adolfo: Encontros -- Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)

    Ambrose Akinmusire, Origami Harvest (Blue Note)

    Roni Ben-Hur & Harvie S, Introspection (Jazzheads)

    Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch, Live in Healdsburg (Anzic)

    Chick Corea, The Musician (Concord)

    Rob Dixon Trio featuring Charlie Hunter & Mike Clark, Coast to Crossroads (Rob Dixon)

    Bill Frisell, Music IS (Okeh/Sony)

    Aaron Goldberg, At the Edge of the World (Sunnyside)

    Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergo Borlai, Arc Trio (Blue Canoe)

    Carlos Henriquez, Dizzy Con Clave (RodBros)

    Fred Hersch Trio, Live in Europe (Palmetto Records)

    Charles Lloyd & the Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blue Note)

    Medeski Martin & Wood with Alarm Will Sound, Omnisphere (Indirecto)

    Brad Mehldau Trio, Seymour Reads the Constitution! (Nonesuch)

    Hendrik Meurkens/Bill Cunliffe, Cabin in the Sky (Height Advantage)

    Francois Moutin & Kavita Shaw, Interplay (Dot Time)

    Bill O'Connell, Jazz Latin (Savant)

    Houston Person & Ron Carter, Remember Love (HighNote)

    Charles Pillow Large Ensemble, Electric Miles (MAMA)

    Dan Pugachi Nonet, Plus One (Unit)

    Cecile McLorin Salvant, The Window (Mack Avenue)

    SFJAZZ Collective, Original Compositions & the Music of Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder & Thelonious Monk (SFJAZZ)

    John Scofield, Combo 66 (Verve)

    Dr. Lonnie Smith, All in My Mind (Blue Note)Jim Snidero & Jeremy Pelt, Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley (Savant)

    Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth (Young Turks)

  • 15 Dec 2018 8:48 PM | David Adler

    I saw Ted Panken, John Murph and other fellow jazz scribes discussing the utility or non-utility of Year-End Top 10 lists and it made me want to try something different. I do have a Top 10, but rather than impose that kind of fixity on 2018 I thought I’d put my Top 10 last, not first. And in its place I’m doing what I do naturally every year: keep tallies in different categories that add up to a fuller story about where the music went and what I responded to most. So here is 2018 in debut albums, solo albums, duo albums and large ensemble albums. And then finally my Top 10.

    Debut Albums:

    Justin Brown, Nyeusi (Biophilia)

    Big Heart Machine (Outside In)

    Rogério Boccato Quarteto, No Old Rain (Red Piano)

    Noam Wiesenberg, Roads Diverge (BJU)

    James Francies, Flight (Blue Note)

    Yuhan Su, City Animals (Sunnyside)

    Jonathan Barber, Vision Ahead (ind.)

    Ben LaMar Gay, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun (International Anthem)

    Matthew Lux, Contra/Fact (Astral Spirits)

    Miki Yamanaka, Miki (Cellar Live)

    Joe Armon-Jones, Starting Today (Brownswood)

    JinJoo Yoo, I’m Curious (Gut String)

    Mayu Saeki, Hope (BJU)

    Blue Lab Beats, Xover (All Points)

    Gene Jackson Trio Nuyorx, Power of Love (Red River)

    William Tatge Trio, General Cargo (BJU)

    MND FLO, From Time (ind.)

    Solo Albums:

    Brad Mehldau, After Bach (Nonesuch)

    Mike Seal, Dogwoods (ind.)

    Josh Sinton, krasa (ind.)

    Rob Clearfield, Wherever You’re Starting From (Woodgathering)

    Miles Okazaki, Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk, Vols. 1-6 (ind.)

    George Colligan, Nation Divided (Whirlwind)

    Keith Jarrett, La Fenice (ECM)

    Wendy Eisenberg, Its Shape Is Your Touch (VDSQ)

    Alan Pasqua, Soliloquy (ind.)

    Dan Tepfer, Natural Machines (YouTube)

    Duo Albums:

    Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson, Temporary Kings (ECM)

    Mikkel Ploug & Mark Turner, Faroe (Sunnyside)

    Jonathan Kreisberg & Nelson Veras, Kreisberg Meets Veras (New For Now)

    Tim Berne & Matt Mitchell, Angel Dusk (screwgun)

    Frank Carlberg & Noah Preminger, Whispers and Cries (Red Piano)

    Michael Coleman & Ben Goldberg, Practitioner (BAG)

    Anteloper (Jaimie Branch/Jason Nazary), Kudu (International Anthem)

    Will Holshouser & Eric Vloeimans, Will & Eric (Aviary)

    Lee Konitz & Dan Tepfer, Decade (Verve)

    Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson, Seed Triangular (New Amsterdam)

    Ben Wendel, Standards with Friends (YouTube)

    Large Ensemble Albums:

    Michael Leonhart Orchestra, The Painted Lady Suite (Sunnyside)

    Big Heart Machine (Outside In)

    Orrin Evans & Captain Black Big Band, Presence (Smoke Sessions)

    Barney McAll feat. Monash Art Ensemble, Zephyrix (Extra Celestial)

    Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Down a Rabbit Hole (Summit)

    Antonio Sanchez, Channels of Energy (CAM Jazz)

    Luzia von Wyl Ensemble, Throwing Coins (Hathut)

    Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Back to the Sunset (Dafnison)

    Miho Hazama, The Monk: Live at Bimhuis (Sunnyside)

    Pedro Giraudo & The WDR Big Band, An Argentinian in New York (Zoho)

    Marshall Gilkes & WDR Big Band, Always Forward (Alternate Side)

    Top 10 Albums:

    Wayne Shorter, Emanon (Blue Note)

    Miguel Zenón featuring Spektral Quartet, Yo Soy La Tradición (Miel)

    Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells (Concord)

    Cécile McLorin Salvant, The Window (Mack Avenue)

    Miles Okazaki, Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk, Vols. 1-6 (ind.)

    Caroline Davis, Heart Tonic (Sunnyside)

    The Bad Plus, Never Stop II (Legbreaker)

    Dan Weiss, Starebaby (Pi)

    Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson, Seed Triangular (New Amsterdam)

    Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, The Other Side of Air (Firehouse 12)

  • 11 Dec 2018 10:55 AM | Marcela Breton

    These are a few of my favorite CDs in 2018:

    Leny Andrade "Bossa Nossa : Leny Andrade Canta Fred Falcão (Biscoito Fino)

    Roxy Coss "The Future is Female" (Posi-tone)

    Champian Fulton "The Stylings of Champian" (Champian Records) (2 CDs)

    Jeff Hamilton Trio "Live at San Pedro" (Capri)

    Azar Lawrence "Elementals" (HighNote)

    Jorge Nila "Tenor Time" (Ninjazz Records)

    Orquesta Akokán “Orquesta Akokán" (Concord)

    Eddie Palmieri "Full Circle" (Uprising)

    Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band "West Side Story Reimagined" (Jazzheads)(2 CDs)

    Lauren Sevian "Bliss" (Posi-tone)

    Chucho Valdés “Jazz Batá 2” (Mack Avenue) 

    Los Van Van "Legado" (Egrem)


    Various “The Complete Cuban Jam Sessions” (Craft) (5 CDs)

    Alice Coltrane “Spiritual Eternal : the Complete Warner Bros. Studio Recordings” (Real Gone Music) (2 CDs)

    Dexter Gordon "Tokyo 1975" (Elemental Music)

    Helen Humes "The Helen Humes Collection,1927-62" (Acrobat) (2 CDs)

    Charles Mingus “Live at Montreaux 1975” (Eagle Rock Entertainment) (2 CDs)

    Teddy Wilson "Classic Brunswick & Columbia Sessions 1934-42" (Mosaic) (7 CDs)

  • 10 Dec 2018 3:46 PM | Stephen Feeney

    TOP TEN 2018:


    Wayne Shorter – Emanon (Blue Note)

    Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth (Young Turks Recordings)

    William Parker – Voices Fall From The Sky (Centering)

    Mary Halvorson – Code Girl (Firehouse 12)

    Dave Holland – Uncharted Territories (Dare2 Records)

    Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas/Sound Prints: Scandal (Greenleaf)

    Brad Mehldau Trio – Seymour Reads the Constitution (Nonesuch)

    Kenny Barron – Concentric Circles (Blue Note)

    Thumbscrew – Theirs (Cuneiform Records)

    Andrew Cyrille – Lebroba (ECM)



    William Parker – Voices Fall From The Sky (Centering)



    John Bailey – In Real Time (Summit Records)




    David Virelles – Igbo Alakoron (The Singer’s Grove) Vol. I & II (Pi Recordings)



    Dexter Gordon Quartet – Espace Cardin 1977 (Elemental Music)

    John Coltrane – Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse)

    Fred Hersch – Fred Hersch Trio ’97 Live @The Village Vanguard (Palmetto)

  • 10 Dec 2018 7:13 AM | John Szwed

    1  Wayne Shorter    Emanon  Blue Note

    2  Frank Kimbrough   Monk’s Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere

           Monk     Sunnyside

    3  Charles Lloyd   Vanished Gardens  Blue Note

    4  Mark Masters   Our Metier    Capri

    5  Myra Melford, The Other Side of Air      Firehouse 12

    6  Wolfgang Muthspiel  Where the River Flows   ECM

    7  Matthew Shipp     Sonic Fiction    ESP

    8  Jacob Sachs,  Fishes       Clean Feed

    9  Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson   Temporary Kings   ECM

    10  The Oakland Elementary School Arkestra.  The Saga of Padani.  Modern Harmonic


    1 The Savory Collection 1935-1940      Mosaic

    2  Charles Mingus    Jazz in Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden       Strata Media

    3   John Coltrane     The Lost Album    Impulse


    David Virelles.  Igbo Alakorin (The Singer’s Grove, Vol 1 & 2.     Pi


  • 09 Dec 2018 10:22 AM | Christopher Burnett

    Image result for jazzartistrynow

    Jazz Artistry Now – 2018 marks the 17th year I have submitted a “Top Jazz” recordings list for consideration.


    This is the same list submitted to the Jazz Journalists Association and posted to my long-time “Musings In Cb” blog as well. The list contains links to the recordings or published reviews.

    Readers are encouraged to listen and enjoy these records for themselves.

    The parameters of this list conclude that all of these recordings are objectively brilliant in artistry and scope.

    Therefore I do not rank them – it’s all great work.

    Jazz Artistry Now only reviews work that we justly believe to be in the 4.0- to 4.5- out of 5.0-star range.

    You will find music by widely-publicized jazz musicians and not-so-well-known alike. That’s cool.

    I always include recordings released on our Artists Recording Collective label because we believe the inherent nature of acceptance into the collective ensures the quality of music we release is organically among the best recordings produced each year.

    There is also a mixture of “types” of jazz among the music listed here – from melodic and traditional-sounding music to progressive, improvised and abstract experimentations. That’s cool too.

    Again, we hope that you explore these particular works along with your normal listening playlists.

    Thanks for reading.

    ~ Christopher Burnett, a JAN editor, writer, and a professional voting member: Jazz Journalists Association

    [ JAN ‘Best of Jazz’ 2018 Reviews ]
    1. Rez Abbasi
    2. As Is
    3. Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York
    4. Sharel Cassity & Evolve
    5. Teddy Wilson Mosaic Box Set
    6. Jon Irabagon
    7. Alchemy Sound Project
    8. Jeff ‘Siege’ Siegel Quartet
    9. Charles Pillow


    JAN uses a 5-point scale for reviews. We only review music we think is in the 4.0 to 4.5 out of 5 stars range. So, all of the music reviewed here is the best of the best in our editorial and collectively informed opinions.

    Our highest review rating is 4.5 because objective reality remains that nobody is 5 stars. We know that some writers and publications give fives. But, is there really a five-out-of-five recording, though? We say not. So, if we write about yours, or your client’s recording, it is likely among the best music being released by any scale.

    When JAN publishes a review, the recording is representative of the best jazz artistry now.

    # # #


    Image result for artists recording collective
    [ ARC Records 2018 Stellar Releases ]

    Image result for burnettmusic.biz logo
    [ Christopher Burnett’s 2018 personal picks ]
    • Logan Richardson …state of the art alto saxophonist whose original voice has matured and moved the music forward into this Century.
    • Ernest Melton …a young prodigy who is a refreshing throwback to the era when the essence of the music was learned from elders on the bandstand and many hours in the personal woodshed.
    • Sean Conly …hey, everybody – modern jazz sounds like this.
    • Dan Arcamone …genius is often bandied about in jazz, but in the case of this thoughtful and formidable artist, I say not – he is a ‘genius.’

  • 03 Dec 2018 4:16 PM | Ken Franckling

    The 10 best new jazz releases of 2018

    1.       Jeff Hamilton Trio, Live from San Pedro (Capri)
    2.       Benjamin Boone and Philip Levine, The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)
    3.       Lynne Arriale Trio, Give Us These Days (Challenge)
    4.       Eric Alexander, Song of No Regrets (HighNote)
    5.       Benito Gonzalez, Gerry Gibbs, Essiet Okon Essiet Passion Reverence Transcendence (Whaling City Sound)
    6.       Fred Hersch Trio, Live in Europe (Palmetto)
    7.       Yelena Eckemoff, Desert (L&H)
    8.       Mica Bethea Big Band, Suite Theory (self-produced)
    9.       Roxy Coss, The Future Is Female (Posi-Tone)
    10.    Dongfeng Liu, China Carib (Zoho)   

    2018’s best vocal recording:  Amy Cervini, No One Ever Tells You (Anzic)

    The best historical/reissues of 2018 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):
    1.     John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Sessions (Verve)
    2.     Esbjorn Svensson Trio, E.S.T. Live in London (ACT)
    3.   Fred Hersch Trio, '97 @ The Village Vanguard (self-produced)

    2018’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

    1.     Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Back to the Sunset (Dafnison)
    2.     Bobby Sanabria, West Side Story Revimagined (JazzHeads)
    3.     Antonio Adolfo, Encontros - Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)
    4.     Akira Tana, JAZZaNOVA (Vega)
    5.     Eddie Daniels, Heart of Brazil (Resonance) 

    The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2018, listed alphabetically:

    • Lynne Arriale, “Appassionata” from Give Us These Days (Challenge)
    • Benjamin Boone, The Unknowable (Homage to Sonny Rollins)” from Benjamin Boone and Philip Levine, The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)
    • Roxy Coss, “Females are Strong as Hell” from The Future Is Female (Posi-Tone)
    • Yelena Eckemoff, “Bedouins” from Desert (L&H)
    • Thomas Fonnesbæk, “Panic Attack” from Fonnesbæk and Kauflin, Synesthesia (Storyville)
    • Ken Fowser, “Coming Up Shorter” from Don’t Look Down (Posi-Tone)
    • Benito Gonzalez, “Brazilian Girls” from Benito Gonzalez, Gerry Gibbs, Essiet Okon Essiet Passion Reverence Transcendence (Whaling City Sound)
    • Fred Hersch, “Newklypso” from Fred Hersch Trio, Live in Europe (Palmetto)
    • Monika Herzig, “Nancy Wilson Portrait” from Sheroes (Whaling City Sound)
    • Dongfeng Liu, “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon” from China Carib (Zoho)
  • 02 Dec 2018 8:30 PM | Rick Mitchell

    Here are the top 30 tracks from 2018 releases featured on my radio programs Jazz In the New Millennium (syndicated nationally through the African American Public Radio Consortium) and The Motif/Jazz In the Afternoon (KBOO.FM, Portland, Oregon). They are not in ranked order, but I have divided them into two discs, "Geezer Jazz" and "Not-So-Geezer Jazz." I would add that while evaluating jazz through the prism of how it is going to be received on the radio can dilute one's taste, it can also hone it. I don't have to prove how hip I am; I just want to do right by the music and for people to keep listening. Peace. 

    Geezer Jazz

    "One Up, One Down (Take 1)," John Coltrane

    "Fly With the Wind," Benito Gonzalez/Gerry Gibbs/Essiet Okun Essiet

    "Blues for Langston and Larue," Charles Lloyd and the Marvels

    "Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy," Paul Simon

    "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," Dr. Lonnie Smith 

    "Que Sera Sera," Marcus Miller

    "El Guije," Chucho Valdes

    "Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean," Wayne Shorter

    "DPW," Kenny Barron Quintet

    "Dang Swing," John Scofield

    "Nobody Said Love Was Easy," Karrin Allyson

    "Close Enough for Jazz," Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco

    "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town," Wynton Marsalis Septet w/ Ray Charles

    "Submarine," Bob James

    "Merry Christmas Baby," Les McCann

    Not-So-Geezer Jazz

    "It Don't Mean a Thing," Grace Kelly

    "Respond," R+R=Now

    "Save Your Love for Me," Tia Fuller

    "General Thunder," Julian Lage

    "Hialeah," Harold Lopez Nussa

    "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," Kamasi Washington

    "Just the Two of Us," Jose James

    "Timing," Marcus Strickland's Twi-Life

    "14th Street Bounce," Corcoran Holt

    "Fight for Freedom," Christian Sands

    "Walkin' Funny," Christian McBride

    "The Gentleman Is a Dope," Cecile McLorin Salvant

    "The Very Thought of You," Joey Alexander feat. Joshua Redman

    "Boffadem," The Bad Plus

    "Atomic Dog 2017," Me'Shell Ndegeocello

    Top Ten Albums of the Year (Across Category, based on Lester Bangs' honest criterion of what got the most play at home, in the car and on the radio)

    1. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blue Note) 

    2. Ry Cooder, The Prodigal Son (Fantasy)

    3. Dr. Lonnie Smith, All In My Mind (Blue Note)

    4. Buddy Guy, The Blues Is Alive and Well (Silvertone/RCA)

    5. Chucho Valdes, Jazz Bata 2 (Mack Avenue)

    6. Bettye Lavette, Things Have Changed (Verve)

    7. Boz Scaggs, Out of the Blues (Concord)

    8. Harold Lopez Nussa, Un Dia Cualquiera (Mack Avenue)

    9. Julian Lage, Modern Lore (Mack Avenue) 

    10. Jose James, Lean On Me (Blue Note)

  • 02 Dec 2018 11:50 AM | Nancy Barell

    Leslie Pintchik You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine,You Steal My Girl   Pinch Hard

    Martin Wind Light Blue  Laika

    Cecile McLorin Salvant  The Window  Mack Avenue

    Jeremy Pelt Noir En Rouge High Note

    Fred Hersh Trio Live In Europe  Palmetto

    Sachal Vasandani Shadow Train GSI

    Amy Cervini  NoOne Ever Tells You  Anzic

    Cyrille Aimee Cyrille Aimee Live   Mack Ave

    Eric Alexander Song Of No Regrets  High Note

    Stacey Kent I Know I Dream   The Orchestral Sessions   Okeh

    Nancy Barell Jazz Spotlight On Sinatra


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