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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


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  • 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


  • 30 Nov 2018 9:48 PM | Hrayr Attarian

    My Best of 2018

    1) Kenny Barron "Concentric Circles" (Blue Note)

    2) Roxy Coss "The Future is Female" (Posi-Tone)

    3) Monika Herzig "Sheroes" (Whaling City Sound)

    4) Steve Coleman "Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)" (Pi Recordings)

    5) Henry Threadgill "Dirt… And More Dirt" (Pi Recordings)

    6) Satoko Fujii "Solo" (Libra)

    7) Andrew Cyrille "Lebroba" (ECM)

    8) Henry Threadgill "Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus" (Pi)

    9) Keith Jarrett "La Fenice" (ECM)

    10) Carol Liebowitz and and Birgitta Flick "Malita-Malika" (Leo) 


    1) Woody Shaw "Tokyo' 81" (Elemental)

    2) Sun Ra "Discipline 27-11" (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

    3) Dexter Gordon "Tokyo 75" (Elemental) 

  • 30 Nov 2018 3:23 PM | Anonymous

    My best Jazz Bits of 2018

    Where to begin is the first question. 2018 has seen many stellar recordings, gigs and surprising live experiences, both in the UK and in South America, where I spent much of the year. 

    Highlight releases include

    Ed Jones' album, Prick Up Your Ears'  (impossible Ark'

    Mark Ward 'Moving Day' ( Edition 66) 

    Mats Gustafsson's Fire! The Hands (Rune Gramofon)

    Paul Jolly and Mike Adcock 'Risky Furniture' (33 Jazz) 

    Han Bennink, Steve Noble and Alexander Hawkins 11.1.17 (Otoruku)

    John Edwards/Mark Sangers/John Hall FGBH (Entr'Acte)

    Monk - Monk (Gearbox)

    Wayne Shorter 'Emanon' (Blue Note Records)

    Writing Highlights - writing with Mats Gustafsson for Free Jazz Collective. Mats did the pictures and I did the narrative about his trip to Columbia.

    Also, reviews of gigs including Full Blast at Café Oto - Peter's incredible energy and musical mastery were just amazing.

    Other highlights include the amazing women who have come in on my new book which has been commissioned by 8th House Publishing in Canada and some great reviews for my last book ' All That's Jazz' on All About Jazz and Amazon as well as elsewhere, which was incredible.  



  • 30 Nov 2018 10:09 AM | Sanford Josephson

    Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Love is Here to Stay (Verve)

    Scott Hamilton, Live at Pyatt Hall (Cellar Live)

    Eric Alexander, Songs of No Regret (HighNote)

    Houston Person, Ron Carter, Remember Love (HighNote)

    Harold Mabern, The Iron Man (Smoke Sessions)

    Don Braden, Earth Wind and Wonder (Creative Perspective)

    Adrian Cunningham, Ken Peplowski, Duologue (Arbors)

    Jeff Hamilton Trio, Live From San Pedro (Capri Records)

    Eddie Daniels, Heart of Brazil (Resonance Records)

  • 29 Nov 2018 9:17 PM | John Pietaro

    MY OWN 'BEST OF 2018' - a perhaps alternative view...


    New Releases:

    John Zorn, The Urmuz Epigrams (Tzadik)

    Harriet Tubman, Araminta (Sunnyside)

    Marty Ehrlich, Trio Exaltation (Clean Feed)

    Ra Kalam Bob Moses and Bukky Leo, Spaceships Over Africa (Ra Kalam)

    Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine, The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)

    Yusef Komunyakaa/David Cieri/Mike Brown, White Dust (Ropeadopa)

    Christine Correa and Ran Blake, Streaming (Red Piano)

    Elliot Levin/Gabriel Lauber Duo, Yu (Dimensional Recordings)



     Coltrane, Both Directions at Once (Impulse)

    Walt Dickerson/Richard Davis - Divine Gemini (SteepleChase)

    Latin : Arturo O’Farrill, Fandango at the Wall (Resilience)

    Vocals : Christine Correa and Ran Blake, Streaming (Red Piano)

    Debuts: Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine, The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)



    I Never Left and Now I’m Back: A Tribute to Roswell Rudd (Nov 17, 2018, Murmrr, Brooklyn)




    Ran Blake

    Chris Forbes

    Matt Shipp


    Matthew Whitaker


    Ken Filiano

    Adam Lane


    Milford Graves

    Nasheet Waits

    Kenny Wolleson


    Brian Carrot

    Bill Ware

    Patricia Brennan


    Warren Smith

    Cyro Baptista

    Ches Smith


    Marc Ribot

    Brandon Ross

    Mary Halvorson

    On' Kai Davis


    Nicole Mitchell

    Steve Gorn

    soprano saxophone:

    Lee Odom


    Sonny Fortune

    Gary Bartz

    Avram Fefer


    Joe Lovano

    Ras Moshe

    James Brandon Lewis


    Dave Sewlson


    Wadada Leo Smith

    Tom Harrell


    Steve Swell


    Bob Stewart


    Gwen Laster


    Cassandra Wilson

    Jay Clayton

    Sheila Jordan


     Steve Dalachinsky

    Amina Baraka


    Minton’s Playhouse (Harlem)

    Village Vanguard (West Village)

    Joe’s Pub (SoHo/East Village)

    ShapeShifter Lab (Park Slope/Gowanus Bklyn)

    Roulette (Boerum Hill Bklyn)

    17 Frost (Williamsburg Bklyn)

    Scholes Street Studio (Williamsburg Bklyn)

    The Colony (Woodstock NY)

  • 29 Nov 2018 3:18 PM | Bill Milkowski

    THE BEST OF 2018

    1. JD Allen, Love Stone (Savant)
    2. John Scofield, Combo 66 (Verve)
    3. Bill Frisell, Music IS (OKeh/Sony Masterworks)
    4. Francois Moutin & Kavita Shah, Interplay (Dot Time)
    5. Michael Leonhart Orchestra, The Painted Lady Suite (Sunnyside)
    6. Wayne Shorter, Emanon (Blue Note)
    7. Eddie Henderson, Be Cool (Smoke Sessions Records)
    8. Andrew Cyrille, Lebroba (EMC)
    9. Joshua Redman, Still Dreaming (Nonesuch)
    10. Carlos Hernandez, Dizzy Con Clave (Rodbros Music)

    11. Rudy Royston, Flatbed Buggy (Greenleaf Music)
    12. Kurt Elling, The Questions (OKeh)
    13. Steve Cardenas, Charlie and Paul (Newvelle)
    14. Ben Allison, Quiet Revolution (Sonic Camera)
    15. Henry Threadgill, Dirt…And More Dirt (Pi Recordings)
    16. Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, The Other Side of Air (Firehouse 12)
    17. Dr. Lonnie Smith, All In My Mind (Blue Note)
    18. Cuong Vu, Change in the Air (RareNoise)
    19. The Nels Cline 4, Currents, Constellations (Blue Note)
    20. Mary Halvorson-Bill Frisell, The Maid With The Flaxen Hair — A Tribute to Johnny Smith (Tzadik)
    21. Adam Nussbaum, The Lead Belly Project (Sunnyside)
    22. Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Back to the Sunset (Dafnison Music)
    23. Marshall Gilkes w/WDR Big Band, Always Forward (Alternate Side Records)
    24. Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band, West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)
    25. The Gil Evans Orchestra, Hidden Treasures, Vol. 1 (Geo)
    26. Ralph Peterson’s Gen-Next Big Band, I Remember Bu: Alive Vol. 4 at Sculler’s (Onyx)
    27. Ralph Peterson’s Aggregate Prime, Inward Venture: Alive Vol. 5 at the Side Door (Onyx)
    28. Frank Kimbrough, Monk’s Dream (Sunnyside)
    29. Davy Mooney/Ko Omura, Benign Strangers (Sunnyside)
    30. The Chick Corea-Steve Gadd Band, Chinese Butterfly (Concord Jazz)
    31. Joey Alexander, Eclipse (Motema Music)
    32. Cecile McLorin Salvant, The Window (Mack Avenue)
    33. Roman Filiu, Quarteria (Sunnyside) Mark Masters, Our Metier (Capri)
    34. Fernando Garcia, Guasabara Puerto Rico (Zoho)
    35. Jon Iragabon Quartet, Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics (Irrabagast)
    36. Julian Lage, Modern Love (Mack Avenue)
    37. Gilad Hekselman, Ask for Chaos (Hexaphonic/Motema Music)
    38. Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas, Scandal (Greenleaf)
    39. Matthew Shipp, Sonic Fiction (ESP-Disk)
    40. Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blue Note)
    41. Christian McBride, New Jawn (Mack Avenue)
    42. James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor, Radiant Imprints (Off Records)
    43. Sylvie Courvoirsier, D’Agala (Intakt)
    44. Bobby Previte, Rhapsody (Tzadik)
    45. Thumbscrew, Theirs (Cuneiform)
    46. Aaron Parks, Little Big (Ropeadope)
    47. Jonathan Finlayson, 3 Times Round (Pi Recordings)
    48. Marcus Miller, Laid Black (Blue Note)
    49. Fima Ephron, Songs From The Tree (Fima)
    50. Jean Chaumont, The Beauty of Differences (Musfitme Music)

  • 29 Nov 2018 2:50 PM | Karl Ackermann

    Best of 2018


    Not Two, Amir ElSaffar/Rivers of Sound (New Amsterdam Records)

    All the Rivers – Live at Panteão Nacional, Susana Santos Silva (Clean Feed Records)

    Arild Andersen/Paolo Vinaccia/Tommy Smith In-House Science (ECM Records)

    Zero, Matthew Shipp (ESP Disk)

    Bright Force, Satoko Fujii’s Kira Kira (Libra Records)

    Aruán Ortiz Trio with Brad Jones and Chad Taylor: Live in Zürich (Intakt Records)

    Obsidian, Kit Downes (ECM Records)

    Marcin Wasilewski Trio Live (ECM Records)

    Lionel Loueke Close Your Eyes (Newvelle Records)

    Introverted Cultures, Adam Berenson / Scott Barnum / Eric Hofbauer (Dream Play Records)

    Esbjorn Svensson Trio e.s.t. live in London (ACT)

    Keith Jarrett / Gary Peacock / Jack DeJohnette After The Fall (ECM Records)

    Anniversary, Spanish Harlem Orchestra (ArtistShare)

    Cyrille Aimée Live, Cyrille Aimée (Mack Avenue records)

    Goya, Giuseppe Doronzo (Tora Records)

    10³²K, The Law of Vibration (Self-Produced)

    Tyshawn Sorey, Pillars (Firehouse 12)


    Historical Albums:

    Espace Cardin 1977, Dexter Gordon Quartet (Elemental Music)

    Mønk, Thelonious Monk (Gearbox Records)

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

  • 29 Nov 2018 2:28 PM | Anonymous

    TOP TEN LISTS 2018

    Note,  The numbering on these lists do not indicate the order of preference. 

    Small Groups


      1.  Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet – This Is So Nice It Must Be Illegal: A Tribute to Fats      Waller and His Rhythm (Self-produced)

      2.  Dan Block – Block Party (Miles High – 8628)

      3.  Scott Hamilton & Rossano Sportiello – Live at Pyatt Hall (Cellar Live – 070217)

      4.  Vinnie Raniolo – Air Flight: Songs of Flight (Self-produced)

      5.  John Eaton & Jay Leonhart – Jerome Kern: The Master (Wolf Trap – 015)

      6.  Adrian Cunningham & Ken Peplowsi – Doulogue (Arbors – 19460)

      7.  Dennis Lichtman – Just Across the River (Triple Treble Music – 007)

      8.  Andy Schumm and His Sink-O-Pators – Futuristic Rhythms (Rivermont – 2244)

      9.  Bootsie Barnes & Larry McKenna – The More I See You (Cellar Live – 50718)

    10.  Joe Magnarelli – If You Could See Me Now (Cellar Live – 41818)

    Big Bands

      1. The New York All-Star Big Band – The Unheard Artie Shaw (HEP – 2104)

      2.  The DIVA Jazz Orchestra – 25th Anniversary Project (Arttist Share – 166)

      3.  Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine – Tasty Tunes (Tall Man)

      4.  The Ken Peplowski Big Band – Sunrise (Arbors – 19458)

      5.  The Flying Horse Big Band – The Bat Swings (Flying Horse Records – 30518)

      6.  The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra – Ain’t It Grand? (Self-produced)

      7.  New England Jazz Ensemble with Gacomo Gates – Peter and the Wolf (Self-  Produced)

      8.  Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra – Flyin’ Through Florida (Summit – 727)

      9.  The Count Basie Orchestra – All About Basie (Concord – 00109)

    10.  Bobby Sanabria – West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads – 1231)


      1.  Cheryl Bentyne – rearrangements of Shadows (Artist Share – 0157)

      2.  Veronica Swift and Jeff Rupert – Let’s Sail Away (Rupe Media -10311)

      3.  Alex Pangman – Alex Pangman’s Hot Three (Justin Time – 8610)

      4.  Jay Leonhart & Tomoko Ohno – Don’t You Wish (Chancellor Music)

      5.  Dave Tull – Texting and Driving (Toy Car Records 0210)

      6.  Daryl Sherman – Lost in a Crowd (Audiophile – 357)

      7.  Mark Winkler & Cheryl Bentyne – Eastern Standard Time (Café Pacific – 4065)

      8.  Cécile McLorin Salvant – The Window (Mack Avenue – 1132)

      9.  Petra Van Nuis & Dennis Luxon – Because We’re Night People (String Damper – 2136)

    10.  Ann Hampton Callaway – Jazz Goes to the Movies (Shanachie/After 9 – 5464)


      1.  Stan Kenton – Mellophonium Magic (Tantara – 1133)

      2.  Various Artists – The Herdsmen & the Kentonians: Paris Sessions 1954-1956 (Fresh Sound – 939)

      3.  Harry South – The Songbook (Rhythm and Blues Records – 040)

      4.  Rogér Guerin – La Formidable Roger Guerin: Paris Meetings (Fresh Sound – 942)

      5.  Wes Montgomery – In Paris (Resonance – 2032)

      6.  Oscar Peterson – Oscar Peterson Plays (Verve – 5380361)

      7.  Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Cheek to Cheek: The Complete Duet        Recordings (Verve – B0026763)

      8.  Erroll Garner – Nightconcert (Mack Avenue – 1142)

      9.  Louis Armstrong – Pops Is Tops (Verve B0027518)

    10.  Dave McKenna – Dave McKenna in Madison (Arbors – 19467)

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