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These are the 2021 "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. 

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  • 19 Dec 2021 12:49 PM | Rick Mitchell

    Here are twenty recommended tracks featured on my radio shows, Jazz In the New Millennium (syndicated nationally through the African American Public Radio Consortium) and KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon. The first ten are from my top albums ballot, though not necessarily in this order. Obviously, no one can listen to everything; what I heard was in part dictated by what came my way. 

    Top Ten Albums and Tracks

    Charles Lloyd and the Marvels, "Ramblin'" (Tone Poem, Blue Note)

    Dr. Lonnie Smith, "Why Can't We Live Together," (Breathe, Blue Note)

    Lauren Henderson, "I Concentrate on You," (Musa, Brontosaurus) 

    Kenny Garrett, "Sounds from the Ancestors" (Sounds from the Ancestors, Mack Avenue) 

    Pat Metheny, "Time Line" (Side Eye NYC V1.1V, Metheny Group)

    Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios, "Tango for Terry" (Songs From My Father, Whaling City Sound) 

    Vijay Iyer, "Drummer's Song" (Uneasy, ECM) 

    Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas, "The Transcendentalists" (Other Worlds, Greenleaf)

    Arturo O'Farrill The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, "Del Mar" (Dreaming In Lions..., Blue Note) 

    Johnathan Blake, "Steppin' Out" (Homeward Bound, Blue Note) 

    Ten More for the Radio

    Joe Chambers, "Samba de Maracatu" (Samba de Maracatu, Blue Note) 

    Leon Lee Dorsey, "Freedom Jazz Dance" (Freedom Jazz Dance, Jazz Avenue) 

    Julian Lage, "Saint Rose" (Squint, Blue Note) 

    Kurt Elling, "Manic Panic Epiphanic" (SuperBlue, Edition)

    John Patitucci/Vinnie Colaiuta/Bill Cunliffe, "Ana Maria" (Trio, Le Coq) 

    Terence Blanchard feat. the E! Collective and Turtle Island Quartet, "Diana" (Absence, Blue Note) 

    Noah Haidu, "Chambers of Tain" (Doctone, Sunnyside) 

    Brandee Younger, "Love & Struggle" (Somewhere Different, Impulse) 

    James Francies, "My Favorite Things" (Purest Form, Blue Note) 

    Makaya McCraven, "Wail Bait" (Deciphering the Message, Blue Note) 

    Three Very Cool Reissues

    Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost Recordings (Blue Note): Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Jymie Merritt, Art Blakey. We now have proof. On January 14, 1961, this was the greatest band in the world. 

    Sheila Jordan, Comes Love: Lost Session 1960 (Capri): She can't remember who was in the band but they sound great. She does, too. 

    Oscar Peterson Quartet, A Time for Love (Mack Avenue): Oscar is Oscar, Joe Pass is shredding... 

    Three Very Cool Non-Jazz Albums

    Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Raise the Roof (Rounder) 

    Allison Russell, Outside Child (Fantasy)

    Charley Crockett, The Valley (Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers) 



  • 17 Dec 2021 10:44 AM | Ken Franckling

    The 10 best new jazz releases of 2021

    1. Yoko Miwa, Songs of Joy (Ubuntu)

    2. Greg Abate, Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron (Whaling City Sound)

    3. Pasquale Grasso, Pasquale Plays Duke (Sony Music Masterworks)

    4. Paxton/Spangler Septet, Anthem for the New Nation (Eastlawn)

    5. Dave Stryker, Baker’s Circle (Strikezone)

    6. Graham Dechter, Major Influence (Capri)

    7. Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Skyline (Passion)

    8. Diego Rivera, Indigenous (Posi-Tone)

    9. Dan Wilson, Vessels of Wood and Earth (Brother Mister)

    10. Out To Dinner, Play On (Posi-Tone)

    2021’s best vocal recordings:

    1. Veronica Swift, This Bitter Earth (Mack Avenue)

    2. Samara Joy, Samara Joy (Whirlwind)

    3. Roderick Harper, Evolving (RHM Entertainment)

    4. Anaïs Reno, Lovesome Thing (Harbinger)

    5. Roxana Amed, Ontology (Sony Latin)

    The best historical/reissues of 2021 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):

    1. Lee Morgan, The Complete Live at the Lighthouse (Blue Note, 1970)

    2. Roy Hargrove & Mulgrew Miller, In Harmony (Resonance, 2006-7)

    3. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle (Impulse!, 1965)

    4. Oscar Peterson, A Time For Love ((Two Lions/Mack Avenue, 1987)

    5. Bill Evans, Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings (Elemental, 1969)

    6. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings (Blue Note, 1961)

    7. Miles Davis, Merci Miles! Live at Vienne (Rhino, 1991)

    8. Roy Brooks, Understanding (Reel to Real, 1970)

    9. Sheila Jordan, Comes Love: Lost Session 1960 (Capri, 1960)

    10. Juan Carlos Quintero, Caminando [originally The Way Home] (Moondo, 1997)

    2021’s top debut recording:

    Emma-Jean Thackray, Yellow(Movementt/Warp)

    2021’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

    1. Carlos Henriquez, The South Bronx Story (Tiger Turn)

    2. Miguel Zenón and Luis Perdomo, El Arte Del Bolero (Miel Music)

    3. Antonio Adolfo, Jobim Forever (AAM Music)

    4. Lunar Octet, Convergence (Summit)

    5. Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet, Social Distancing (Saponegro)

    6. Iván Melon Lewis, Voyager (Cezanne Producciones)

    7. Roxana Amed, Ontology (Sony Latin)

    8. Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Johannes Tonio Kreusch, Manisero (Zoho)

    9. Mauricio J. Rodriguez, Luz (self-produced)

    10. Various arists, CHANGÜÍ - The Sound of Guantánamo (Petaluma)

    The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2021, listed alphabetically:\

    • Gabriel Alegria, “The New Normal” from Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet, Social Distancing (Saponegro)

    • Rahsaan Barber, “Quarantine Queens” from Mosaic (Jazz Music City)

    • Ollie Dudek, “Children of the Sun” from The Scenic Route Trio, Flight of Life (Crosscurrent Jazz)

    • Giveton Gelin, “Armageddon” from Out To Dinner, Play On (Posi-Tone)

    • Cameron Graves, “Seven” from Seven (Mack Avenue)

    • Lisa Hilton, “So This Is Love” from More Than Another Day (Ruby Slippers)

    • Aron Kaufman, “Norm’s Nambo” from Lunar Octet, Convergence (Summit)

    • Chuck Owen, “American Noir” from Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, Within Us (Summit)

    • Lukasz Pawlik, “Indian Garden” from Long-Distance Connections (Summit)

    • Diego Rivera, “Sombras Del Pasado” from Indigenous (Posi-Tone)

  • 16 Dec 2021 1:16 AM | Philip Booth

    21 for '21 -- the albums that topped my jazz pile this year
    (in alphabetical order)

    + The Baylor Project, Generations (Be a Light)
    + Stephen Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, Community Music, Vol. 1: Tinctures in Time (Royal Potato)
    + The Cookers, Look Out! (Gearbox)
    + Chick Corea Akoustic Band, Live (Concord Jazz)
    + Joey DeFrancesco, More Music (Mack Avenue)
    + Kurt Elling feat. Charlie Hunter, SuperBlue (Edition)
    + Orrin Evans, The Magic of Now (Smoke Sessions)
    + Joe Farnsworth, Time to Swing (Smoke Sessions)
    + Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios, Songs From My Father (Whaling City Sound)
    + Carlos Henriquez, The South Bronx Story (Blue Engine)
    + Vincent Herring, Preaching to the Choir (Smoke Sessions)
    + Dave Holland, Another Land (Edition)
    + Samara Joy, Samara Joy (Whirlwind)
    + Remy Le Boeuf's Assembly of Shadows, Architecture of Storms (Soundspore)
    + John McLaughlin, Liberation Time (Abstract Logix)
    + Pat Metheny, Side Eye NYC (V1.IV) (Modern)
    + Arturo O’Farrill The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, …dreaming in lions… (Blue Note)
    + Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge Within Us (Summit)
    + Nicholas Payton, Smoke Sessions (Smoke Sessions)
    + Chris Potter There is a Tide (Edition)
    + Nate Smith, Kinfolk 2: See the Birds (Edition)



  • 13 Dec 2021 3:54 PM | Jeffrey Siegel

    Andrew Cyrille Quartet - The News

    Charles Lloyd & the Marvels - Tone Poem

    Kenny Garrett - Sounds of the Ancestors

    Todd Cochran TC3 - Then & Again, Here & Now

    Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Soundprints - Other Worlds

    Johnathan Blake - Homeward Bound

    Veronica Swift - The Bitter Earth

    James Brandon Lews/Red Lily Quintet - Jesup Wagon

    Floating Points, Pharaoh Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

    John Coltrane - A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle

    Roy Hargrove & Mulgrew Miller - In Harmony

    Roy Brooks - Understanding

    Lee Morgan - The Complete Live at the Lighthouse

    Terence Blanchard featuring E-Collective & Turtle Island Quartet - Absence

    To listen to the Straight No Chaser Podcast "A Few of My Favorite Things 2021' please visit https://straightnochaserjazz.libsyn.com/podcast-870-a-few-of-my-favorite-things-2021


  • 09 Dec 2021 12:11 PM | Dee Dee McNeil

    JOHN COLTRANE: "A Love Supreme:1965"

    HAROLD MABERN: "Mabern Plays Coltrane"

    MICHAEL STEPHENSON MEETS THE ALEXANDER CLAFFY TRIO

    TONY BENNETT & LADY GAGA: "Cheek to Cheet"

    MARK ZALESKI BAND: "Our Time Reimagining Dave Brubeck"

    JAZZMEIA HORN & HER NOBLE FORCE: "Dear Love"

    OSCAR PETERSON: "A Time for Love Live in Helsinki 1987

    A GIFT TO POPS

    PAUL JOST: "While We Were Gone"

    JEREMY MONTEIRO & ALBERTO MARSICO: "Jazz Blues Brothers"

    NICHOLAS PAYTON, RON CARTER, KARRIEM RIGGINS & GEORGE COLEMAN -"Smoke Sessions"

    SHEDRICK MITCHELL: "What Do You Say"

    GONZALO RUBALCABA, RON CARTER, JACK DEJOHNETTE: "Skyline"

    CARLOS HENRIQUEZ: "The South Bronx Story"

    BRANDON GOLDBERG: "In Good Time"

    THE TEMPLE UNIV. JAZZ BAND: "Without You No Me honoring legacy of Jimmy Heath"

    GERRY GIBBS THRASHER DREAM TRIOS: "Song From My Father"

    JOE FARNSWORTH: "City of Sounds"

    KIRK LIGHTSEY: "I Will Never Stop Loving You"

    LAUFEY & PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRAY

    ELLA FITZGERALD: "Sunshine of Your Love"

    LADY BLACKBIRD: "Black Acid Soul"

    MICHAEL WOLFF: "Live at Vitellos"

    JEREMY MONTEIRO & JAY ANDERSON

    LEWIS NASH: "Live at No Black Tie"

    ARTURO O'FARRILL: "The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra - Virtual Birdland"

    HENRY "SKIPPER" FRANKLIN: "Showers & Blessings"

    NOAH HAIDU, BUSTER WILLIAMS, BILLY HART: "Slowly, Song for Keith Jarrett"

    WADADA LEO SMITH/MILFORD GRAVES/BILL LASWELL: "Sacred Ceremonies"

    BRIAN BROMBERG: "A Little Driving Music"

    RALPH PETERSON: "Raise Up Off Me"

    ROY HARGROVE & MULGROVE MILLER: "iN hARMONY"

    GABRIEL MARK HASSELBACH: "Tongue & Groove"

    TANYA DENNIS: "White Sails Blue Skies"

    GENERATIONS: "The Baylor Project"

    HAROLD LAND: "Westward Bound"

    GRAHAM DECHTER: "Major Influence"

    KENNY GARRETT: "Sounds From the Ancestor"

    ANTONIO ADOLFO: "Jobim Forever"

    THE JAZZ ALL STARS - VOL 1.

    FREDDIE HUBBARD: "The Hub of Hubbard"

    OSCAR PETERSON: "Motions & Emotions"

    RENEE ROSNES: "Kinds of Love"

    JOEY DEFRANCESCO: "More Music"



  • 09 Dec 2021 10:33 AM | Marcela Breton

    2021 Favorites

    Book: Mary Lou Williams : Music for the Soul by Deanna Witkowski (Liturgical Press).

    Releases:

    Greg Abate “Magic Dance: the Music of Kenny Barron” (Whaling City Sound).

    Ruben Blades & Robert Delgado & Orchestra “Salswing!” (Ruben Blades Productions).

    Ruben Blades & RGO "Swing!" (RBP).

    Ruben Blades & RGO “Salsa Plus!” (RBP).

    Brian Charette “Power from the Air” (Steeplechase Records).

    Alice Coltrane “Kirtan : Turiya Sings” (Impulse).

    Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra “Promises” (Luaka Bop).

    Gene Perla & Various “3 Trios” (PM Records).

    Sharp 5 “Shine a Bright Light” (Valley Jazz Records).

    Deanna Witkowski “Force of Nature : the Music of Mary Lou Williams” (MCG Jazz).

    Miguel Zenon & Luis Perdomo  “El Arte del Bolero” (Miel Music).
  • 06 Dec 2021 5:59 PM | Ralph A. Miriello

    Reissues and Historical Releases:

    Roseanna Vitro: Listen Here: self-produced 1982

    Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller: In Harmony: 2006 & 2007 Resonance Records

    Wolfgang Lackerschmidt and Chet Baker: Quintet Sessions 1979 Dot Time Records

    Harvie S Trio w Mike Stern and Alan Dawson: Going For It: 1985  Savant Records

    Best New Releases: In no Specific Order

    Jakob Bro w Arve Hendriksen and Jorge Rossy: Uma Elmo: ECM Records

    Chick Corea Akoustic Band: Chick Corea Akoustic Band Live w John Patitucci and Dave Weckl: Concord Records

    Steve Gadd: Steve Gadd Band Live at Blue Note Tokyo: BFM Jazz 

    Lyle Mays: Eberhard: OIM Records

    Chris Potter Circuits Trio: Sunrise Reprise: Self-produced

    Alex Sipiagin: Upstream: Posi Tone Records

    Lorne Lofsky: This Song is New: Modica Music

    Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Soundprints: Other Worlds: Greenleaf Music

    Dave Holland Trio w Kevin Eubanks and Obed Calvaire: Another World: Edition Records

    Pharoah Sanders w Sam Shepherd and the London Symphony Orchestra: Floating Points: 

    Kirk Lightsey: I'll Never Stop Loving You: Jo Jo Records

    Nnenna Freelon : Time Traveler: Origin Records

    Marc Johnson: Overpass: ECM Records

    John Daversa Jazz Orchestra featuring Justin Morell: All Without Words

    Gonzala Rubalcaba w Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette: Skyline: 5 Passion records

    Sinne Eeg and Thomas Fonnesbaek: Staying in Touch: Stunt Records

    Carlos Henriquez: The South Bronx Story: self produced

    Kate McGarry +Keith Ganz Ensemble feat Ron Miles and Gary Versace: What to Wear in the Dark: self-produced

    Mike LeDonne Grover Quartet + Big Band : It's All You Fault: Savant Records

    Dave Zinno and Unisphere: Fetish: Whaling City Sound 

    Rachel Eckroth: The Garden: Rainy Day Records

    Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios: Songs From My Father: Whaling City Sound

    The Baylor Project: Generations: Be A Light Records

    Roberto Magris and Eric Hochberg: Shuffling Ivories: J Mood Records

    Ross Hammond: It's Been Here All Along: self-produced

    David Kikoski w Boris Kozlov: Sure Thing: High Note Records

    Gabor Lesko: Earthway: self-produced

    Slowly Rolling Camera: Where The Streets Lead: Edition Records

    Michael Wolff: Michael Wolff Live at Vitellos: Sunnyside Records

    Jim Snidero: Jim Snidero Live at the Deer Head Inn: Savant Records

    Steve Reeves Quintet: The Alchemist: Origin Records

    Chuck Owens and the Jazz Surge: Within Us: Mama Records

  • 05 Dec 2021 2:44 PM | John Szwed
    •  1. Charles Lloyd   Tone Poem    Blue Note
    •  
    • 2.      Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony   Floating Point  Luaka Bop     

    • 3 East Axis    Cool with That   ESP
    •  
    • 4.      Tim Bernes/Chris Speed/Reid Anderson/Dave King.    Broken Shadows        Intakt

    • 5.      Michael Wollny, Emile Parisien, Tim Lefebvre, Christian Lillinger     XXXX   Act
    •  
    • 6.      Chick Corea Akoustic Band  Live   Concord
    •  
    • 7.      Julian Lage    Squint   Blue Note
    •  
    • 8.      Eivind Aarset      Phantasmagoria or A Different Kind of Journey       Jazzland
    •  
    • 9.      Jihye Lee     Daring Mind    Matema
    •  
    • 10.   Joao Lencastre    Unlimited Dreams   Clean Feed

     Vocal

    Veronica Swift   This Bitter Earth   Mack Ave.

     Reissue or Historical

    • 1.      Louis Armstrong    The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946 – 66      Mosaic
    • 2.       Hasaan Ibn Ali     Metaphysics      Omnivore
    • 3.      Neil Ardley    Kaleidoscope of Rainbows      Jazz in Britain

    Latin

    Arturo O’Farrill     … Dreaming in Lions     Blue Note

     
  • 05 Dec 2021 2:36 PM | John Szwed
    • Charles Lloyd   Tone Poem    Blue Note
    • Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony  
    • Floating Point  Luaka Bop 3.     
    • East Axis    Cool with That   ESP
    • Tim Bernes/Chris Speed/Reid Anderson/Dave King.    Broken Shadows     Intakt
    • Michael Wollny, Emile Parisien, Tim Lefebvre, Christian Lillinger     XXXX   Act
    • Chick Corea Akoustic Band  Live   Concord
    • Julian Lage    Squint   Blue Note
    • Eivind Aarset      Phantasmagoria or A Different Kind of Journey  Jazzland
    • Jihye Lee     Daring Mind    Matema
    •  Joao Lencastre    Unlimited Dreams   Clean Feed

     Vocal

    Veronica Swift   This Bitter Earth   Mack Ave.

    Historical

    • Louis Armstrong    The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia & RCA Victor            Studio Sessions 1946 – 66      Mosaic
    • Hasaan Ibn Ali     Metaphysics      Omnivore
    • Neil Ardley    Kaleidoscope of Rainbows      Jazz in Britain

     Latin

    Arturo O’Farrill     … Dreaming in Lions     Blue Note

  • 05 Dec 2021 8:32 AM | Patrick Hinely

    2021's finest dozen


    John Coltrane A LOVE SUPREME LIVE IN SEATTLE (Impulse)

    Miles Davis LOST CONCERT 1991 (Sleepy Night)

    Chet Doxas YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (Whirlwind)

    Harold Land WESTWARD BOUND (Reel to Real)

    Chris Laurence KEN WHEELER: SOME GNU ONES (Jazz in Britain)

    Jeff Lederer/Sunwatch EIGHTFOLD PATH (Little Music)

    Charles Lloyd & the Marvels TONE POEM (Blue Note)

    Charles Mingus AT CARNEGIE HALL deluxe edition (Rhino)

    Wes Montgomery NDR HAMBURG STUDIO RECORDINGS (Jazzline/NDR)

    Lee Morgan COMPLETE LIVE AT THE LIGHTHOUSE (Blue Note)

    Oregon 1974 (Moosicus)

    Eberhard Weber ONCE UPON A TIME (ECM)


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