These are the 2019 "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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  • 18 Feb 2020 9:27 AM | Christopher Burnett

    JAN Best of Jazz 2019

    HERE ARE THE TWELVE ALBUMS THAT SHOULD BE ON EVERYONE’S DEVICES

    THE DAVID BERKMAN SEXTET

    album: SIX OF ONE

    “Musical mastery and beauty from a giant of his generation …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    TUCKER BROTHERS

    album: TWO PARTS

    “Fresh, enchanting, elegant, and exquisite musicality throughout …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    GARZONE · ERSKINE · PASQUA · OLES 

    album: “3 NIGHTS IN L.A.”

    “Stunning! … ridiculously great and hard swinging modern jazz!”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    CHARLIE DENNARD 

    album: DEEP BLUE

    “Swinging, Soulful, and Sublime modern instrumentally driven music with the historically centered timelessness of a classic album of New Orleans jazz roots…”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    MIKE HOLOBER & THE GOTHAM JAZZ ORCHESTRA

    album: HIDING OUT

    “Progressive modern jazz, with brilliant soloists and great charts …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    JOEL ROSS

    album: KINGMAKER

    “proof that the next generation of artists has positively arrived in full clarion voice and with firm musical intentions that could portend an amazing future …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    DAN ARCAMONE

    album: PSALM

    “progressive jazz fusion brilliance once again … Arcamone pays tribute to Coltrane in an innovative and respectfully musical way …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    AIMEE NOLTE 

    album: LOOKING FOR THE ANSWERS

    “A simply wonderful album … with teeth!” 

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    JOHNATHAN BLAKE 

    album: TRION

    “A masterful recording from one of the top musicians working today …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    KENNY WERNER

    album: THE SPACE

    “Solo piano genius … yes, genius!”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET 

    album: THE SECRET BETWEEN THE SHADOW AND THE SOUL

    “a true band that is still among the ‘gold standard’ of working jazz ensembles … Marsalis and mates are at the top of their game here …”

    – Jazz Artistry Now

    ANTHONY BRAXTON 

    album: “QUARTET (New Haven) 2014”

    “A model of collective improvisation and spontaneous composition that’s very enjoyable to hear …”

  • 23 Jan 2020 6:31 PM | Geoffrey Himes

    Geoffrey Himes

    My favorite jazz albums of 2019:

     

    1.      Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (Royal Potato)

    2.      Bill Frisell Thomas Morgan: Epistrophy (ECM)

    3.      Melissa Aldana: Visions (Motema)

    4.      Anat Cohen Tentet: Triple Helix (Anzic)

    5.      Lafayette Gilchrist: Dark Matter (Gilchrist)

    6.      Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

    7.      (Marsalis/Okeh)

    8.      Todd Marcus: Trio + (Stricker Street)

    9.      Dave Douglas Uri Caine Andrew Cyrille: Engage (Greenleaf)

    10.  SFJazz Collective: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim & Original Compositions (SFJazz)

    11.  Vijay Iyer Craig Taborn: The Transitory Poems (ECM)

    12.  Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller's Parlour Game: Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller's Parlour Game (Royal Potato)

    13.  Guillermo Klein y los Gauchos: Cristal (Sunnyside)

    14.  Miles Ozaki: The Sky Below (Pi)

    15.  Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature (ESP)

    16.  Julian Lage: Love Hurts (Mack Avenue)

    17.  Fabian Almazan Trio: This Land Abounds with Life (Biophilia)

    18.  Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance (Gearbox)

    19.  Joshua Redman Quartet: Come What May (Nonesuch)

    20.  Cyrille Aimee: Move On: A Sondheim Adventure (Mack Avenue)

    21.  In Common: In Common: Walter Smith III, Matthew Stevens, Joel Ross, Harish Raghavan, Marcus Gilmore (Whirlwind)

    22.  Chick Corea: Trio Trilogy 2 (Concord Jazz)

    23.  Johnathan Blake: Trion (Giant Steps)

    24.  Ben Monder: Day by Day (Sunnyside)

    25.  Evan Parker Barry Guy Paul Lytton: Concert in Vilnius (NoBusiness)

     

    My Favorite Historical Albums of 2019:

     

    • 1.      Sam Rivers: Emanation (NoBusiness)
    • 2.                  Various Artists:The Bakersfield Story: Country Music Capital of the West: 1940-1974 (Bear Family)
    • 3.                  Al Green: The Hi Records Singles Collection (Fat Possum)
    • 4.                  John Coltrane: Blue World (Impulse)
    • 5.                  Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance)
    • 6.                  Prince: 1999 (NPG/Warner)
    • 7.                  James Brown: Live at Home with His Bad Self (Republic)

    8.         Bob Dylan with Johnny Cash: Travelin’ Thru (Columbia/Legacy)

    9.         Neil Young: Tuscaloosa (Reprise)

    10.         The Kinks: The Kinks Are the Village

     

    My Favorite Non-Jazz New Releases of 2019:

     

    1.      Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi: There Is No Other (Nonesuch)

    2.      Craig Finn: I Need a New War (Partisan)

    3.      Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (Atlantic)

    4.      The North Mississippi Allstars: Up and Rolling (New West)

    5.      Mika: My Name Is Michael Holbrook (Universal)

    6.      Justin Townes Earle: The Saint of Lost Causes (New West)

    7.      The Mavericks: The Mavericks Play the Hits (Mono Mundo/Thirty Tigers)

    8.      Tyler Childers: Country Squire (RCA)

    9.      Allison Moorer: Blood (Autotelic)

    10.  Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars: Songs from the Film (Columbia)

    11.  Miranda Lambert: Wildcard (RCA)

    12.  Buddy & Julie Miller: Breakdown on 20th Ave. South (New West)

    13.  Charley Crockett: The Valley (MONO)

    14.  The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (Frenchkiss)

    15.  Rodney Crowell: Texas (RC1)

    16.  Erin Enderlin: Faulkner County (Blaster)

    17.  Patty Griffin: Patty Griffin (PGM/Thirty Tigers)

    18.  Jimmy "Duck" Holmes: Cypress Grove (Easy Eye)

    19.  The Strumbellas: Rattlesnake (Glassnote)

    20.  Billie Eilish: When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Interscope)

    21.  Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride (Spring Snow/Columbia)

    22.  Black Pumas: Black Pumas (ATO)

    23.  Willie Nelson: Ride Me Back Home (Legacy)

    24.  Dervish: The Great Irish Songbook (Rounder)

    25.  Gary Clark Jr.: This Land (Warner)

     

  • 14 Jan 2020 6:15 AM | Mirian Arbalejo

    Favorite music of 2019

    Cannonball Adderley Sextet. Swingin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966-1967) (Reel to Real)
    Jaimie Branch. Fly Or Die II: bird dogs of paradise (International Anthem)
    James Brandon Lewis. An UnRuly Manifesto (Relative Pitch Records)
    Sebastián Chames. Reminiscing the Unknown Masters (self produced)
    Javier Colina & Pepe Rivero. El Pañuelo de Pepa (Cezanne Producciones / Jazz Latino Inc.)
    John Coltrane. Blue World (Impulse!) 
    Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Brian Blade. Trilogy 2 (Concord)
    Alejandro Di Costanzo Trio. Barcino, La Ciudad de los Prodigios (Errabal)
    Al Foster. Inspirations & Dedications (Smoke Sessions) 
    Bill Frisell y Thomas Morgan. Epistrophy (ECM)
    Larry Grenadier. The Gleaners (ECM)
    Johnny Griffin/Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. Ow! Live At The Penthouse (Reel To Real Recordings)
    Ross Hammond y Poly Varghese. Across Oceans (Big Weezus Music)
    Miho Hazama. Dancer in Nowhere (Sunnyside)
    Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band. Begin Again (Palmetto Records)
    Abdullah Ibrahim. The Balance (Gearbox Records)
    Ethan Iverson Quartet y Tom Harrell. Common Practice (ECM)
    Ahmad Jamal. Ballades (Jazz Village)
    Jerome Jennings. Solidarity (Iola)
    Xacobe Martínez Antelo Trío. Capturas (self produced)
    Hank Mobley. The Complete Hank Mobley Blue Note Sessions 1963-70 (Mosaic Records)
    Pep Mula. MULA _\ (Underpool)
    Kassa Overall. Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz (Kassa Overall LLC)
    Moisés P. Sánchez. UNBALANCED Concerto For Ensemble (Moisés Sánchez & Estudio Uno)
    Caroline Shaw / Attacca Quartet. Orange (Nonesuch Records)
    Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider. Sun on Sand (Nonesuch Records)
    Tomeka Reid Quartet. Old New (Cuneiform Records)
    Marta Sánchez Quintet. El Rayo de Luz (Fresh Sound New Talent)
    Aki Takase Japanic. Thema Prima (Budapest Music Center Records)
    Vein/Norrbotten Big Band: Symphonic Bop (Double Moon)
    Tobias Wiklund. Where The Spirits Eat (Stunt Records)


    Visit here or here for deeper thoughts (in Spanish).

  • 07 Jan 2020 5:50 PM | Anonymous

    Laurence Donohue-Greene (Managing Editor, The New York City Jazz Record)

    BEST OF 2019


    MUSICIANS OF THE YEAR (2019)

    1) Kris Davis

    2) Jaimie Branch

    3) Joe Lovano

    4) Michael Leonhart

    5) Evan Parker


    RECORD LABELS OF THE YEAR (2019)

    1) ECM

    2) Sunnyside

    3) Intakt

    4) International Anthem

    5) NoBusiness


    BEST NEW RELEASES (2019)

    1) Joe Lovano - Trio Tapestry (ECM)

    2) Michael Leonhart Orchestra - Suite Extracts, Vol.1 (Sunnyside)

    3) Jaimie Branch - Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (International Anthem)

    4) James Brandon Lewis - UnRuly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)

    5) Alex Harding/Lucian Ban - Dark Blue (Sunnyside)

    6) Per Texas Johansson - Stråk på himlen och stora hus (Moserobie)

    7) Red Kite - Red Kite (RareNoise)

    8) Steph Richards - Take The Neon Lights (Birdwatcher)

    9) Gebhard Ullmann/Hans Ludemann/Oliver Portratz/Eric Schaefter - mikroPULS (Intuition)

    10) Phil Slater - The Dark Pattern (Earshift Music)


    BEST VOCAL RELEASES (2019)

    1) Mary Stallings - Songs Were Made To Sing (Smoke Sessions)

    2) Jazzmeia Horn - Love and Liberation (Concord)

    3) Tomeka Reid/Kyoko Kitamura/Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris - Geometry of Distance (Relative Pitch)

    4) Veronica Swift - Confessions (Mack Avenue)

    5) Dwight Trible - Mothership (Gearbox)


    BEST REISSUES (2019)

    1) Mal Waldron - Free at Last (ECM)

    2) Erroll Garner - Campus Concert (Mack Avenue-Octave Music)

    3) ICP Tentet - Tetterettet (ICP - Corbett vs. Dempsey)

    4) Charles Tolliver All Stars - Right Now... and Then [Paper Man] (Strata-East)

    5) Art Pepper - Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings (Artists House-Omnivore)


    BEST BOXED SETS (2019)

    1) Nat “King” Cole - Hitting’ The Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) (Resonance)

    2) John Coltrane - 1963: New Directions (Impulse!)

    3) The Quintet [Paal Nilssen-Love, et al.] - Events 1998-1999 (Not Two)

    4) Art Pepper - The Complete Artists House Recordings (Artists House-Omnivore)

    5) DKV Trio & Joe McPhee - The Fire Each Time (Not Two)


    BEST LATIN JAZZ (2019)

    1) Preservation Hall Jazz Band - A Tuba to Cuba (Sub Pop)

    2) Jiggs Whigham BuJazzO - Cuban Fire (Doublemoon)

    3) Michele Rosewoman New Yor-Uba - Hallowed (Advance Dance Disques)

    4) Poncho Sanchez - Trane’s Delight (Concord)

    5) Michel Camilo - Essence (Resilience Music Alliance)


    BEST LARGE ENSEMBLE RELEASES (2019)

    1) Michael Leonhart Orchestra - Suite Extracts, Vol.1 (Sunnyside)

    2) Wayne Horvitz European Orchestra - Live at the Bimhuis (NovarraJazz)

    3) Ralph Peterson Gen-Next Big Band - Listen Up! (Onyx)

    4) Jiggs Whigham BuJazzO - Cuban Fire (Doublemoon)

    5) Tom Pierson Orchestra - Last Works (Auteur)


    BEST DEBUT RELEASES (2019)

    1) Larry Grenadier - The Gleaners (ECM)

    2) Lisa Hoppe’s Third Reality - The Mighty Unlikely (Jazzhaus Musik)

    3) Junius Paul - Ism (International Anthem)

    4) Nick Dunston - Atlantic Extraction (Out Of Your Head)

    5) Jamile - If You Could See Me Now (s/r)


    BEST TRIBUTES (2019)

    1) Joe Fiedler - Open Sesame (Clean Feed) *Sesame Street tribute

    2) Iro Haarla/Ulf Krokfors/Barry Altschul - Around Again (The Music of Carla Bley) (TUM)

    3) Ralph Peterson’s Messenger Legacy - Legacy Alive, Vol.6 at The Side Door (Onyx)

    4) Paul Dunmall Sun Ship Quartet - John Coltrane 50th Memorial Concert at Café Oto (Confront)

    5) Dick Hyman/Ken Peplowski - Counterpoint: Lerner & Loewe (Arbors)


    BEST UNEARTHED GEMS/PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS (2019)

    1) Bill Dixon/Cecil Taylor - Duets 1992 (Triple Point)

    2) Sam Rivers Quintet - Archive Project, Vol.2: Zenith (NoBusiness)

    3) Francois Tusques - Alors Nosferatu Combina Un Plan Ingénieux (Finders Keepers)

    4) Ella Fitzgerald - Ella at The Shrine (Verve)

    5) Charles Lloyd Quartet - Montreux Festival 1967 (Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 46) (TCB)


    BEST JAZZ PUBLICATIONS (2019)

    1) Sweet Thunder: Duke Ellington’s Music in Nine Themes by Jack Chambers (Milestones Music & Art)

    2) Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges by Con Chapman (Oxford University Press)

    3) Jason Moran (Walker Arts Center)

    4) Cloud Arrangers by Ziga Kortnik (Pega Society)

    5) Jazz From Detroit by Mark Stryker (University of Michigan Press)


    BEST SOLO ALBUMS (2019)

    1) Brian Charette - Beyond Borderline (SteepleChase)

    2) Peter Brötzmann - Solo: I Surrender Dear (Trost)

    3) Ed Neumeister - One and Only (Meisteromusic)

    4) Ahmad Jamal - Ballades (Jazzbook/Jazz Village)

    5) Fred Frith - Woodwork (Klang Galerie)


    BEST LIVE ALBUMS (2019)

    1) Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton - Concert in Vilnius (NoBusiness)

    2) Torbjörn Zetterberg & The Great Question - Live (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

    3) Ed Neumeister - One and Only (Meisteromusic)

    4) Eve Risser - Après un Rêve (Clean Feed)

    5) Mars Williams - An Ayler Xmas, Vol.3: Live in Krakow (Not Two)


    BEST LIVE CONCERTS (NYC) (2019)

    *Ghost Train Orchestra "Plays Moondog” @Winter Jazzfest, Le Poisson Rouge (1/5/19)

    *Gary Bartz "Another Earth 50th Anniversary” w/Pharoah Sanders, Charles Tolliver, James King, Bruce Edwards, Nasheet Waits, Eric Berryman @Winter Jazzfest, Le Poisson Rouge (1/10/19)

    *Arooj Aftab w/Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily @Joe's Pub (4/28/19)

    *Barre Phillips solo @Zürcher Gallery (5/20/19) 

    *Andrew Cyrille w/Tomeka Reid, Beatrice Capote @Vision Festival, Roulette (6/11/19)

    *Kris Davis Trio w/William Parker, Jeff "Tain” Watts @Vision Festival, Roulette (6/14/19) 

    *Michael Leonhart Orchestra @Jazz Standard (7/16/19) 

    *David Tronzo solo and w/Stomu Takeishi, Ned Rothenberg @Ibeam Brooklyn (8/10/19) 

    *Ravi Coltrane Quartet w/David Virelles, Dezron Douglas, Johnathan Blake @Summerstage Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Marcus Garvey Park (8/24/19)

    *Pat Metheny Side-Eye Trio w/James Francies, Marcus Gilmore @Sony Hall (9/11/19) 

  • 06 Jan 2020 1:59 PM | Rob Shepherd

    Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from 2019 is the number of artists adapting music from the past into something new. Many of the past year’s releases have attempted to apply fresh approaches to a number of older musical forms including gypsy jazz, big band, electronic music, folk music, third stream, and world music. -Rob Shepherd

    10. James Carter – Organ Trio: Live from Newport Jazz (Blue Note)

    Since the 1990's, James Carter has been among the best when it comes to saxophone technique and technical prowess. Additionally, he has a distinct and recognizable sound that is full of vitality and excitement. On this most recent album, recorded live from the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival, Carter and his organ trio – Alex White on drums and Gerard Gibbs on the Hammond B3 – bring this vigor to covering six pieces by guitarist Django Reinhardt. The pure energy of their performance renders pieces written over seventy years ago to sound like new. In full disclosure, I attended the performance which ultimately became this recording. Blue Note did a stellar job in capturing the saxophonist bandleader’s electric set from that afternoon.

    9. Joel Ross – KingMaker (Blue Note)

    Speaking of Newport, vibraphonist Joel Ross was omnipresent at this past summer’s festival by the sea, performing in at multiple sets. These included one with Makaya McCraven’s band, another with In Common, and a third as part of a late-night show with Nate Smith’s Kinfolk. The fourth was with his “Good Vibes” group – the group featured here – with saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, bassist Benjamin Tiberio, pianist Jeremy Corren, and drummer Jeremy Dutton. To those who had been following his trajectory, Ross’ fantastic range and talent came as no surprise. Despite this, the brilliance of his debut was still unexpected to even the most attentive of fans. With 11 of its 12 tracks original compositions, one might anticipate Ross to take the spotlight but Kingmaker is truly a team effort with the other members of “Good Vibes”. It is reverent towards music that has come before, including Blue Note’s long history of stellar vibraphonists, while paving a new way forward.

    8. Resavoir – Resavoir (International Anthem)

    International Anthem has showcased some of the most interesting artists over the last five years. Many of these have been by “beat scientists” like Makaya McCraven, or Jeff Parker who splice live recordings with studio beats and sounds. On Resavoir, producer/arranger Will Miller adopts similar processes to turn big band music on its ear. Influenced as much by indie rock, hip hop, pop, soul and R&B as jazz, the Chicago based large ensemble is not subject to easy categorization. “Taking Flight” featuring guest Brandee Younger on harp is particularly awe-inspiring.

    7. The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery / The Afterlife (Impulse!)

    This selection technically consists of two releases, the former from March and the latter from September, but should be viewed as a single work. Addressing the fleetingness of life and the afterlife, both can also be seen as follow-ups to The Comet is Coming’s first album, 2016’s Channel the Spirits’ depiction of Armageddon. The two also further cement the London based trio as a spiritual successor to Sun Ra. Just as Sun Ra would draw upon many different musical strains – electronic and acoustic – to create something not heard anywhere else, these recordings forge through a wide variety of genres including rock, EDM, psychedelic rock, soul, funk, and jazz to forge a distinctive sound that is highly original and futuristic.

    6. Kendrick Scott Oracle – A Wall Becomes a Bridge (Blue Note)

    There are many ways to interpret the title of this 12-song cycle by drummer Kendrick Scott and his Oracle band, namely pianist Taylor Eigsti, guitarist Mike Moreno, woodwind player John Ellis, bassist Joe Sanders, and special guest turntablist DJ Jahi Sundance. One could interpret it as political commentary or also as Scott’s overcoming of creative block in forming its pieces. While there is truth to both viewpoints, it is perhaps best seen as a crossing point between electronic music and acoustic jazz. While the mixing of the two genres is a heavily treaded ground, such efforts generally lean more towards one direction or the other. A Wall Becomes a Bridge, by contrast, pulls from the history of both to find a new path across. The music is organic, profound, and powerful.

    5. Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (Constellation)

    Folk music in its strictest sense is the traditional works of a people in a given country or region. This definition does not easily apply to the United States, a nation in which many cultures maintain their core while also acquiring concepts from other traditions. Instead, a true American folk musician should amalgamate various influences. Viewed properly, “sound quilter”/woodwind player/vocalist Matana Roberts is the quintessential American folk musician. As on the preceding three Coin Coin volumes, Memphis weaves various threads of other American music – spirituals, bluegrass, blues, spoken word, and jazz – to tell a cohesive story. In the process, she employs nontraditional jazz instrumentation including fiddle, accordion, electric guitar, oud, and jaw harp to craft music that is haunting, beautiful, and memorable.

    4. Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble – Remember Me, My Dear (ECM)

    In 1994, Norweigan saxophonist Garbarek and early music vocalists from the Hilliard Ensemble released Officium , fusing jazz with Gregorian chant to produce an ethereal sound not previously heard elsewhere. Writer Marius Gabriel described it as “what Coltrane hears in heaven” and it remains one of ECM’s finest. Remember Me, My Dearcaptures the same group, this time on the final tour before the Hilliard Ensemble’s disbanding in 2014. Although hardly the only follow-up, it is the one closest to capturing the magic of the original. It is a fitting celebration of both Officium’s 25th anniversary and the label’s 50th. The otherworldly sonic qualities of this release are simultaneously ancient and contemporary, timely and timeless.

    3. Linda May Han Oh – Aventurine (Biophilia)

    Like the shimmering translucent mineral from which Aventurine’s name is derived, bassist Linda May Han Oh’s latest adds a new sparkle to the longstanding Third Stream blend of classical and jazz. Combining three different types of quartets – jazz (May Han Oh, saxophonist Greg Ward, pianist Matt Mitchell, and drummer/vibraphonist Ches Smith), string, and vocal, the bandleader is able to extract and synthesize the finest parts of all three groups. Aventurine does not force either jazz or classical together, but rather creates a middle ground.

    2. Noah Preminger – Zigsaw: The Music of Steve Lampert (Self Release)

    Dreams are a strange thing. Sometimes they reflect normal occurrences from our lives. Far more frequently, however, they consist of a union of the usual and the unusual in which the line between the two is blurred or even nonexistent. On Zigsaw, criminally underrated composer Lampert produced a singular 49-minute piece focused on dreams which similarly intersperses familiar and foreign sounds. Even the title, a portmanteau of zigzag and jigsaw, evokes this view of pieces being placed together but not in a traditional straight or coherent line. Bringing this artistic vision to life is a top-caliber group of Noah Preminger on tenor sax, trumpeter Jason Palmer, pianist Kris Davis, drummer Rudy Royston, alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher, bassist Kim Cass, and Rob Schwimmer on the clavinet and Haken Continuum synthesizer. The end result is a music of paradoxes: electric and acoustic, avant-garde and highly listenable, revolutionary and traditional.

    1. Mark de Clive-Lowe – Heritage I and II (Ropeadope)

    Over the past decade, there have been two major trends in jazz. One has combined the music with more “popular” music, most notably electronic, hip hop, or R&B. The other has been to merge it with world music, particularly that of non-Western cultures. It is very rare for the two approaches to meet together with jazz in a unified work. With Heritage, Mark de Clive-Lowe obliterates this imaginary divide. The New Zealand based pianist/composer/producer utilizes his background as an electronic and jazz musician and the traditional music of his mother’s homeland, Japan, to develop a gorgeous two album masterpiece. The synthesis of such diverse styles at the hands of the wrong artist could result in a muddled mess. Instead, with assistance from woodwind players Josh Johnson and Teodross Avery, bassist Brandon Eugene Owens, and percussionists Carlos Nino and Brandon Combs, de Clive Lowe’s music is personal and touching. Despite its name, Heritage is not solely focused on the past. It is a deep exploration of not just where the artist comes from, but also who he is. Sincere, heartfelt, and joyous, Heritage sends a clear message that although our background influences who we are, it does not define us.

  • 04 Jan 2020 8:19 PM | Anonymous

    My picks for 2019... in no particular order. Great music. 

    James Brandon Lewis- An UnRuly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)

    Brent Birckhead- BIRCKHEAD (Revive Music)

    Baczkowski, Lopez, Corsano- Old Smoke (Relative Pitch)

    Joel Ross- Kingmaker (Blue Note)

    Cyrille Aimée- Move On: A Sondheim Adventure (Mack Avenue)

    Jacky Terrasson- 53 (Blue Note)

    Monty Alexander- Wareika Hill: Rastamonk Vibrations (MACD)

  • 31 Dec 2019 9:40 AM | C. Andrew Hovan

    Top Jazz Picks for 2019

    New Releases

    Mike Le Donne- Partners in Time (Savant)

    Akiko/Hamilton/Dechter- Equal Time (Capri)

    Dave Stryker- Eight Track III (StrikeZone)

    Brian Lynch Big Band- The Omni-American Book Club/My Journey Through Literature in Music (Hollistic MusicWorks)

    Ralph Peterson's Gen-Next Big Band- Listen Up! (Onyx)

    Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy- Legacy Alive: Vol. 6 Live at the Sidedoor (Onyx)

    Herlin Riley- Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue)

    Steve Davis- Correlations (Smoke Sessions)

    Harold Mabern- The Iron Man: Live at Smoke (Smoke Sessions)

    Walt Weiskopf European Quartet- Worldwide (Orenda)

    Joey DeFrancesco- In the Key of the Universe (Mack Avenue)

    Reissues/Historic Releases

    Tamba 4- California Soul (Elemental Music)

    Stan Getz- Getz at the Gate: Quartet Live at the Village Gate (Verve)

    Bill Evans- Evans in England (Resonance)

    Johnny Griffin/Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis- Ow! Live at the Penthouse (Reel Music)

    Andrew Hill- Black Fire (Blue Note Tone Poet Series)

    John Coltrane- Blue World (Impulse)

    Sam Rivers- Contours (Blue Note Tone Poet Series)

    Chick Corea- Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Blue Note Tone Poet Series)

    Grant Green- Sunday Morning (Slow Down Sounds)

    Azar Lawrence- Summer Solstice (Craft Recordings)

    John Coltrane- Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings (Craft Recordings)

  • 24 Dec 2019 8:59 AM | John Chacona

    Pretty good year, I think. There were 369 releases in my 2019 file, and 63 of them made my semifinal list. I won't list the honorable mentions here; there are just too many of them. The list below exactly mirrors my NPR Poll list.

    Favorite new releases

    1.     Kris Davis:  Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic Records)
    2.     Tomeka Reid Quartet:  Old New (Cuneiform)
    3.     Tyshawn Sorey & Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment Of Time (Pi Recordings)
    4.     Jaimie Branch: Fly Or Die Ii: Bird Dogs Of Paradise (International Anthem)
    5.     Anthony Braxton: Quartet (New Haven) 2014 (Firehouse 12)
    6.     The Art Ensemble Of Chicago: We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi Recordings)
    7.     Greg Ward and his Rogue Parade Ensemble:  Stomping Off From Greenwood (Greenleaf Music)
    8.     Mark Dresser Seven:  Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (Clean Feed)
    9.     Moppa Elliott:  Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band (Hot Cup Records)
    10.  Mark Lomax, II:   400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia)

    Reissues or Historical albums

    1.     The Art Ensemble Of Chicago And Associated Ensembles (ECM)
    2.     Nat King Cole: Hittin' The Ramp: The Early Years 1936-1943 (Resonance Records)
    3.     Allen Lowe: An Avant Garde of Our Own (ESP Disk)

    Best vocal album

    Jeanne Lee/Ran Blake: The Newest Sound You Never Heard (A-Side Records)

    and if that doesn't qualify as a new release, then:

    Catherine Russell: Alone Together (Dot Time)

    Best debut album

    Harish Raghavan:  Calls for Action (Whirlwind Recordings)

    Best Latin jazz CD

    Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miel Music)

  • 23 Dec 2019 3:04 PM | W. Royal Stokes

    BEST RELEASES of 2019


    Nota bene: All of my choices are in alphabetical order by artist and thus are equally rated. 


    10 BEST NEW RELEASES 


    Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Waiting Game (MOTEMA MUSIC, LLC) 


    Anat Cohen Tentet, Triple Helix (Anzic Records LLC)


    The Diva Jazz Orchestra, Diva & The Boys (MCG Jazz) 


    Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Bobby Kapp, Ineffable Joy (Esp Disk Ltd.)


    Scott Robinson, Tenormore (Arbors Records)


    Jim Robitaille, View from Within (Whaling City Sound)


    Marcus Shelby Orchestra, Transitions (MSO Records)


    Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell, The Adornment Of Time (Pi Recordings) 


    Carol Sudhalter, Live At Saint Peter's Church (Alfa Music) 


    Rodney Whitaker, All Too Soon (Origin Records)


    3 BEST REISSUE OR HISTORICAL 


    Louis Armstrong, Live In Europe (Dot Time Records)


    Betty Carter, The Music Never Stops (Blue Engine Records) 


    Buddy Rich, Just In Time: The Final Recording (Gearbox Records)


    BEST VOCAL RELEASE


    Calabria Foti, Prelude To A Kiss (MoCo Records)


    BEST DEBUT RELEASE


    John Yao's Triceratops, How We Do (See Tao Recordings)


    BEST LATIN JAZZ RELEASE


    Pablo Lanouguere Quintet, Eclectico (PabloLanouguere.com) 

     

    Please go to WRoyalstokes.com for my additional “NOTABLE RELEASES OF 2019” as well as my “A ROUNDUP OF 160 OR SO JAZZ, BLUES, BEYOND, AND OTHER BOOKS PUBLISHED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO.”


  • 22 Dec 2019 11:40 AM | J Hunter

    TOP 10 JAZZ2K DISCS OF 2019:

    1) Ryan Keberle & Catharsis -- The Hope I Hold (Greenleaf Music)

    2) JD Allen -- Barracoon (Savant)

    3) Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom -- Glitter Wolf (Royal Potato Family)

    4) Melissa Aldana -- Visions (Motema)

    5) Remy Le Boeuf -- Light as a Word (Outside In Music)

    6) Chris Potter -- Circuits (Edition Records)

    7) Kendrick Scott Oracle -- A Wall becomes A Bridge (Blue Note)

    8) Kris Davis -- Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic Records)

    9) Etienne Charles -- Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol. 1 (Culture Shock Music)

    10) Avery Sharpe -- 400: An African American Musical Portrait (JKNM Records)


    2019 JAZZ2K AWARDS:

    BEST VOCAL DISC: 

    Sivan Arbel -- Change of Light (Self-released)

    BEST SOLO OR DUO DISC: 

    Alfredo Rodriguez / Pedrito Martinez -- Duologue (Mack Avenue)

    BEST PARTY DISC:

    Bonerama -- Bonerama Plays Zeppelin (Basin Street)

    ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (Best Debut as a Leader):

    Idan Morim -- I.M. (Outside In Music)

    LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:

    Tom Harrell -- Infinity (HighNote)

    LOCAL HERO AWARD (Best Local or Regional Release):

    Bright Dog Red -- How's By You? (Ropeadope)

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