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2017 'Best of Jazz' Selected by JJA Members

These are the 2017 "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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  • 20 Apr 2018 3:26 PM | Bill Milkowski

    New Releases:
    1. Matt Wilson, Honey And Salt (Palmetto)

    2. Ben Allison,Layers of the City (Sonic Camera)

    3. Ron Miles, I Am A Man (Yellowbird)

    4. DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield,Hudson (Motema)

    5. Rez Abbasi, Unfiltered (Whirlwind)

    6. Cuong Vu with Bill Frisell, Ballet: The Music of Michael Gibbs (RareNoise)

    7. Vijay Iyer Sextet, Far From Over (ECM)

    8. John McLaughlin & The Fourth Dimension,Live @ Ronnie Scott’s (Abstract Logix)

    9. Roswell Rudd, Embrace (RareNoise)

    10. Ralph Towner,My Foolish Heart (ECM)

    Reissues/Historical Albums:

    1. Jaco Pastorius, Truth, Liberty & Soul - Live in NYC: The Complete 1982 NPR Jazz Alive! Recording (Resonance)

    2. Sonny Rollins & Horace Silver, Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40—Zurich 1959 

    (TCB Music)

    3. Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (Craft Recordings)

    Best Vocal Album — Jazzmeia Horn, A Social Call (Prestige)

    Best Debut Album — Jazzmeia Horn, A Social Call (Prestige)

    Best Latin Album — Fernando Garcia, Gusabara Pureto Rico (Zoho Music)

  • 15 Jan 2018 7:02 PM | Shannon J. Effinger

    NPR 11th Annual Jazz Critics Poll (2017)

    Shannon J. Effinger (DownBeat, Pitchfork)


    1. Nicholas Payton, Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (Paytone)
    2. Ambrose Akinmusire, A Rift In Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)
    3. Kamasi Washington, Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)
    4. Dayna Stephens, Gratitude (Contagious)
    5. Sean Jones, Live From Jazz at the Bistro (Mack Avenue)
    6. Tony Allen, The Source (Blue Note)
    7. Cécile McLorin Salvant, Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue)
    8. Antonio Sánchez, Bad Hombre (CAM Jazz)
    9. Linda May Han Oh, Walk Against Wind (Biophilia)
    10. Thundercat, Drunk (Brainfeeder)


    1. Alice Coltrane, World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)
    2. Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane, Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (Craft)
    3. various, Blue Note Review Volume One: Peace, Love & Fishing (Blue Note)


    • Cécile McLorin Salvant, Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue)


    • Jazzmeia Horn, A Social Call (Prestige)


    • Eddie Palmieri, Sabiduria (Ropeadope)
  • 08 Jan 2018 8:27 PM | Matthew Hooke

    Matt Hooke's Favorite Jazz Albums 2017

    In no particular order, here are some of my favorite recordings from this year.  

    Wingfield, Reuter, Stavi, Sirkis-The Stone House (MoonJune Records)

    Vijay Iyer Sextet-Far From Over (ECM Records)

    Daymé Arocena-Cubafonía (Brownswood Recordings)

    Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau-Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch Records)

    Ryley Walker & Bill Mackay-SpiderBeetleBee (Drag City)

    Sandor Szabo, Michael Manring and Balázs Major-Asymmetry (Greydisc)

    Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements-Even This Late It Happens (Greydisc)

    Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita-Transparent Water (World Village)

    Raul Midon-Badass and Blind (Artistry Music)

    Thundercat-Drunk (Brainfeeder)

    Fred Hersch-Open Book (Palmetto)

    Tony Allen-The Source (Decca Records)

    Don Ross-A Million Brazilian Civilians (CandyRat Records)

    Randy Newman-Dark Matter (Nonesuch Records)

    For more detailed thoughts click the link below.


  • 08 Jan 2018 12:11 PM | Mirian Arbalejo

    15 Favorites Of 2017

    -Agrima. Rudresh Mahanthappa Indo-Pak Coalition (Self-Produced)

    -Autumn Wind. Scott DuBois (ACT Music)

    -Beatus Ille. Rufaca Folk Jazz Orchestra (SeedMusic)

    -Body And Shadow. Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band (Blue Note Records)

    -Bringin’ It. Christian McBride Big Band (Mack Avenue)

    -Danza Imposible. Marta Sánchez Quintet (Fresh Sound)

    -Duke’s Dream. Enrico Pieranunzi y Rosario Giuliani (Intuition)

    -Feefifofum Quartet. Feefifofum Quartet (Youkali Music)

    -Far From Over. Vijay Iyer Sextet (ECM)

    -Fly Or Die. Jaimie Branch (International Anthem)

    -Happy Song. Anat Cohen Tentet (Anzic Records)

    -Harmony of Difference. Kamashi Washington (Young Turks)

    -Long Haul. Jessica Lurie (Chant Records)

    -Open Book. Fred Hersch (Palmetto Records)

    -Uptown, Downtown. Bill Charlap Trio (Impulse Records)

    *For deeper thoughts: 


  • 07 Jan 2018 9:10 PM | Anonymous



    1. The Charles Lloyd Quartet Passin' Thru (Blue Note)

    2. Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse Morphogenesis (Pi)

    3. Rudresh Mahanthappa & the Indo-Pak Coalition Agrima (Mahanthappa)

    4. Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan Small Town (ECM)

    5. Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah Ruler Rebel (Ropeadope)

    6. Anat Cohen Tentet Happy Song (Anzic)

    7. Lucia Cadotsch Speak Low (Enja)

    8. Dayna Stephens Gratitude (Contagious)

    9. SFJazz Collective Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions (SFJazz)

    10. Linda Oh Walk Against Wind (Greenleaf)

    11. Fabian Almazan & Rhizome Alcanza (Biophilia)

    12. Dave Douglas Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf)

    13. Alan Ferber Big Band Jigsaw (Sunnyside)

    14. Amir Elsaffar Rivers of Sound Not Two (New Amsterdam)

    15. Fred Hersch: Open Book (Palmetto)

    16. Cuong Vu 4tet Ballet: The Music of Michael Gibbs (RareNoise)

    17. Bobby Watson & the Curtis Lundy Trio Made in America (Summer Sessions)

    18. Jason Kao Hwang Sing House (Euonymus)

    19. Cyrus Chestnut There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit (HighNote)

    20. Antonio Sanchez: Bad Hombre (CAM Jazz)

    21. Jane Ira Bloom Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline)

    22. Avishai Cohen Cross My Palm with Silver (ECM)

    23. Vijay Iyer Sextet Far from Over (ECM)

    24. Oliver Lake featuring Flux Quartet Right Up On Passin' Thru

    25. Shannon Barnett Quartet Hype (Challenge)


    1. Craig Finn We All Want the Same Things (Partisan)

    2. Randy Newman Dark Matter (Nonesuch)

    3. Jason Isbell The Nashville Sound (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers)

    4. Rhiannon Giddens Freedom Highway (Nonesuch)

    5. St. Vincent Masseducation (Loma Vista)

    6. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)

    7. San Fermin Belong (Downtown/Interscope)

    8. Lee Ann Womack The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone (ATO)

    9. Arcade Fire Everything Now (Arcade Fire)

    10. Sam Smith The Thrill of It All (Capitol)

    11. Sleater-Kinney Live in Paris (Sub Pop)

    12. Willie Nelson: God's Problem Child (Legacy)

    13. Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer Not Dark Yet (Thirty Tigers)

    14. Margo Price All American Made (Third Man)

    15. LCD Soundsystem American Dream (DFA/Columbia)

    16. The Dustbowl Revival: The Dustbowl Revival (Signature Sounds)

    17. Valerie June: The Order of Time (Concord)

    18. A Tribe Called Quest We Got It from Here … Thank You for Your Service (Epic)

    19. Chris Stapleton: From A Room, Volumes 1 & 2 (Mercury)

    20. Brooklyn Rider Spontaneous Symbols (In a Circle)

    21. SZA Ctrl (RCA)

    22. J. Roddy Walston & the Business: Destroyers of the Soft Life (ATO)

    23. Dead Rock West More Love (Omnivore)

    24. Rodney Crowell Close Ties (New West)

    25. John Moreland Big Bad Luv (4AD)

  • 07 Jan 2018 3:22 PM | Howard Mandel (Administrator)

    Many (not all) of my favorites of 2017

    Music documentary: Thomas Chapin, Nightbird Song, directed by Stephanie J. Castillo


    Celebrate Ornette (includes dvd) - Song X Records invaluable document of an incomparable concert/celebration giving a glimpse of Ornette's range of influence as well as the last public playing by the man himself

    Roscoe Mitchell, Bells for the South Side (ECM) - deep sounds, patient percussion, penetrating winds

    Steve Coleman, Morphogenesis(Pi) - layers of vivid polyphony, somehow synchronized

    Gregory Lewis (Organ Monk) The Breathe Suite (DIY release) honoring the lives of victims of fatal police shootings with gritty, soulful blowing 

    Darcy James Argue's Secret Society Real Enemies (New Amsterdam) Chilling spoken word texts a la Orwell punctuate eerie, wary contemporary orchestral jazz. I'm told this is a 2016 release but I didn't get it then

    Lisa Mezzacappa avantNOIR (Clean Feed) Inclusion of electronic synthesizer in the bassist-composer's ensemble adds dimension to an audio collage evoking film

    Amir ElSaffar Rivers of Sound Not Two (New Amsterdam) Trumpeter's continued exploration and creation of the conjunction of Iraqui makam and jazz, this time for 17 piece ensemble 

    Matt Mitchell A Pouting Grimace (Pi) Fascinating diversity of soundscapes

    Mike Reed Flesh & Bone,  (482 Music) A suite about tribal aggression, from striking Chicago players

    John Beasely Monk'estra Vol. 2, (Mack Avenue) Vividly colored large-scale reworkings of Monk's music

    Chris Washburne Rags and Roots,  (Zoho), Imaginative interpretations 

    Shabaka and the Ancestors: Wisdom of the Elders (Brownswood Recordings), good listening, ancient to the future

    Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures: Glare of the Tiger (Meta Records) Interactive free improvsation

    Vijay Iyer, Far From Over (ECM) Disciplined, compositional, penetrating

    Tyshawn Sorey, Verisimilitude (Pi) jazz trio regardless of "jazz" vocabularies

    Chick Corea, The Musician (Concord Jazz) Extraordinarily consistent high quality across breadth of collaborations

    Mike Stern, Trip (Heads Up) "fusion" at its most creative and refined.

    Reissues or Historical Albums

    Wynton Kelly Trio with Wes Montgomery, Smokin' in Seattl(Resonance)

    Albert Ayler Quartet Copenhagen Live, 1964, (Hatology)

    Lester Bowie Numbers 1 and 2,  (Nessa)

    Best Vocal album - Dreams and Daggers, Cecile McLorin Salvant (Mack Avenue) 

    Best Latin jazz album (I think "Latin jazz" is an under- and ill-defined category, in which albums as disparate as David Virelle's Gnossis, Gabriel Allegria's Afro-Peruvian Sextet power-fusion from Brooklyn, Argentine drummer-composer Guillermo Nojechowicz telling the story of his Polish grandmother's emigration in 1933, Nestor Torres' "Jazz Flute Traditions" and John Pizzarelli's Sinatra-Jobim at 50 could arguably belong. I choose undeniably old-school, mainstream, small-group and somewhat modest Nuyorican "Latin jazz." My other strong contenders were Familia (O'Farrill/Valdés) and Corina Bartra's Takunde. I didn't hear Eddie Palmieri's Sabaduria but I shall.

    Mr. EP, Charlie Sepulveda and the Turnaround (HighNote)

    So so so so many other recordings and live performances I enjoyed. Looking forward to the music of 2018.

  • 02 Jan 2018 5:41 PM | Alain Drouot

    New Releases

    • 1.       Lisa Mezzacappa – avantNOIR (Clean Feed)
    • 2.       Angles 9 – Disappeared Behind The Sun (Clean Feed)
    • 3.       Tom Rainey Obbligato – Float Upstream (Intakt Records)
    • 4.       Simona Premazzi – Outspoken (PRE Records)
    • 5.       Jane Ira Bloom – Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline)
    • 6.       Dave Douglas – Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf Music)
    • 7.       Sylvie Courvoisier & Mary Halvorson – Crop Circles (Relative Pitch Records)
    • 8.       Uwe Oberg/Rudi Mahall/Michael Griener – Lacy Pool_2 (Leo Records)
    • 9.       Henri Texier – 30 ans Concert Anniversaire (Label Bleu)
    • 10.   Tiger Trio – Unleashed (Rogue Art)


    • 1.       ”Good On The Ground” from Far From Over (ECM) by Vijay Iyer Sextet
    • 2.       “First Challenge On The Road” from Overseas V (Loyal Label) by Eivind Opsvik
    • 3.       “Decisive Shadow” from Triple Double (Firehouse 12) by Tomas Fujiwara
    • 4.       “Wet Brain” from Before the Heat Death (Clean Feed) by CP Unit
    • 5.       “Conversation Music” from Flesh & Bone (482 Music) by Mike Reed
    • 6.       ”For Amiri Baraka” from Far From Over (ECM) by Vijay Iyer Sextet
    • 7.        “The Open Window” from Live! (Intakt) by Irène Schweizer/Joey Baron
    • 8.       “Egoes War” from Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE) by Nicole Mitchell
    • 9.       “Inside Outside Shout” from Le Piccole Cose (Intuition) by Günter Baby Sommer
    • 10.   “Rasikapriya” from Agrima (rudreshm.com) by Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition

  • 31 Dec 2017 1:13 PM | Dan Bilawsky
    Top 10 List for 2017
    1. Brian Landrus Orchestra, Generations (BlueLand)
    2. Ron Miles, I Am a Man (Yellowbird)
    3. Scott DuBois, Autumn Wind (ACT)
    4. Sarah Partridge, Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian (Origin)
    5. Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Passin' Thru (Blue Note)
    6. Fred Hersch, Open Book (Palmetto)
    7. Christian McBride Big Band, Bringin' It (Mack Avenue)
    8. Alan Ferber Big Band, Jigsaw (Sunnyside)
    9. Matt Mitchell, A Pouting Grimace (Pi)
    10. Adam Rogers, DICE (Adraj)
  • 29 Dec 2017 12:58 PM | C. Andrew Hovan

    Top Jazz Picks for 2017 

    1. Organissimo- B3tles: A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four (Big-O)

    2. Brian Charette Circuit Bent Organ Trio- Kurrent (self-produced)

    3. Christian McBride Big Band- Bringin' It (Mack Avenue)

    4. Matt King- Monk in Brazil  (Mighty Quinn)

    5. Matt Wilson- Honey and Salt (Palmetto)

    6. Dave Stryker- Strykin' Ahead (Strikezone)

    7. Johnny O'Neal- In the Moment (Smoke Sessions)

    8. Peter Bernstein- Signs Live! (Smoke Sessions)

    9. Jaco Pastorius- Truth, Liberty & Soul (Resonance)

    10. Bill Evans- Another Time (Resonance)

  • 27 Dec 2017 10:36 AM | Christopher Burnett

    Jazz Artistry Now - 2017 marks the 16th 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.

    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 and professional voting member: Jazz Journalists Association



    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.

    # # #


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