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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


  • 24 Dec 2017 6:36 PM | W. Royal Stokes

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


    Jane Ira Bloom, Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson


    Anat Cohen, Happy Song (Anzic Records)

    Echoes Of Swing (Chris Hopkins, Bernd Lhotzky, Colin T. Dawson, Shannon Barnett, and others), Bix: A Tribute to Bix Beiderbecke (ACT Music)

    Howard Johnson & Gravity, Testimony (Tuscarora Records)

    Rudresh Mahanthappa, Agrima (Rudreshm.com) LP

    Roscoe Mitchell, Bells For The South Side (ECM)

    Courtney Pine, Black Notes From The Deep (Freestyle Records)

    Wadada Leo Smith, Solo-Reflections And Meditations On Monk (Tum Records)

    Tyshawn Sorey, Verisimilitude (PI Recordings)

    Deanna Witkowski, Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns (Tilapia Records)


    Kenny Dorham, K.D. Is Here: New York City 1962 & 1966 (Uptown Jazz)

    Oscar Pettiford Nonet/Big Band/Sextet: New York City 1955-1958 (Uptown Jazz)

    Flip Phillips, Your Place Or Mine? (Jump/Delmark Records)


    Gabriele Tranchina, Of Sailing Ships and the Stars in Your Eyes (Rainchant Eclectic Records)


    The Brett Gold New York Jazz Orchestra, Dreaming Big (Goldfox Records)


    Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet, Diablo en Brooklyn (Saponegro Records)

    For my Notable Releases of 2017 go to—


    And for my annual roundup of books go to—



  • 13 Dec 2017 1:35 PM | Scott Thompson

    Joel Levine - "The Whistleblower" - IYOUWE

    Pete Levin - "Mobius" - IYOUWE

    T.K. Blue - "Amour" - Dot Time Records

    Ben Markley Big Band - "Clockwise: Music of Cedar Walton" - OA2 Records

    Christian McBride Big Band - "Bringin' It" - Mack Avenue

    Hudson - "Hudson" - Motema

    Mike Stern - "Trip" - Heads Up International

    Matt White Super Villain Jazz Band - "Worlds Wide" - Ear Up

    Pawel Ignatowicz - "Here And Now" - Mother of Invention Records

    Louis Armstrong - "The Standard Oil Sessions" - Dot Time Records

  • 13 Dec 2017 11:11 AM | Bob Blumenthal

    10 best as voted in the NPR poll, but this time (more accurately) unranked and listed alphabetically:

    Tim Berne, "Incidentals"

    Jane Ira Bloom, "Wild Lines"

    Anouar Brahem, "Blue Maqams"

    Steve Coleman, "Morphogenesis"

    Vijay Iyer, "Far from Over"

    Chris Speed, "Platinum on Top"

    Wadada Leo Smith, "Najwa"

    Craig Taborn, "Daylight Ghosts"

    Matt Wilson, "Honey and Salt"

    Miguel Zenon, "Tipica"

    Also mentioned in the poll, and worth mentioning here:

    Brian McCarthy, "The Better Angels of Our Nature"

    Jen Shyu, "Song of Silver Geese"

    Wynton Kelly, "Unissued in Boston"

  • 13 Dec 2017 9:00 AM | Rick Mitchell

    Here are the top 25 tracks heard on my radio programs Jazz In the New Millennium (syndicated nationally through the African American Public Radio Consortium) and The Motif (Saturday afternoons, KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon). As a deejay, I listen for tracks that define an inclusive modern mainstream for the 21st Century, presenting jazz as a vital and contemporary expression on the spectrum of African-American music. The tracks at the top of the list are from albums I recommend most highly.

    Charles Lloyd New Quartet, "Passin' Thru"

    Hudson, "Lay Lady Lay"

    Tony Allen, "Cool Cats"

    Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, "Showcase"

    Blue Note All Stars, "Second Light"

    Cecile McLorin Salvant, "Devil May Care"

    Christian McBride Big Band, "Use 'Ta Could"

    Christian Sands, "Song of the Rainbow People"

    Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra feat. Myra Melford, "The Strawberry"

    Vijay Iyer Sextet, "For Amari Baraka"

    Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra feat. Jon Batiste, "2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West"

    Kermit Ruffins and Irwin Mayfield, "Well, Alright"

    Diana Krall, "Blue Skies"

    John Beasley Monk'estra, "Evidence"

    Harold Mabern, "My Funny Valentine"

    Steve Davis, "Warrior"

    Kevin Eubanks, "Cubano Chant"

    Isley Bros./Santana, "What the World Needs Now Is Love"

    Kamasi Washington "Desire"

    Cameron Graves, "El Diablo"

    Tarek Yamani, "Hala Land"

    Keyon Harrold feat. Gary Clark Jr., "Circus Show"

    Farnell Newton, "Crossing the Tracks"

    Kellye Gray, "Don't Explain"

    Trio Subtonic, "Riptide" 


  • 08 Dec 2017 1:21 PM | Marcela Breton

     I heard the best live jazz of 2017 in public libraries and universities. These institutions expand the jazz audience beyond the nightclub and concert hall, showcasing the music in an atmosphere conducive to relaxed inspiration, experimentation, and the discovery of new, often local, talent. These performances are frequently free to the public. I’m glad for the existence of independent cinemas, too, like the Avon in Providence, where I saw the documentary, “Chasin’ Trane.”  Lastly, I am encouraged by a welcome focus on women in jazz, and a corresponding exposure of the sexism that pervades the jazz world at all levels. In this regard, see, “For Women in Jazz, a Year of Reckoning & Recognition,” by Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times, Dec. 1, 2017.

    Live Jazz:

    Pianist Monty Alexander and his Harlem Kingston Express band, with Ran Blake on saxophone, at Brown University; Colombian accordionist/big band leader, Gregorio Uribe, jamming with student musicians, also at Brown; the Debra Mann Quartet, celebrating the work of Dave Frishberg, at the Warwick Library; the saxophonist Greg Abate, also at Warwick Library; and the local jazz group, Classics 5 Jazz Quintet, featuring vocalist, Carine Paul, at the William Hall Library in Cranston, Rhode Island.

    A random list of choice recordings from 2017:

    Champian Fulton & Scott Hamilton “The Things We Did Last Summer” (Blau)

    Eddie Palmieri “Sabiduria” (Ropeadope)

    Arturo O’Farrill & Chucho Valdes “Familia : Tribute to Bebo & Chico” (Motema)

    Nestor Torres “Jazz Flute Traditions” (Alfi Records)

    John Daversa, featuring Bob Mintzer,  "Wobbly Dance Flower" (BFM Jazz)

    Camille Thurman “Inside the Moment” (Chesky)

    Jaimie Branch “Fly or Die” (International Anthem)

    Hiromi/Edmar Castaneda “Live in Montreal” (Telarc)

    Nicole Mitchell “Mandorla Awakening II : Emerging Worlds” (FPE Records)

    Anat Cohen & Marcello Goncalves “Outra Coisa” (Anzic)

    Alice Coltrane “World Spirituality Classics : the Ecstatic Music of Turiya Alice Coltrane” (Luaka Bop)

    Teddy Edwards “The Complete Recordings” (Enlightenment) (4 CDs)

    WoodyShaw/Louis Hayes “The Tour : v. 2” (HighNote)


  • 07 Dec 2017 5:11 PM | Ralph A. Miriello

    Best of Jazz 2017

    Billy Childs Rebirth  : Mack Avenue

    Nate Smith Kinfolk Postcards from Everywhere  : Ropeadope

    Miguel Zenon Tipico : Miel Music

    Jazzmeia Horn A Social Call  : Concord

    Ben Allison and Think Free Layers of the City  : Sonic Camera

    Dayna Stephens Gratitude  : Contagious 

    Matt Wilson Honey and Salt  : Palmetto

    Steve Nelson Brothers Under the Sun  : High Note

    Sherman Irby and Momentum Cerulean Canvas  : Black Warrior 

    Alan Broadbent Continuing Story  : Eden River

    Brian McCarthy Nonet The Better Angels of Our Nature  : Truth Revolution

    Ralph Towner My Foolish Heart  : ECM

    Brian Charette Kurrent : Dim Mark

    Pete Malinverni  Heaven  Sarana

    Hazelrigg Brothers Songs We Like  Self  Produced

    Mark Winkler The Company I Keep : Cafe Pacific

    Tim Hagans Faces Under the Influence : Waiting Moon

    Marilyn Scott Standard Blue : Prana Entertainment

    Cuong Vu 4 Tet w/ Bill Frisell Ballet the Music of Michael Gibbs : Rare Noise

    Dave Potter You Already Know  : Summit

    Saffron Ensemble Will You? : Rock, Paper, Sissors

    David Virelles  Gnosis  : ECM

    Dave Stryker Strykin' Ahead : Strikezone

    Nestor Torres Jazz Flute Traditions : Alfi 

    Best Historical Re-issue: 

    Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman Compassion The Music of John Coltrane : Resonance

    Honorable mentions: Tyshawn Sorey Versimilitude Ryan Keberle and Catharsis Find the Common Shine a Light, Bill Anschell  Rumbler, Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, Whispers on the Wind,  Fabian Almazan & Rhizome Alcanza, Denny Zeitlin and George Marsh, Expedition, Rick Vandivier Under One Roof , Jane Ira Bloom Wild Lines Improvising Emily Dickinson,  Roswell Rudd Embrace, Marcus Roberts Trio Crescent Celebrating Coltrane, Fred Hersch Open Book, Michael Davis Hip Bone Big Band

  • 07 Dec 2017 2:55 PM | Karl Ackermann

    Musician of the year: Wadada Leo Smith, Aruán Ortiz, Tyshawn Sorey

    Newcomer Musician: Bjorn Meyer, Stefano Travaglini, Sean Ali

    Group of the year: Angles 9, Matthew Shipp Trio, Vijay Iyer Sextet

    Newcomer group: AVA Trio, Brian McCarthy Nonet, DUMItRIO

    Album of the year: Oded Tzur: Translator's Note (ENJA – Yellowbird), Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed Records), Abdul Moimême: Exosphere (Creative Sources Recordings)

    Composer: Satoko Fujii, Tyshawn Sorey, Adam Berenson

    Drums: Dan Weiss, Harris Eisenstadt, Tyshawn Sorey

    Acoustic Bass: Ingebrigt Håker Flaten; Gary Peacock; Moppa Elliott

    Guitar: Björn Meyer, Abdul Moimême, David Torn

    Piano: Matthew Shipp, Aruán Ortiz, Matt Mitchell

    Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ: Adam Berenson

    Tenor Saxophone: Oded Tzur, David Bindman, Jon Irabagon

    Alto Saxophone: Maciej Obara, Steve Coleman, Steve Lehman

    Baritone Saxophone: Jonah Parzen-Johnson, Dave Sewelson, Giuseppe Doronzo

    Soprano Saxophone: Sam Newsome

    Trumpet/Cornet: Rob Mazurek, Wadada Leo Smith, Nate Wooley

    Clarinet/bass clarinet: Oscar Noriega, Oğuz Büyükberber

    Trombone: Steve Swell, Yasuko Kaneko, Reut Regev

    Flute: Anna Webber, Nicole Mitchell

    Violin/Viola: Jason Kao Hwang

    Electronics: Rob Mazurek, Guilherme Granado, Ikue Mori

    Others instruments: Àine O'Dwyer (Harp), Dana Jessen (Bassoon), Satoko Fujii (Accordion), Ahmad Al Khatib (Oud), Thomas Rohrer (Rabeca)

    Best Live Band: Club D’Elf

    Record Label: Clean Feed, ECM, Pi Recordings

  • 06 Dec 2017 6:59 AM | saulmon Addison


    1.      Cécile McLorin Salvant - Dreams and Daggers

    2.      Denys Baptiste - The Late Trane 

    3.      Jazzmeia Horn - A Social Call

    4.      Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - Diaspora

    5.      Ambrose Akinmusire - A Rift In Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard

    6.      Vijay Iyer Sextet - Far From Over

    7.      Wes Montgomery – Smokin’ in Seattle

    8.      Christian McBride - Big Band Bringin' It

    9.      Gregory Porter – Nat King Cole & Me

    10.  Alice Coltrane - Journey in Satchidananda

  • 04 Dec 2017 9:55 AM | Stephen Feeney

    TOP TEN 2017


    Tomas Fujiwara – Triple Double (Firehouse 12 Records)

    John McNeil & Mike Fahie – Plainsong (Destiny Records)

    DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield – Hudson (Motema)

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

    Vijay Iyer Sextet – Far From Over (ECM)

    Eric Revis – Sing Me Some Cry (Clean Feed)

    Charles Lloyd – Passin’ Thru (Blue Note)

    Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift in Decorum (Blue Note)

    Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo – Peace (Libra Records) 

    Alan Broadbent – Developing Story (River Records)




    Albert Ayler Quartet - Copenhagen Live 1964 (Hat Hut)

    Thelonious Monk – Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (Sam Records)

    Chet Baker - Live in London (Ubuntu)                                   


    Vocal: Dominique Eade & Ran Blake – Town and Country (Sunnyside)

    Latin: Michel Camilo – Live in London (Redondo Music)

    Debut: Shabaka and the Ancestors – Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood Recordings)

  • 03 Dec 2017 6:22 PM | John Chacona

    Usual disclaimers apply:  I only rate what I've heard, and I've probably missed a lot. That's half the fun of reading this list.  I don't get reissue boxes, so those aren't here.  I'm following the Francis Davis format here.  It's easier that way.  

    Let the @s begin!

    My favorite 2017 new releases

    1.     Matt Mitchell:  A Pouting Grimace (Pi Recordings)

    2.     Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12)

    3.     Matt Mitchell:  FØRAGE (Screwgun)

    4.     Craig Taborn:  Daylight Ghosts (ECM)

    5.     Mike Reed:  Flesh & Bone (482 Music)

    6.     Eric Revis: Sing Me Some Cry (Clean Feed)

    7.     Tyshawn Sorey:  Verisimilitude (Pi Recordings)

    8.     Mary Halvorson Quartet: Paimon: Book of Angels 32 (Tzadik)

    9.     Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (Tum Records)

    10.  Matt Wilson:  Honey and Salt (Palmetto)

    Vocal album

    Jen Shyu: Song of Silver Geese (Pi Recordings)

    Debut album

    Kate Gentile:  Mannequins (Skirl Records)

    Latin jazz CD

    David Virelles: Gnosis (ECM)

    Just missed

    Jaimie Branch:  Fly or Die (International Anthem), Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan: Small Town (ECM), Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School: The Twilight Fall (Browtasaurus), Billy Mintz: Ugly Beautiful (Thirteenth Note Records), Hermon Mehari: Bleu (Unlabeled Records), Sam Newsome: Sopranoville (self), Manuel Valera Trio: The Seasons (MAVO Records), Kenny Warren Quartet: Thank You for Coming to Life (Whirlwind), Gato Libre: Neko (Libra), Aruan Ortiz: Cubanism (Intakt), Brandon Seabrook:  Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis Records), Roscoe Mitchell: Bells For The South Side (ECM), Vein:  Vein Plays Ravel (Double Moon Records), Gary Peacock Trio: Tangents (ECM), Lena Bloch: Heart Knows (Fresh Sound New Talent), The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Cochonerie (Aerophonic Records), Wadada Leo Smith: Solo - Reflections And Meditations On Monk (Tum Records), Vinnie Sperazza: Hide Ye Idols (Loyal Label)

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