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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. 

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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  • 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 | Laurence Donohue-Greene

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

    BEST OF 2019


    1) Kris Davis

    2) Jaimie Branch

    3) Joe Lovano

    4) Michael Leonhart

    5) Evan Parker


    1) ECM

    2) Sunnyside

    3) Intakt

    4) International Anthem

    5) NoBusiness


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    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)


    *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) 

  • 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. 


    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)


    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)


    Calabria Foti, Prelude To A Kiss (MoCo Records)


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


    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:


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


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


    Bonerama -- Bonerama Plays Zeppelin (Basin Street)

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

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


    Tom Harrell -- Infinity (HighNote)

    LOCAL HERO AWARD (Best Local or Regional Release):

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

  • 22 Dec 2019 6:59 AM | Dan Bilawsky

    I had the pleasure of putting together a number of "best of" lists this year.  They're largely consistent, though each varies ever so slightly due to criteria, including date windows, and formatting regarding additional categories (i.e. Vocals, Latin, Historical).  This is the list/ballot I submitted for Francis Davis' annual poll--the most respected and widely-read of the year-end jazz polls.     

    New Releases:

    1. Fabian Almazan, This Land Abounds with Life (Biophilia)

    2. Jennifer Wharton’s Bonegasm, Bonegasm (Sunnyside)

    3. Dan McCarthy, Epoch (Origin)

    4. Skyjack, The Hunter (Enja/Yellowbird)

    5. Youn Sun Nah, Immersion (Warner Music)

    6. Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner, Somewhere (Rosebud Music)

    7. Sara Gazarek, Thirsty Ghost (MRI)

    8. Matt Mitchell, Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)

    9. Scott Robinson, Tenormore (Arbors)

    10. Brittany Anjou, Enamiĝo Reciprokataj (Origin)


    1. John Coltrane, Blue World (Impulse!)

    2. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance)

    3. Wes Montgomery, Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings (Resonance)



    Youn Sun Nah, Immersion (Warner Music)


    Jennifer Wharton’s Bonegasm, Bonegasm (Sunnyside)


    Bill O’Connell and The Afro Caribbean Ensemble, Wind Off The Hudson (Savant)

  • 20 Dec 2019 3:21 PM | Rick Mitchell

    Rick Mitchell Best of 2019

    In recent years, I have been listing top tracks played on my radio programs Jazz In the New Millennium (syndicated nationally by the African American Public Radio Consortium) and The Motif (on KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon). This year, I have an actual top ten albums list, all of which sound good at home listening to the CD with the headphones or one track at a time while driving in the car. I recently interviewed Branford Marsalis, who commented on what he perceives to be the disconnect between the music that critics like as reflected by the annual JJA and NPR polls and what the listening public -- not necessarily the smooth-jazz/R&B audience but the relatively educated real jazz audience -- actually likes. He told me, "They are trying to redefine what jazz is, but they won't succeed." Notice I didn't vote for him either, but he has a point... I try to program music that both upholds the highest standards of musicianship for jazz in the 21st Century and has the potential to make people tap their feet and nod their heads in the way, as Branford noted, that listening to Charlie Parker did. It's also worth noting that my choices draw from regional sources beyond the New York solar system: San Francisco, Trinidad, Jamaica, New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas, Cuba... (BTW: The top three albums on my list share a drummer: Obed Calviere, from Miami. Dude can play.) 

    I've also cited ten additional non-jazz albums, though I no longer keep up with popular music enough to claim any legitimacy for this as a ten-best list. It's just what I enjoy. Peace.  

    Top Jazz Albums

    1. SFJAZZ Collective, The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim & Original Compositions (SFJAZZ)

    2. Etienne Charles, Carnival The Sound of a People Vol. 1 (Culture Shock)

    3. Monty Alexander, Wareika Hill Rastamonk Vibrations (MACO)

    4. Herlin Riley, Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue)

    5. James Carter Organ Trio, Live From Newport Jazz (Blue Note)

    6. Ulysses Owens Jr., Songs of Freedom (Resilience)

    7. Jazzmeia Horn, Love & Liberation (Concord Jazz)

    8. Roberto Fonseca, Yesun (Mack Avenue)

    9. Christian Scott Atunde Adjua, Ancestral Recall (Stretch Music/ropeadope)

    10. Mike Clark, Indigo Blue Live at the Iradium (ropeadope) 

    Top Debut

    1. Joel Ross, Kingmaker (Blue Note)

    Top Reissue

    1. Errol Garner, Closeup in Swing (Mack Avenue/Octave) 

    Top Americana/World Albums

    1. Yola, Walk Through Fire (Easy Eye Sound)

    2. Lakou Mizik, HaitiaNola (Cumbancha)

    3. Keb Mo, Oklahoma (Concord)

    4. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Signs (Fantasy)

    5. Jimmie Vaughan, Baby, Please Come Home (Last Music/JLV)

    6. Santana, Africa Speaks (Concord)

    7. North Mississippi Allstars, Up and Rolling (New West)

    8. Brittany Howard, Jaime (ATO)

    9. Angelique Kidjo, Celia (Verve)

    10. Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi, There Is No Other (Nonesuch) 

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