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2018 'Best of Jazz' Selected by JJA Members

These are the 2018 "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


  • 07 Dec 2019 7:15 AM | Jeroen de Valk


  • 17 Jan 2019 9:02 AM | Mirian Arbalejo

    FAVORITE JAZZ ALBUMS OF 2018 (by Mirian Arbalejo)

    Both Directions At Once. John Coltrane. (Impulse!) 

    Close Up. Sara Serpa. (Clean Feed Records)

    CODE GIRL. Mary Halvorson. (Firehouse 12 Records)

    Concentric Circles. Kenny Barron Quintet. (Blue Note)

    Dirt . . . and More DirtHenry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg. (Pi)

    DORAVANTE. Abe Rábade Trío. (Nuba + Karonte Records)

    Emanon. Wayne Shorter. (Blue Note Records)

    En Dag I Oktober. Hvalfugl. (Hvalfugl Music)

    Harmony. Sam Harris (self-released)

    Kennedy Meets Gershwin. Nigel Kennedy. (Warner Classics)

    Lebroba. Andrew Cyrille. (ECM)

    Live In HealdsburgAnat Cohen y Fred Hersch. (Anzic Records)

    Music IS. Bill Frisell. (OKeh)

    Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio SessionsEric Dolphy. (Resonance)

    Origami Harvest.  Ambrose Akinmusire. (Blue Note Records)

    Ours/Theirs. Thumbscrew. (Cuneiform)

    Presence. Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band. (Smoke Sessions)

    Seymour Reads The Constitution!. Brad Mehldau Trio. (Nonesuch Records)

    Standards In Dublin. Gonzalo del Val with Dave Liebman and Ronan Guilfoyle. (Quadrant Records)

    Still Dreaming. Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley, Brian Blade (Nonesuch)

    Temporary Kings. Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson. (ECM)

    The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles. (ECM)

    The Influencing Machine. Elliot Galvin. (Edition Records)

    The Other Side Of Air. Myra Melford's Snowy Egret. (Firehouse 12 Records)

    The Window. Cecile McLorin Salvant. (Mack Avenue)

    Tokyo '81. Woody Shaw. (Elemental)

    Universal Beings. Makaya McCraven. (International Anthem)

    Vientos Cruzados. Luis Verde Quartet. (self-released)

    WORK. The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk. Miles Okazaki. (self-released)

    *Mirian has shared these titles in the Francis Davis / NPR Jazz Critics Poll, It Don't Mean A Thing and Cuepoint.

  • 06 Jan 2019 1:31 PM | Geoffrey Himes


    1. Charles Lloyd & the Marvels + Lucinda Williams: Vanished Gardens (Blue Note)

    2. Henry Threadgill: Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus (Pi)

    3. Steve Coleman: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (Pi)

    4. Wayne Shorter: Emanon (Blue Note)

    5. Todd Marcus: On These Streets (A Baltimore Story) (Stricker Street)

    6. Jason Moran & Bandwagon: Looks of a Lot (Yes)

    7. Brad Mehldau Trio: Seymour Reads the Constitution! (Nonesuch)

    8. Bill Frisell: Music Is (Okeh)

    9. Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: Presence (Smoke Sessions)

    10. SFJazz Collective: Live: SFJazz Center 2017 (SFJazz)

    11. Kat Edmonson: Old Fashioned Girl (Spinnerette)

    12. Michael Leonhart Orchestra: The Painted Lady Suite (Sunnyside)

    13. Allison Miller Carmen Staaf: Science Fair (Sunnyside)

    14. Matthew Shipp Quartet: Sonic Fiction (ESP)

    15. Jonathan Finlayson: 3 Times Round (Pi)

    16. Anat Cohen/Fred Hersch: Live in Healdsburg (Anzic)

    17. Jason Palmer: Rhyme and Reason (Giant Steps)

    18. Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Soundprints: Scandal (Greenleaf)

    19. Hamid Drake, Ralph M. Jones, Adam Rudolph: Karuna (Meta)

    20. Cyrus Chestnut: Kaleidoscope (HighNote)


    1. Kevin Gordon: Tilt & Shine (Crowville)

    2. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed (Verve)

    3. Alejandro Escovedo & Don Antonio: The Crossing (Yep Roc)

    4. The Decemberists: I’ll Be Your Girl (Capitol)

    5. Rosanne Cash: She Remembers Everything (Blue Note)

    6. Ashley McBryde: Girl Going Nowhere (Atlantic)

    7. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism (Naive)

    8. Ashley McBryde: Girl Going Nowhere (Warner Bros. Nashville)

    9. Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel (RCA/ShopKeeper)

    10. Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain (Mama Bird)

    11. Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis: Wild! Wild! Wild! (Bloodshot)

    12. Paul McCartney: Egypt Station (Capitol)

    13. Charley Crockett: Lonesome as a Shadow (Thirty Tigers)

    14. Lonnie Holley: Mith (Jagjaguway)

    15. Paul Kelly: Nature (Cooking Vinyl/Gawd Aggie)

    16. Old Crow Medicine Show: Volunteers (Columbia)

    17. Blood Orange: Negro Swan (Domino)

    18. Lucero: Among the Ghosts (Liberty & Lament/Thirty Tigers)

    19. Elvis Costello & the Imposters: Look Now (Concord)

    20. The Bottle Rockets: Bit Logic (Bloodshot)


    1. Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy)

    2. The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) Super Deluxe Edition (Capitol)

    3. John Coltrane: Both Directions at Once (Impulse)

    4. Bobbie Gentry: The Girl from Chickasaw County (Capitol)

    5. The Kinks: Village Green Preservation Society (BMG)

    6. Neil Young: Roxy: Tonight's the Night (Reprise)

    7. The Louvin Brothers: Love and Wealth: The Lost Recordings (Modern Harmonic)

    8. Bob Dylan: More Blood, More Tracks (Columbia/Legacy)

    9. Woody Shaw: Tokyo ’81 (Elemental)

    10. Maggie Roche: Where Do I Come From: Selected Songs (Storysound)

  • 02 Jan 2019 5:25 PM | Laurence Donohue-Greene

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


    Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - An Angel Fell (Strut)

    Sylvie Courvoisier Trio - D’Agala (Intakt)

    Dave Holland (Evan Parker, Craig Taborn) - Uncharted Territories (Dare2)

    Lee Konitz/Dan Tepfer - Decade (Impulse)

    Michael Leonhart Orchestra - The Painted Lady Suite (Sunnyside)

    Johan Lindström Septett - Music For Empty Halls (Moserobie)

    Brian Marsella Trio - Outspoken: The Music of the Legendary Hasaan (Tzadik)

    Christian McBride - New Jawn (Mack Avenue-Brother Mister Prod.)

    Thumbscrew - Theirs (Cuneiform)

    John Zorn - In a Convex Mirror (Tzadik)

    MUSICIANS OF THE YEAR (2018): Satoko Fujii; Joel Ross; Mary Halvorson


    1- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet - The Complete Lansdowne Recordings (1965-1969) (Jazzman)

    2- Various - The Savory Collection 1935-1940 (Mosaic)

    3- John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (Impulse-Verve)

  • 29 Dec 2018 12:53 PM | Deleted user


    Don Byron & Aruan Ortiz: Random Dances &(A)tonalities (Intakt Records) 

    Steve Coleman & Five Elements, Live At The Village Vanguard Vol. I (The Embedded Sets) (PI Recordings)

    Diva Jazz Orchestra, 25th Anniversary Project (ArtistShare)

    Stefon Harris & Blackout, Sonic Creed (Motema Music)

    Monika Herzig, Sheroes (Whaling City Sound)

    McClenty Hunter Jr., The Groove Hunter (Strikezone Records)

    Roger Kellaway Trio, New Jazz Standards Vol. 3 (Summit Records)

    Ernie Krivda, A Bright And Shining Moment (Capri Records Ltd.)

    Roberta Piket, West Coast Trio (13th Note Records)

    Joshua Redman, Still Dreaming (Nonesuch)


    Gene Krupa Quartet, Live 1966 (Dot Time Legends)

    New Black Eagle Jazz Band, Goin’ to New Orleans (Black Eagle/blackeagles.com)

    The Savory Collection 1935-1940 (Mosaic)



    Tessa Souter, Picture in Black and White (NOA Records) 



    Mariel Austin Rock-Jazz Orchestra, Runner in the Rain (Mariel Austin/marielaustin.com) 



    Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Back to the Sunset (Dafnison Music) 

    For my expanded NOTABLE RELEASES OF 2018 and my A ROUNDUP OF 125 OR SO JAZZ, BLUES, BEYOND, AND OTHER BOOKS PUBLISHED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO please go to wroyalstokes.com.

  • 22 Dec 2018 3:39 PM | J Hunter

    Top Ten Jazz2K Discs of 2018:

    1. SHAKERS N' BAKERS - Heart Love (Little I Music)
    2. CHICK COREA & STEVE GADD BAND - Chinese Butterfly (Concord / Stretch)
    3. BEN WENDEL - The Seasons (Motema)
    4. DARRYL YOKLEY'S SOUND REFORMATION - Pictures at an African Exhibition (TruthRevolution Records)
    5. ORRIN EVANS & THE CAPTAIN BLACK BIG BAND - Presence (Smoke Sessions)
    6. BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO - Seymour Reads the Constitution! (Nonesuch)
    7. CHRISTIAN McBRIDE - Christian McBride's New Jawn (Mack Avenue)
    8. SCOTT PETITO - Rainbow Gravity (Planet Arts)
    9. JAMES WEIDMAN - Spiritual Impressions (Inner Circle Music)
    10. JOE LOCKE - Subtle Disguise (Origin)


    And now, the winners of the 2018 Jazz2K Awards:


    TESSA SOUTER - Picture in Black & White (NOA)


    BILL FRISELL - Music IS (OKeh)


    MIKE CLARK & DELBERT BUMP - Retro Report (Ropeadope)


    JOHN SCOFIELD - Combo 66 (Verve)

    ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (Best First release)

    JAMES FRANCIES - Flight (Blue Note)

    LOCAL HERO AWARD (Best Regional Release)

    CHRIS PASIN - Ornettiquette (Planet Arts)

  • 20 Dec 2018 6:55 PM | Anonymous

    Here is a rundown of my top ten favorite recordings of 2018 in addition to my two favorite reissues:

    *SF Jazz Collective CD: Live at SF Jazz Center 2017-Original Compositions & The Music of Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder, & Thelonious Monk.  (SFJazz Records)

    *Eddie Henderson-Be Cool (Smoke Sessions)

    *McClenty Hunter-Groove Hunter (Strikezone Records)

    *Kenny Barron-Concentric Circles (Blue Note)

    *Shamie Royston- Uplifted Heart (Sunnyside)

    *Allan Harris-The Genius of Eddie Jefferson (Resilience Music)

    *Renee Rosnes-Beloved Of The Sky (Smoke Sessions)

    *Stefon Harris & Blackout-Sonic Creed (Motema)

    *Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band-West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)

    *Kurt Elling-The Questions (Okeh/Sony Masterworks)


    *Miles Davis John Coltrane-The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6  (Sony Legacy)

    *Erroll Garner-Nighconcert (Mack Avenue)

  • 19 Dec 2018 10:36 AM | John Chacona
    My ten favorite (not necessarily best) releases of the year. 

    Usual disclaimers apply.  I only chose what I heard (I did not hear "Emanon" among other eminent releases). Submitted using the qualifying release date interval and the format of the NPR Poll.  I'm lazy.

    IMHO, this was a strong year, and my choices were arrived at without much angst. There were 62 releases that were finalists for this list, which, I think, speaks to the strength of the scene.

    Here goes:

    Ten best new releases

    Miles Okazaki:  Work (Complete, Volumes 1-6) (self)
    Makaya McCraven:  Universal Beings (International Anthem Recording Co.)
    Steve Coleman & Five Elements: Live At The Village Vanguard Vol. I (Pi Recordings)
    James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (Off Records)
    Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (ECM)
    Nik Bärtsch's Ronin:  Awase (ECM)
    Henry Threadgill / 14 or 15 Kestra: AGG:  Dirt... And More Dirt (Pi Recordings)
    Tyshawn Sorey:  Pillars (Firehouse 12)
    Thiefs: Graft (Jazz & People)
    Code Girl:  Mary Halvorson (Firehouse 12)

    Reissues or Historical albums

    Anthony Braxton:  Sextet (Parker) 1993 (Firehouse 12)
    John Coltrane: Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (Verve)
    Woody Shaw: Live In Bremen 1983 (Elemental Music)

    Best vocal album

    William Parker: Voices Fall From The Sky (Aum Fidelity)

    Best debut album

    Ben LaMar Gay:  Downtown Castles Can’t Block the Sun (International Anthem Recording Co.)

    Best Latin jazz CD

    Román Filiú: Quartería (Sunny Side Records)

  • 18 Dec 2018 12:08 PM | Philip Booth

    My list of ten favorite 2018 releases, along with 25 other notable new recordings, and historical releases. Listed alphabetically, as I hate numerical rankings.

    Kenny Barron QuintetConcentric Circles (Blue Note)

    Eddie DanielsHeart of Brazil: A Tribute to Egberto Gismonti (Resonance)

    Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill StewartToy Tunes (Pirouet)

    Chris LightcapSuperette (Royal Potato Family)

    Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas/Sound PrintsScandal (Greenleaf)

    NolatetNo Revenge Necessary (Royal Potato Family)

    Joshua Redman/Ron Miles/Scott Colley/Brian BladeStill Dreaming (Nonesuch)

    Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big BandWest Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)

    Antonio Sanchez (featuring WDR Big Band)Channels of Energy (CamJazz)

    Wayne ShorterEmanon (Blue Note)



    John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse)

    Miles Davis and John ColtraneThe Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy)

    Charlie Haden & Brad MehldauLong Ago and Far Away (Impulse)

    Fred Hersch Trio, ‘97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto)

    Art PepperUnreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto (Widow’s Taste)


    25 other Notable Jazz Releases

    Antonio Adolfo: Encontros -- Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)

    Ambrose Akinmusire, Origami Harvest (Blue Note)

    Roni Ben-Hur & Harvie S, Introspection (Jazzheads)

    Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch, Live in Healdsburg (Anzic)

    Chick Corea, The Musician (Concord)

    Rob Dixon Trio featuring Charlie Hunter & Mike Clark, Coast to Crossroads (Rob Dixon)

    Bill Frisell, Music IS (Okeh/Sony)

    Aaron Goldberg, At the Edge of the World (Sunnyside)

    Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergo Borlai, Arc Trio (Blue Canoe)

    Carlos Henriquez, Dizzy Con Clave (RodBros)

    Fred Hersch Trio, Live in Europe (Palmetto Records)

    Charles Lloyd & the Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blue Note)

    Medeski Martin & Wood with Alarm Will Sound, Omnisphere (Indirecto)

    Brad Mehldau Trio, Seymour Reads the Constitution! (Nonesuch)

    Hendrik Meurkens/Bill Cunliffe, Cabin in the Sky (Height Advantage)

    Francois Moutin & Kavita Shaw, Interplay (Dot Time)

    Bill O'Connell, Jazz Latin (Savant)

    Houston Person & Ron Carter, Remember Love (HighNote)

    Charles Pillow Large Ensemble, Electric Miles (MAMA)

    Dan Pugachi Nonet, Plus One (Unit)

    Cecile McLorin Salvant, The Window (Mack Avenue)

    SFJAZZ Collective, Original Compositions & the Music of Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder & Thelonious Monk (SFJAZZ)

    John Scofield, Combo 66 (Verve)

    Dr. Lonnie Smith, All in My Mind (Blue Note)Jim Snidero & Jeremy Pelt, Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley (Savant)

    Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth (Young Turks)

  • 15 Dec 2018 8:48 PM | David Adler

    I saw Ted Panken, John Murph and other fellow jazz scribes discussing the utility or non-utility of Year-End Top 10 lists and it made me want to try something different. I do have a Top 10, but rather than impose that kind of fixity on 2018 I thought I’d put my Top 10 last, not first. And in its place I’m doing what I do naturally every year: keep tallies in different categories that add up to a fuller story about where the music went and what I responded to most. So here is 2018 in debut albums, solo albums, duo albums and large ensemble albums. And then finally my Top 10.

    Debut Albums:

    Justin Brown, Nyeusi (Biophilia)

    Big Heart Machine (Outside In)

    Rogério Boccato Quarteto, No Old Rain (Red Piano)

    Noam Wiesenberg, Roads Diverge (BJU)

    James Francies, Flight (Blue Note)

    Yuhan Su, City Animals (Sunnyside)

    Jonathan Barber, Vision Ahead (ind.)

    Ben LaMar Gay, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun (International Anthem)

    Matthew Lux, Contra/Fact (Astral Spirits)

    Miki Yamanaka, Miki (Cellar Live)

    Joe Armon-Jones, Starting Today (Brownswood)

    JinJoo Yoo, I’m Curious (Gut String)

    Mayu Saeki, Hope (BJU)

    Blue Lab Beats, Xover (All Points)

    Gene Jackson Trio Nuyorx, Power of Love (Red River)

    William Tatge Trio, General Cargo (BJU)

    MND FLO, From Time (ind.)

    Solo Albums:

    Brad Mehldau, After Bach (Nonesuch)

    Mike Seal, Dogwoods (ind.)

    Josh Sinton, krasa (ind.)

    Rob Clearfield, Wherever You’re Starting From (Woodgathering)

    Miles Okazaki, Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk, Vols. 1-6 (ind.)

    George Colligan, Nation Divided (Whirlwind)

    Keith Jarrett, La Fenice (ECM)

    Wendy Eisenberg, Its Shape Is Your Touch (VDSQ)

    Alan Pasqua, Soliloquy (ind.)

    Dan Tepfer, Natural Machines (YouTube)

    Duo Albums:

    Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson, Temporary Kings (ECM)

    Mikkel Ploug & Mark Turner, Faroe (Sunnyside)

    Jonathan Kreisberg & Nelson Veras, Kreisberg Meets Veras (New For Now)

    Tim Berne & Matt Mitchell, Angel Dusk (screwgun)

    Frank Carlberg & Noah Preminger, Whispers and Cries (Red Piano)

    Michael Coleman & Ben Goldberg, Practitioner (BAG)

    Anteloper (Jaimie Branch/Jason Nazary), Kudu (International Anthem)

    Will Holshouser & Eric Vloeimans, Will & Eric (Aviary)

    Lee Konitz & Dan Tepfer, Decade (Verve)

    Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson, Seed Triangular (New Amsterdam)

    Ben Wendel, Standards with Friends (YouTube)

    Large Ensemble Albums:

    Michael Leonhart Orchestra, The Painted Lady Suite (Sunnyside)

    Big Heart Machine (Outside In)

    Orrin Evans & Captain Black Big Band, Presence (Smoke Sessions)

    Barney McAll feat. Monash Art Ensemble, Zephyrix (Extra Celestial)

    Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Down a Rabbit Hole (Summit)

    Antonio Sanchez, Channels of Energy (CAM Jazz)

    Luzia von Wyl Ensemble, Throwing Coins (Hathut)

    Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Back to the Sunset (Dafnison)

    Miho Hazama, The Monk: Live at Bimhuis (Sunnyside)

    Pedro Giraudo & The WDR Big Band, An Argentinian in New York (Zoho)

    Marshall Gilkes & WDR Big Band, Always Forward (Alternate Side)

    Top 10 Albums:

    Wayne Shorter, Emanon (Blue Note)

    Miguel Zenón featuring Spektral Quartet, Yo Soy La Tradición (Miel)

    Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells (Concord)

    Cécile McLorin Salvant, The Window (Mack Avenue)

    Miles Okazaki, Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk, Vols. 1-6 (ind.)

    Caroline Davis, Heart Tonic (Sunnyside)

    The Bad Plus, Never Stop II (Legbreaker)

    Dan Weiss, Starebaby (Pi)

    Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson, Seed Triangular (New Amsterdam)

    Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, The Other Side of Air (Firehouse 12)

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