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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


  • 08 Dec 2017 1:21 PM | Marcela Breton

     The university and the public library are the places where I heard the best live jazz of 2017. 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, as well, for the existence of independent cinemas, like the Avon in Providence, where I saw the documentary, “Chasin’ Trane.”  Last, though by no means least, I am encouraged, in this year of female empowerment – one hopes - by a welcome focus on women in jazz, and a corresponding exposure of the sexism that continues to pervade the jazz industry 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)

    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)

  • 29 Nov 2017 5:31 PM | John Szwed


    1  Charles Lloyd   Passin’ Thru (Live)   ECM

    2  Tim Berne’s Snake Oil   Incidentals   ECM

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

    4  Rez Abasi  Unfiltered   Whirlwind Records

    5  John Vanore   Stolen Moments: Celebrating Oliver Nelson   Acoustical Concepts

    6  Lisa Mezzacappa   Glorious Ravage    New World

    7  Michael Musillami & Rich Syracuse   Bird Calls   Playscape

    8  Jane Ira Bloom   Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson    Outline

    9  Gard Nilssen’s Complete Unity Live in Europe     Clean Feed  

    10 Anouar Brahem   Blue Maqams   ECM


    1  Classic Savoy Be-bop Sessions 1945-49       Mosaic

    2  Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Irene Schweizer, Leon Francioli, Pierre Favre   Musicak Monsters  Intakt

    3  Thelonious Monk   La Liaisons Dangereuses 1960    Sam Records


    David Virelles   Gnosis    ECM


    Jen Shyu   Song of Silver Geese   Pi


  • 28 Nov 2017 5:20 PM | Ken Franckling
    The 10 best new jazz releases of 2017
    1. Jimmy Scott, I Go Back Home (Eden River)
    2. Hudson, Hudson (Motéma)
    3. Matt Wilson, Matt Wilson’s Honey and Salt (Palmetto)
    4. Jeff Rupert and Richard Drexler, Imagination (Rupe Media)
    5. Ingrid and Christine Jensen, Infinitude (Whirlwind)
    6. Benedikt Jahnel Trio, The Invariant (ECM)
    7. Yoko Miwa Trio, Pathways (Ocean Blue Tear Music)
    8. Joachim Kühn New Trio, Beauty & Truth (ACT)
    9. Gary Meek, Originals (self-produced)
    10. University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band I, The Romeo and Juliet Project (Artist Alliance)

    2017's top vocal recording

    Jimmy Scott, I Go Back Home (Eden River)

    2017’s best debut recording:

    Roxy Coss, Chasing the Unicorn (Posi-Tone)

    The best historical/reissues of 2017 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):

    1. Wes Montgomery / Wynton Kelly Trio, Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966) (Resonance)
    2. Thelonious Monk, Les Liaisons Dangerouses 1960 (Sam/Saga)
    3. The Three Sounds featuring Gene Harris, Groovin’ Hard: Live at the Penthouse 1964-1968 (Resonance)
    4. Nat King Cole Trio, Swiss Radio Days Vol 43 – Zurich 1950 (TCB)
    5. Art Pepper, Art Pepper Presents West Coast Sessions! Vol. 3: Lee Konitz (Omnivore)

    2017’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

    1. Eliane Elias, Dance of Time (Concord Jazz)
    2. Ignacio Berroa, Straight Ahead from Havana (Codes Drum)
    3. Antonio Adolfo, Hybrido – From Rio to Wayne Shorter (AAM)
    4. Steve Khan, Backlog (Tone Center)
    5. Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Septet, Diablo en Brooklyn (Saponegro)

    The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2017, listed alphabetically:

    • Ambrose Akinmusire, “Withered” from A Rift in Decorum (Blue Note)
    • Lili Añel, “Another Place, Another Time” from Another Place, Another Time (Wall-I)
    • Roxy Coss, “Free to Be” from Chasing the Unicorn (Posi-Tone)
    • Jack DeJohnette, “Song for World Forgiveness“ from Hudson (Motéma)
    • Akua Dixon, “Let’s Dance” from Akua’s Dance (Akua’s Music)
    • Miles Donahue, “The Bug” from The Bug (Whaling City Sound)
    • Art Hirahara, “Kin-Ka: Gold Coin” from Central Line (Posi-Tone)
    • John Hollenbeck, “The Kiss” from University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band I, The Romeo and Juliet Project (Artist Alliance)
    • Benedikt Jahnel, “The Circuit” from The Invariant (ECM)
    • Mike Longo, “Only Time Will Tell” from Mike Longo Trio, Only Time Will Tell (Consolidated Artists Productions)
  • 28 Nov 2017 1:35 PM | Leonardo Pavkovic

    Favorite Jazz of 2017 

    • A Meeting Of Spirits by Gary Husband (Edition)

    • No Answer by Dusan Jevtovic (MoonJune)

    • Hà Nội Duo by Nguyên Lê & Ngô Hồng Quang (ACT)

    • Talinka by Talinka (Fanfare)

    • World Peace Trio by Dharmawan, Musallam, Atzmon (ENJA)

    • Reflections by Xavi Reija (self-release)

    • Hudson by DeJohnette, Grenadier, Medeski, Scofield (Motéma)

    • Spirit Of Trane by Gilad Atzmon (Fanfare)

    • My Foolish Heart by Ralph Towner (ECM)

    • Blue Maqams by Anouar Brahem (ECM)

    and many others

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