Jazz Journalists Association
jja_icon82x150.jpg  Member Site / Office
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.

JJA MEMBERS: PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE POSTING. POSTS THAT DON'T FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING THE SUBJECT LINE, WILL BE REMOVED. You must be logged in to your member account to post.


  • 05 Dec 2019 10:54 PM | John Pietaro

     JOHN PIETARO 2019 “BEST OF”:

    (Yes, it crosses boundaries judiciously)

    • 1.     MUSICIANS OF THE YEAR:

    Violin:

    -Sarah Bernstein

    -Jason Kao Hwang

    -Sana Nagano

    Viola:

    -Melanie Dyer

    Cello:

    -Tomas Ulrich

    -Lester St Louis

    Trumpet:

    -Wallace Roney

    -Wadada Leo Smith

    -Thomas Heberer

    Trombone:

    -Steve Swell                               

    Tuba:

    -Howard Johnson

    -Joseph Daley

    Flute:

    -Nicole Mitchell

    -Robert Dick

    -Cheryl Pyle

    Clarinet:

    -Ben Goldberg

    -Guillermo Gregorio

    Bass clarinet:

    -Josh Sinton

    -Michael Lytle

    Soprano saxophone:

    -Lee Odom

    -Dave Liebman

    Alto saxophone:

    -Marty Ehrlich

    -Kendrick Smith

    -Chris Pitsiokis

    Tenor saxophone:

    -James Brandon Lewis

    -Ras Moshe Burnett

    -Evan Parker

    Baritone saxophone:

    -Clare Daley

    -Dave Sewelson

    Guitar:

    -Ava Mendoza

    -Marc Ribot

    -Mike Baggetta

    -Julian Lage

    -Anthony Pirog

    Vibraphone:

    -Bill Ware

    -Patricia Brennan

    -Steve Nelson

    Piano:

    -Ran Blake

    -Aruan Ortiz

    -Mara Rosenbloom

    Upright bass:

    -Ken Filiano

    -Adam Lane

    Bass guitar:

    -Jamaaladeen Tacuma

    -Steve Swallow

    Drumset:

    -Ronnie Burrage

    -Ches Smith

    -Kenny Wollesson

    -Michael TA Thompson

    Percussion:

    -Warren Smith

    -Cyro Baptista

    -Newman Taylor Baker

    Harp:

    -Zeena Parkins

    Multi-instrumentalist (winds):

    -Daniel Carter

    -Scott Robinson

    Vocals:

    -Jay Clayton

    -Christine Correa

    -Shelley Hirsch

    -Kyoko Kitamura

    Poet/Spoken Word Artist:

    -David Henderson

    -Tracie Morris

    -Yusef Komunyakaa

    -Puma Perl


    • 2.     ENSEMBLES:

    Large ensemble:

    -Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra

    -Slavic Soul Party

    -Go Organic Orchestra

    -Hungry March Band

    Trio:

    -Harriet Tubman

    -William Hooker Trio with Mara Rosenbloom and Adam Lane

    -Todd Capp’s Mystery Train

    -Rocco John Trio with Chris Forbes and Charlie Sabatino

    Quartet:

    -Zodiac Saxophone Quartet

    Duo:

    -Ran Blake and Christine Correa


    3. LABELS OF THE YEAR:

    -Truth Revolution

    -ESP-Disk

    -Alternative Tentacles


    4. CONCERTS OF THE YEAR:

    -Wall to Wall Coltrane, June 9, Symphony Space, NYC

    - Arts for Art Tribute to Steve Cannon, September 6, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, NYC

    - Ronnie Burrage: Tribute to Hamiet Bluiett, May 25, Sista’s Place, Brooklyn NY


    5. VENUES OF THE YEAR:

    -Lady Stardust (East Village)

    -The Bar Next Door (West Village)

    -Jazz at Kitano (mid-town)

    -Union Pool (Williamsburg)

    -Downtown Music Gallery (LES)


    6. ALBUMS OF THE YEAR:

    David S Ware, Theatre Garone (AUM Fidelity)

    Mike Baggetta/Mike Watt/Jim Keltner, Wall of Flowers (Big Ego Records)

    Ben Goldberg, Good Day for Cloud Fishing (Pyroclastic)

    Green Dome, Thinking in Stitches (Case Study)


    7. UNEARTHED GEMS:

    David S Ware the Balance (AUM Fidelity)

    Thing, Thing (Cultures of Soul; originally released 1972, Innerview Records)


    8. BIGGEST HEARTBREAK:

    -Death of Steve Dalachinsky


  • 05 Dec 2019 4:58 PM | John Szwed

    Ten Top

    Chick Corea      Trilogy 2      (Concord)

    Frank Kimbrough     Monk’s Dream  (Sunnyside)

    Etienne Charles.     Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol. 1   Culture Shock

    Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive     Ragmala      (Meta)

    Michael Leonhart    Suite Extracts, Vol. 1 (Sunnyside)

    Billy Lester       From Scratch      (Newvelle)

    Mike Okazaki    The Sky Below   (Pi)

    Allison Miller     Glitter Wolf       (Royal Potato Factory)

    Joey De Francesco   In the Key of the Universe   (Mack Ave)

    Eve Risser   Apres un Reve    (Clean Feed)

    Historical

    Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian       When Will the Blues Leave    (ECM)

    Stan Getz     Getz at the Gate  (Verve)

    The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Assorted Ensembles      (ECM)

    Latin:

    Miguel Zenon   Sonero: The Music of Ishmael Rivera     (Miel)

    Vocal:

    Veronica Swift       Confessions   (Mack Ave)

    Debut:

    Javier Red     Ephemeral Certainties   (Delmark)

     

  • 05 Dec 2019 3:25 PM | Ralph A. Miriello

    My List of Best of Jazz that I have heard in 2019 (In no rated order)

    Bob Sheppard: "The Fine Line" (Challenge Records)

    Mike Holober & The Gotham Big Band: "Hiding Out" (ZoHo Records)

    Randy Brecker & the NDR Big Band: "Rocks" (Jazz Line Edition)

    Scott Robinson: "Tenormore" (Arbor Records)

    Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan: "Epistophy" (ECM) 

    Branford Marsalis Quartet: "The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul" (Okeh/Sony Masterworks)

    Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Chris Potter (Crosscurrent Trio): "Good Hope" (Edition Records)

    Ethan Iverson Quartet & Tom Harrell: "Common Practice" (ECM)

    Ahmad Jamal: "Ballades" (Jazz Village/Jazzbook Records)

    Amina Figarova: "Road to the Sun" (BA Records)

    Miguel Zenon: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera” (Miel Music)

    George Garzone, Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua, Darek Oles: "3 Nights in LA" (Fuzzy Music)

    Linda May Han Oh: “Aventurine” (Biophilia Records)

    Ben Monder: “Day After Day” (Sunnyside Records)

    Denny Zeitlin: “Remembering Miles” (Sunnyside Records)

    Sarah Gazarek : Thirsty Ghost” ( Self-Produced)

    Pat Bianchi: “In the Moment” (Savant Records)

    Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband: “Tor & Vale” (Moon June Records)

    Dave Bass: “No Boundaries” (Whaling City Sound)

    Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: “The Hope I Hold” (Greenleaf Music)

    Jim Robitaille Group: “A View from Within” (Whaling City Sound)

    Amendola Vs Blades: “Everybody Wins” (Royal Potato Family)

    Typical Sisters: “Hungry Ghost” (Outside Music)

    Alicia Olatuja: “Intuition Songs from The Minds of Women” (Resilience Music)

    Peter Hand Big Band: ”Hand Painted Dream” (Savant Records)

    Hendrik Meurkens: “Cobb’s Pocket” (In+Out Records)

    Lynne Arriale Trio: “Give Us These Days” ( Challenge Records)

    Marc Copland: ”And I Love Her” (Illussions/Mirage)

    Herlin Riley: “Personal Optimism” (Mack Avenue Records)

    Mark Winkler: “I’m With You: Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troupe” (Café Pacific Records)

    Roberto Magris Sextet featuring Ira Sullivan: “Sun Stone” (JMood Records)

    Yotam Silverstein: Future Memories” (Jazz & People Records)

    Mark Turner: Mark Turner meets Gary Foster” (ECM)

    Laura Antonioli: ‘The Constant Passage of Time” (Origins Music)

    Dave Wilson Quartet: “One Night at Chris’” (Dave Wilson Music)

    Michael Dease: “Never More Here” (Positone Records)

    Robben Ford & Bill Evans: “The Sun Room” (EAR Music)

    Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway” (IPO Records)

    Best Debut Album:

    Teymur Phell: “Master Volume” (Self-produced)

    Best Historical Albums:

    Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet” (Resonance)

    Louis Armstrong “Live in Europe” (DotTime Records)

    Johnny Griffin/Eddie Lockjaw Davis: “Ow! Live at the Penthouse” (Reel to Reel)
    Bill Evans: “Evans in England” (Resonance)


  • 05 Dec 2019 1:27 PM | Ken Franckling

    The 10 best new jazz releases of 2019

    1. Tierney Sutton Band, ScreenPlay (BFM)
    2. Something Blue, Maximum Enjoyment (Posi-Tone)
    3. Tom Harrell, Infinity (HighNote)
    4. Charlie Dennard, Deep Blue (Deneaux)
    5. Akiko Tsuroga, Jeff Hamilton and Graham Dechter, Equal Time (Capri)
    6. Lisa Hilton, Oasis (Ruby Slippers)
    7. Brandon Goldberg, Let’s Play! (independent)
    8. Dave Zinno Unisphere, Stories Told (Whaling City Sound)
    9. Five Play, Live From the Firehouse Stage (5Play)
    10. James Suggs, You’re Gonna Hear From Me (Arbors)

    2019’s best vocal recordings:

    1. Tierney Sutton Band, ScreenPlay (BFM)
    2. Laurie Antonioli, The Constant Passage of Time (Origin)
    3. Nancy Kelly, Remembering Mark Murphy (SubCat)
    4. Nora York with Jamie Lawrence, Swoon (Good Mood)
    5. Polly Gibbons, All I Can Do (Resonance)

     The best historical/reissues of 2019 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):

    1. Cannonball Adderley, Swingin’ in Seattle, Live at the Penthouse 1966-67 (Reel to Real)
    2. Michel Petrucciani Trio, One Night in Karlsruhe (SWR Jazzhaus)
    3. Betty Carter, The Music Never Stops (Blue Engine)
    4. John Coltrane, Blue World (Impulse!)
    5. Miles Davis, The Complete Birth of the Cool (Blue Note/Ume)

     2019’s top debut recording:

    • Brandon Goldberg, Let’s Play! (independent)

     2019’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

    1. Señor Groove, Little Havana (Zoho)
    2. Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme (Linus)
    3. Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, The Rhythm of Invention (Patois)
    4. David Sanchez, Carib (Ropeadope/Malaza)
    5. Antonio Adolfo, Samba Jazz Alley (AAM), Steve Khan Patchwork (Tone Center)

    The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2019, listed alphabetically:

    • Dave Bass, “Agenbite of Inwit” from No Boundaries (Whaling City Sound)
    • Polly Gibbons and James Pearson, “If You Had the Chance” from All I Can Do (Resonance)
    • Miho Hazama, “Somnambulent” from Dancer in Nowhere (Sunnyside)
    • Clifford Lamb, “Blues & Hues” from Blues & Hues (Weberworks)
    • Bevan Manson, Cecily Gardner and Tierney Sutton, “Caramel” from Bevan Manson, The Jazz Cave (Meistero)
    • Bennett Paster, “Belgrade Booty Call” from Indivisible (self-produced)
    • Michael Thomas, “Without Doubt” from Terraza Big Band, One Day Wonder (Outside In)
    • Akiko Tsuruga, “Osaka Samba” from Akiko, Hamilton and Dechter, Equal Time (Capri)
    • Mike Tucker, “Requiem” from Dave Zinno Unisphere, Stories Told (Whaling City Sound)
    • Noriko Ueda, “Uneven Pieces” from Five Play, Live From the Firehouse Stage (5Play)
  • 02 Dec 2019 3:47 PM | James Hale

    Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic)

    Louis Sclavis: Characters On A Wall (ECM)

    Julia Hülsmann Quartet: Not Far From Here (ECM)

    Keith Jarrett: Munich 2016 (ECM)

    The Bad Plus: Activate Infinity (Edition)

    Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel (Nonesuch)

    Chick Corea: Trilogy 2 (Concord)

    Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music Of Ismael Rivera (Miel)

    Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet:WHENUFINDITUWILLKNOW (Golden)

    Santana: Africa Speaks (Concord)


  • 01 Dec 2019 3:21 PM | Howard Mandel (Administrator)

    11 albums I've liked most in 2019 - descending order

    1. Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic Records), Kris Davis

    2. Transcending Toxic Times (Ropeadope Record), The Last Poets

    3. We Are On The Edge (Pi), Art Ensemble of Chicago

    4. The Terror End of Beauty (Sunnyside), Harriet Tubman

    5. Love and Liberation (Concord), Jazzmeia Horne

    6. Simone Zanchini Play the Music of Nino Rota (In + Out Records), Simone Zanchini & Frankfurt Radio Big Band conducted by David Grottschreiber

    7. The Ambiguity Manifesto (Firehouse 12 Records), Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette

    8. Too Hot for Words (Delmark), Metropolitan Jazz Octet with Dee Alexander

    9. Live at Montmarte (Storyville), Ronnie Cuber

    10. Trane's Delight (Concord Piquante), Poncho Sanchez

    11. On Firm Ground (Linus), Jane Bunnette and Maqueque

    I can't stop listening to Diatom Ribbons, which has so many different approaches, levels, edges, moods, multiplicities of interactions, considerations and sheer sounds, exciting solos that keep their kicks even on repeat, and great rhythms! Rhythmic propulsion also imbues Jamalaadeen Tacuma's fantastic and variegated production of Transcending Toxic Times for The Last Poets, whose messages are as immediate and urgent as ever – but since it's the album not as "singing" I'm hearing, this isn't my "best vocal album" that Jazzmeia Horn's Love and Liberation strikes me as being, further demonstration of hot talent and love of music making.

    Then there's Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty. Magnificent, hard rockin,' deep trolling way out black music. And the Art Ensemble of Chicago's We Are On The Edge brings the band's ethos into the 21st century with an expanded pallet that beguiles, mystifies, moves. 

    For something utterly different check out the amazing accordionist Simone Zanchini improvising madly on Nino Rota themes with the Frankfort Jazz Big Band (true confession, I wrote the liner notes, am proud of them and believe this music is well-worth the recommendation). Taylor Ho Bynum's 9-tette declaring The Ambiguity Manifesto I find very companionable and fresh, abstract but taking me along for the ride. Dee Alexander shines (as always) singing rare and often upbeat Billie Holiday songs on Too Hot for Words, to fine "little big band" arrangements. Ronnie Cuber doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for his big bold baritone saxophonics – the program Live at Montmarte with organist Kield Lauritsen's trio is thick and fast, real jazz. Two great Latin jazz albums --  gotta give it up to Pancho Sanchez for Trane's Delight from the core of the subgenre impulse, and Jane Bunnett with Maqueque On Firm Ground -- a party sparked by young women of Cuba. 

    • Reissues or Historical albums listed in descending order

    1. The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles (ECM). 21 albums by AACM standard bearers – besides the AEC, Roscoe Mitchell and Lester Bowie's separate projects, and Wadada Leo Smith's Jack DeJohnette's – as produced by Manfred Eicher.

    2. Nat King Cole Hittin' The Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) (Resonance). Fantastic 182 tracks, unavailable for decades, charting the rise of the finest mid-century male jazz vocalist, better swinging than Bing, more mellifluous than Pops, more charming than Sinatra, a model for all to come. . ..

    3. Been There, Done That - Ben Sidran (Sunset Blvd Records) A canny songwriter, hip wit, smart bandleader, cool pianist, and worthy heir of an American heritage.

    • Best Debut albums

    Ephemeral Certainties (Delmark), Javier Red. Distinctive pianism, knotty quartet.

    Clockwise (Pi), Anna Weber. Orchestrated and improvised synchronized minimalism.

    And of course there are many more . . .

© Jazz Journalists Association
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software