Jazz Loop Says Goodbye

Since 2013 I’ve been writing here on the Jazz Loop. I started this blog so I could be a more diverse, intelligent jazz musician, and fan. I wanted to also continue to work on my writing skills. Being a musician it’s very easy to become a one dimensional human so by writing about jazz I felt I could work on a aspect of my humanity that wasn’t strictly music and make it a part of my musicianship. I feel I accomplished this.

The community I’ve built, the reactions I’ve gotten from my peers, my idols, and musicians around the world is one of my biggest accomplishments in my life. Still, it’s time to say goodbye.

I have very mixed feelings about ending the Jazz Loop. This past year I’ve got more views and interactions from people than all other years combined. It’s hard to walk away from something that is growing at such a fast rate, but I know in my heart it’s what I need to do.

I never did this to be a writer. I did this to contribute to the culture. I’m at a point now where (thankfully) my music career is ramping up in work and with so many students, musical projects, and practicing I feel that if I keep trying to write consistently on The Jazz Loop I’ll be wearing myself thin.

So I’m quitting while I’m ahead. Rather than struggle for a few months trying to do something I know I can’t I’m moving on and saying goodbye.

The site will stay up and I will do my best to make sure it’s never taken down. There are so many posts that are up here that people can get value from such as my Chicago Spotlight, Best Of Year lists, album reviews, and First Listens. Hopefully people will continue to support and share what I have archived.

This is goodbye for now, but maybe not forever. I will still be doing writing on my personal site here. I will be posting updates on my latest projects and maybe a couple of Jazz Loop esque articles if they are appropriate. Also I’m on Medium which you can check out here. On Medium I will be sharing the non music aspects of my life.

So if you like my writing there will be new things to read and if you like my music this year will be my biggest yet. So as the Jazz Loop says goodbye I just want to say Thank you for your time, take care, and, as always, Thank you for staying in The Jazz Loop.

Best Jazz Albums of The Year 2018

It’s that time of year again! Time to discuss what our favorite albums of 2017 were. My list is in no particular order, but I did put my top album of the year at the top. Let’s get into the list.

Billy Childs- Rebirth


This album shocked me. The more I listened to it the more I liked it. After a few recent listens this album went from a middle of the pack mention to my favorite album of the year. Songs like “The Starry Night”, “Backwards Bop”, and “Stay” are the reason why,  “Stay” is just a hauntingly beautiful piano intro and when the vocals come in, it stabs you in the heart.


Charles Lloyd New Quartet: Passin’ Thru 


Amazing that this album consists of live recordings only. This is some top notch traditional jazz music. Only 7 tracks, but over an hour long this is sure to be an album I’ve been going back to it throughout the year.
John Pizzarelli: Sinatra and Jobim @ 50


Fantastic jazz album from the Guitarist and vocalist. You hear his authenticity and passion for this music on this record. I highly recommend this album for anyone who is even remotely interested in Sinatra or Jobim. I find his singing/ humming charming while he solos though I’m sure it will annoy others. Love the track “Agua de Beber”.


Jacopo Ferrazza Trio – Rebirth 


I absolutely adored this album. I really loved the title track “Rebirth”  and thought the arrangements and melodies were beautiful on this album. This was my favorite album of the year at the midway point, but to my surprise it no longer is. Time made me change my mind, but this is still a great album.


Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau – Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau 


Fantastic duo record, great communication and improvisation taking place here. One of my favorite tunes is “Scarlet Town”. Great combination of Americana and Jazz. This list is no no particular order, but if I ranked all the albums this would be a top 10 top 5 for sure.


Kneebody- Antihero 


Hard hitting mix of jazz, fusion, rock, and everything in between. “For the Fallen” really sets the tone for this album and the title track “Anti-Hero” is one of my favorite tunes this year. Great music for working out to or starting the weekend.


Diego Barber- One Minute Later 


I didn’t know anything about Diego Barber prior to this album, but he has my attention now. As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of jazz guitar, but here Diego Barber is nothing short of magnificent. Fantastic melodic development and solos that have direction and not just endless noodling. Highly recommend checking this one out. “Atlas” is a highlight for me.


Mark De Clive – Live At The Blue Whale EP


Okay, so technically an EP and not an album, but this just connected with me so strongly that I had to include it. Listen to the opening track “Evergreen” and see if you agree with me.


Nate Smith- KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere


While these albums are in no particular order I will say that this one was very close to being my favorite of the year so far. The compositions are beautiful, Nate Smith’s drumming is so refreshing, and the heartfelt meaning and overall concept for the album is well put together. I love “Mom: Postcards From Detroit/Floyd/Salem” and “Retold” being played back to back.


Marialy Pacheco: Duets


This album grooves so hard. The best interaction between two musicians I’ve heard all year. Nothing else to say. Go listen to it today.


Anat Cohen & Marcello Gonclaves- Outra Coisa 


Love me some Anat Cohen! This album features the music of Moacir Santos and is another fantastic duo record for 2017.

Continue reading “Best Jazz Albums of The Year 2018”

First Listen:Charles Mingus The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Last week I did a First Listen of The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Below I have my tweets from the experience.

So how has my opinion grown now that I’ve had a week to listen to the album? Well I’m loving it even more so. This is undoubtedly a classic. It has so much to process right away that it was hard to live tweet it in an intelligent way. This is one of the best listening experience I’ve had with a recording. The quality of the music, having to quickly talk about it, and how focused I was during the experience, I highly recommend listening to this album and doing nothing else especially the first time through.

I’ve always known Mingus was a great composer, I still go back to “Ah Um” regularly, but this album surpasses it in virtually every way and being only 40 minutes long it’s hard to find any cons or reasons to not listen to this album. So if you haven’t done so, listen to it today! You won’t be disappointed.

Best of November

The year may be winding down, but some great albums are still coming out. So without further ado let’s get into the list of the best jazz albums released in November.

Aki Rissasen : Another North


A fantastic record and my favorite album to be released this month. The rhythmic grooves and overall energy reminds of Avashai Cohen’s Continuo. Can’t recommend this one enough.

Django Bates Beloved : The Study of Touch


Just a beautiful Jazz trio record. Some of my favorite songs are “The Study of Touch” and “Little Petherick” if you like piano music this album is for you. Another great ECM release and know it’s available everywhere.

Maciej Obara Quartet: Unloved


The best part of this album in my opinion is the compositions. “Ula” is suck a beautiful record, it’s a perfect way to start an album. Very well paced. “Sleep Walker” is another personal favorite of mine I love the beginning where the drum pattern and piano start everything off and the sax just comes in and dominates the song with its presence. Another ECM release that’s a highlight for the month of November.

Best Of The Rest

Oliver Bogé: When Ghosts Were Young

Eric Hofbauer Quintet: Prehistoric Jazz Vol.4

Trebuchet: Made To Break

Grammy Nominations 2018


The Grammy nominations were just released last week and I wanted to talk about the nominations for the Jazz categories.

Improvised Jazz solo:

  • “Can’t Remember Why” — Sara Caswell, soloist
  • “Dance of Shiva” — Billy Childs, soloist
  • “Whisper Not” — Fred Hersch, soloist
  • “Miles Beyond” — John McLaughlin, soloist
  • “Ilimba” — Chris Potter, soloist

I feel this category is so impossible to get right. With so many songs and so many solos it’s hard to judge them all and curate the best. Overall I don’t have an issue with any of the nominations it’s just such a hard thing to figure out.


Jazz Vocal Album:

  • “The Journey” — The Baylor Project
  • “A Social Call” — Jazzmeia Horn
  • “Bad Ass and Blind” — Raul Midón
  • “Porter Plays Porter” — Randy Porter Trio With Nancy King
  • “Dreams and Daggers” — Cécile McLorin Salvant

I’m not the biggest Jazz Vocal aficionado, but I did enjoy Porter Plays Porter and Dreams and Daggers. I think Cecile McLorin Salvant should win.


Jazz Instrumental Album:

  • “Uptown, Downtown” — Bill Charlap Trio
  • “Rebirth” — Billy Childs
  • “Project Freedom” — Joey DeFrancesco & the People
  • “Open Book” — Fred Hersch
  • “The Dreamer Is the Dream” — Chris Potter

I love all of these albums. Each one was a highlight on the months they were released  and Rebirth and The Dream Is the Dream made by best of the year so far post.


Large Jazz Ensemble:

  • “MONK’estra Vol. 2” — John Beasley
  • “Jigsaw” — Alan Ferber Big Band
  • “Bringin’ It” — Christian McBride Big Band
  • “Homecoming” — Vince Mendoza & WDR Big Band Cologne
  • “Whispers on the Wind” — Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge

Don’t think there were any snubs on this list. For me it’s between MONK’estra Vol. 2 or Bringin’ It.


Latin Jazz Album:

  • “Hybrido — From Rio to Wayne Shorter” — Antonio Adolfo
  • “Oddara” — Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
  • “Outra Coisa — The Music of Moacir Santos” — Anat Cohen & Marcello Gonçalves
  • “Típico” — Miguel Zenón
  • “Jazz Tango” — Pablo Ziegler Trio

Again my knowledge of Latin Jazz is good, but can improve. I really like Outra Coisa by Anat Cohen & Marcello Gonclaves. I hope they win.


I think the nominations this year were pretty good I’m looking forward to seeing who will take home the Grammy on January 28th. Below I’ve attached the La Times article which has all the Grammy nominations listed.


Best of October

October had some really strong releases. Below I briefly discuss a few of my personal favorites.

Blue Maqams : Anouar Brahem


This album is a monster. Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Django Bates, and Anouar Brahem this is a super group of musicians. Some beautiful originals are found on here. The music is truly challenging and inspiring. Check out tracks like “Bahia” and “Bom Dia Rio” to see what I mean. Another fantastic release from the ECM label and my favorite album of the month.


Gregory Porter: Nate King Cole and Me


I’ve been a of Gregory Porter for a few years now. I also had the pleasure of listening to him live at the CSO a couple years back. He has a powerful voice, and some great gospels influenced jazz music.I really enjoyed listening to this album. Check out “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas”, “When Love was King”, and “Nature Boy”.


Dave Douglas: Little Giant Still Life


Fantastic album from the jazz trumpeter. It’s a very high energy and cheerful record. Fantastic grooves, and it never bores. This is some of the best rhythmic interaction within a group that I’ve heard all year. My only issue/ thing you need to consider is that you can’t stream the album anywhere. You gotta pay for this one, but trust me you’ll be glad you did.


That concludes the month of October. What albums do you think should’ve made the list? What albums are you looking forward to before 2017 comes to a close? Comment below and let me know.

Top Jazz Pianists You Should Be Listening To

I’ve wanted to do a list of the top jazz pianists for a while now. As a jazz pianists myself I’m always looking for new music from others pianists to inspire me. This list will only pertain to current pianist still alive and active in music. So hear is my list of top jazz pianists you should be listening to now.

Bill Charlap


I’m fairly new to Bill Charlap’s Music but I’ve been into his music for the last 2 years and I’ve loved everything I’ve heard. A great example of some refreshing classic jazz. Check out his album Notes From New York if you don’t believe me.


One of my favorite album from last year was Spark. I love Hiromi’s compositions, solos, and overall energy she brings to each project she does. Can’t recommend her music enough.
Brad Mehldau


A true professional pianist. Nothing else to say. Brad Mehldau is a must listen to and a must see if he’s in your town.
Tarek Yamani 


Just started listening to Peninsular and I’m loving it. Can’t wait to dig into Yamani’s back catalog. I love this album and this pianist is a must listen to.
Vijay Iyer  


A living legend and just an absolute monster on the Keys. Every album of his I love and his latest album Accelerando is no exception.

Craig Taborn 


Loved Daylight Ghosts when it came out and I still love it now. Can’t wait to see what Taborn does next.
Gonzalo Rubalacaba 


Just started listening to his music recently and I’m loving it. Recent release Minione is a must listen. One of the highlights of 2017.
Lara Downes


My favorite album of last year came from Lara Downes. Her album America Again was a beautiful and powerful record. Can’t wait to hear more music from her in the future and will be digging into her back catalog in the meantime.

Living Legends 

Here are the jazz pianists who are living legends. I almost didn’t include these name because I figured everyone would already know them, but hey you never know. So yeah if you haven’t listened to these musicians yet. Do so immediately.
Ahmad Jamal 

Herbie Hancock 

Keith Jarrett

Cecil Taylor 

Kenny Baron 
This is not a definitive list of jazz pianist, this is not a ranking of the top jazz pianist alive. This is just a list of some of the top jazz pianist I feel everyone should be listening to. Many other pianist who are more than qualified didn’t make the list, these are just some of my favorites and it hopefully inspires you to think of your favorite jazz pianist. What pianist would make your list? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to add more pianist to my list!

First Listen: Blue Mitchell Boss Horn

Last week I did a First Listen of Boss Horn and live tweeted the experience. Today I’d like to share my thoughts on the album a week later, but first let’s look at some of my initial reactions to the album. 

So a week later has anything changed? Not really. I do enjoy the record more now than I did on the First Listen, but my overall positive experience listening to this album has only increased. If you are pressed for time I recommend listening to “O Mama Enit” and “Tones for Joan’s Bones” to see if you’d like this album. Though, if you are already a fan of jazz music I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like this album. 
That’s all folks! The next First Listen will be on November 7th. The album? I’m not sure yet, but follow me on twitter @edwingarcia88a couple days before and on the day of to be part of the experience. 

Best of September 

Let’s get right into it. Here are the best albums of September.
Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers 

I love all of Salvant’s music and this album is no exception. This is a phenomenal double disc of live music. This album has notable tracks like “Devil May Care, Never Will I Marry, and My Man’s Gone”. This might be my favorite Salvant album and definitely my favorite of September and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting It throughout the year.
Christian McBride Big Band: Bringin’ It 

I’m not the biggest Big Band music fan, but Christian McBride Big Band always brings it. This album has some great arrangements. I especially enjoyed “I Thought About You and In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning”. The more I listen to this album the more I want to hear it. It’s a must buy.
Bill Charlap Trio Uptown Downtown


A couple years ago I discovered Bill Charlap’s music and I’ve been hooked ever since. This is classic piano trio music so if you dig that you’ll be right at home with this one. I especially enjoyed tracks “Satellite, and Sophisticated Lady”.
That’s all for this month. Any albums you felt I overlooked? Do you have a different favorite album for September? Let me know in the comments below.

The Shape of Jazz to Come 

Where is Jazz going? Will it’s popularity increase in the coming years? What will the music sound like over the next decade and beyond? As a musician and a fan of the art form these are questions I’ve been asking myself, and while  I certainly don’t have the answers I’d like to share my thought on the possibilities for the genre moving forward.


Jazz is going nowhere 

One thing jazz music has done better than other genres is adapt. As a whole the jazz community is very open to shifting in a different direction. We went from swing, to bebop, to fusion, to hip hop and I’ll think we’ll continue to do so. Other genres have changed but they feel more stuck in their ways. Rock comes to my mind as being a culprit of this. It feels like even when innovation is occurring it’s a smaller group and the majority of the group doesn’t embrace it. Yes Jazz has it’s cranky fans who just want to hear some Bird, but the majority are willing to branch out and that keeps Jazz alive and fresh.
Jazz will remain as “popular” as it is

Because Jazz music is being constantly innovated I think it will stay in its same “popularity” it has now. It will remain respected among musicians and have a hardcore audience that loves it. I like what I’m seeing from artists who are willing to collaborate with other more popular artists and genres. Like Robert Glasper playing with Common, Tony  Bennett with Gaga, and Esperanza Spalding playing music that’s closer to rock.  Universities also help. With Jazz music essentially being a requirement for most universities it fosters more artists and it kind of gives the genre more credibility. If it wasn’t for universities and high schools I think Big Band music would’ve died long ago.

Hip hop will take over


I think jazz music will sound more and more like hip hop music in the coming years. Many jazz musicians worked on Common’s latest album, same with Kendrick Lamar’s Too Pimp A Butterfly and albums from Robert Glasper and Terrance Martin have so much hip hop music in them that you can even make an argument it’s an even split of jazz and hip hop. I believe the upcoming generation will do even more of this and you’ll be hearing this fusion of genres from the most popular jazz artists from now on.
What predictions do you have for jazz music? How popular will the genre be in the next ten years? What will it sound like? Let me know in the comments below and let’s continue the discussion.