With a little over half the year done I thought this would be a good moment to reflect on the best albums we’ve had in 2016. I’ve never been more prepared to answer this question than I am this year. By consistently doing a Best of the Month post I’ve stayed more in the now with current jazz releases than ever before. So far this year I’ve had 16 albums included in the Best Of series. I’ve taken the cream of the crop and a couple of albums that either slipped by me or slowly grew on me and ended up with 8 Best albums of the year so far and an honorable mentions section. I didn’t want to rank them against one another so I just put them in alphabetical order.
Omer Avital: Abtul Music My selection for the best album for March still holds up. The Israeli- American bassists continues to make a impression on the jazz community in New York and beyond.
Kenny Baron: Book of Intuition The legendary Jazz pianist shows us why he’s one of the greatest musicians alive. This March release is an example of a piano trio playing at the highest level possible.
Joe Lovano: Classic! Live @ Newport This late July release was made from Joe Lovano’s 2005 Newport Jazz Festival performance. Despite being one of the most highly regarded saxophonist, I still think Lovano is underrated. This album is one of his finest works and a candidate for album of the year.
Kenny Garett: Do Your Dance! Another July release. I’ve only done a couple listenings if this album, but I new before I even finished BACKYARD GROOVE that this album would be on the list. The album is well balanced and well written. Not only is the music fantastic, but it’s a cohesive piece of work. I’m sure it will stand the test of time and it’s one of the brighter spots in 2016.
Sonny Rollins: Holdin the Stage Sonny Rollins has released some of the greatest jazz music to ever grace the earth. And even at the age of 85, when he gets into a groove, he can play as well as anyone out right now. This live album demonstrates just that. One of the best albums to be release in April and one of the best albums to be release this year.
Arnan Raz: Second to the Left A January release, I really enjoyed this album, the compositions are beautiful. I especially love arrangement of “Mykonos”.
Hiromi: Spark This album not only one of the best releases of the year, it might be The Album Of The Year. It’s so energetic and powerful, it never lets up. Hiromi is out to prove she is one of the world’s best composers, improvisers, and pianists.
Marquis Hill: The Way We Play In the past couple of years Marquis Hill has exploded in the jazz world. He has been a staple in the jazz community in Chicago for several years, but since winning the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition the entire world has taken notice. His latest release THE WAY WE PLAY is a phenomenal blend of bebop, fusion, and some hip hop grooves. Brilliant sign of where jazz is and where it’s going.
I’ve been trying my best to keep up with all the jazz music that’s been released this year. Still, I’ve missed some albums along the way and others I’ve slowly grown to like. So here are some albums I consider worth listening to that didn’t make the top of this list.
YELLOW JACKETS: COHERENCE
WARREN WOLF: CONVERGENCE
VICTOR GOULD: CLOCKWORK
LOGAN RICHARDSON: SHIFT