Best of October 

The month of October was, in my opinion, the best month of jazz music we’ve gotten all year. Several releases were worthy of being labeled as album of the month. I had more trouble picking the top releases for October than I had for any other month. So let’s get right into it. Here are the best albums for the month of October. 

Lara Downes: America Again 

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After much debating I came to the conclusion that Lara Downes released the finest work of the month. This solo piano masterpiece was some of the most virtuosic, inspiring, and uplifting music I’ve listened to all year. Even though I play the piano, I am usually disinterested in solo piano recordings. Usually after a track or two I feel like I’ve gotten all I can get out of the recording. Lara Downes goes through the history of American music on this recording. She does so by writing this music inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again”. This music was always changing, always keeping the listener intellectually and emotionally invested. This is a must own recording, can’t recommend it enough. Only have time for one tune? Try “24 Negro Melodies, Op.59: No. 10 Deep River”. 

Donny McCaslin: Beyond Now 

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Liked, loved, or even thought about listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar? Then this album is a must listen? Any other month this would have easily been the best release. The only issues this album has is if you are a bit conservative/ not a fan of jazz music that pushes past traditional swing, I can see this being less enjoyable for such a person. For everyone else though this is a top album. Recommend the opening track “Shake Loose” put on a good pair of headphones and check out the transition at the 3:50 mark. 

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque : Oddara 

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Bunnett, a Canadian soprano saxophonist and flautist collaborates again with Maqueque for their sophomore releases. This All-Female Cuban sextet helps creates a beautiful and cohesive record. Different tunes have different instruments/voices in the forefront adding to the intrigue. No two songs sound the same, and the energy and chemistry this group has together is to be admired. Hard to pick out a standout tune since I love them all so much, but try “Tres Golpes- Pa Eleggua” .

BEST OF THE REST

Takuya Kuroda: Zigzagger 

Taylor Ho Bynum: Enter The Planet 

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