I will be updating my pick of the year so far soon to add Carib. It is one of those albums where everything just gels.

To be frank I had forgotten about Sánchez in recent years. I used to like his gutsy, powerful, natural sound a lot in the 1990s and interviewed him once for a long forgotten magazine called Jazz on CD.

Somehow however contemporaries like Danilo Pérez have become much higher profile. The Puerto Rican taps his homeland and Haiti for inspiration that connects with his 1990s self on albums like The Departure. Sánchez also manages to make the connection between the Caribbean and the US a seamless one, Dizzy Gillespie knew how to do that years ago and that style still makes sense.

The album has its poignancy. Sánchez says: “This album is in memory of my father, Dimas and especially, my late wife Karla. After a great deal of research and listening to Haitian music, Karla encouraged and helped me take a trip to Haiti. It was an incredible and intense experience, seeing everyday people’s struggles. She felt like it was important that I had this direct contact with Haitian culture. I feel like this recording wouldn’t have bee possible without her wisdom, sensibility and love. Even if she wasn’t physically around when I was in the studio, she was constantly present in many different forms and definitely a key component of this album’s vibe.”

Check Carib out above: drummer Obed Calvaire, guitarist Lage Lund, bassist Ricky Rodriguez, and pianist Luis Perdomo who plays the Fender Rhodes on just under half the 11 tracks join the saxist. It is simply a thrill. SG

It is quite preposterous really how much pitch bending courtesy of guitarist Mark Wingfield is going on here... and it is also quite staggering how much empathy and sheer power he and long time Billy Cobham and John McLaughlin keyboardist Gary Husband generate. Tor & Vale is out next month and going by the generous example of the lead-off tracks will make the jazz-rock & prog fan in your life inordinately happy.

Dedicated to Umberto Eco, a friend of accordionist Gianni Coscia, Eco’s 2004 novel The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana inspired reedist Trovesi and Coscia on this new record to be released by ECM on 21 June. Listen to New Orleans classic ‘Basin Street Blues’ above. 

Radically different from any album you will hear on current release This Land Abounds With Life (Biophilia) is essentially a piano trio album but you hardly realise. Pianist Fabian Almazan with his wife Linda May Han Oh (acoustic/electric bass) and Henry Cole (drums) shape a strong Cuban theme, and there is a certain power and widescreen compositional vision (a little birdsong too!) that make this stand out. It avoids trio clichés and has a strong percussive fix that contributes to the wealth of ideas on the album. Almazan is an extraordinary pianist and this album underlines that fact once again.