1-10 Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth Young Turks Every track is like an album. Leading the Afrofuturist trend however paradoxically Kamasi also increases our appetites for the 1970s. Jakob Bro Returnings ECM Two albums this year from the talented Dane. A spatial wonderland. Dave Holland/Evan Parker/Craig Taborn/Ches Smith Uncharted Territories Dare2 Improv supergroup. A challenging listen of rugged interplay and perception. Kandace Springs Indigo Blue Note Inspired covers and incredible songcraft from a singer who has superstar written all over her. Kit Downes Obsidian ECM Imaginatively rewriting the case for improvising on an organ. Utterly unique. Julian Siegel Quartet Vista Whirlwind Making post-bop that bit more relevant. Jeff Williams Lifelike Whirlwind New Cool mastery, ideas and texture to the fore. Joshua Redman Still Dreaming Nonesuch Songs for his father, a gift to us all. Redman goes back to the future and forward to the past. Sons of Kemet Your Queen is a Reptile Impulse! All conquering: tub-thumping and tuba togetherness as you never heard it before. Martin Speake Intention Ubuntu With input from Ethan Iverson the altoist responds to produce his most mature work to date.
11-20 Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco You’re Driving Me Crazy Exile Van’s most accomplished jazz flavoured album to date supported by a lively band. Keith Jarrett Standards Trio After the Fall ECM Peerless trio still astound. Linley Hamilton Making Other Arrangements Teddy D Belfast trumpeter Hamilton moves to a new level. Anthony Joseph People of the Sun Heavenly Sweetness A successful Trinidadian homage with firm support from Jason Yarde. Mark Turner/Ethan Iverson Temporary Kings ECM Intimate and severe, serene and elegant the sax piano pairing that punches above its weight. Miles Okazaki Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk milesokazaki.com A stupendous achievement that reinvents Monk for guitar. Janne Mark with Arve Henriksen Pilgrim ACT Numinous hymnal surprise of the year from a talented singer with a unique timbre. Terence Blanchard Live (Featuring The E-Collective) Blue Note More jazz-rock than ever Blanchard never rests on his laurels. The Stanley Clarke Band The Message Mack Avenue A groove masterclass, Clarke’s best album in years Steve Coleman and the Five Elements Live at the Village Vanguard Pi Less oblique than usual and all the better for it: top live album of the year from the MBASE pioneer.
21-30 Justin Brown NYEUSI Biophilia Afrofuturist beat science breakthrough. John Zorn Insurrection Tzadik Making no compromises, formidable composition. Emile Parisien Sfumato ACT Full of joie de vivre and a pulsing sense of wonder. Tim Garland Weather Walker Edition Brit tenorist shows again that he is world class. Tia Fuller Diamond Cut Mack Avenue Inspirational bop. Matthew Shipp Zero ESP-Disk High wire act pianism. Bobo Stenson Trio Contra la Indecisión ECM Metaphysical moods by a Swedish icon. Eric Harland Voyager 13th Floor GSI Big themes, grooves going places. Tord Gustavsen Trio The Other Side ECM The quiet trio whose sound always compels attention. Sara Colman What We’re Made Of Stoney Lane Moving songs and vivid breakthrough vocals.
31-40 Lorraine Baker Eden Spark Newcomer of the year delivers on an Ed Blackwell homage. Harriet Tubman The Terror End of Beauty Sunnyside Finding plenty of new things to say via jazz-rock and the electric blues. Andrew Cyrille / Wadada Leo Smith / Bill Frisell Lebroba ECM Summit meeting art of the improvisers. Steve Kuhn Trio Piano Images Sunnyside Melodic, inspired, impressionism from the ex-Coltrane pianist. Christian McBride Christian McBride’s New Jawn Mack Avenue Philadelphia inspires the great bassist. Kenny Werner The Space Pirouet Solo piano joy from an influential figure. Phronesis We Are All Edition The writing gets better and better. GoGo Penguin A Humdrum Star Blue Note Fusing electronica and jazz in a uniquely exhilarating blend. Antonio Sánchez and Migration Lines in the Sand CAM Jazz Birdman composer urges on his band to new heights. Marc Cary Solo in Prague marccary.com Prodigious command of the solo piano canvas
41-50 Binker and Moses Alive in the East! Gearbox Expanding the band, deepening the core approach. Ant Law Life I Know Edition Sinuous guitarism cuts into avant post-bop until it bleeds. Makaya McCraven Universal Beings International Anthem Drawing a new generation of fans in via great ideas. Kenny Barron Concentric Circles Blue Note Heartland pianism that never takes any short cuts. Aaron Goldberg At the Edge of the World Sunnyside On ‘Poinciana’ and more Goldberg continues to astonish. Don Byron and Aruán Ortiz Random Dances and (A)tonalities Intakt Furious, feverish blend that rewrites the clarinet and AfroCuban rulebook. Nicole Mitchell Maroon Cloud FPE Records Painting an avant hippie spell like no other. Tyshawn Sorey Pillars Firehouse 12 Composition is first and foremost the Sorey appeal. Dinosaur Wonder Trail Edition Laura Jurd continues her remarkable ascent. Raymond MacDonald and Marilyn Crispell Songs Along the Way Babel Playing bond deepens in remarkable duoplay.
Spirited Gershwin treatment in intimate setting
Classical fans, jazz fans: who will be first in the queue? Maybe they will arrive together abreast. Ninety years since Gershwin’s An American In Paris, this is rather lovely and yes a “classical” take by jazz pianist Enrico Pieranunzi who knows how to inject the timeless selections artfully arranged with just the right kind of feeling and nuance. Along with his violinist brother Gabriele and clarinettist Gabriele Mirabassi these are spirited and vivacious excursions. The trio strip their selections down to their essence in a superbly produced album just released recorded in Italy during the late winter of 2017.