AllMusic 2016 Year In Review

Favorite Jazz Albums -

 The year's finest jazz albums included an innovative concept album from Wilco's Nels Cline, a collection of improvised solo albums by Keith Jarrett and the final homecoming performance by the late Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi.
Otis Was a Polar Bear

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom / Allison Miller

Otis Was a Polar Bear

The third album of highly creative jazz from drummer Allison Miller's all-star ensemble.

Sunkissed

Ashleigh Smith

Sunkissed

The '70s soul- and contemporary R&B-inflected debut album from the winner of the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

Into the Silence

Avishai Cohen

Into the Silence

Ruminative, bittersweet ECM debut from the jazz trumpeter recorded in the wake of his father's death.

IV

BadBadNotGood

IV

On its fourth album, the Canadian jazz group greatly expands its sound with new influences and several guest artists.

Nearness

Brad Mehldau / Joshua Redman

Nearness

An engaging album of live performances from the jazz duo, culled from their 2011 European tour.

Andando el Tiempo

Carla Bley / Andy Sheppard / Steve Swallow

Andando el Tiempo

The third album of gorgeously rendered, classically influenced jazz from the trio.

Time/Life (Song for the Whales and Other Beings)

Charlie Haden / Charlie Haden & the Liberation Music Orchestra

Time/Life (Song for the Whales and Other Beings)

A gorgeous, elegiac album from Haden's long-running, socially minded big band with pianist Carla Bley.

Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth

Charlie Hunter

Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth

The guitarist and his quartet extrapolate on the blues and vintage R&B on this set cut live in the studio.

Natural Essence

Cyrus Chestnut

Natural Essence

For his second HighNote effort, the pianist is joined by bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White.

Dark Territory

Dave Douglas / Dave Douglas & High Risk

Dark Territory

The second album of improvised soundscapes between trumpeter Dave Douglas and electronic musician Shigeto.

Beyond Now

Donny McCaslin

Beyond Now

The saxophonist's quartet delivers a fitting tribute to David Bowie, inspired by their experience working with him on Blackstar.

Evolution

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Evolution

The Hammond B-3 icon makes his Blue Note return with this dynamic soul-jazz showcase.

Perpetual Gateways

Ed Motta

Perpetual Gateways

Brazil's musical renaissance man records in the U.S. with producer Kamau Kenyatta and a dream team of studio aces deliver excellent results.

Man Made Object

GoGo Penguin

Man Made Object

The acclaimed British jazz trio's third album of evocative, genre-bending instrumentals.

August Love Song

Heather Masse / Roswell Rudd

August Love Song

The unlikely musical pairing of an octogenarian vanguard jazz trombonist and a young contemporary singer/songwriter results in swinging delight.

Spark

Hiromi

Spark

The fourth album by the pianist's Trio Project is its most creative, musically diverse, accessible, and sophisticated.

The Abyssinian Mass

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra / Wynton Marsalis

The Abyssinian Mass

An ebullient live recording of Marsalis' composition commemorating the 200th anniversary of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church.

Classic! Live at Newport

Joe Lovano / Joe Lovano Quartet

Classic! Live at Newport

A superb 2005 performance that marked the final collaboration between saxophonist Joe Lovano and legendary pianist Hank Jones, who died in 2010.

Journey to the Heart

Keiko Matsui

Journey to the Heart

Backed by a fine Latin ensemble, the pianist delivers an all-acoustic set of inventive, memorable tunes on her 27th album.

A  Multitude of Angels  [Live at Teatro Comunale, Modena, 1996]

Keith Jarrett

A Multitude of Angels [Live at Teatro Comunale, Modena, 1996]

Four amazing self-recorded solo improv concerts captured in Italy in 1996 -- the last before he was sidelined for two years by illness.

Do Your Dance!

Kenny Garrett

Do Your Dance!

The saxophonist heads his ensemble on songs that combine aggressive post-bop improvisation and subtly infectious dance rhythms.

Upward Spiral

Kurt Elling / Branford Marsalis / Branford Marsalis Quartet

Upward Spiral

A sophisticated, swinging, and poetic collaboration that illuminates the talents of both Marsalis and Elling.

Canto América

La Orquesta Sinfonietta / Michael Spiro / Wayne Wallace

Canto América

Led by Wayne Wallace and Michael Spiro, this large group criss-crosses the musical history and traditions of the New World with grooves galore.

Secular Hymns

Madeleine Peyroux

Secular Hymns

The acclaimed vocalist delivers an intimate set of covers recorded with her trio at the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in England.

Nihil Novi

Marcus Strickland / Marcus Strickland's Twi-Life

Nihil Novi

On his Blue Note debut, the saxophonist premieres a new band on a set of funky, ambitious tunes.

The  Way We Play

Marquis Hill

The Way We Play

The Concord debut from the 2014 Thelonious Monk Institute's International Jazz Competition-winning Chicago trumpeter.

Black Orpheus

Masabumi Kikuchi

Black Orpheus

The final homecoming concert in Tokyo by the iconoclastic Japanese jazz pianist is a stunning portrait in self-revelation.

The Bell

Mat Maneri / Ches Smith / Craig Taborn

The Bell

The drummer's debut as a leader for ECM is an exercise in explorative lyricism and improvisational intuition for trio.

Rubicon

Mats Eilertsen

Rubicon

On his ECM leader debut, the Norwegian bassist surrounds himself with friends to deliver a set of intimate, smart, expansive compositions.

Prometheus Risen

Matt Chamberlain / Brian Haas

Prometheus Risen

An ambitious improvised set of sci-fi and space-themed tracks from the keyboard-and-drum duo.

Music of Weather Report

Miroslav Vitous

Music of Weather Report

The founding Weather Report bassist and his sextet offer a bracing homage with variations of tunes recorded during and after his tenure with the group.

Lovers

Nels Cline

Lovers

The iconic guitarist and a 22-piece chamber orchestra deliver a startling, innovative jazz concept record on love and romance.

Continuum

Nik Bärtsch / Nik Bärtsch's Mobile

Continuum

After a decade of silence, the Swiss pianist and composer resurrects his first recording ensemble and issues a gem.

Buoyancy

Nils Petter Molvær

Buoyancy

A stupendous album, one of the best of Molvær's career, proving once again that he's still way out there on his own.

Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny / Cuong Vu

Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny

A boundary-pushing collaboration between the avant-garde trumpeter and the superstar jazz guitarist.

Song Sentimentale

Peter Brötzmann / Hamid Drake / William Parker

Song Sentimentale

On their first recording together since 2003, this unit reveals their powerful, poetic, improvisational language undiminished by time's passage.

In Movement

Ravi Coltrane / Jack DeJohnette / Matthew Garrison

In Movement

The debut offering by this trio places the great drummer in the company of two contemporary masters.

ArtScience

Robert Glasper Experiment

ArtScience

This quartet explores new directions by composing and producing collectively for the first time, without sacrificing their accessibility.

Chemistry

Ron Carter / Houston Person

Chemistry

A conversational album of warm, romantic standards from these two legendary jazz comrades.

Day to Day

Sarathy Korwar

Day to Day

On his debut, the producer, percussionist, and composer blurs lines between modern jazz and ancient Indian and African musical traditions.

Wisdom of Elders

Shabaka & the Ancestors

Wisdom of Elders

Recorded in a single day in Johannesburg with seven South African musicians, the saxophonist's "nine part psalm" is a masterwork.

Zigzagger

Takuya Kuroda

Zigzagger

The trumpeter's kinetic funk-jazz and Afrobeat-infused follow-up to his 2009 breakthrough Rising Son.

It's Hard

The Bad Plus

It's Hard

The maverick jazz piano trio returns to its roots, reworking a set of well-curated pop covers and an Ornette Coleman tune.

Escape Velocity

Theo Croker

Escape Velocity

The trumpeter brings his spiritual, groove-oriented funk-jazz vision into sharp focus on his fourth album.

Rumi Songs

Tora Augestad / Frode Haltli / Svante Henryson / Trygve Seim

Rumi Songs

This wonderful chamber song cycle -- begun in 2003 -- is a watermark achievement for the composer and saxophonist.

What Was Said

Tord Gustavsen / Simin Tander / Jarle Vespestad

What Was Said

The pianist's new trio with German-Afghan vocalist Simin Tander explores traditional songs and poetry as panlinguistic improvisational devices.

A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke

Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith

A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke

A duo collaboration that transcends those limits to display a shared musical mind and emotional language.

America's National Parks

Wadada Leo Smith

America's National Parks

The composer and his Golden Quintet deliver a masterwork examining the central ideas behind our National Parks and his own.

Rising Grace

Wolfgang Muthspiel

Rising Grace

The Austrian guitarist expands his trio to a quintet in a relaxed yet dazzling series of new tunes and leaves plenty of room for solos.

Black Focus

Yussef Kamaal

Black Focus

This South London duo smears spiritual jazz funk onto broken beat, hip-hop, and more on their startling full-length debut.