10. Kokoroko – Could We Be More
Hot live bands don’t always make hot records, but south London 8-piece Kokoroko made that transition with Could We Be More. They captivated audiences from jazz players to fans of Fela Kuti.Read full review
9. Esbjorn Svensson – HOME.S.
Between the mid-1990s and his tragic death in 2008, Swedish pianist and composer Esbjörn Svensson brought elegant piano trio jazz with captivating stadium rock drama and drive. These delicate unaccompanied piano pieces, hitherto unpublished, show Svensson private by contrast, yet retain a vivid imagination and a delicacy of touch.
8. Sun Ra Arkestra – Living Sky
Now 98, leader and saxophonist Marshall Allen has applied his mentor Ra’s eclectic composition and intuitive free-harmony methods to the fragmented 21st century. But it’s a rare studio album from the hard-hitting touring Sun Ra Arkestra.Read full review
7. Oded Tzur – Isabella
Tel Aviv-born improviser and composer Oded Tzur’s unique tenor saxophone whispers were born not from imitation of saxophonists, but from a study of the ghostly sound of bamboo bansuri flutes and Indian raga forms. Rumors are circulating about his international quartet, which includes New York drummer Jonathan Blake.
6. Joe Harriott Quintet – Swings High
Jamaican alto saxophonist Joe Harriott was one of the brightest stars of UK jazz from the 1950s to the ’70s, sparking free improvisation and performers in Charlie Parker’s bebop home. He is captivated by the latter’s style in his releases of delicate remasters of his classic live sets.
5. Avishai Cohen – Naked Truth
Israeli-born trumpeter/composer Avishai Cohen’s ardent admirer of Miles Davis is evident in nearly every note he makes, but so is the independence of his imagination. Naked Truth is only 40 minutes long, but it’s an exquisite piece of ensemble spontaneity made with Cohen’s mysteriously joined regular quartet.Read full review
4. Makaya McRaven – In These Times
A groundbreaking multi-genre fusion project created over the course of seven years by Chicago drummer and producer Makaya McRaven, In These Times fuses African-American influences with elements of jazz, hip-hop and… It inherits Eastern European folk, classical strings and spoken word. , with an amazing mix of studio and live sounds.Read full review
3. Cecil Taylor – Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert
This recently unearthed live 1973 New York recording by Cecil Taylor and his quartet explores the edge-of-the-edges art of flat-out free jazz from saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, bassist Shirone and drummer Andrew. Revealing a unique genius to reach his fearless prime, shared with a like-minded legend. Cyril. Soaring energy balanced with meticulous detail.
2. Mary Halvorson – Amaryllis/Belladonna
Jimi Hendrix was an inspiration for American guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson when she was a child. Although she reinvented guitar improvisation in a relatively radical way, she has also grown to become a major contemporary composer. Avant-funk distorted swing, ethereal classical her strings her sound, and head-on boppish grooves collide on an album that is both fearless and warmly communicative.Read full review
1. Charles Lloyd – Trios: Sacred Thread
80s maestro Charles Lloyd’s final album in a three-part series celebrates the trio’s improvisations from a variety of fascinating angles. Sacred Thread takes its most global stance, with Lloyd’s vaporous, lyrical tenor, his saxophone, flute, and oboe-like tarogato, Zakir Hussain’s whirlwind percussion, and Julian Lage’s richly textured music. An interesting conversation between the guitars unfolds.