Thursday, December 12, 2019

Best of 2019: Jazz

Here, via Rolling Stone, is a rundown of some of the 2019 jazz releases I enjoyed most. I'm not remotely able to keep up with everything these days, so I'm grateful to The New York City Jazz Record; Downbeat; Jazz Times; The Wire; Phil Freeman's monthly Ugly Beauty column at Stereogum; Giovanni Russonello's regular coverage at The Times; the work of writers such as Seth Colter Walls, Piotr Orlov, Andy Beta, Marcus J. Moore, Matthew Kassel and Mark Richardson at Pitchfork and other outlets; some of the same writers and others at Bandcamp Daily; and The Free Jazz Collective; as well as the artists and publicists who send me music directly, for helping me keep up.

The 2019 top 10 I submitted to Francis Davis' annual critics' poll, the results of which should be online before too long, is as follows. Each of these titles is discussed at least briefly in the RS piece; there are also links there to my prior coverage of some of the artists/albums, and links to hear/buy the music via Bandcamp, where applicable. Two notes on the selections:

1) Categories ultimately mean very little to me, but yes, I do think the Messthetics album could reasonably be called a jazz record; I argue the case a bit in the aforementioned article.

2) The 10³²K album did in fact come out in 2018, but it emerged late in the year, and I was not really aware of it till this year. Regardless, I think it's fantastic, and I stand by its inclusion here. This process remains very much an inexact science!

New Releases

1. Angel Bat Dawid, The Oracle (International Anthem)
2. Branford Marsalis Quartet, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Okeh)
3. The Messthetics, Anthropocosmic Nest (Dischord)
4. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, To Whom Who Buys a Record (Odin)
5. 10³²K, The Law of Vibration (self-released)
6. Joel Ross, KingMaker (Blue Note)
7. Chris Lightcap, SuperBigmouth (Pyroclastic)
8. Blacks' Myths, Blacks' Myths II (Atlantic Rhythms)
9. Steve Lehman Trio & Craig Taborn, The People I Love (Pi)
10. JD Allen, Barracoon (Savant)


1. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance)
2. Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Great Voice of UGMAA, Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA 1998 (Dark Tree)
3. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit, April Is the Cruellest Month (Blank Forms Editions)

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