These are my favorite jazz releases of 2013. I hesitate to call this a Best Of list, as one can’t possibly claim to have heard all of the jazz releases in this age of independently produced recordings. While several of these picks are from established jazz masters (Wayne Shorter, Gary Burton, Chick Corea), there are others that rarely get the press or recognition they deserve (Earl MacDonald, Russ Kaplan). I urge you to seek out some of these lesser known artists and support their efforts.

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Wayne Shorter – Without a Net; Shorter’s great quartet redefines free jazz. Great empathy between these long time collaborators is apparent throughout.

Chick Corea – The Vigil; Chick reaches back to the fusion sounds of the electric Return to Forever days, with new compositions and young virtuoso musicians.

Dave Douglas – Time Travel; Douglas pushes this fine quintet of new and established jazz cats to new heights of creativity and freedom.

Kenny Garrett Pushing the World Away; KG continues the vibe of this quintet’s prior album with new compositions that exude passion and intensity.

Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit; Porter’s much anticipated 2nd LP exemplifies his soulfulness and gospel roots combined with real jazz sensibilities

Gary Burton – Guided Tour; Burton assembled this fine quartet for his latest album. Together they bring to life his compositions and arrangements.

Noah Preminger – Haymaker; Noah’s third album is a great one. A wide range of sounds and influences, from ethereal to rocking out to gorgeous ballads.

Earl MacDonald – Mirror of the Mind; Earl’s use of cello instead of bass creates a colorful palette for his wonderful arrangements for this fine quartet.

Antonio Sanchez – New Life; This outstanding drummer shows his skills as a bandleader keeping all these strong soloists focused on his thoughtful arrangements.

Terance Blanchard Magnetic; Terance knows how to tastefully use electronics to create a modern sound and stay true to his traditional jazz roots.

Chris Potter Sirens; A quality album in its writing, arranging and playing from perhaps the best tenor player on the scene today.

Russ Kaplan+7 – The Ulysses Cycle; Kaplan has created a concept piece based on Homer’s Odyssey. The listening experience is enhanced  when combined with the liner notes and illustrations provided.

Dave Holland Prism; This great bassist and bandleader released an electric, fusion oriented album with a talented and powerful quartet or Holland, Taborn, Harland and K. Eubanks.

Greg Abate Quintet – Featuring Phil Woods; Two greats on alto sax combine for a hard hitting bop session that swings with the best of them.

Anoushka Shankar – Traces of You; Not a jazz album, but I love this release that fuses East and West musical forms that doesn’t seem to compromise the quality or originality of the music.

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