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.
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.
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.
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.