Transatlantic, by Chris Potter and the DR Big Band. Dense, thoughtful arrangements of Potter’s compositions fuel his inspired soloing on this album of propulsive original tracks.
Rayuela, by Miguel Zenon and Laurent Coq. Intriguing concept album inspired by Julio Cortazar’s postmodernist (and jazz-infused) novel Rayuela (Hopscotch). One of the rare jazz-literature fusions that really works.
Be Good, by Gregory Porter. Rising star Porter not only sings with passion; his thoughtful original songs beautifully bridge the gap between jazz and R & B. “Painted on Canvas” is an instant classic. Liquid Spirit is almost as good!
Samdhi, by Rudresh Mahanthappa. True fusion music that furthers this dynamic alto player’s experiments in melding jazz and South Asian styles.
March Sublime, by Alan Ferber. Contemporary big band music the combines swing era textures with post-bop styles and soloing. Scintillating!
Upward Spiral, by the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Kurt Elling. Compelling collaboration between two of jazz’s finest bandleaders. A variety of moods—from the exuberant opener and Sonny Rollins’s “Doxy,” to the restrained yearning of “Blue Gardenia”—make this recording work beautifully.
The Music of Jackie McLean, by Jacknife, and Blue Condition: The Music of Jackie McLean, by Cory Weeds. These two recordings have begun McLean’s long-overdue recognition as not just an influential hard bop altoist, but also a first-rate composer. Don’t miss “Jacknife” on Weeds’s record, or “Climax” by Jacknife.
The Age We Live In, by John Escreet. This fabulously talented pianist offers a wide array of textures and styles on this propulsive record. Escreet’s compositions are enhanced by the contributions of David Binney on alto and guitarist Wayne Krantz.
Behind the Sky, by Jon Irabagon. Best known as the saxophonist in the quirky, alt-jazz group Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Irabagon demonstrates his compositional versatility and straight-ahead chops on this terrific record. Highlights include “The Cost of Modern Living,” a driving uptempo number, and the moving ballad “Music Box Song.”