The Best Jazz Of 2011 So Far?

Friday, June 17, 2011 10:35
Posted in category In the News, Upcoming Shows

by Patrick Jarenwattananon |

We’re pretty obsessive fans here at NPR Music. We make lists. And because the Internet periodically demands these sorts of things, we’ve put together a multi-genre listening list of our favorite 25 records of the year to date. Plus, here’s our listeners poll — it’s massive — where you can vote and tell us how wrong we were.

Our group consensus worked out such that new albums from Gretchen Parlato (The Lost and Found) and Ben Allison (Action-Refraction) made the top 25. I was happy to contribute short blurbs about both — both albums are definitely among my favorite of this year so far. Additionally, my colleague Tom Huizenga, who’s on the classical beat, informs me that the top-25-ed release from France’s Ebene Quartet, Fiction, is practically a jazz release too.

But there are plenty of other great jazz records from the first half of 2011. What are yours? Do tell us in the comments.

To get you started, here’s a quick brainstorm of 25 other, well-received jazz/-ish records from the first half of this year. Some have been featured at NPR Music; others are on the tips of critics’ tongues or radio airplay charts. What else would you add?

  • Ambrose Akinmusire, When The Heart Emerges Glistening
  • Bobby Sanabria & Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!!
  • Captain Black Big Band, Captain Black Big Band
  • The Cookers, Cast The First Stone
  • David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammed Ali, Planetary Unknown
  • Eric Reed, The Dancing Monk
  • Erik Friedlander, Bonebridge
  • Fred Hersch, Alone At The Vanguard
  • The New Gary Burton Quartet, Common Ground
  • Gerald Clayton, Bond: The Paris Sessions
  • Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, That’s How We Roll
  • James Farm, JAMES FARM
  • JD Allen Trio, Victory!
  • Joe Lovano Us Five, Bird Songs
  • Julian Lage, Gladwell
  • Kurt Elling, The Gate
  • Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Live At Birdland
  • Matana Roberts, COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
  • Matthew Shipp, Art Of The Improviser
  • Terell Stafford, This Side Of Strayhorn
  • Rene Marie, Voice of My Beautiful Country
  • Starlicker, Double Demon
  • Stefon Harris/David Sanchez/Christian Scott, Ninety Miles
  • Vijay Iyer, Tirtha
  • World Saxophone Quartet, Yes We Can

I have my own sleeper records I’ve been waiting to spring on folks … but you first. Comment, you!


WHAT: Ninety Miles
WHEN: Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $12-$49 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile