Best Jazz Albums 2013

It’s not excep­tional to write that 2013 was an excel­lent year for jazz records, since there are so many cre­atively rest­less con­tem­po­rary jazz musi­cians dri­ven to play and record dis­pute the enor­mous eco­nomic hard­ship of the jazz life. There are also more than ten best albums of the year, but this list comes via the bal­lot I sub­mit­ted to Fran­cis Davis for his 8th Annual Jazz Crit­ics poll, hosted at NPR

I though rig­or­ously about this one, and kept it within the con­fines of jazz. My def­i­n­i­tions for the music are broader than many of my peers, but I still had to save such great records as Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd’s Hold­ing it Down and Ben Monder’s Hydra for dif­fer­ent lists, since styl­is­ti­cally their con­nec­tion to jazz is atten­u­ated. This may be the first 2013 list, but not the last, so you’ll see them soon.

If you want to buy any, this list col­lates all the ones avail­able directly through Ama­zon, spe­cial dis­tri­b­u­tions are through links in the release list­ings them­selves. Remem­ber, if you ordered through Ama­zon, a tiny bit of coin goes to me instead of Jeff Bezos (no extra cost to you) and that helps keep this blog going.

2013 Ten best New Releases:

  1. Mary Halvor­son Sex­tet, Illu­sion­ary Sea (solid num­ber one, a uniquely great record)
  2. William Parker, Wood Flute Songs
  3. John Hébert Trio, Flood­stage (should be avail­able through Clean Feed any day)
  4. Jon Lund­bom and Big Five Chord, Liv­ere­vil
  5. Bobby Avey, Be not so long to speak
  6. Ches Smith and These Arches, Ham­mered
  7. Marc Cary Focus Trio, Four Direc­tions
  8. Har­ris Eisen­stadt Sep­tem­ber Trio, The Destruc­tive Element
  9. Cur­tis Has­sel­bring, Num­bers Stations
  10. 10–32K, That Which is Planted; Live in Buf­falo and Rochester

These are all Num­ber 11:

  • Noah Pre­minger, Hay­maker
  • Mark Dresser Quin­tet, Nour­ish­ments
  • Ryan Keberle, Music is Emotion
  • Ryan Cohan, The River
  • Myra Melford, Life Car­ries Me This Way
  • Nate Woo­ley Sex­tet, (Sit in) The Throne of Friendship
  • Elliott Sharp Aggre­gat, Quin­tet
  • Endan­gered Blood, Work Your Magic
  • Amir ElSaf­far, Alchemy
  • Billy Bang, Da Bang
  • John Hol­len­beck, Songs I Like a Lot
  • Darcy James Argue, Brook­lyn Babylon
  • JP Schlegelmilch, Through­out
  • Ghost Train Orches­tra, Book of Rhapsodies
  • Mostly Other Peo­ple Do The Killing, Slip­pery Rock
  • Ben Gold­berg, Unfold Ordi­nary Mind
  • Marco Cap­pelli Acoustic Trio, Le Sta­gioni Del Com­mis­sario Ricciardi

2013 Top Three Reissues:

  1. Woody Shaw, The Com­plete Muse Sessions
  2. Gil Scott-Heron, The Rev­o­lu­tion Begins
  3. The Com­plete Clif­ford Jor­dan Strata-East Sessions

And tied for an even fourth:

  • Paul Bley, The Com­plete Remas­tered Record­ings on Black Saint and Soul Note
  • Joe McPhee, Nation Time

2013 Best Vocal Album: Andy Bey, The World Accord­ing to Andy Bey

  • Just as great is Pete McGui­ness, Voice Like a Horn!

2013 Best Debut Album: Jonathan Fin­layson & Sicil­ian Defense, Moment and the Mes­sage

These are also superb and promise future excite­ment, and the debut list would be in the top 10, but this was a con­ve­nient excuse to honor a baker’s dozen of jazz albums you should be lis­ten­ing to:

  • Dylan Ryan & Sand, Sky Bleached
  • Thiefs, Thiefs

2013 Best Latin Jazz Album: Wayne Wal­lace Latin Jazz Quin­tet, Jazz Latin

You will find just as much plea­sure with:

  • Sao Paolo Under­ground, Beija Flors Velho E Sujo

UPDATED: Fixed Mary Halvorson’s album title, added link to final poll results