Narrowing down the hundreds of releases heard over a year to a mere handful is never an easy task. The new millennium has proven to be a fertile period for jazz (in all its guises); attempting to mention every album of a high caliber would result in a list of prolix proportions. In an effort to constrain such effusiveness, I have chosen the recordings I consistently returned to throughout the year.
For those interested in contemporary trends it is worth noting that the vast majority of titles listed below were released by independent labels. Much ink has been spilled in the past few years about the future of the music industry in relation to internet downloading and the contrasts between major and independent record labels. For those interested in knowing where the music is headed, the future of jazz lies underground, where it began.