The music keeps moving forward, evolving to higher levels. My search for the best jazz recordings of 2016 led me to these marvelous CDs.
Wadada Leo SmithAmerica's National Parks
Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith
has attempted in, the new millennium, to create his magnum opus. He may have succeeded with America's National Parks
, a sprawling, dark-hued masterpiece celebrating the Mississippi River, New Orleans, Yellowstone, Yosemite and more.
Adam PieronczykMonte Alban
A haunting ode to Polish saxophonist Adam Pieronczyk
's early morning visit to the ruins of Monte Alban, outside of Oaxaca City in Mexico. Sax, bass and drums with electronics melding together to create an eerie, future-esque music.
Michael Formanek Ensemble Kollossus The Distance
Bassist Michael Formanek
is best known for his small group recordings on ECM Records. This one takes him into a different universea boisterous, intricately arranged big band bursting with surprises.
Tom CollierImpulsive Illuminations
Vibraphonist Tom Collier
shapes up a group of trio sounds with pianist Richard Karpen and five different, forward leaning compatriots, for a uniquely innovative set of sounds.
Daniel Schlaeppi/Marc CoplandMore Essentials
Perhaps the most purely gorgeous set of the year, with bassist Daniel Schlaeppi
and veteran pianist Marc Copland
engaging in fluid duets of standards and improvisations.
Masabumi KikuchiBlack Orpheus
Spare and spacious to the point of starkness, Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi
, in his last recording released during his lifetime, pared his artistry down to its bare, beautiful essentials.
Eugenia ChoeMagic Light
Pianist Eugenia Choe
crafted the debut set of the yeara luminous sound that can stand with the best of them. This is the art of the piano trio at its finest.
Craig TabornBook Of Angels, Volume 27
Pianist Craig Taborn
fronts an all-star trio on this rambunctious, assertive take on John Zorn's "Masada Book Two" music.
Richard SussmanThe Evolution Suite
Pianist/Composer Richard Sussman
stirs up the jazz quintet with a string quartet and adds electronics to in a very successful effort to push the music forward.
Danny Green TrioAltered Narratives
OA2 Records Danny Green
, one of the most exciting new pianists on the scene, fronts a forward looking trio, and invites a string quartet in for a few tunes, on a set where his artistic vision sharpens to a fine focus.
Pianist Clay Giberson
, a veteran Origin Records artist, hasn't enjoyed the profile his level of artistry deserves. Pastures
, his finest work to date, should help in that regard. It's a all-star jazz quartet outing, with strings adeptly attached on three tunes, featuring Giberson's best composing alongside some well-chosen originals.
Pianist Frank Kimbrough
, a long term member of the Maria Schneider Orchestra, has come up with an enchanting piano trio set. It's mostly covers, drawn from mostly left-of-center artists. The trio interplay is intricate and exquisite.
Cellist Andrew Downing
spun in from out of the bluefrom Canada, actually. It is an understated, folksy exploration of the charms and pleasures of small town life that mixes Bill Frisell-style (North) Americana, the elegance of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and the dreamy atmospheres of Daniel Lanois.
KaravikaOf Earth and Sky
This probably isn't jazz, if that matters. Karavikaviolinist Trina Basu
; cellist Amali Premawardhana
and bassist Perry Wortman
make some of the most inspiring music out therea mix of Indian Raga, American roots and spirituals and classical chamber sounds. Mesmerizing, lovely music like nobody else out there is making.