Jeff Dayton-Johnson's Best Releases of 2013

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

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Every year the list gets longer and more heterogeneous. There are blockbusters and obscure little gems, loud jazz and quiet jazz, hip hop and kora music, some of it downright unclassifiable. Which is fine. "Junku," a 1984 track anthologized on Herbie Hancock's spectacular box set below, is in fact both hip hop and kora music! In an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Hancock said, "The thing that keeps jazz alive, even if it's under the radar, is that it is so free and so open to not only lend its influence to other genres, but to borrow and be influenced by other genres. That's the way it breathes." And when Hancock was accorded presidential honors a few weeks later, rapper Snoop Dogg (heard on the Robert Glasper record listed below) told those assembled, "Herbie, we love you. Thank you for creating hip-hop."

These are the records I kept listening to all year (in alphabetical order). I don't pretend that they're the best of the year. Indeed, I'm still discovering great records from 2012, 2011, and so on, and I'm sure that there will be more great 2013 releases I haven't heard yet. (In fact, there are a few late-2012 discs on this list—see if you can spot them.) When you're listening for the kind of cross-pollination Hancock is referring to, you have to consider lots of records at once. Listen to them in combinations of three or four, and you'll be as sanguine as I am about the vibrancy of the scene—or scenes.


(Nature Sounds)

The Caravan
The Caravan
(Self Produced)

Terri Lyne Carrington
Money Jungle
(Concord Jazz)

Chance the Rapper
Acid Rap
(Self Produced)

The Claudia Quintet

Manu Codjia, Géraldine Laurent & Christophe Marguet
Looking for Parker
(Bee Jazz)

Criolo e Emicida
Ao Vivo
(Universal Brasil)

Miles Davis
Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series, vol. 2

Doctor Magnum
Live at Red Square
(Self Produced)

Satoko Fujii
Gen Himmel

Robert Glasper
Black Radio 2
(Blue Note)

Herbie Hancock
The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972- 1988

The Night's Gambit
(Iron Works)

Chris Kelsey
The Electric Miles Project
(Self Produced)

Bassekou Kouyate
Jama Ko

Hélène Labarrière

Magic Malik
Tranz Denied
(Bee Jazz)


Orchestre National de Jazz
(Jazz Village)

Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels
(Fools Gold)

Sao Paulo Underground
Beija Flors Velho e Sujo

Wayne Shorter
Without A Net
(Blue Note)

Ballaké Sissoko
At Peace
(Six Degrees)

Sly & the Family Stone

Jonathan Suazo
Extracts of a Desire
(Self Produced)

Craig Taborn

Various Artists
Rough Guide to African Disco
(Rough Guide)

Various Artists
Salsa de la Bahía

Wayne Wallace
Latin Jazz Jazz Latin

Kanye West
(Def Jam)

Steven Wilson
The Raven That Refused To Sing

Mike Wofford
It's Personal
(Self Produced)

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