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John Kelman's Best Releases of 2018


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Once again, the chronic health problem that has reduced my writing pace to a crawl continues without any respite. My best of the year lists have traditionally been predicated upon having reviewed the releases chosen, but with only a relative handful of reviews to choose from this year (and with those choices, more than ever now, always representing music that moved me in a big way), there's simply no way to come up with the big lists I used to compile.

And so, like last year, I figured I'd throw in a top ten (well, eleven) for jazz and beyond (meaning: anything else), including a mix of new releases and reissues/archival finds. But to let folks know that this lists barely scratches the surface of all the music I've been privileged to hear this year—and that, as ever, there are far more "best of" titles than even my previously large lists included—I'll also add, at the end, for anyone interested, a whack of releases would have been reviewed, had it been possible.

So, bearing that in mind, first up are just a few of the top recorded events in jazz and beyond for 2018 (in alphabetical order):

Jan Akkerman
The Complete Jan Akkerman
Red Bullet

Jakob Bro
Bay of Rainbows
ECM Records

Dwiki Dharmawan
Rumah Batu
Moonjune Records

Roddy Ellias /Marc Copland /Adrian Vedady
ECV: Sticks and Stones
Kwimu Music

Bill Frisell
Music IS

Sigurd Hole

Adam Holzman
Truth Decay
Big Fun Productions

Steve Khan
Public Access / Headline / Crossings
BGO Records

King Crimson
Meltdown (Live in Mexico City)
Panegyric Recordings

Nicolas Masson
ECM Records

Sonar WithDavid Torn
Rarenoise Records

Steven Wilson
Home Invasion: In Concert at The Royal Albert Hall
Eagle Records

Unreviewed But Still Faves

And now, those two additional lists of 2018 releases that I couldn't get around to reviewing, but sure wish I could have. Again, in alphabetical order, every one of these is top-drawer, regardless of genre, and worthy of attention:


Aaron Parks, Little Big (Ropeadope)
Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell, Lebroba (ECM Records)
The Art Ensemble of Chicago, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and associated ensembles (ECM Records)
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin, Awase (ECM Records)
David Binney, Here & Now (Mythology Records)
Gary Burton, Take Another Look: A Career Retrospective (Mack Avenue)
Nels Cline 4, Currents, Constellations (Mack Avenue)
John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Deluxe) (Impulse!)
Yelena Eckemoff, Better Than Gold And Silver (L & H Production)
Elephant9, Greatest Show on Earth (Rune Grammofon)
Arve Henriksen, Towards Language: Live at Punkt (Arve Music)
John Hollenbeck, All Can Work (New Amsterdam Records)
Ingrid Jensen/Steve Treseler, Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler (Whirlwind Records)
Ola Kvernberg, Steamdome (Grappa)
Julian Lage, Modern Lore (Mack Avenue)
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blue Note)
Joe Locke, Subtle Disguise (Origin Records)
Wolfgang Muthspiel, Where the River Goes (ECM Records)
John Scofield, Combo 66 (Verve Music Group)
Trygve Seim, Helsinki Songs (ECM Records)
Sound & Fury, Thundering of Dawn (Karkia Mistika)
John Surman, Invisible Threads (ECM Records)
Mark Wingfield, Tales from the Dreaming City (Moonjune Records)


The Beatles, The Beatles (White Album) Super Deluxe Edition (Capitol Records)
Kate Bush, Remastered Part 1 & Remastered Part 2 (Rhino Records)
Rosanne Cash, She Remembers Everything (Deluxe) (Blue Note Records)
Ry Cooder, Prodigal Son (Fantasy)
Bob Dylan, More Blood More Tracks: Bootleg Series Vol. 14 (Legacy Recordings)
Family, At the BBC (Madfish)
Grateful Dead, Pacific Northwest '73-'74 (The Complete Recordings) (Rhino Records)
Jimi Hendrix, Axis Bold As Love (Mono + Stereo SACD Hybrid) (Analogue Productions)
Ashley Hutchings, Paradise & Thorns (Talking Elephant Records)
Paul McCartney, Egypt Station (Capitol Records)
Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing (Legacy Recordings)
Procol Harum, Still There'll Be More (Esoteric Recordings
Sanguine Hum, Now We Have Power (Bad Elephant Records)
Third Ear Band, Elements 1970-1971 (Esoteric Recordings)
Richard Thompson, 13 Rivers (New West Records)
The Sea Within, The Sea Within (InsideOut Records)
Frank Zappa, The Roxy Performances (Zappa Records)

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