1. Craig Taborn Trio
The first release by pianist Taborn’s trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver follows years of touring, during which the trio has developed a captivatingly elusive private language. While he sticks with the acoustic piano here, Taborn’s work with electronics influences his approach in the music’s uncanny balance of the minimal and the bombastic, its recursive tendrils simultaneously delicate and insistent.
2. Jaimeo Brown
Brown’s utterly unique debut finds the drummer combining a variety of rhythmic traditions with a spiritual ambience and sampled voices from the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The field recordings lend the album a rough-hewn, folk-art quality that runs counter to Brown’s sophisticated musicianship and fusions of jazz with Indian Carnatic music and hip-hop.
3. Chris Potter
The Sirens (ECM)
After several years focused on his electric group Underground, saxophonist Potter returned to an all-acoustic setting on his ECM leader debut. The band features two of the most captivating pianists on the current scene, with frequent collaborator Craig Taborn supplemented by atmospheric effects courtesy David Virelles.
4. Wayne Shorter Quartet
Without a Net (Blue Note)
The legendary saxophonist returns to Blue Note for the first time in 43 years, leading his peerless quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade.
5. Ben Monder
An in-demand guitarist able to veer between crystalline, lyrical beauty and serrated rock ferocity, Monder crafted this stunning, personal statement. The uncategorizable Hydra folds elements of prog rock, ambient music and choral composition into a collection that unfolds with the wonder and surprise of an unforgettable journey.
6. John Escreet
Sabotage and Celebration (Whirlwind)
British-born pianist John Escreet’s fifth CD explores the full range of his in-fluences, from bleeding-edge jazz to contemporary classical to electronica and beyond.
7. Tim Berne’s Snakeoil
Shadow Man (ECM)
On their second CD, saxophonist Berne’s latest quartet reveals the re-sults of the significant road time logged since its self-titled 2012 debut. The band is so well-attuned that it can fully inhabit the leader’s most sprawling and acute-angled compositions, with three pieces clocking in at well over 15 minutes, involving labyrinthine twists and turns.
8. Steve Coleman and Five Elements
Functional Arrhythmias (Pi)
Taking the rhythms of the human heart as inspiration, Coleman creates an album’s worth of intricate, contortionist compositions.
9. Joel Harrison 19
Infinite Possibility (Sunnyside)
Better referred to as a jazz orchestra than a big band, Harrison’s 21-piece ensemble is his most ambitious undertaking to date.
10. Mark Dresser Quintet
Nourishments (Clean Feed)
Veteran bassist Mark Dresser leads a new ensemble comprising several distinct voices — alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, trombonist Michael Dessen, drummers Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin, and “hyperpiano” player Denman Maroney — that deft-ly weaves their individual sounds into an always-shifting, polyrhythmic group tapestry.
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