The nine best jazz albums released in 2017, from ‘new jazz’ to more ethnic beats
Among the rich pickings are Vijay Iyer and his funky sextet, superstar bassist Linda May Han Oh, an impressive debut from drummer Kate Gentile, some soul grooves from Nate Smith and a mature solo effort by Craig Taborn
Jazz fans have been treated to a range of gems during 2017, from the “new jazz” of Matt Mitchell to the ethnic-influenced sounds from the likes of Vijay Iyer. Here are the albums all jazz fans shouldn’t have missed this year.
Linda May Han Oh
Walk Against Wind
Steve Coleman’s Natal Eclipse
Coleman is making some of the best music of his striking career lately, and this recital is fascinating: based on the motions of boxing yet recorded without a drummer. Despite this absence, the music grooves, swings, pulses and jumps at every turn. Coleman’s collaborators remain impressive: Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Matt Mitchell on piano, Jen Shyu on vocals and many more.
Craig Taborn seems to be everyone’s favourite collaborator these days. His duets with pianist Kris Davis are free wonders, and his collaboration with Miles Okazaki is telepathic. His own music has been wonderful before, but Daylight Ghosts is the most mature of his own recordings.
The surprise of 2017 is this debut recording from drummer Kate Gentile. Gentile has been in New York for a while, and she seems to have a particularly fertile musical relationship with pianist Matt Mitchell (including playing on his 2017 masterpiece). But her own composing and band leading make her debut shine.
Ryan Keberle and Catharsis
Find the Common, Shine a Light
Kinfolk, Postcards from Everywhere
Smith has played the drums with Betty Carter, Dave Holland, Regina Carter, Chris Potter and many more. Kinfolk is a “jazz” record, however, that probably wouldn’t have been possible until recently – a collection that has plenty of authentic, harmonically complex improvising, but also uses soul grooves and vocals to forge a connection back to pop music.