Whilst the topic of ‘best’ anything in jazz is highly subjective, we asked journalists from some of our favourite magazines, websites and blogs to pick their top release of the year, to share with you here.
From thundering debuts to long-time members of the jazz scene who dig out yet another classic, here are 30 albums that you might want to give a (re)listen to…
A View With A Room (Trish Clowes)
Released: April 2022, 2022, Greenleaf Music
Picked By: Raul De Gama (Jazz Da Gama)
‘A View with a Room’ is the fourth release by saxophonist and composer Trish Clowes and her acclaimed band My Iris.
Lauded for her imaginative approach to improvisation and composition, Clowes provides her bandmates Ross Stanley (piano/Hammond organ), Chris Montague (guitar) and James Maddren (drums) with a unique platform for individual expression, delivering driving grooves and lingering melodic lines, seamlessly morphing between earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes.
“a distinctly fresh voice that speaks with a magical turn of phrase…There will [or most certainly ought to be] loud talk about Miss Clowes for another important reason – principally the exquisite manner in which she plays with colour.” – Jazz da Gama
Themes of Dracula (Piotr Orzechowski / Kuba Wieçek)
Release Date: 19th August 2022
Picked By: Krzysztof Komorek (Donos Kulturalny)
When cinema’s great visionary Francis Ford Coppola is calling – the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now – who would hang up on him?
Wojciech Kilar took up the offer of cooperation, which resulted in his soundtrack (now of cult status) for the tale of the Transylvanian monster whose love was a bit too strong.
Years later, this pathetic-lyrical cantata for mixed choir and symphony orchestra has been turned inside out by pianist Piotr Orzechowski and saxophonist Kuba Więcek
“This studio version of “Themes of Dracula” is simply excellent, and even – let’s not be afraid of this term – outstanding. Piotr Orzechowski and Kuba Więcek have created an undisputed masterpiece.” – Krzysztof Komorek, Donos Kulturalny
Jazz Codes (Moor Mother)
Release Date: July 1st, 2022
Picked By: Bill Brownlee (There Stands The Glass)
Called “the poet laureate of the apocalypse” by Pitchfork, Moor Mother illuminates the principles of her interdisciplinary collaborative practice Black Quantum Futurism, a theoretical framework for creating counter-chronologies and envisioning Black quantum womanist futures that rupture exclusionary versions of history and future through art, writing, music, and performance.
“In reclaiming the notion of jazz as a revolutionary sound of freedom, Moor Mother crafted a vital work of art. Rejecting polite supper club sounds and the associated cultural appropriation of the form, she insists jazz belongs on riot-torn streets” – There Stands The Glass
Dream Like a Dogwood Wild Boy (Binker Golding)
Release Date: March 7th, 2022
Picked By: Chris Pearson (The Times)
The second album from the multi-award-winning tenor saxophonist and composer, Binker Golding, the record finds Golding moving towards a new sound that incorporates elements of blues, heart-land rock and Americana while remaining firmly rooted in the jazz idiom.
The songs explore themes of manhood, father and son relationships, friendship, love and sex, reflection, drinking, escapism, death, masculinity, and resilience.
“…the tenor saxophonist, who is 37 and comes from Enfield, has made a habit of dyeing expectations. This sublime set comes in the wake of projects that have variously embraced jungle, free jazz and hip-hop.” – Chris Pearson, The Times
Music at Night (And Other Stories) (The New York Second)
Release Date: March 7th 2022
Picked By: Wolfgang Geise (Musik an Sich)
Inspired by Aldous Huxley’s collection of essays published under the same name, The New York Second (led by Dutch pianist Harald Walkate) brought together some of the finest musicians on the Dutch jazz scene for his 2022 album Music At Night.
Complete with flute, brass and reeds, it’s a collection of film music for a movie that doesn’t exist; a concoction of contemporary music and modern jazz, twisting into passages of swinging melodies and near-big band bravado.
“I’ve grown particularly fond of arrangers like Gil Evans, because he also created very special arrangements. In any case, I feel this feeling of Evans also with the opening song.” – Musik an Sich
Live At Room At The Top (Pepper Adams with the Tommy Banks Trio)
Release Date: April 23rd, 2022 (Reel to Real)
Picked By: Cyriel Pluimakers (Jazz Enzo) and Lance Liddle (Bebop Spoken Here)
This two-disc set marks the historic release of a live performance by the late baritone saxophonist from September 25, 1972 at the University of Alberta.
With Adams stationed at the helm on baritone sax, his band is completed by the virtuosic Tommy Banks Trio featuring Tommy Banks on piano, Bobby Cairns on electric bass and Tom Doran on drums.
“’Live at Room at the Top’ is a wonderful tribute and an indispensable item in any serious jazz collection.” – Jazz Enzo
“It’s that good! Taken from reel to reel takes of a Canadian radio broadcast of 50 years ago they have been cleaned up and transferred to the various formats and the result is unbelievable. Add the local rhythm section – the Tommy Banks Trio – who could cut it any side of the border and you have an album that is on the triple plus side of wonderful!” – Bebop Spoken Here
Synched (Emma Nagy Quintet)
Picked By: Róbert Maloschik, Jazzma
Release Date: 25th March 2022 (ExoPAC Recordings)
Picked By: Niels Overgaard (JazzNYT)
“First of all, I would like to state that this record is a masterpiece.
A milestone in Danish jazz and not least in the careers of the two musicians. The two musicians in Kaleiido, Cecilie Strange on saxophone and Anna Roemer on guitar, already did something big with the debut album Voyage.
Now they continue to build, refine and complete a unique musical universe” – JazzNYT
Release Date: 23rd April, 2022 (April Records)
Picked By: Justin Turford (Truth & Lies Music)
Inspired by the spirit of revolution and ancient war, the ensemble aims to challenge the listener’s expectations through chaotic, free-improvised sections of burning expression juxtaposed with passages of functional harmony and composition.
“Sometimes a record appears that either by accident or by design, captures the moment that we are living in. The eponymously titled debut album by this young seven piece Danish experimental jazz outfit seems to have done just that. A remarkable record for our times and I can’t find a fault anywhere. 10/10.” – Truth & Lies Music
The 7th Hand (Immanuel Wilkins)
Release Date: (Blue Note)
Picked By: Thomas Conrad (Stereophile) and James Cook (Off Topic Magazine)
The 7th Hand derives its title from a question steeped in Biblical symbolism: If the number 6 represents the extent of human possibility, Wilkins wondered what it would mean — how it would sound — to invoke divine intervention and allow that seventh element to possess his quartet.
“…one of the most overwhelming jazz performances of the 21st century to date” – Stereophile
“Wilkins knows exactly what he wants and where he wants to go” – Off Topic Magazine
For All We Know (Fleur Stevenson & Pete Billington)
Release Date: October 28th, 2022
Picked By: Nick Lea (Jazz Views)
“Both familiar faces on the London jazz scene, Stevenson’s honeyed tone and Billington’s ability to make each instrumental part his own, come together wonderfully; the duo effortlessly deliver a fresh interpretation of these well-known tunes.
The duo’s noticeable chemistry makes this an intimate and emotive performance – a special musical moment they have let us be a part of” – Jazz Views
Sweet Tooth (Mali Obomsawin)
Release Date: October 28th, 2022 (Out Of Your Head Records)
Picked By: Gary Whitehouse (A Green Man Review)
Mali Obomsawin is an award winning songwriter, bassist and composer from the Abenaki First Nation at Odanak.
With an expansive background in American roots, jazz, and indie rock, Obomsawin carries several music traditions and adeptly demonstrates the continuum of American musics.
“It doesn’t seem enough to say that Sweet Tooth is one of the most emotionally powerful albums I’ve heard this year.” – A Green Man Review
Panamá 77 (Daniel Villarreal)
Release Date: May 20th, 2022 (International Anthem)
Picked By: Mark Sampson (Sound and Colours)
Panamá 77 – a vibrant and verdant suite of multi-textural, jazz-laced psychedelic instrumental folk-funk – is the debut album by Panamá-born, Chicago-based drummer and DJ Daniel Villarreal.
“I didn’t expect these dozen tracks from a pair of big cities to be quite this good. Similar yet quite singular in their different ways, they defy genres and add up to a truly exciting, excellent first album. More soon, please.” – Sounds and Colours
Deep South (George Kontrafouris)
Release Date: April 1st, 2022 (Puzzlemusik)
Picked By: Vangelis Aragiannis (JazzBuzz)
Two years after the release of the artistically and commercially successful “The Passing”, George Kontrafouris with his now stable trio, which includes Kimon Karoutzos (bass) and Jason Wastor (drums), presents us with his new album entitled “Deep South”
“All in all a flawless work that is easy to listen to, lifts the mood and confirms that George Kontrafouris is in a phase of creative growth and maturity” – Jazz Buzz
Bleeding Amazonia (Millennium Jazz Orchestra featuring Lilian Vieira)
Release Date: October 6th, 2022 (ZenneZ Records)
Picked By: Robin Arends (Jazz Radar)
Bleeding Amazonia is a new 8-part suite by conductor, composer, arranger Joan Reinders for the Millennium Jazz Orchestra based on a selection of poems by the Brazilian poet and environmentalist Thiago de Mello. Central theme of the suite is the loss of the Amazon rainforest. Featured artist is Brazilian singer Lílian Vieira.
“With his compositions and arrangements, Joan Reinders has succeeded in creating a convincing album in which the message is packaged in a beautiful musical production” – Jazz Radar
Andromeda’s Mystery (Dorůžka – Wyleżoł – Ballard)
Release Date: June 23, 2022 (Bivak Records)
Picked By: Jazcek Brun (Jazz-Fun)
During the time of the pandemic in 2021 three old friends formed a new band with the idea of exploring new sonic possibilities and illuminating rhythm and harmony in a different way.
The sound of the band relies heavily on analog electronic instruments, simple melodies and intricate grooves and the focus of the musicians is on fusing old and new sounds and approaches into a unique synthesis that characterizes the world of today.
“Together, the musicians create a unique synthesis of sounds and moods that characterize today’s world of sound. Together they go in search of the key to Andromeda’s Mystery to explore unexplored areas” – Jazz-Fun
Isabela (Oded Tzur)
Release Date: May 13th, 2022 (ECM)
Picked By: Mathijs van den Berg (Jazzism)
On his second release for ECM, New York-based saxophonist Oded Tzur introduces a heightened sense of urgency and a conceptually augmented approach to his distinctive voice, weaving one underlying musical idea through a series of elaborate and impassioned designs.
“The music has emotional depth and variation: from wonderfully agile melody lines to swelling drama and disruptive, devastating improvisation” – Jazzism
Mesmerism (Tyshawn Sorey Trio)
Release Date: July 8th, 2022
Picked By: Filipe Freitas (JazzTrail)
Mesmerism is a beautiful, swinging trio meeting led by drummer Tyshawn Sorey featuring two musicians whom he has considered his closest colleagues: pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer.
“My intent was to record this project with only an hour or two of rehearsal, and with a group of musicians who never performed on stage together. To that end, Mesmerism is a departure from the recordings I produced that contained thoroughly rehearsed, rigorously notated music for piano trio” the bandleader commented.
“With no need for flash or gratuitous gestures, this is music made with a striking degree of intelligence. Tradition gives a newfound perspective to Sorey’s artistic genius” – Jazz Trail
Linger Awhile (Samara Joy)
Release Date: Sept 16th, 2022 (Verve)
Picked By: Scott Yanow (Downbeat/LA Jazz Scene)
Samara Joy presents the vocalist backed by the trio of Pasquale Grasso, a budding star from the world of solo guitar. Completing the line-up are prolific bassist Ari Roland and legendary drummer Kenny Washington, offering a subtly swinging backdrop to proceedings.
Joy’s interpretations balance the breezy-fresh feel of a relative newcomer with a reverence for a tradition she is now undoubtedly part of. “But Beautiful”, “Let’s Dream in the Moonlight” and “Jim” pay homage to Billie Holiday’s original versions, and she acknowledges the great Nat King Cole with versions of “It Only Happens Once” and “The Trouble with Me is You”.
“At 24, Samara Joy is poised to be the future of jazz singing.” – LA Jazz Scene
Vystresovaný medvídek koala na pokraji sil se hledaje štěstí náhodně upálí v lesním požáru (Janoušek Wróblewski Quartet)
Release Date: September 27th, 2021
Picked By: Jan Hocek (Jazzport)
This album captures how the band works at concerts – it’s a combination of composed material, which was written by Michal and Štěpán for the purposes of recording, and improvisation. One leads into the other, all the parts can be considered “transitions” as well as “compositions”.
“As a reviewer, I can only express my boundless enthusiasm, words are not enough for me” – Jazzport
Feeding The Machine (Binker & Moses)
Release Date: February 25th, 2022 (Gearbox Records)
Picked By: Yves Tassin (Jazzmania) & Christof Thurnherr (Jazz’N’More)
After some years spent roaming the Valley of the Ultrablacks and exploring the Mountain of Forever, (where they narrowly avoided the lethal traps of The Voice of Besbunu), Binker and Moses are back with a new offering.
Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios by legendary, GRAMMY-winning producer Hugh Padgham, the new record features honorary third member Max Luthert on tape loops and electronics, moving their sound into an entirely new dimension that crosses into ambient, minimalism and experimental electronic territories.
“…be careful: “Feeding the Machine” can cause irreversible addiction!” – JazzMania
Live In Ottobrunn (Martial Solal)
Release Date: November 4th, 2022 (GLM Records)
Picked By: Félix Amador (Jazz, ese ruido)
Born in 1927, pianist Martial Solal is a widely respected cornerstone of French jazz history, having played with almost every American great who passed through the city in the 1950s and 1960s. ‘Live in Ottobrunn’ captures the French legend performing a combination of classic standards, free improvisations and interpretations of popular folk/children’s songs.
“Live In Ottobrun is a treat for the ears…” – Jazz, ese ruido
First Daylight (Mapping Roots)
Release Date: 28th January 2022
Picked By: Robin Arends (Jazz Halo)
Play me a song that tells me about the place you come from” is the starting point of the compositions of the Belgian jazz trio “Mapping Roots”, who present lively, organic, luminous music, open to the world, nourished by improvisation and at the borders of many styles: a jazz universe with rhythms inspired by traditional music from several continents.
“The Brussels bass guitarist Michel Vrydag made a great effort to put down a hell of an album with his project, the trio Mapping Roots. It has become a double CD that does not bore you for a minute” – Jazz Halo
Rosario Di Leo (Homotempus)
Release Date: January 7th 2022 (Auand Records)
Picked By: Robin Arends (Jazzism)
The 11 tunes in the track-list belong to different times and places.
As Di Leo recalls, some are new, while some others are much older.
“There is not a central idea, but there are recurring themes. I write a lot of diverse music. Sometimes I go back to my old material, trying to enhance it, fix it or throw it away.
For this album, planets started to align at some point. The right people, the right instruments, and the right timing. I’ve been working on it for three years and I never wanted to rush it. I waited until it sounded like I had it in my head.”
“The Sicilian pianist Rosario Di Leo prefers not to be pigeonholed. Yet his style is easy to recognize. His fourth album is peppered with heartache and melancholy – Jazzism
Force of Nature (Deanna Witkowski)
Release Date: January 28th, 2022 (MCG Jazz)
Picked By: José Ramón (La Habitación del Jazz)
Through ‘Force of Nature’, Deanna Witkowski’s seventh album, the pianist/composer revisits the compositional genius of the major 20th-century artist Mary Lou Williams. The album also documents the firm musical and spiritual connection between Williams and Witkowski.
“One of the best albums so far in 2022.” – La Habitación del Jazz
Amaryllis (Mary Halvorson)
Release Date: May 13th, 2022 (Nonesuch)
Picked By: Doug Collette (All About Jazz)
A companion piece to the simultaneous release that is the similarly scintillating LP Belladonna, Amaryllis is a six-song suite performed by a newly formed sextet of master improvisers, including Halvorson, Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Jacob Garchik (trombone), and Adam O’Farrill (trumpet).
The Mivos string quartet joins for three of the songs, making this the largest ensemble for which Halvorson has written to date. The suite showcases Halvorson’s many musical influences from jazz, experimental, new music, and beyond.
“a visceral experience” – Doug Collette, All About Jazz
Shifting Sands (Avishai Cohen)
Release Date: May 13th, 2022
Picked By: Hilary Seabrook (Kind of Jazz)
For the last twenty five years, legendary bassist, singer and composer Avishai Cohen has grown to be one of the heavyweights of contemporary jazz, with a catalogue to rival those of even the most legendary in the field of jazz… and beyond. Shifting Sands – his brand-new album – sees him return to the tried-and-tested trio format to display just what he does best.
“The modern jazz trio at its finest.” – Kind of Jazz
Forest Floor (Fergus McCreadie)
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Picked By: Geno Thackara (All About Jazz)
Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie returns with a brand new studio album ‘Forest Floor’ that follows the highly acclaimed Cairn, released in January 2021.
“Building on the superlative reaction to Cairn, Forest Floor develops similar traits and characteristics but imbued with even greater maturity, interaction and vision.
The Scottish folk influences developed in Cairn remain central and define Fergus’ and the trio’s sound.
The sound of the Fergus McCreadie Trio is the sound of joy.
While there are recognizable elements in the mix from bop to (primarily) earthy folk, the brilliant outfit’s music isn’t a fusion of styles so much an impressionistic whirlwind” – Geno Thackara, All About Jazz
Marcelo Maccagnan (Night Tales)
Release Date: July 29, 2022
Picked By: Miroslav Halak (Jazz.sk)
Fusing contemporary jazz with the Brazilian music of his homeland and rock and electronic music of his youth, bassist Marcelo Maccagnan presents his latest album, “Night Tales.”
Based in New York City, the bandleader brings together some of the city’s rising stars for a record whose influences run the full spectrum from Milton Nascimento to Third Rail and Donny McCaslin.
It carries the promise of the musical essence that every lover of fusion and progressive rock needs for life. – Miroslav Halak, Jazz.sk
Rotwelsch『Die Welt Hat Das Genialste Streben』
Release Date: May 05, 2022
Picked By: Hiroki Sugita (PJ portrait in jazz)
The German title of the trio led by Rosenberg, “The World Has the Most Brilliant Aspirations,” shows their confidence, and the high-quality original song collection is a convincing response from Europe. – Hiroki Sugita, PJ portrait in jazz
Thanks for reading!
That’s a lot of music, and a wide range of styles, but we hope you’ll agree it represents some of the best jazz albums of 2022!
As always, the comments section is open for your ideas, tips and suggestions…
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