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20 Best Jazz Albums of 2018

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Tuesday December 04, 2018

From Rolling Stone

20 Best Jazz Albums of 2018
By: Hank Shteamer

Congratulations to Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, and The Bad Plus for making Rolling Stone‘s top 20 list this year!

1. The Bad Plus, Never Stop II
During their initial 17-year run, the Bad Plus built up a reputation as one of the most tight-knit groups in contemporary jazz, the rare example of a die-hard working band in an era where ever-shuffling personnel is the norm. That seemed to change last year, though, when the trio announced that Orrin Evans — a seasoned mid-career pianist and a longtime friend of TBP bassist Reid Anderson — would be stepping in for charismatic co-founder Ethan Iverson. So it’s both a surprise and a delight that their debut with Evans, framed as a sequel of sorts to 2010’s outstanding Never Stop, sounded so much like Bad Plus business-as-usual, with poignant, lucid melodies set against proggy complexity and rowdy improvisational dust-ups. The album didn’t feel like a new chapter so much as a signal to longtime fans that Anderson and drummer Dave King’s commitment to their core aesthetic hadn’t wavered in the slightest. (A happy footnote: Iverson’s own first album since leaving the group — Temporary Kings, a pensive duo session with saxist Mark Turner — found him thriving in an entirely different sonic space.)

13. Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Sound Prints, Scandal
For decades, narrow-minded observers have tried to keep jazz fragmented into discrete, even opposing strains: “straight-ahead,” “avant-garde” and so on. Fortunately, elite musicians such as trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano continue to ignore this line of thinking. The second release from Sound Prints — their collaboratively led band inspired by Wayne Shorter’s ever-unclassifiable aesthetic, and featuring the superb rhythm section of pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron — finds the quintet settling into a wonderfully loose group M.O. Rubato themes, most by the leaders with a pair of pieces from Shorter’s legendary Sixties run for Blue Note, flow into searching, deep-listening improvisations where any group member can take the music anywhere they please. Scandal shows how, when great players dispense with categories, jazz can be everything at once.

20. Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley and Brian Blade, Still Dreaming
Still Dreaming is the latest proof that the late Ornette Coleman was a musical movement unto himself. In a sense, the jazz supergroup heard on the album — saxist Joshua Redman, cornetist Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade — is paying tribute to a tribute: Old and New Dreams, a quartet of Coleman associates, including Redman’s father Dewey, that performed music written and inspired by their trailblazing maestro in the Seventies and Eighties. As with that group, these four play with finger-snapping elasticity, brotherly interactivity and coloring-outside-the-lines glee on the album’s eight pieces, which include six originals by the group members and one apiece by Coleman and his bassist and musical soulmate Charlie Haden. These four are inheriting a language while adding their own freewheeling inflection.

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