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Best Jazz Albums of 2018

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Monday December 03, 2018

From Slate Magazine

The Best Jazz Albums of 2018
By: Fred Kaplan

It’s been a lousy year for most things, a very good year for jazz. Pianists have grabbed a particularly bright spotlight, but trumpeters, saxophonists, bassists, and singers have shined too. And musicians of all ages, from 29 (the singer C├ęcile McLorin Salvant) to 80 (the saxophonist Charles Lloyd) and many in between, have released highlights.

Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas, Scandal (Greenleaf)
Another Douglas entry, this one with tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and their quintet Sound Prints, a play on Wayne Shorter’s album Footprints, which explores a few Shorter tunes but, more than that, his sensibility: its mid-tempo exuberance, infectious hooks, and complex two-horn harmonies. Bassist Linda May (who’s also on Brazen Heart), drummer Joey Baron, and pianist Lawrence Fields supply stellar backup. This studio album doesn’t quite project the ecstatic joy that I’ve seen in live concerts, but it will more than do.

Charlie Haden and Brad Mehldau, Long Ago and Far Away (Impulse)
Recorded in 2007, this is a lovely session of bass-piano duets, not quite as magical as Haden’s duos with Keith Jarrett (from the same year) but still wondrous. Best known for his work in Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, Haden (who died in 2014) was often linked to ‘free jazz,’ but that only meant he glided through a song on whatever paths he chose, shifting from melody to counterpoint to time-keeping to plucking some pattern that went with the mood’“and it all worked, especially with ballads, which he treated with romantic flair in offbeat cadences. Mehldau soars and dips, knowing the bass line will keep him afloat.

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