Will Layman

Will Layman is a writer, teacher and musician living in the Washington, DC area. He has been a contributor to National Public Radio and WNYC's "Soundcheck" as a jazz critic. He plays rock, funk, and jazz in the bars and clubs in and near the nation's capital. His fiction and humor appear in print and online.
Flutist Jamie Baum Works with Poetry and Dynamic Voice

Flutist Jamie Baum Works with Poetry and Dynamic Voice

Jamie Baum merges powerful poetry, sophisticated arrangement and composition, and a range of historical influences not restricted to one tradition or tonality.

Bassist Stephan Crump Conjures an Optimistic Flow on ‘Slow Water’

Bassist Stephan Crump Conjures an Optimistic Flow on ‘Slow Water’

Bassist and composer Stephan Crump’s ‘Slow Water’ is a reflection on the environment, using both New Music stalwarts and improvised jazz.

Melissa Aldana and Lage Lund Evoke Wayne Shorter on New LP

Melissa Aldana and Lage Lund Evoke Wayne Shorter on New LP

The power of Echoes of the Inner Prophet is how Lage Lund understands and crafts textures and sonorities for Melissa Aldana’s melodic ideas and saxophone style.

JazzMatters: The Best Jazz of March-May 2024

JazzMatters: The Best Jazz of March-May 2024

PopMatters presents the best new jazz recordings from March to May 2024 in the realm of piano jazz. We also reflect on the legacy of the late David Sanborn.

Fay Victor Puts Jazz Pianist Herbie Nichols in Today’s Vanguard

Fay Victor Puts Jazz Pianist Herbie Nichols in Today’s Vanguard

This is Fay Victor’s best recording to date because it looks at a past great composer and reimagines that tradition as part of jazz music’s daring vanguard.

Dave Douglas Creates a Magic Encounter on ‘Gifts’

Dave Douglas Creates a Magic Encounter on ‘Gifts’

Dave Douglas’ recent jazz work has been highlighted by projects that dare him to write new music for novel musical encounters. Gifts is a spectacular success.

JazzMatters: The Best New Jazz of Winter 2024

JazzMatters: The Best New Jazz of Winter 2024

PopMatters presents the best new jazz recordings from the winter of 2024 and reflects on the relationship of the Grammys to jazz.

James Brandon Lewis Sounds Singular on ‘Transfiguration’

James Brandon Lewis Sounds Singular on ‘Transfiguration’

Among the considerable pleasures of the new James Brandon Lewis quartet record is how it insists on expanding how we think about the leader himself.

Ethan Iverson’s ‘Technically Acceptable’ Is a Riveting Journey

Ethan Iverson’s ‘Technically Acceptable’ Is a Riveting Journey

Ethan Iverson’s Technically Acceptable feels like a push into his future as an artist, steeped in tradition and breaking with it, too, in his refreshing way.

Ches Smith’s ‘Laugh Ash’ Is Exhilarating Music

Ches Smith’s ‘Laugh Ash’ Is Exhilarating Music

Ches Smith has real jazz chops, but he creatively blends tonal jazz, harmonic freedom, electronics, classical “new music”, and traditions from around the world.

JazzMatters: The Best New Jazz of Autumn 2023

JazzMatters: The Best New Jazz of Autumn 2023

Our jazz columnist chooses the best new jazz albums of Autumn 2023 while reflecting on a new documentary, Wayne Shorter: Zero Gravity.

The 17 Best Jazz Albums of 2023

The 17 Best Jazz Albums of 2023

Some of it is conventionally beautiful and some thrills by rubbing against the edges of tonality. But all of the best jazz of 2023 serves a vision.