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The 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2020

Here are six of the key jazz trends of the last 20 years, defined by 20 of the best 2020 recordings that made us see, again, why this music is in midst of such a thrilling patch of creativity.

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The Best Jazz of 2017

The best and most exciting jazz of 2017 is increasingly happening at the intersection of different streams of music. Reveling in a diversity of influences and therefore a kind of complexity makes it "art music", inevitably.

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Ron Miles: I Am a Man

Cornet specialist Ron Miles, from Denver, brings in a stupendous band for a set of gorgeous, intriguing explorations that are lyrical, free, and incisive in turns.

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Ben Goldberg: Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues / Unfold Ordinary Mind

The John Zorn of the clarinet has two surprises that you are going to like -- no, love.

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Floratone: Floratone II

Bill Frisell's studio-centric band comes back for round two - and they sound so, so much better.

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Harriet Tubman: Ascension

Their band is named after one of American history's most revered women. Their album is named after one of John Coltrane's most ambitious works. Harriet Tubman's Ascension walks the talk.

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Otis Taylor: Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs

Taylor's best record in about half a decade, and a memorable development in his sound.

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Jenny Scheinman: Crossing

The jazz/Americana/anything violinist creates a new set of riveting soundscapes.

Music

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet: One Dance Alone

Experimental pianist and composer Wayne Horvitz leads two very different ensembles -- one rhythm-based and jazz leaning, the other lushly orchestral -- along paths that sometimes cross and comment upon one another. Gorgeous and thought-provoking.

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Best Jazz of 2006

Will Layman's list of the year's best jazz records, a hearty baker's dozen, includes iconoclasts, eccentrics, avant-gardists, and some downright swingers.

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Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet: Way Out East

Chamber jazz of the highest order, for quartet (trumpet, bassoon, cello, piano) -- a perfect mix of composition and improvisation


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