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The Best Jazz of 2018

The definition of "jazz" has never been broader, and the music has never been brighter. Two PopMatters critics pick their favorites in four modern jazz categories.

Justin Cober-Lake and Will Layman
Recent
Music

Various Artists: The Best of Blue Note

Here's another one of those groovy, swingin', melodic and enjoyable exercises in futility.

Music

List This! A Beginner's Guide to Blue Note Records

Blue Note, one of the foremost jazz record labels, is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a vinyl initiative, releasing highlights from its massive catalog over the course of two years. Here are some picks to get you started.

Music

Wayne Shorter Quartet: Without a Net

Another daring act of high-wire group improvisation by the most intuitive group in jazz today.

Music

Talking About Jazz (Again) and Appreciating Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter is the authentic item that aficionados savor, but whom virtually anyone with unpolluted ears can immediately appreciate.

Music

Five Guys or, the Greatest Band of All Time (No, Really)

Aside from John Coltrane's classic quartet, there is no jazz band that can hold a candle to the second Miles Davis quintet.

Music

Lionel Loueke: Karibu

The African guitarist makes an evocative and quietly exciting date for Blue Note.

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The Best Jazz of 2007

In spite of the perception of jazz as an increasingly niche market, the year's best show a style of music that remains ever youthful in its exploration of new territories, expanding its diversity and range of expression.

Will Layman
Music

Herbie Hancock: River

The great jazz pianist, with Wayne Shorter at his elbow and a list of sympathetic guest singers, makes a stunning Joni Mitchell tribute.

Reviews

Steely Dan: Classic Albums [DVD]

The famous pop perfectionism of Steely Dan, dissected at the mixing board by Becker and Fagen themselves -- maybe the best entry in this documentary series.

Music

Wayne Shorter: Beyond the Sound Barrier

The third release from Shorter's acoustic quartet catches the band at its live best. In three new originals and a diverse selection of classical, film, and older music, the group plays with almost unparalleled democracy and drive. Wayne is back. Boy is he.

Will Layman
Books

Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter by Michelle Mercer

Dealing with abstract-thinking introverts is no easy task. There's always the pressure to glean conflict and drama from lives short on dramatic excess.

Michael Sandlin

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