"Top Ten" seems a rather arbitrary number, so here are my favorites out of about a thousand CDs which came my way last year.  The selection is a personal choice based on musical merit and not necessarily popular appeal, sales, or airplay elsewhere. This is not a ranking, CDs are listed more or less in order received.  

Grammy nominees are indicated with * except in the reissue/ historical section.  The Grammy eligibility year is October through August, thus some of this year’s nominees appeared on our list last year, and some on this list may be nominated next year. 

- Jim Wilke

Favorite Jazz | Reissues | Northwest | Earlier Picks




artist - album title - label
    ( * nominated for a Grammy )

Small groups -
Joe Lovano UsFive - Cross Culture - Blue Note
Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran - Hagar’s Song - ECM
Tomasz Stanko - Wislawa - ECM
Dave Douglas Quintet - Time Travel - Greenleaf
Ryan Keberle + Catharsis - Music is Emotion - Alternate Side
Michael Dease - Coming Home - D Clef
Joe Locke - Lay Down My Heart - Motema
Frank Wess - Magic 101 - IPO
Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway - Duke at The Roadhouse - IPO
Miami Saxophone Quartet - Four of a Kind - Fourtitude
Etienne Charles - Creole Soul - Culture Shock
Ryan Cohan - The River - Motema
Gary Burton - Guided Tour - Mack Avenue
Jim Hall Quartet - Live at Birdland - ArtistsShare
Kenny Burrell - Special Requests - High Note
Kenny Wheeler - Six for Six - CAM Jazz
Steve Turre - The Bones of Art - HighNote
Joe Fielder’s Big Sackbut - Sackbut Stomp - Multiphonics Music
3 Cohens - Tightrope - Anzic
Brian Lynch - Unsung Heroes, Vol.2 - Hollistic MusicWorks
Jane Ira Bloom - Sixteen Sunsets - Outline * (for surround sound- Jim Anderson, engineer)

*nominated for a Grammy

Pianists & Friends -

Benny Green - Magic Beans - Sunnyside
Monty Alexander - Uplift 2 - Jazz Legacy
Jovino Santos Neto- Piano Masters Series Vol.4 - Adventure Music
Eldar Djangirov Trio - Breakthrough - Motema
Michel Camilo - What's Up? - OKeh
Keith Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette - Somewhere - ECM
Christian McBride Trio - Out Here - Mack Avenue
Fred Hersch & Julian Lage - Free Flying - Palmetto *
Mike Jones Trio - Plays Well With Others - Capri
Ahmad Jamal - Saturday Morning - Jazz Village
Marc Cary Focus Trio - Four Directions - Motema
Ted Rosenthal Trio - Wonderland - Playscape
Alan Broadbent - Heart to Heart - Chilly Bin

*nominated for a Grammy

Vocalists - including pianists who sing

Chris McNulty - The Song That Sings You Here - Challenge
Jackie Ryan - Listen Here - Open Art
New York Voices- Live with the WDR Big Band- Palmetto
Giacomo Gates - Miles Tones - Savant
Marlene Ver Planck - Ballads .. mostly - Audiophile
Cecile McLorin Salvant - Woman Child - Mack Avenue *
Eliane Elias - I Thought About You - Concord
Bobby McFerrin - SpiritYouAll - Sony Masterworks
Andy Bey - The World According to Andy Bey - HighNote *
Sacha Boutros - NY After Dark - 100% Organic Jazz
Pete McGuinness - Voice Like a Horn - Summit
Jay Clayton - Harry Who? - Sunnyside
Lorraine Feather- Attachments- Jazzed Media *
Judy Wexler - What I See - Jazzed Media
Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit - Blue Note *
Janis Mann/ Kenny Werner - Celestial Anomaly- Pancake
Allen Toussaint - Songbook - Rounder
Mark Winkler Cheryl Bentyne - West Coast Cool - Summit
René Marie - I Wanna Be Evil - Motema

*nominated for a Grammy

Big Bands, Large Ensembles

Randy Brecker - Night in Calisia - Summit *
Dave Slonaker Big Band - Intrada - Origin *
Phil Woods & Festival Orchestra- New Celebration - Chiaroscuro
David Weiss Endangered Species- Music of Wayne Shorter - Motema
Christine Jensen Jazz Orch - Habitat - Justin Time
Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orch - I Hear The Sound - Archieball
Brussels Jazz Orchestra/Joe Lovano - Wild Beauty - HalfNote *

* nominated for a Grammy

Beyond Category

Dawn Upshaw/Maria Schneider - Winter Morning Walks - ArtistShare *


* nominated for 3 Grammys

(classical vocal, contemporary classical composition, engineering)

Afro-Cuban & Latin Jazz

Lary Barilleau & Latin Jazz Collective - Carmen’s Mambo - OA2
Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet - Ciudad de los Reyes - Saponegro
Nilson Matta - Nilson Matta’s Black Orpheus - Motema
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quinte t- Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin - Patois*
Kenny Barron- & The Brazlian Knights - Sunnyside
Alexis Cuadrado - A Lorca Soundscape - Sunnyside
Paquito D’Rivera & Trio Corrente- Song for Maura - Sunnyside *
Ricardo Silveira Vinicius Cantuaria - RSVC - Adventure Music

Omar Sosa - Eggun - Otá *

* nominated for a Grammy

Woody Shaw - The Complete Muse Sessions - Mosaic (7 CDs)
Jim Hall - Live Vol. 2,3,4 - ArtistsShare *
Tommy Flanagan/Jaki Byard - The Magic of 2 - Resonance *
Chris Connor- Sings Lullabys for Lovers- Bethlehem
Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue - Bethlehem
Booker Ervin - The Book Cooks- Bethlehem
Alec Wilder Octets - Music for Lost Souls and Wounded Birds - Hep
Donald Byrd & Pepper Adams - Motor City Scene - Bethlehem
Keith Jarrett - Concerts Bregenz München* - ECM (3 CDs)  

*historical recording first issued this year


For Pacific Northwest jazz fans in particular, here are some of the exceptional releases from artists living in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia:

Cory Weeds / Bill Coon Quartet - With Benefits - Cellar Live
Clipper Anderson - Ballad of the Sad Young Men - Origin
David Friesen - Brilliant Heart - Color Pool
Chris Amemiya & Jazz Coalescence - In The Rain Shadow - OA2
Greg Williamson - Scenes and Voyages - Pony Boy
Steve Treseler Group - Center Song - CMA
Kelby MacNayr - The Measure of Light
Steve Griggs - Panama Hotel Jazz - Hip City
Jim Knapp’s Scrape- Approaching Vyones - Origin Classical

Earlier picks: 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998  1997


Buy any CD on this list and you're guaranteed some great music! Each of these CDs has received frequent airplay on Jazz After Hours and/or Jazz Northwest. You can order here from amazon.com and it will benefit Jazz After Hours.


—Jim