We’ve compiled a list of the top (our favorite) jazz albums of 2022. This list reflects the wide variety of influences currently taking the genre to new heights and making us excited about what’s to come in the future. That said, we also wanted to commemorate some of the best stuff we’ve heard so far this year and give you some new music to play on your hi-fi systems. So without further ado, check out our picks and enjoy!
1. Immanuel Wilkins-“The 7th Hand”
Alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins follows-up his acclaimed debut, Omega, with another striking album featuring his remarkable quartet with pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl Johns, and drummer Kweku Sumbry, plus appearances by flutist Elena Pinderhughes and the Farafina Kan Percussion Ensemble. It consists of an hour-long suite comprised of 7 movements that strive to bring them closer to complete vesselhood by the end, where the music would be entirely improvised and channeled collectively.
2. Alison Shearer- “View From Above”
Saxophonist Alison Shearer’s debut album makes a statement. A statement about loss, and struggle, and the restorative power of music. Written soon after the passing of her father, famed photojournalist John Shearer, “View From Above” transports the listener to that liminal space between sky and earth, where the light shimmers and mundane matters seem small and far away.
3. Robert Glasper- “Black Radio III”
Robert Glasper’s highly anticipated third installment to the Black Radio album series. Black Radio III, much like both of its predecessors, is a cultural moment that celebrates black love and resilience, features an eclectic group of talented collaborators, and is composed by Glasper who the New York Times proclaims is “probably the most prominent jazz musician of his generation”. An innovative and essential addition to Glasper’s seminal Black Radio series.
4. Becca Stevens, Attacca Quartet- “Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet”
Nearly a decade ago, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and 2021 GRAMMY® nominee Becca Stevens was approached with an intriguing concept: to reimagine a selection of her songs with string arrangements for a performance at San Diego’s illustrious Mainly Mozart Festival. Little did she know, it would be a life-changing opportunity—introducing her to her future husband, the acclaimed violist, composer, and member of the GRAMMY® Award-winning Attacca Quartet, Nathan Schram. The concert would also inspire a career-spanning passion project—one which blossomed alongside her relationship with Nathan and resulted in the couple’s first collaborative album, Becca Stevens | Attacca Quartet.
5. Cécile McLorin Salvant -“Ghost Song”
Ghost Song features a diverse mix of seven originals and five interpretations on the themes of ghosts, nostalgia, and yearning. Salvant says, “It’s unlike anything I’ve done before—it’s getting closer to reflecting my personality as an eclectic curator. I’m embracing my weirdness!”Ghost Song opens and ends with a sean-nós (traditional Irish unaccompanied vocal style) performance by Salvant, recorded in a church. On track one, she transitions into Kate Bush’s 1978 classic “Wuthering Heights.” Salvant says of the song, “Wuthering Heights is a book that really struck me to my core as I was making this album, during the pandemic. And the best interpretation of the novel is Kate Bush’s song.”
6. John Scofield- “John Scofield”
John Schofield’s self-titled album is the latest release from the American jazz guitarist and composer.
7. Marquis Hill- “New Gospel Revisited”
New Gospel Revisited is the new album from the fearless and formidable American composer and trumpeter Marquis Hill. A live recording that revisits and reinterprets his debut 2012 album New Gospel, this time round employing a band of super-heavyweight musicians including Walter Smith III, Joel Ross, James Francies, Kendrick Scott and Harish Raghavan.
8. Mary Halvorson- “Belladonna & Amaryllis”
This Deluxe LP compiles her two new releases “Belladonna” and “Amaryllis.”The two suites, which Halvorson describes as “modular and interlocking,” were performed at Brooklyn’s Roulette last fall and were produced and mixed by John Dieterich (Deerhoof).Amaryllis is a six-song suite performed by a newly formed sextet of master improvisers, including Halvorson, Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Jacob Garchik (trombone), and Adam O’Farrill (trumpet). The Mivos string quartet joins for three of the songs, making this the largest ensemble for which Halvorson has written to date. The suite showcases Halvorson’s many musical influences from jazz, experimental, new music, and beyond.Belladonnais a set of five compositions written for Halvorson on guitar plusThe Mivos Quartet: Olivia De Prato (violin), Maya Bennardo (violin), Victor Lowrie Tafoya (viola), and Tyler J. Borden (cello). It is Halvorson’s first time writing for a string quartet. Mivos’ parts are through-composed and augmented by Halvorson’s guitar improvisations.
9. Somi- “Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba”
Released on what would have been the 90th birthday of Miriam Makeba, “Zenzile” is a star-studded tribute, feat. Gregory Porter, Angelique Kidjo, Seun Kuti and more.
10. Avishai Cohen Trio- “Shifting Sands”
Shifting Sands – his brand-new album – proves he’s not resting on his laurels, but don’t take our word for it. Listen to ‘Intertwined’ – the charged opening track and the cornerstone of the record – and you’ll feel right away that he raised the bar again. The message is loud and clear: it’s a new adventure on the DNA that you were already familiar with. Since the beginning of the century Avishai Cohen has travelled a varied road. He appeared leading with orchestras, led smaller ensembles and even duets. But it is the Trio format that he always returns to.
11. Melody Gardot & Philippe Powell- “Entre eux deux”
Melody Gardot and acclaimed pianist Philippe Powell have recorded an intimate album of brooding jazz torch songs. Recorded in Paris in December 2021, this intimate new album showcases Melody and Philippe’s love of traditional jazz, taking the listener back to its golden age.
12. Joey Alexander- “Origin”
It’s no coincidence two of the titles on pianist, bandleader and composer Joey Alexander’s inspirational debut on Mack Avenue Records, Origin, contain the words “rise” and “rising.”
“The Latin root of the word ‘origin’ is orire, which means to rise,” explains the restlessly searching musician, who has performed everywhere from the Obama White House to the Grand Ole Opry and has been nominated for three GRAMMY® awards. “During this pandemic, I think the first thing we should do is to start with being hopeful, which is the main theme of Origin. Instead of making it a source of frustration, I made it the source of inspiration to express myself in music.”
Good plan. On his sixth album as a leader, his first featuring all his own material, Alexander has stretched his imagination into new territory, challenging himself to write rich melodic and harmonic interplay without ever abandoning the emotional candor and transparency that have captivated crowds and catapulted his albums to the top of the jazz charts.
13. Nduduzo Makhathini- “In The Spirit Of Ntu”
On his milestone tenth studio album, In the Spirit of Ntu, the visionary South African pianist, composer, improviser, and healer Nduduzo Makhathini condenses the thematic, sonic, and conceptual notions explored over his catalog into a layered yet accessible 10-track album. In addition to Makhathini’s influences such as John Coltrane, Bheki Mseleku, McCoy Tyner and Abdullah Ibrahim, In The Spirit of Ntu pulls his most foundational cultural Influences into a space where the sounds of the South African landscape are placed at the center of the nation’s evolving jazz songbook.
14. Jakob Dinesen Quartet- “Unconditional Love”
Apart from pianist Gary Allen’s title track, Unconditional Love, the album features mostly original works written by Dinesen – created for the deep, poetic universe the quartet brings to life and explores together. All the songs sparkle with emotional honesty, taking the listener on a journey that offers plenty of room for each of the four talented musical personalities to shine brighter than ever before.
15. Dave Douglas- “Overcome”
Overcome is a new Dave Douglas recording, alongside vocalists Fay Victor and Camila Meza, trombonist Ryan Keberle, bassist Jorge Roeder, and drummer Rudy Royston, who banded together over a period of months to create a new album of songs. A statement of purpose, an acknowledgement of forebears, and an exhortation to activism, Overcome involves the six musicians in an emotional and powerful statement of human engagement towards justice: Racial justice. Climate justice. Voting justice. Gender justice.
16. Joel Ross- “The Parable Of The Poet”
Acclaimed vibraphonist and composer Joel Ross returns with his third Blue Note album, The Parable of the Poet, an expansive album-length suite comprised of seven evocative movements. The suite is performed by a dynamic 8-piece ensemble with Ross joined by Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Maria Grand on tenor saxophone, Marquis Hill on trumpet, Kalia Vandever on trombone, Sean Mason on piano, Rick Rosato on bass, and Craig Weinrib on drums.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.