Jeff Dayton-Johnson's Best Releases of 2013

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Every year the list gets longer and more heterogeneous. There are blockbusters and obscure little gems, loud jazz and quiet jazz, hip hop and kora music, some of it downright unclassifiable. Which is fine. "Junku," a 1984 track anthologized on Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
's spectacular box set below, is in fact both hip hop and kora music! In an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Hancock said, "The thing that keeps jazz alive, even if it's under the radar, is that it is so free and so open to not only lend its influence to other genres, but to borrow and be influenced by other genres. That's the way it breathes." And when Hancock was accorded presidential honors a few weeks later, rapper Snoop Dogg (heard on the Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
b.1978
piano
record listed below) told those assembled, "Herbie, we love you. Thank you for creating hip-hop."

These are the records I kept listening to all year (in alphabetical order). I don't pretend that they're the best of the year. Indeed, I'm still discovering great records from 2012, 2011, and so on, and I'm sure that there will be more great 2013 releases I haven't heard yet. (In fact, there are a few late-2012 discs on this list—see if you can spot them.) When you're listening for the kind of cross-pollination Hancock is referring to, you have to consider lots of records at once. Listen to them in combinations of three or four, and you'll be as sanguine as I am about the vibrancy of the scene—or scenes.


Berserk!
Berserk!
(RareNoise)

Blu
York
(Nature Sounds)

The Caravan
The Caravan
(Self Produced)

Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums

Money Jungle
(Concord Jazz)

Chance the Rapper
Acid Rap
(Self Produced)

The Claudia Quintet
September
(Cuneiform)

Manu Codjia, Géraldine Laurent & Christophe Marguet
Looking for Parker
(Bee Jazz)

Criolo e Emicida
Ao Vivo
(Universal Brasil)

Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet

Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series, vol. 2
(Sony)

Doctor Magnum
Live at Red Square
(Self Produced)

Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
b.1958
piano

Gen Himmel
(Libra)

Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
b.1978
piano

Black Radio 2
(Blue Note)

Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano

The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972- 1988
(Sony)

Ka
The Night's Gambit
(Iron Works)

Chris Kelsey
Chris Kelsey
Chris Kelsey

saxophone

The Electric Miles Project
(Self Produced)

Bassekou Kouyate
Bassekou Kouyate
Bassekou Kouyate
b.1966
various

Jama Ko
(Out/Here)

Hélène Labarrière
Désordre
(Innacor)

Magic Malik
Tranz Denied
(Bee Jazz)

Ondatrópica
Ondatrópica
Soundway

Orchestre National de Jazz
Piazzola!
(Jazz Village)

Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels
(Fools Gold)

Sao Paulo Underground
Beija Flors Velho e Sujo
(Cuneiform)

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone

Without A Net
(Blue Note)

Ballaké Sissoko
At Peace
(Six Degrees)

Sly & the Family Stone
Higher!
(Epic/Legacy)

Jonathan Suazo
Jonathan Suazo
Jonathan Suazo
b.1989
sax, alto

Extracts of a Desire
(Self Produced)

Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn
b.1970
keyboard

Chants
(ECM)

Various Artists
Rough Guide to African Disco
(Rough Guide)

Various Artists
Salsa de la Bahía
(Patois)

Wayne Wallace
Wayne Wallace
Wayne Wallace

trombone

Latin Jazz Jazz Latin
(Patois)

Kanye West
Yeezus
(Def Jam)

Steven Wilson
Steven Wilson
Steven Wilson
b.1967
composer/conductor

The Raven That Refused To Sing
(Kscope)

Mike Wofford
It's Personal
(Self Produced)

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