Downbeat Critics Poll: 2018

I voted in Downbeat's Critics Poll on April 4, 2017. These things often take 8 hours or longer to complete, so I decided to speed up the process by starting with a copy of last year's notes, then adjusting as seems worth the trouble.


Notes on my voting for Downbeat's 2018 Critics Poll. The voting was conducted using SurveyMonkey. For each of 50-some questions, they provided an extensive list of nominees, but also allowed write-ins. Those I voted for are in bold. The write-ins are in bold italic. The survey allowed for splitting ten votes among two or three candidates. I generally split my vote 5-3-2.

What I generally do is start by scanning the nominees, building a list of people I would consider voting for. Then I go through my somewhat antiquated cribsheet and look for people they missed -- ones I would consider voting for (not necessarily everyone who should be on the ballot). Then I pick and assign votes. Most categories have both a main section and one called "Rising Star" (formerly "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition," or TDWR, a slightly different shading). For this I rarely consider anyone who has been recording for more than 20 years or who is over 50, but that's a rough guideline, and I'd prefer 10 years less.

Needless to say, the categories are far from evenly balanced, which will be obvious from my candidate lists below (although the mismatch will be much greater, as I routinely skip over pianists of much greater stature than people I'd consider for the sparser categories. Also, some categories I care more about than others (e.g., I'm not very conscious of arrangers and composers).

Hall of Fame: Excludes previous winners, including Eubie Blake, Don Cherry, George Gershwin, Wynton Marsalis, and Herbie Nichols from 2017. My votes: Roswell Rudd (5), George Russell (3), Anthony Braxton (2). DB Critics have a fairly strongly established habit of voting for the best candidate who died in the previous year, which is what got me to thinking about Rudd well in advance of the invite. When I found his name was left off the ballot, I decided to double down. In previous years I've voted for others still on the ballot (Illinois Jacquet) and I've also written in non-ballot names that are still obviously deserving (Jimmy Rushing, Mal Waldron).

I suggested last year that an easy reform would be double the inductees, taking both the top vote-getters among dead and living candidates. I never heard back from Downbeat, and obviously they haven't taken my advice.

First pass: on ballot I considered voting for: Han Bennink, Paul Bley, Anthony Braxton, Don Byas, Jack DeJohnette, Jan Garbarek, Jimmy Giuffre, Grant Green, Dave Holland, Abdullah Ibrahim, Illinois Jacquet, Professor Longhair, John McLaughlin, Tito Puente, Sam Rivers, George Russell, Pharoah Sanders, Tomasz Stanko, Cedar Walton, Kenny Wheeler, John Zorn.

For what it's worth, others on the ballot (notation: 3 = in, but when?; 2 = maybe; 1 = not really; 0 = who are you kidding?: Fred Anderson (2), Derek Bailey (2), Kenny Barron (2), George Benson (0), Bob Brookmeyer (2), Kenny Burrell (1), Jaki Byard (2), Thomas Chapin (1), Buddy DeFranco (2), George Duke (0), Von Freeman (1), Bill Frisell (3), Steve Gadd (0), Benny Golson (2), Grant Green (2), Chico Hamilton (1), Eddie Harris (2), Jimmy Heath (2), Jon Hendricks (0), Billy Higgins (2), Dave Holland (3), Shirley Horn (2), Bobby Hutcherson (2), Ronald Shannon Jackson (1), Eddie Jefferson (0), Dr. John (1), Yusef Lateef (1), Melba Liston (1), Charles Lloyd (2), Marian McPartland (2), Carmen McRae (2), Hank Mobley (2), James Moody (1), Joe Morello (0), Mark Murphy (0), Oliver Nelson (2), Gunther Schuller (1), Esbjorn Svensson (1), Toots Thielemans (1), Mel Tormé (1), Chucho Valdes (2), Frank Wess (2), Joe Williams (1).

Some other names that should be on the ballot (mostly recent, but several started as far back as the late 1950s; * are still alive, if you want to hold that against them, but over 60): Billy Bang, Borah Bergman, *Carla Bley, Arthur Blythe, Ruby Braff, *Peter Brötzmann, Roy Campbell, *Marilyn Crispell, Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan, Herb Geller, *Scott Hamilton, John Hicks, Leroy Jenkins, Louis Jordan, *Sheila Jordan, Peter Kowald, *Joe Lovano, *Joe McPhee, *Misha Mengelberg, *David Murray, *Evan Parker, *William Parker, *Gary Peacock, *Houston Person, Don Pullen, Charlie Rouse, Roswell Rudd, *Irène Schweizer, Bud Shank, Sonny Sharrock, *Archie Shepp, *Wadada Leo Smith, Horace Tapscott, *Henry Threadgill, *Alex von Schlippenbach, Mal Waldron, David S. Ware, Gerald Wilson.

Some other names that should be considered by the Veterans Committee: Henry "Red" Allen, Mildred Bailey, Chu Berry, Barney Bigard, Cab Calloway, Big Sid Catlett, Serge Chaloff, June Christy, Kenny Clarke, Buck Clayton, Arnett Cobb, Cozy Cole, Eddie Condon, Tommy Dorsey, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Bud Freeman, Lars Gullin, Al Haig, Edmond Hall, Budd Johnson, Bunk Johnson, Wynton Kelly, George Lewis, Louis Jordan, Don Redman, Jimmy Rushing, Luis Russell, Stuff Smith, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Rex Stewart, Lucky Thompson, Frankie Trumbauer, Ethel Waters.

Jazz Artist: I assume this is someone who did monumental work during the last year or two, but I never quite know what that means. William Parker (5), Ken Vandermark (3), Matthew Shipp (2). First pass: Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Douglas, Mary Halvorson, Fred Hersch, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, Dave Liebman, Roscoe Mitchell, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, Ken Vandermark, Matt Wilson, John Zorn.

Rising Star -- Jazz Artist: Craig Taborn (5), Kris Davis (3), Dave Rempis (2). First pass: Kris Davis, Orrin Evans, John Hollenbeck, Jon Irabagon, Nicole Mitchell, Mike Reed, Jenny Scheinman, Marcus Strickland, Craig Taborn, David Virelles.

Jazz Album of the Year (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018): Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, Simultonality (Eremite) (5); Jimmy Greene, Flowers-Beautiful Life Vol. 2 (Mack Avenue) (3); DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield, Hudson (Motéma) (2). Per my usual custom, I only picked albums on their ballot. (I figure write-ins might influence future ballots, but that wouldn't apply to albums.) But note that these records only finished { 12, 24, 39 } on my Best Jazz Albums of 2017 list, so they're nowhere near the best records of the year/period. Although Downbeat's ballot ultimately included 13 records I had at A-, they omitted 46 of my top 50 (their other candidates came in at { 47, 52, 55. 56, 66, 67, 70, 72, 79 }, out of 81 total). Of course, part of the discrepancy comes from their insistence on dividing the year on April 1. Still, their ballot only offers 0 of my 7 A- records so far this year.

I wish they would use calendar year dates, which would be easier for me to sort out, and the extra three months would do more good than bad for critical judgments. (Same for their Readers' Poll, which comes out later in the year. For it they slide the calendar up three more months, but shouldn't it take readers even longer than critics to catch up to the previous year?)

The ballot lists 130 albums this year. I've heard 96 (73%, up from 64% last year, 61% the year before, even 69% from 2014). Of the 34 records I hadn't heard, 10 were 2018 releases.

Two lists follow: albums on the ballot that I've rated; albums on the ballot I haven't heard.

Albums on their ballot I've heard and graded (sorted by grade, then within grade alphabetically by artist) (78):

  • Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, Simultonality (Eremite) [A-]
  • Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse, Morphogenesis (Pi) [A-]
  • DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield, Hudson (Motéma) [A-]
  • Jimmy Greene, Flowers-Beautiful Life Vol. 2 (Mack Avenue) [A-]
  • Kirk Knuffke, Cherryco (SteepleChase) [A-]
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, Agrima (Self Release) [A-]
  • Tom Rainey Obbligato, Float Upstream (Intakt) [A-]
  • Eric Revis, Sing Me Some Cry (Clean Feed) [A-]
  • Wadada Leo Smith, Najwa (Tum) [A-]
  • Tyshawn Sorey, Verisimilitude (Pi) [A-]
  • Chris Speed Trio, Platinum On Top (Intakt) [A-]
  • Katie Thiroux, Off Beat (Capri) [A-]
  • David Weiss & Point Of Departure, Wake Up Call (Ropeadope) [A-]
  • Tim Berne's Snakeoil, Incidentals (ECM) [***]
  • Anat Cohen Tentet, Happy Song (Anzic) [***]
  • Scott DuBois, Autumn Wind (ACT) [***]
  • Kate Gentile, Mannequins (Skirl) [***]
  • Louis Hayes, Serenade For Horace (Blue Note) [***]
  • Fred Hersch, Open Book (Palmetto) [***]
  • Diana Krall, Turn Up The Quiet (Verve) [***]
  • Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Passin' Thru (Blue Note) [***]
  • Brian McCarthy, The Better Angels Of Our Nature (Truth Revolution) [***]
  • Hailu Mergia, Lala Belu (Awesome Tapes From Africa -18) [***]
  • Ron Miles, I Am A Man (Enja/Yellowbird) [***]
  • Roscoe Mitchell, Bells For The South Side (ECM) [***]
  • Charnett Moffett, Music From Our Soul (Motéma) [***]
  • Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Paint (Hot Cup) [***]
  • Linda May Han Oh, Walk Against Wind (Biophilia) [***]
  • Eddie Palmieri, Sabiduria (Ropeadope) [***]
  • Gary Peacock Trio, Tangents (ECM) [***]
  • Mike Reed, Flesh & Bone (482 Music) [***]
  • Riverside, The New National Anthem (Greenleaf) [***]
  • Jamie Saft, Solo A Genova (RareNoise -18) [***]
  • Steve Slagle, Dedication (Panorama -18) [***]
  • Solal/Liebman, Masters In Bordeaux (Sunnyside) [***]
  • Lizz Wright, Grace (Concord) [***]
  • Rez Abbasi, fUnfiltered Universe (Whirlwind) [**]
  • Tony Allen, The Source (Blue Note) [**]
  • Peter Bernstein, Signs LIVE! (Smoke Sessions) [**]
  • Blue Note All-Stars, Our Point Of View (Blue Note) [**]
  • Jaimie Branch, Fly Or Die (International Anthem) [**]
  • Bill Charlap Trio, Uptown, Downtown (Impulse!) [**]
  • Caroline Davis, Heart Tonic (Sunnyside -18) [**]
  • Akua Dixon, Akua's Dance (Akua's Music) [**]
  • Dave Douglas, Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf) [**]
  • Sinne Eeg, Dreams (ArtistShare) [**]
  • Bill Frisell, Music IS (OKeh -18) [**]
  • Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan, Small Town (ECM) [**]
  • Jazzmeia Horn, A Social Call (Prestige) [**]
  • Ahmad Jamal, Marseille (Jazz Village/Pias) [**]
  • Ryan Keberle & Catharsis, Find the Common Shine a Light (Green Leaf Records) [**]
  • Brian Landrus Orchestra, Generations (BlueLand) [**]
  • Brad Mehldau, Blues And Ballads (Nonesuch -16) [**]
  • Nicole Mitchell, Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE) [**]
  • Vadim Neselovskyi Trio, Get Up And Go (Jazz Family/Blu Jazz) [**]
  • Sam Newsome & Jean-Michel Pilc, Magic Circle (Some New Music) [**]
  • Arturo O'Farrill & Chucho Valdés, Familia: Tribute To Bebo & Chico (Motéma) [**]
  • Christian Sands, Reach (Mack Avenue) [**]
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Diaspora (Ropeadope/Stretch) [**]
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, The Emancipation Procrastination (Ropeadope/Stretch) [**]
  • Wadada Leo Smith, Solo: Reflections And Meditations On Monk (Tum) [**]
  • John Vanore, Stolen Moments (Acoustical Concepts) [**]
  • Bobby Watson, Made In America (Smoke Sessions) [**]
  • Ambrose Akinmusire, A Rift In Decorum: Live At The Village Vanguard (Blue Note) [*]
  • Regina Carter, Ella: Accentuate The Positive (OKeh) [*]
  • Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, Jersey (Motéma) [*]
  • Mary Halvorson, Code Girl (Firehouse 12 -18) [*]
  • Keyon Harrold, The Mugician (Legacy) [*]
  • Steve Hobbs, Tribute To Bobby (Challenge -18) [*]
  • Sean Jones, Live From Jazz At The Bistro (Mack Avenue) [*]
  • Harold Mabern, To Love And Be Loved (Smoke Sessions) [*]
  • Nick Mazzarella [Meridian Trio], Triangulum (Clean Feed) [*]
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant, Dreams And Daggers (Mack Avenue) [*]
  • Aaron Parks, Find The Way (ECM) [*]
  • Nicki Parrott, Dear Blossom (Arbors Jazz) [*]
  • Chris Potter, The Dreamer Is The Dream (ECM) [*]
  • Simona Premazzi, Outspoken (Pre) [*]
  • Rova Saxophone Quartet, Saxophone Special Revisited (Clean Feed) [*]
  • Mike Stern, Trip (Heads Up International) [*]
  • Yosvany Terry/Baptiste Trotignon, Ancestral Memories (OKeh) [*]
  • The Vampires/Lionel Loueke, The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke (Earshift Music) [*]
  • David Virellles, Gnosis (ECM) [*]
  • Kamasi Washington, Harmony Of Difference (Young Turks) [*]
  • Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt, Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg (Palmetto) [*]
  • John Beasley Presents MONK'estra, Vol. 2 (Mack Avenue) [B]
  • Gerald Clayton, Tributary Tales (Motéma) [B]
  • Julian Lage, Modern Lore (Mack Avenue -18) [B]
  • Fabian Almazan & Rhizome, Alcanza (Biophilia) [B-]
  • Bill Cunliffe, BACHanalia (Metre) [B-]
  • Cameron Graves, Planetary Prince (Mack Avenue) [B-]
  • Branford Marsalis, Upward Spiral (OKeh -16) [B-]
  • Christian McBride Big Band, Bringin' It (Mack Avenue) [B-]
  • Dr. Lonnie Smith, All In My Mind (Blue Note -18) [B-]
  • Trombone Shorty, Parking Lot Symphony (Blue Note) [B-]
  • Ed Palermo Big Band, The Adventures Of Zodd Zundgren (Cuneiform) [C+]
  • Gregory Porter, Nat "King" Cole & Me (Blue Note) [C+]

Quality-wise, Downbeat's album ballot selection doesn't rate much better than random picks. Grade breakdown, starting at A: 0, 13, 23, 27, 21, 3, 7, 2 (last year: 1, 17, 16, 19, 16, 3, 5, 1; 2016: 0, 12, 15, 28, 10, 8, 3, 0, 1).

Albums on their ballot I haven't heard (34; some post-poll grades added as I've started to catch up):

  • The Bad Plus, Never Stop II (Legbreaker -18)
  • Alan Broadbent, Developing Story (Eden River)
  • Chick Corea, The Musician (Concord)
  • Chick Corea/Steve Gadd Band, Chinese Butterfly (Stretch/Concord -18)
  • Yelena Eckemoff, Blooming Tall Phlox (L&H Production)
  • Kurt Elling, The Questions (OKeh -18)
  • Amir ElSaffar/Rivers Of Sound, Not Two (New Amsterdam)
  • Wayne Escoffery, Vortex (Sunnyside -18)
  • Alan Ferber Big Band, Jigsaw (Sunnyside)
  • Tim Hagans & NDR Bigband, Faces Under The Influence: A Jazz Tribute To John Cassavetes (Waiting Moon)
  • Alex Han, Spirit (3 Deuces)
  • Tom Harrell, Moving Picture (HighNote)
  • John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, All Can Work (New Amsterdam -18)
  • Robert Hurst, Black Currant Jam (Dot Time -18)
  • Anne Mette Iversen Quartet +1, Round Trip (BJU Records)
  • Willie Jones III, My Point Is . . . (WJ3)
  • Matt King, Monk In Brazil: Re-Grooving The Music Of Thelonious Monk (Self Release)
  • Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra, Weapons Of Mass Distraction (Self Release)
  • Rudy Linka, American Trailer (Self Release)
  • Russell Malone, Time For The Dancers (HighNote)
  • Pat Martino, Formidable (High Note)
  • John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension, Live At Ronnie Scott's (Abstract Logix)
  • Vince Mendoza/WDR Big Band, Homecoming (Sunnyside)
  • Houston Person, Rain Or Shine (HighNote)
  • John Raymond, Joy Ride (Sunnyside -18)
  • Antonio Sanchez, Bad Hombre (CamJazz)
  • Alex Sipiagin, Moments Captured (Criss Cross) [B]
  • Walter Smith III, Twio (Whirlwind -18)
  • Sons of Kemet, Your Queen Is A Reptile (Impulse -18) [A-]
  • Esperanza Spalding, Exposure (Concord)
  • Dan Tepfer, Eleven Cages (Sunnyside)
  • Various Artists, We Out Here (Brownswood Recordings -18)
  • Kenny Werner Trio, Animal Crackers (Pirouet)
  • Pablo Ziegler Trio, Jazz Tango (ZOHO) [*]

Historical Album (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018): Sonny Rollins, Way Out West-Deluxe Edition (Craft) (5); Art Pepper, Art Pepper Presents West Coast Sessions, Volume 6: Shelly Manne (Omnivore) (3); Oscar Pettiford, New York City 1955-1958 (Uptown) (2). I've only heard 10 (21.7%, actually up from 18.8% last year and 17.2% in 2016, although shy of 28.5% in 2015.

The following is the same workout as with new records.

Albums on their ballot I've heard and graded (sorted by grade, then within grade alphabetically by artist):

  • Sonny Rollins, Way Out West-Deluxe Edition (Craft -18) [A]
  • Art Pepper, Art Pepper Presents West Coast Sessions, Volume 6: Shelly Manne (Omnivore) [A-]
  • Dave Liebman/Joe Lovano, Compassion: The Music Of John Coltrane (Resonance) [***]
  • Thelonious Monk, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (SAM) [***]
  • Oscar Pettiford, New York City 1955-1958 (Uptown) [***]
  • Albert Ayler, Copenhagen Live 1964 (hatOLOGY) [**]
  • Alice Coltrane, World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop) [**]
  • Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell Duets With Anthony Braxton (Sackville/Delmark) [**]
  • Various Artists, Zaire 74: The African Artists (Wrasse) [**]

Albums on their ballot I haven't heard (36):

  • Lester Bowie, Numbers 1 & 2 (Nessa)
  • Anthony Braxton, Sextet (Parker) 1993 (Firehouse 12 -18)
  • Sonny Clark, Sonny Clark Trio: The 1960 Time Sessions (Tompkins Square)
  • Jay Clayton and Fred Hersch, Beautiful Love (Sunnyside)
  • Ornette Coleman, Ornette At 12/Crisis (Impulse/Real Gone/UMG)
  • John Coltrane, The Atlantic Years In Mono (Atlantic -16)
  • Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway, Just Friends: Live At The Village Vanguard (Resonance)
  • Miles Davis & John Coltrane, The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy -18) [A-]
  • Paul deLay, Live At Notodden '97 (Little Village)
  • Bob Dylan, Trouble No More: The Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Vol. 13, 1979-1981 (Columbia/Legacy)
  • Don Ellis, Soaring (MPS)
  • Bill Evans, Another Time: The Hilversum Concert (Resonance)
  • Aretha Franklin, A Brand New Me: Aretha Franklin With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Rhino/Atlantic)
  • Greg Goodman, Extracting Fish-Bones From The Back Of The Despoiler (The Beak Doctor)
  • John Gruntfest, In This Land All The Birds Wore Hats And Spurs (The Beak Doctor)
  • Louis Hayes-Junior Cook Quintet, The Tour, Volume Two (HighNote) -- same as Woody Shaw, below
  • Isaac Hayes, The Spirit Of Memphis 1962-1976 (Craft Recordings)
  • Joe Henderson, Elements (Jazz Dispensary)
  • Jimi Hendrix, Both Sides Of The Sky (Legacy -18)
  • Helen Humes, The Helen Humes Collection, 1927-'62 (Acrobat -?)
  • Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, After The Fall (ECM -18) [**]
  • Harold Land, New Shade Of Blue (We Want Sounds)
  • Kirk Lightsey and Harold Danko, Shorter By Two: The Music Of Wayne Shorter Played On Two Pianos (Sunnyside) [**]
  • Myra Melford, Alive In The House Of Saints (hatOLOGY)
  • Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (Craft)
  • Wes Montgomery, In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording (Resonance)
  • Alphonse Mouzon, In Search Of A Dream (MPS)
  • Jaco Pastorius, Truth, Liberty & Soul (Live in NYC: The Complete 1982 NPR Jazz Alive! Recording) (Resonance)
  • Hans Reichel, Wichlinghauser Blues (Corbett vs Dempsey)
  • Pharoah Sanders, Deaf Dumb Blind (Summun Bukmun Umyun) (Anthology/Verve Records)
  • Woody Shaw & Louis Hayes, The Tour, Volume Two (HighNote)
  • Frank Sinatra, The Frank Sinatra Collection: The Timex Shows, Vol. 1 and 2 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
  • Willie "The Lion" Smith and Don Ewell, Grand Piano Duets (Sackville/Delmark -?)
  • Sun Ra, Of Abstract Dreams (Strut -18)
  • Cedar Walton, Standards, Vol. 1 and 2 (Fresh Sounds)
  • Ben Webster, Ben Webster: Valentine's Day 1964 Live! (Dot Time -18)

Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing (5), Microscopic Septet (3), Rova (2).

First pass: The Bad Plus, Claudia Quintet, Medeski Martin & Wood, Microscopic Septet, Rova, Sexmob, Henry Threadgill Zooid.

Rising Star Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing (5), Revolutionary Snake Ensemble (3), Harriet Tubman (2).

First pass: Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, São Paulo Underground, The Thing, Thumbscrew. It's not like there are no true groups of note (although most are fleeting). Some I've noticed: Angles/Angles 9, Audio One, Dawn of Midi, Digital Primitives, Farmers by Nature, FCT, Harriet Tubman, Humanization 4Tet, Ideal Bread, Irreversible Entanglements, The Kandinsky Effect, Old Time Musketry, Mike Reed's People Places & Things, Roots Magic, Sons of Kemet, Vector Families, Velkro, The Whammies, XY Quartet, The Young Mothers.

Big Band: Satoko Fujii Orchestra (5), Ken Vandermark's Resonance Ensemble (3), Carla Bley with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra (2).

First pass: Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra, Carla Bley with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Peter Brötzmann Tentet, Anthony Brown's Asian-American Jazz Orchestra, Either/Orchestra, Satoko Fujii Orchestra, ICP Orchestra, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, William Parker & Little Huey, Adam Rudolph's Go: Organic Orchestra, Sun Ra Arkestra, Vienna Art Orchestra.

Rising Star Big Band: Ken Vandermark's Resonance Ensemble (5), Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit (3), Ghost Train Orchestra (2),

First pass: Ghost Train Orchestra, Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Westchester Jazz Orchestra, Howard Wiley and the Angola Project. There must be some better choices somewhere.

Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith (5), Dave Douglas (3), Taylor Ho Bynum (2).

First pass: Ralph Alessi, Steven Bernstein, Taylor Ho Bynum, Roy Campbell Jr. [still RIP], Dave Douglas, Paolo Fresu, Tom Harrell, Ingrid Jensen, Kirk Knuffke, Brian Lynch, Rob Mazurek, Ron Miles, Enrico Rava, Randy Sandke, Wadada Leo Smith, Terrell Stafford, Tomasz Stanko, Natsuki Tamura, David Weiss. I considered writing in Dennis Gonzalez.

Rising Star Trumpet: Peter Evans (5), Darren Johnston (3), Matt Lavelle (2).

First pass: Joshua Berman, Amir ElSaffar, Peter Evans, Russ Johnson, Darren Johnston, Matt Lavelle, Corey Wilkes, Nate Wooley. Some more names: Magnus Broo, Sei Miguel, Daniel Rosenboom, James Zollar.

Trombone: Steve Swell (5), Roswell Rudd (3), Joe Fiedler (2).

First pass: Ray Anderson, Jeb Bishop, Luis Bonilla, Steve Davis, Joe Fiedler, Curtis Fowlkes, Wycliffe Gordon, Curtis Hasselbring, George Lewis, Julius Priester, Phil Ranelin, Josh Roseman, Roswell Rudd [RIP], Steve Swell, David Taylor, Steve Turre, Wolter Wierbos.

Rising Star Trombone: Joe Fiedler (5), Samuel Blaser (3), Jacob Garchik (2).

First pass: Mats Aleklint, Samuel Blaser, Michael Dessen, Alan Ferber, Joe Fiedler, Jacob Garchik, Marshall Gilkes, Rafi Malkiel.

Soprano Saxophone: Jane Ira Bloom (5), Evan Parker (3), Sam Newsome (2).

First pass: Bruce Ackley, Jane Ira Bloom, John Butcher, Jan Garbarek, Vinny Golia, Dave Liebman, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Newsome, Evan Parker, Wayne Shorter, Steve Slagle, Marcus Strickland, Bob Wilber, Steve Wilson. Most of the nominees I recognize more for tenor or alto, with many post-Coltrane tenors (like Branford Marsalis and Chris Potter) featuring the soprano in (at most) one song per album. I've tended to avoid them, unless they've made something more distinctive out of their larks (Garbarek, Parker, Shorter are good examples).

Rising Star Soprano Saxophone: Mike Ellis (5), Steven Lugerner (3), Jasmine Lovell-Smith (2).

First pass: Michael Blake, Mike Ellis, Jimmy Greene, Jasmine Lovell-Smith, Steve Lugerner, Jason Robinson, Jürg Wickihalder.

Alto Saxophone: François Carrier (5), Oliver Lake (3), Tim Berne (2).

First pass: Gary Bartz, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Rob Brown, Francois Carrier, Steve Coleman, Marty Ehrlich, Donald Harrison, Benjamin Herman, Vincent Herring, Jon Irabagon, Sherman Irby, Darius Jones, Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Jeff Lederer, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Joe McPhee, Charles McPherson, Michael Moore, Ted Nash, Greg Osby, Akira Sakata, Jim Snidero, Yosvany Terry, Henry Threadgill, Bobby Watson, Steve Wilson, Miguel Zenón, John Zorn.

Rising Star Alto Saxophone: Dave Rempis (5), Peter Van Huffel (3). Greg Ward (2).

First pass: Greg Abate, Dmitri Baevsky, Andrew D'Angelo, Mike DiRubbo, Benjamin Herman, Peter Van Huffel, Darius Jones, Alexey Kruglov, Dave Rempis, Matana Roberts, Aram Shelton, Greg Ward.

Tenor Saxophone: David Murray (5), Ivo Perelman (3), Ken Vandermark (2).

First pass: Eric Alexander, Harry Allen, JD Allen, Jerry Bergonzi, Michael Blake, Seamus Blake, Peter Brötzmann, James Carter, Anat Cohen, Joel Frahm, Jan Garbarek, George Garzone, Charles Gayle, Craig Handy, Jon Irabagon, Kidd Jordan, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Branford Marsalis, Donny McCaslin, Joe McPhee, David Murray, Ted Nash, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Ivo Perelman, Houston Person, Odean Pope, Chris Potter, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Chris Speed, Ken Vandermark, Tim Warfield, Ernie Watts. Aside from the above, some guys (mostly 50+) who didn't make the ballot: Juhani Aaltonen, Iain Ballamy, Ernest Dawkins, Ellery Eskelin, Ricky Ford, Rich Halley, Scott Hamilton, Billy Harper, Dave Liebman, Bob Rockwell, Archie Shepp, Andy Sheppard, Tommy Smith, Lew Tabackin, Bennie Wallace.

Rising Star Tenor Saxophone: Ellery Eskelin (5), Rodrigo Amado (3), James Brandon Lewis (2).

First pass: Geof Bradfield, Abraham Burton, Ellery Eskelin, Keefe Jackson, James Brandon Lewis, Tivon Pennicott, Noah Preminger, Grant Stewart, Marcus Strickland, Kamasi Washington, Howard Wiley.

Baritone Saxophone: John Surman (5), Brian Landrus (3), Mats Gustafsson (2).

First pass: Tim Berne, Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Ronnie Cuber, Claire Daly, Vinny Golia, Mats Gustafsson, Howard Johnson, Brian Landrus, Dave Rempis, Scott Robinson, Gary Smulyan, John Surman, Ken Vandermark.

Rising Star Baritone Saxophone: Gebhard Ullmann (5), Mikko Innanen (3), Josh Sinton (2).

First pass: Charles Evans, Alex Harding, Mikko Innanen, Chad Makela, Adam Schroeder, Josh Sinton, Gebhard Ullmann.

Clarinet: Michael Moore (5), Marty Ehrlich (3), Ben Goldberg (2).

First pass: Andy Biskin, Don Byron, Evan Christopher, Anat Cohen, Eddie Daniels, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Goldberg, David Krakauer, Michael Moore, Ken Peplowski, Michel Portal, Perry Robinson, Ned Rothenberg, Louis Sclavis, Chris Speed, Jason Stein, Ken Vandermark, Bob Wilber.

Note: somewhere in the saxes I started going on auto-pilot and rechecking all of the ballots. Henceforth, I mostly went with last year's picks.

Rising Star Clarinet: Waclaw Zimpel (5), Avram Fefer (3), Mort Weiss (2).

First pass: Joachim Badenhorst, Avram Fefer, Darryl Harper, François Houle, Rudi Mahall, Ned Rothenberg, Aram Shelton, Chris Speed, Gebhard Ullmann. Mort Weiss.

Flute: Juhani Aaltonen (5), Nicole Mitchell (3), Henry Threadgill (2).

First pass: Juhani Aaltonen, Robert Dick, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, James Newton, Lew Tabackin, Henry Threadgill, Dave Valentin.

Rising Star Flute: none.

First pass: none (I only recognize Steve Adams among the 16 nominees).

Piano: Matthew Shipp (5), Satoko Fujii (3) Irène Schweizer (2).

First pass: Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, George Cables, Uri Caine, Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chestnut, Gerald Clayton, Marilyn Crispell, Satoko Fujii, David Hazeltine, Fred Hersch, Dick Hyman, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Ahmad Jamal, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Myra Melford, -Misha Mengelberg, Jason Moran, Enrico Pieranunzi, Renee Rosnes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Matthew Shipp, Bobo Stenson, Craig Taborn, Cecil Taylor, Chucho Valdes, Randy Weston, Denny Zeitlin.

Rising Star Piano: Michael McNeill (5), Nik Bärtsch (3), Peter Zak (2).

First pass: Ehud Asherie, Nik Bartsch, George Colligan, Kris Davis, Benoit Delbecq, Orrin Evans, Danny Fox, Tord Gustavsen, Russ Lossing, Matt Mitchell, Aaron Parks, Peter Zak. Note: Kris Davis no longer on ballot.

Electronic Keyboard: Jamie Saft (5), Soren Kjaegaard (3), George Colligan (2).

First pass: Nik Bärtsch, Django Bates, Uri Caine, George Colligan, Soren Kjaegaard, John Medeski, Jamie Saft, Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, Gary Versace.

Rising Star Electronic Keyboard: Russ Lossing (5), Kit Downes (3), Zaccai Curtis (2).

First pass: Zaccai Curtis, Kit Downes, Russ Lossing, Rob Mazurek, Bugge Wesseltoft.

Organ: Gary Versace (5), John Medeski (3), Brian Charette (2).

First pass: Carla Bley, Brian Charette, Joey DeFrancesco, Jared Gold, Larry Goldings, Mike LeDonne, John Medeski, Jamie Saft, Gary Versace.

Rising Star Organ: Alexander Hawkins (5), Greg Lewis (3), Roberta Piket (2).

First pass: Pat Bianchi, Alexander Hawkins, Greg Lewis, Wayne Peet, Roberta Piket, Vince Seneri.

Guitar: Mary Halvorson (5), Marc Ribot (3), Joe Morris (2).

First pass: Rez Abbasi, John Abercrombie [RIP], Howard Alden, Peter Bernstein, Nels Cline, Liberty Ellman, Bill Frisell, Mary Halvorson, Charlie Hunter, Vic Juris, Romero Lubambo, Russell Malone, John McLaughlin, Joe Morris, -Jeff Parker, Bucky Pizzarelli, Marc Ribot, Terje Rypdal, John Scofield, Dave Stryker, James Blood Ulmer.

Rising Star Guitar: Samo Salamon (5), Jon Lundbom (3), Eric Hofbauer (2).

First pass: Will Bernard, Raoul Bjorkenheim, Paul Bollenback, Jakob Bro, -Liberty Ellman, Eric Hofbauer, Jon Lundbom, Pete McCann, Michael Musillami, Anders Nilsson, Jeff Parker, Brandon Seabrook, Jacob Young. I wrote Salamon in last year, again this year.

Bass: William Parker (5), Reggie Workman (3), John Hébert (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Arild Andersen, Omer Avital, Michael Bisio, Ron Carter, Avishai Cohen, Greg Cohen, Scott Colley, Stephan Crump, Mark Dresser, Ray Drummond, Michael Formanek, Drew Gress, Barry Guy, John Hébert, Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Joëlle Léandre, Christian McBride, William Parker, Gary Peacock, Eric Revis, Peter Washington, Reggie Workman.

Rising Star Bass: Moppa Elliott (5), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (3), Thomas Morgan (2).

First pass: Joshua Abrams, Pablo Aslan, Harrison Bankhead, Michael Bates, Carlos Bica, Greg Cohen, John Edwards, Moppa Elliott, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Devin Hoff, Adam Lane, Joelle Leandre, Lisa Mezzacappa, Thomas Morgan, Eric Revis, Katie Thiroux, Per Zanussi.

Electric Bass: Steve Swallow (5), Jamaaladeen Tacuma (3), Charnett Moffett (2).

First pass: Avishai Cohen, Bob Cranshaw [RIP], Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Matthew Garrison, James Genus, Drew Gress, Charnett Moffett, John Patitucci, Steve Swallow, Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Lots of double bassists have picked up the bass guitar, but I've found it hard to track and evaluate them.

Rising Star Electric Bass: Chris Morrissey (5), Stomu Takeishi (3), Nate McBride (2).

First pass: Tommy Babin, Melvin Gibbs, Nate McBride, Chris Morrissey, Stomu Takeishi.

Violin: Jason Kao Hwang (5), Jenny Scheinman (3), Charles Burnham (2).

First pass: Charles Burnham, Regina Carter, Jeff Gauthier, Jason Kao Hwang, Eyvind Kang, Carla Kihlstedt, Didier Lockwood, Mat Maneri, Jenny Scheinman, Carlos Zingaro.

Rising Star Violin: Szilard Mezei (5), Jesse Zubot (3), Aaron Weinstein (2).

First pass: Sarah Bernstein, Szilard Mezei, Diane Monroe, Mary Oliver, Rob Thomas, Aaron Weinstein, Jesse Zubot.

Drums: Andrew Cyrille (5), Gerry Hemingway (3), Gerald Cleaver (2).

First pass: Barry Altschul, Joey Baron, Han Bennink, Jim Black, Michael Carvin, Gerald Cleaver, Andrew Cyrille, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Peter Erskine, Joe Farnsworth, Billy Hart, Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck, Dave King, Paul Lovens, Billy Martin, Lewis Nash, Bobby Previte, Rudy Royston, Tyshawn Sorey, Bill Stewart, Nasheet Waits, Kenny Washington, Matt Wilson.

Rising Star Drums: Paal Nilssen-Love (5), Tim Daisy (3), Tomas Fujiwara (2).

First pass: Scott Amendola, Tim Daisy, Joe Farnsworth, Tomas Fujiwara, Dave King, Allison Miller, Paal Nilssen-Love, Stefan Pasborg, Mike Reed, Frank Rosaly, Ches Smith, Tyshawn Sorey, Satoshi Takeishi, Chad Taylor, Dan Weiss.

Percussion: Han Bennink (5), Hamid Drake (3), Adam Rudolph (2).

First pass: Han Bennink, Mino Cinelu, Hamid Drake, Kahil El'Zabar, Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, Susie Ibarra, Marilyn Mazur, Famoudou Don Moye, Leon Parker, Adam Rudolph, Warren Smith, Dan Weiss, Michael Zerang.

Rising Star Percussion: Kevin Diehl (5), Harris Eisenstadt (3), Ravish Momin (2).

First pass: Kevin Diehl, Harris Eisenstadt, Lukas Ligeti, Ravish Momin, Andi Pupato, Ches Smith, Warren Smith, Satoshi Takeishi, Okay Temiz.

Vibraphone: Karl Berger (5), Jason Adasiewicz (3), Warren Smith (2).

First pass: Jason Adasiewicz, Mulatu Astatke, Karl Berger, Gunter Hampel, Bobby Hutcherson [RIP], Khan Jamal, Terry Gibbs, Joe Locke, Mike Mainieri, Matt Moran, Steve Nelson, Kevin Norton, Warren Smith, Kenny Wollesen.

Rising Star Vibes: Kevin Norton (5), Behn Gillece (3).

First pass: Behn Gillece, Kevin Norton. They kicked most of the people I'd been selecting off, including some old-timers like Khan Jamal (age 71).

Miscellaneous Instrument: Erik Friedlander (cello) (5), Gary Versace (accordion) (3), Bob Stewart (tuba) (2).

First pass: Rabih Abou Khalil (oud), Ralph Carney (slide clarinet), Edmar Castaneda (Colombian harp), Joseph Daley (tuba), Erik Friedlander (cello), Richard Galliano (accordion), Howard Johnson (tuba), Guy Klucevsek (accordion), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Grégoire Maret (harmonica), Myra Melford (harmonium), David Murray (bass clarinet), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Colin Stetson (bass sax), Bob Stewart (tuba), Gebhard Ullmann (bass clarinet), Gary Versace (accordion).

Rising Star Miscellaneous Instrument: Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello) (5), Tomeka Reid (cello) (3), Andrea Parkins (accordion) (2).

First pass: Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Ben Goldberg (contra alto clarinet), Okkyung Lee (cello), Peggy Lee (cello), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Andrea Parkins (accordion), Tomeka Reid (cello), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Brandon Seabrook (banjo), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Colin Stetson (bass sax).

Female Vocalist: Catherine Russell (5), Fay Victor (3), Sheila Jordan (2).

First pass: Dee Alexander, Patricia Barber, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jay Clayton, Leena Conquest, Roberta Gambarini, Sheila Jordan, Stacey Kent, Diana Krall, René Marie, Barbara Morrison, Dianne Reeves, Catherine Russell, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mary Stallings, Fay Victor, Cassandra Wilson.

Rising Star Female Vocalist: Lisa Sokolov (5), Nicki Parrott (3), Heather Masse (2).

First pass: Amy Allison, Yaala Ballin, Fay Claassen, Lorraine Feather, Champian Fulton, Heather Masse, Nellie McKay, Nicki Parrott, Lisa Sokolov, Fay Victor, Andrea Wolper.

Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole (5), James Blood Ulmer (3), Ed Reed (2).

First pass: Tony Bennett, Theo Bleckmann, Freddy Cole, Bob Dorough, Giacomo Gates, Kevin Mahogany, Ed Reed, James Blood Ulmer, Kenny Washington.

Rising Star Male Vocalist: Jamie Davis (5), Mark Winkler (3), Pete McGuinness (2).

First pass: Jamie Davis, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Pete McGuinness, Frank Senior, Mark Winkler.

Composer: Carla Bley (5), John Zorn (3), Steve Lehman (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Carla Bley, Moppa Elliott, Dave Holland, John Hollenbeck, Steve Lehman, Rob Mazurek, Ted Nash, Wayne Shorter, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, John Zorn.

Rising Star Composer: Mike Reed (5), Tyshawn Sorey (3), Moppa Elliott (2).

First pass: Anthony Branker, Moppa Elliott, Ben Goldberg, Steve Lehman, Hafez Modirzadeh, Mike Reed, Jenny Scheinman, Marcus Shelby, Tyshawn Sorey, Howard Wiley. Wrote Adam Lane in last year.

Arranger: Steven Bernstein (5), John Hollenbeck (3), Carla Bley (2).

First pass: Darcy James Argue, Steven Bernstein, Carla Bley, John Hollenbeck, Misha Mengelberg, Ted Nash, William Parker, Adam Rudolph, Ryan Truesdell, John Zorn..

Rising Star Arranger: David Weiss (5), Michael Bates (3), Joan Stiles (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Michael Bates, Uri Caine, Brian Carpenter, Marcus Shelby, Joan Stiles, David Weiss.

Record Label: Intakt (5), Pi Recordings (3), AUM Fidelity (2).

First pass: Arbors, AUM Fidelity, Clean Feed, Cuneiform, Delmark, ECM, Enja, Fresh Sound New Talent, Greenleaf Music, HatHut, HighNote, Intakt, NoBusiness, Pi, Random Act, RogueArt, SteepleChase, Thirsty Ear, TUM, Tzadik.

Producer: Joe Fields (5), John Zorn (3), Don Was (2).

First pass: Matt Baltisaris, Joe Fields [RIP], Mark Free, Don Was, Nils Winther, John Zorn.

Rising Star Producer: John Corbett (5), Taylor Ho Bynum (3), Leo Feigin (2).

First pass: Taylor Ho Bynum, John Corbett, Leo Feigin, John Hollenbeck, Bruno Johnson, Seth Rosner/Yulun Wang, Spike Wilner/Ben Rubin.

Blues Artist or Group: Maria Muldaur (5), Taj Mahal (3), Bobby Rush (2).

First pass: Marcia Ball, Lurrie Bell, Eric Bibb, Guy Davis, Sue Foley, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Duke Robillard, Bobby Rush, Otis Taylor, James Blood Ulmer. I've written Muldaur in several times.

Blues Album (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017): Marvin Pontiac, The Asylum Tapes (Strange and Beautiful) (5); Corey Dennison, Night After Night (Delmark) (3). Those were both write-ins. I only heard 1 album (of 50, so 2.0%) on ballot, and it got a B. No point listing all the ballot records here, as I'll never get around to listening to more than a handful. I don't dislike blues. I've listened by pretty much everything that has a rep up to 1980 or so. It's just that not much since then breaks interesting ground, or recycles the classics with newfound authority.

Beyond Artist of Group: Kendrick Lamar (5), Laurie Anderson (3), Run the Jewels (2). Beyond means nothing to me -- if I didn't know better I'd say "beyond pop," but what they mean is more like my division of "non-jazz." The only reason I bother making such a division is that my listening is so skewed toward jazz the division is fairly equitable (in most years, about 50-50 for A-list records, about 70-30 overall).

First pass: A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson .Paak, Laurie Anderson, Beyoncé, Chance the Rapper, D'Angelo, Dr. John, Brian Eno, Flying Lotus, Aretha Franklin, Grimes, Jamie XX, Jay Z, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kendrick Lamar, Nellie McKay, Migos, Janelle Monáe, Ashley Monroe, Mountain Goats, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, Frank Ocean, Bonnie Raitt, Rihanna, The Roots, Run the Jewels, Sufjan Stevens, Richard Thompson, Tinariwen, Tom Waits, Kanye West, Lucinda Williams, Neil Young.

Beyond Album (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015): Kendrick Lamar, Damn (TDE) (5); St. Vincent, Masseduction (Loma Vista) (3); Chuck Berry, Chuck (Dualtone) (2). Again, this is limited to their ballot, and I just mechanically went down my 2017 non-jazz list for these picks (numbers 10, 39, and 41). I actually had Quinsin Nachoff's Ethereal Trio higher on my overall 2017 list, but filed it under jazz.

Records on the ballot that I've heard (23 out of 56 total, 41.0%). This varies a lot, but my share is way down this year: last year was 49/79 (62.0%), before that 54.4% (of 90), 81.0% (of 58).

  • Chuck Berry, Chuck (Dualtone) [A-]
  • Kendrick Lamar, Damn (TDE) [A-]
  • Quinsin Nachoff, Quinsin Nachoff's Ethereal Trio (Whirlwind) [A-]
  • St. Vincent, Masseduction (Loma Vista) [A-]
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound (Southeastern) [***]
  • Mavis Staples, If All I Was Was Black (Anti-) [***]
  • Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1 (Mercury Nashville) [***]
  • Various Artists, Black Panther Soundtrack (Interscope -18) [***]
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rest (Because) [**]
  • Jay Z, 4:44 (Universal/Roc Nation) [**]
  • LCD Soundsystem, American Dream (DFA/Columbia) [**]
  • Margo Price, All American Made (Third Man) [**]
  • Rapsody, Laila's Wisdom (Jamla/Roc Nation) [**]
  • Sheer Mag, Need To Feel Your Love (Wilsuns Recording Company) [**]
  • Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory (Def Jam) [**]
  • Taylor Swift, Reputation (Big Machine) [**]
  • Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soul Of A Woman (Daptone) [*]
  • Ozomatli, Non-Stop: Mexico To Jamaica (Cleopatra) [*]
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto, Async (Milan) [*]
  • Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet, Ladilikan (World Circuit Records) [*]
  • Julien Baker, Turn Out The Lights (Matador) [B]
  • Van Morrison, Roll With The Punches (Exile) [B]
  • Tyler, The Creator, Flower Boy (Columbia) [B]

Records on the ballot that I haven't heard (33/56, 58.9%):

  • Rahim Alhaj Oud and String Quintet, Letters From Iraq (Smithsonian Folkways)
  • August Greene, August Greene (Amazon -18)
  • Beaches, Second Of Spring (Chapter Music)
  • Big Mean Sound Machine, Runnin' For The Ghost (Peace & Rhythm/Black Slate)
  • David Byrne, American Utopia (Todomundo/Nonesuch -18)
  • CALICO The Band, Under Blue Skies (California Country)
  • Ani DiFranco, Binary (Righteous Babe)
  • Luca D'Alberto, Endless (7k!)
  • Headroom, Head In The Clouds (Trouble In Mind)
  • House And Land, House And Land (Thrill Jockey)
  • Van Hunt, Popular (Blue Note)
  • The Juju Exchange, Exchange (Self Release)
  • Mary Lattimore, Collected Pieces (Ghostly)
  • Bettye LaVette, Things Have Changed (Verve -18)
  • Romero Lubambo, Sampa (Sunnyside)
  • Bill MacKay, Esker (Drag City)
  • The Mastersons, Transient Lullabies (Red House Records)
  • Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, The Long-Awaited Album (Rounder)
  • Rod Melancon, Southern Gothic (Blue Elan)
  • Myrrors, Hasta La Victoria (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond)
  • Naughty Professor, Identity (Self Release)
  • Anthony Pasquarosa, Abbandonato Da Dio Nazione (VDSQ)
  • The Pollyseeds, Sounds Of Crenshaw Vol. 1 (Ropeadope)
  • Jordan Rakei, Wallflower (Ninja Tune)
  • Ranky Tanky, Ranky Tanky (Resilience Music Alliance)
  • Miranda Lee Richards, Existential Beast (Invisible Hands Music)
  • Leon Russell, On A Distant Shore - Deluxe Edition (Palmetto)
  • Joan Shelley, Joan Shelley (No Quarter)
  • Son Little, New Magic (Anti-)
  • Yusuf/Cat Stevens, The Laughing Apple (Decca/Cat-O-Log)
  • Joss Stone, Mama Earth (Stone'd)
  • Jorn Swart, Malnoia (Brooklyn Jazz Underground)
  • Yarn/Wire, Currents, Vol. 00 (Self Release)

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