Top 50 Jazz CDs of 2011

This is the time of year when jazz critics compile their lists of best new releases of the year. This writer's list below--unlike many--is arranged alphabetically by artist, instead of being ranked in descending order of preference. Also, instead of a Top 10 or Top 20, this is a more expansive Top 50. Considering the thousands of jazz CDs released each year, even 50 is still a small sample size. Apologies to those musicians whose worthy CDs may have been overlooked, or were simply never heard. Lastly, this is of course just one person's subjective opinion.

The following list contains selections by both established and emerging artists performing in a variety of styles, and in configurations ranging from duos to big bands. Vocalists are represented, as are recordings of Latin, Brazilian, and Gypsy Jazz, and even jazz-laced reggae. There's something here for just about every taste, and the open-minded jazz fan (the best kind) would most likely enjoy them all.

Ambrose Akinmusire-- When the Heart Emerges Glistening
Monty Alexander-- Uplift
Karrin Allyson-- 'Round Midnight
Jerry Bergonzi-- Convergence
Ran Blake and Dominique Eade-- Whirlpool
Jane Ira Bloom-- Wingwalker
Ralph Bowen-- Power Play
Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran-- Cuban Rhapsody
Gary Burton-- Common Ground
Captain Black Big Band-- Captain Black Big Band
James Carter Organ Trio-- At the Crossroads
Yamandu Costa and Hamilton de Holanda-- Live!
Kevin Crabb-- Waltz for Dylan
Shirley Crabbe-- Home
Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble-- The Prairie Project
Dead Cat Bounce-- Chance Episodes
Dominick Farinacci-- Dawn of Goodbye
Ken Fowser and Behn Gillece-- Duotone
Wayne Goins-- Chronicles of Carmela
Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society-- G.R.A.S.S. on Fire
Benny Green-- Source
Charlie Haden's Quartet West-- Sophisticated Ladies
Noah Haidu-- Slipstream
Stefan Harris, David Sanchez, and Christian Scott-- Ninety Miles
Nick Hempton-- The Business
Peter Hum Quintet-- A Boy's Journey
Sean Jones-- No Need for Words
Stanley Jordan-- Friends
Jonathan Kreisberg-- Shadowless
Les Doigts de l'Homme-- 1910
Charles Lloyd and Maria Farantouri-- Athens Concert
Allen Lowe-- Blues and the Empirical Truth
Brian Lynch-- Unsung Heroes
Nicole Mitchell-- Awakening
Yoko Miwa-- Live at Sculler's Jazz Club
Sean Nowell-- Stockholm Swingin'
Sonny Rollins-- Road Shows, Vol. 2
Carlo de Rosa's Cross-Fade-- Brain Dance
Samo Salamon's Bassless Trios-- Duality
Bobby Selvaggio-- Grass Roots Movement
Brad Shepik-- Across the Way
Terell Stafford-- This Side of Strayhorn
Dave Sterner Quintet-- Sidetracked
Tierney Sutton Band-- American Road
Hristo Vitchev Quintet-- The Perperikon Suite
Jessica Williams-- Freedom Trane
Warren Wolf-- Warren Wolf
Phil Woods and Bill Mays-- Woods and Mays
Miguel Zénon-- Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook
Rtako Zjaca and Simone Zanchini-- The Way We Talk


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Scott Albin