JazzTimes 10: Essential Albums of the 2000s

A look back at a diverse decade, featuring Joshua Redman, Cassandra Wilson, Maria Schneider, and more

The 2000s were a particularly diverse decade for jazz. To name just three major factors in the music of that era, the influence of rock and hip-hop grew increasingly prominent, big bands experienced a resurgence, and the ever-creative Wayne Shorter began a valiant stylistic transformation. Here’s a look at 10 of the decade’s best albums.

Maria Schneider Orchestra: Allégresse (Enja, 2000)
Cover of Maria Schneider album Allégresse
The aughts were a good time for jazz orchestras, which had a renaissance of sorts with leaders like John Hollenbeck, Darcy James Argue, and Orrin Evans—all of them providing an important reminder that big bands didn’t die with the swing era. Bandleader and composer Maria Schneider deserves extra attention for making that point so eloquently. Allégresse was Schneider’s third studio album, featuring such ace musicians as Tim Ries, Ingrid Jensen, Ben Monder, Jeff Ballard, and Frank Kimbrough. Its flowing, impressionistic music qualifies as some of the best large-ensemble work of this era.

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