22. Jason Moran: Black Stars (Blue Note, 2001)
Jason Moran is now an entity unto himself—one of the most influential and powerful musicians in jazz as the Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz. But back in 2001, when he released his third album for Blue Note, Black Stars, featuring the great saxophonist Sam Rivers (who died in 2011), Moran was still proving himself. This album—also featuring Moran’s longtime bandmates, bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits—helped seal the young pianist’s reputation as a deeply imaginative musician, equally at home borrowing from hip-hop, Duke Ellington, Jaki Byard, and the stride piano tradition, among other influences.