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The Year in Review: Top 50 Albums of 2018

JazzTimes' critics choose the top 40 new albums and top 10 historical releases of the year

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter (photo © Alan Nahigian)

  1. Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg Dirt…and More Dirt (Pi)
Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra "Agg Dirt…and More Dirt" 
Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg “Dirt…and More Dirt”

One of two stunning new releases from the recent Pulitzer winner (see #11), Dirt…and More Dirt continues the evolution of Threadgill’s oblique musical language. “Evolution” seems a particularly germane term in regards to the composer’s large-scale work, which often seems to move and breathe with the alien yet familiar vitality of a newly discovered organism, like a dispatch from some long-lost civilization whose common ancestor is lost in the mists of time. S.B.

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  1. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels + Lucinda Williams Vanished Gardens (Blue Note)
Charles Lloyd and the Marvels + Lucinda Williams "Vanished Gardens" 
Charles Lloyd and the Marvels + Lucinda Williams “Vanished Gardens”

Half a century later, this album finally integrates two of the 1960s’ major cultural breakthroughs: the avant-garde lyricism of John Coltrane’s saxophone and the literary adventurism of Bob Dylan’s songwriting. Lloyd provides the striking saxophone themes and solos on all 10 tracks, while Williams provides the evocative lyrics on four and vocals on five. Bridging the two sides of this major merger are the shapeshifter guitars of Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz. G.H.

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  1. David Virelles Igbó Alákǫrin (The Singer’s Grove) Vol. I & II (Pi/El Tivoli)
  2. Steve Coleman and Five Elements Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets) (Pi)
  3. Tyshawn Sorey Pillars (Firehouse 12)
  4. Dan Weiss Starebaby (Pi)
  5. Stefon Harris + Blackout Sonic Creed (Motéma)
  6. Karrin Allyson Some of That Sunshine (Kasrecords)
  7. John Scofield Combo 66 (Verve)
  8. JD Allen Love Stone (Savant)
  9. Miles Okazaki Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk, Vols. 1-6 (Self-released)
  10. Noah Preminger/Frank Carlberg Whispers and Cries (Red Piano)
  11. Kurt Elling The Questions (Okeh/Sony Masterworks)
  12. Steve Tibbetts Life Of (ECM)
  13. Wolfgang Muthspiel Where the River Goes (ECM)
  14. Gregory Porter Nat “King” Cole & Me (Blue Note)
  15. Alicia Hall Moran Here Today (Yes)
  16. Francesco Cafiso We Play for Tips (EFLAT)
  17. Marshall Gilkes & the WDR Big Band Always Forward (Alternate Side)
  18. Martin Wind Light Blue (Laika)
  19. Tyler Higgins Blue Mood (Clean Feed)
  20. Gilad Hekselman Ask for Chaos (Hexephonic/Motéma)
  21. Lionel Loueke The Journey (Aparté)
  22. Chris Lightcap Superette (Royal Potato Family)
  23. Dayramir Gonzalez The Grand Concourse (Machat)

Originally Published