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January/February 2022

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THE TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2021

From untold thousands of jazz releases, our contributors picked their absolute favorites—40 new, 10 historical—and commented on a few.

HARPS IN JAZZ

No, we don’t mean mouth harps (a.k.a. harmonicas), we mean real ones. And in fact there’s a long, distinguished history of harpists playing jazz, from Dorothy Ashby and Betty Glamann to Alice Coltrane and Zeena Parkins. Geoffrey Himes speaks to modern practitioners of the art—including Edmar Castaneda, Brandee Younger, and Jacqueline Kerrod—about its past, present, and future.

RENEE ROSNES

In 1986, Renee Rosnes moved from her native Canada to New York and turned pro. Thirty-five years and 20 albums later, the extravagantly talented pianist, composer, and bandleader looks back on it all with Ted Panken—who also gets some input from a few of Rosnes’ illustrious colleagues: Ron Carter, Chris Potter, Allison Miller, Christian McBride, David Hajdu, and Bill Charlap. 

Renee Rosnes (photo: Shervin Lainez)
Renee Rosnes (photo: Shervin Lainez)

HELEN SUNG

She was a latecomer to jazz, but you sure wouldn’t know it now. Helen Sung is arguably becoming one of the strongest forces in the music today: intuitive, inventive, hard-working, driven to break barriers. Natalie Weiner talks to Sung about her recent Quartet+ album, which focuses on compositions by female writers, and finds out what the pianist has planned for 2022.

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JT Notes
Opening Chorus: Frank Kimbrough, composer; Alexis Lombre; Misha Tsiganov; Chuck Owen; the Earshot Jazz Festival; and farewells to Pat Martino, Dave Frishberg, Slide Hampton, and many more
Chronology: Buddy Montgomery
Before & After: Pete Malinverni
Overdue Ovation: Brian Jackson

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Audio Files: Brent Butterworth on the year in gear
Chops: The underrated field of piano tuning
Gearhead: Mapex pays tribute to Ralph Peterson Jr.
Artist’s Choice: Randy Klein and Alex Skolnick get multi-ethnic

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Reviews: Harold Mabern’s tribute to John Coltrane, Christian McBride, Irreversible Entanglements, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hasaan Ibn Ali, Oscar Peterson, and more 

Cover image by Joseph Boggess