- Spiritman by Steve Turre. Has the best arrangement of Horace Silver’s “Peace” that I’ve heard.
- Intents & Purposes by Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet.
- Made in Brazil by Elaine Elias. Nice mellow set.
- What For? by Toro y Moi. Nice set of electronica.
- Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael by Tony Succar. Seriously popping. Splendid reworking of MJ.
- Monoswezi Yanga by Monoswezi. Nice meditative type of music.
- The Brighter Side: A 25th Anniversary Tribute to Uncle Tupelo’s No Depression. I had no idea who Uncle Tupelo was until I heard this album. Now I want to find out.
- Find a Way to Care by John Mayall. As soon as I saw the new John Mayall in Rhapsody, I was happy.
- The Story of Sonny Boy Slim by Gary Clark. Powerful set.
- For One to Love by Cécile McLorin Salvant. Yes, all the accolades are deserved. Gorgeous voice, full of emotion. And clear enunciation, which is a pet peeve for me as a former singer. If I can’t understand what you’re singing, I can’t listen to you.
Honorable Mentions: This year I had a tough time keeping it down to just twenty. Here’s three that almost made the cut:
Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone. Various artists. This album is the soundtrack to the film, What Happened, Miss Simone? While reviews for this album have been mixed at best, I have to admire the young artists who thought to take a look back at an artist who broke the mold.