WBGO Blog
  • The 2015 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

    December 21, 2015

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    Maria Schneider and Rudresh Mahanthappa share top honors in the 2015 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. (Image Credit: Briene Lermitte/Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artists)

    NPR Music is pleased to present the results of a poll where 147 jazz critics selected their favorite recordings of 2015.

    For 10 consecutive years, this poll has been a labor of love by eminent critic Francis Davis. It's grown tremendously since he initially submitted the consensus of 30 writers to The Village Voice in 2006. Over the last month, print journalists, bloggers and broadcasters nominated more than 700 different albums. We're thrilled to host his exhaustive project on our site.

    Below are full results of the 2015 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, led by a playlist of the Top 10 overall picks. You'll find a list of the entire Top 60 in the voting for Jazz Album of the Year, with the top finishers in Latin Jazz, Vocal, Debut and Reissue/Historical ("Rara Avis") categories as well. (You can find all the raw data, including individual ballots, at the website of Tom Hull, who annually collates all the information from the poll.)

    Davis shares his thoughts on each of 2015's Top 10 Jazz Albums below. You'll also want to read his take on the poll results — and by extension, the year in jazz — including his personal picks for the year's 10 best. We invite you to browse and have a listen. —Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music

    50 MORE ALBUMS

    11. Fred Hersch, Solo (Palmetto). 105.5 points (on 19 ballots).

    12. The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (Nonesuch). 103.5 (19)

    13. Cecile McLorin Salvant, For One To Love (Mack Avenue). 99.5 (16)

    14. Tim Berne's Snakeoil, You've Been Watching Me (ECM). 98.5 (14)

    15. Myra Melford, Snowy Egret (ENJA/Yellowbird). 94.5 (15)

    16. Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project, Live at Jazz Standard: Lines of Color (ArtistShare). 88 (15)

    17. John Scofield, Past Present (Impulse). 84 (15)

    18. Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motéma). 83.5 (13)

    19. Jose James, Yesterday I Had the Blues (Blue Note). 81.5 (16)

    20 (tie). Chris Potter, Imaginary Cities (ECM). 72 (12)

    20 (tie). Matt Mitchell, Vista Accumulation (Pi). 72 (12)

    22. JD Allen Trio, Graffiti (Savant). 71 (11)

    23. Mike Reed's People Places & Things, A New Kind of Dance (482 Music). 66.5 (11)

    24. Matthew Shipp Trio, The Conduct of Jazz (Thirsty Ear). 66 (16)

    25. Amir ElSaffar, Crisis (Pi). 63 (14)

    26. Liberty Ellman, Radiate (Pi). 62 (11)

    27. Ran Blake, Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell (A-Side). 61 (9)

    28. Nicole Mitchell/Tomeka Reid/Mike Reed, Artifacts (482 Music). 57.5 (13)

    29. Dave Douglas Quintet, Brazen Heart (Greenleaf). 56 (10)

    30. Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Tokyo Adagio (Impulse). 51 (8)**

    31. Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, Celebrating Fred Anderson (Nessa). 49 (7)

    32. Chris Dingman, The Subliminal and the Sublime (Inner Arts Initiative) 46 (9)

    33. Irene Schweizer & Han Bennink Welcome Back (Intakt). 46 (8)

    34. Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern (Columbia). 45 (8)

    35. Brad Mehldau, 10 Years Solo Live (Nonesuch). 43 (7)

    36. Terell Stafford, Brotherly Love: Celebrating Lee Morgan (Capri). 42 (5)

    37 (tie). Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Mauch Chunk (Hot Cup). 41 (7)

    37 (tie). Danilo Perez/John Patitucci/Brian Blade, Children of The Night (Mack Avenue). 41 (7)

    37 (tie). Dave Stryker, Messin' With Mister T (Strikezone). 41 (7)

    40. Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor, Tales of the Unforeseen (TUM). 41 (6)

    41. Wadada Leo Smith & John Lindberg, Celestial Weather (TUM). 39.5 (9)

    42. Anat Cohen, Luminosa (Anzic). 39 (7)

    43. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Live in Cuba (Blue Engine). 38.5 (6)

    44. Tom Harrell, First Impressions: Debussy and Ravel Project (HighNote). 38 (7)

    45. Noah Preminger, Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar (self-released). 37 (8)

    46. Kris Davis Infrasound, Save Your Breath (Clean Feed). 37 (7)

    47. Julian Lage, World's Fair (Modern Lore). 36 (6)

    48. Christian McBride Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard (Mack Avenue). 35.5 (6)

    49. Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Intents and Purposes (Enja). 35 (8)

    50. Tomeka Reid, Quartet (Thirsty Ear). 34.5 (6)

    51. Erik Friedlander, Oscalypso (Skipstone). 34 (8)

    52 (tie). Jon Irabagon, Behind the Sky (Irrabagast). 33 (8)

    52 (tie). Jacob Garchik, Ye Olde (Yestereve). 33 (8)

    54. James Brandon Lewis, Days of FreeMan (OKeh). 32 (6)

    55. Harold Mabern, Afro Blue (Smoke Sessions). 31 (6)

    56 (tie). Chick Corea & Bela Fleck, Two (Concord Jazz). 31 (5)

    56 (tie). Ingrid Laubrock, Roulette of the Cradle (Intakt). 31 (5)

    58. Makaya McCraven, In the Moment (International Anthem). 30 (5)

    59. Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble, Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland (Planet Arts). 30 (4)

    60. Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas, Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival (Blue Note). 29 (5)

    **Includes 2 (1) transferred from the Reissue category.

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  • Jazz At Lincoln Center Celebrates 'Big Band Holidays'

    December 18, 2015

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    Gregory Porter and René Marie perform with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. (Image Credit: Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    To ring in the holiday season, Jazz Night in America spends the hour with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as it performs highlights from its extensive holiday songbook. Recorded between 2012 and 2014, the music heard on this episode features appearances by guest vocalists Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gregory Porter and René Marie, and comes from the concerts that produced the new album Big Band Holidays.

    Jazz Night In America chats with members of the band about their original arrangements and favorite holiday moments. As a bonus, host Christian McBride talks with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish about some of his favorite Christmas music, and we look back at some early blues Christmas tunes.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Christian McBride's Christmas Jazz Playlist

    December 17, 2015

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    Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' version of "We Three Kings" goes on Christian McBride's holiday playlist. (Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Brooks Brothers)

    Maybe you are one of those people who could listen to the umpteenth version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." A jazz bassist and host of Jazz Night In America, Christian McBride has a soft spot for the holiday music time forgot.

    "I'm at a point where I like to find the most obscure Christmas music I can find," McBride says. "I mean, I was hoping that Sun Ra had done a Christmas album, because I would play that in the house. I probably would get kicked out of the house, but I would play that."

    McBride recently spoke with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish about some of his favorite picks, jazz and otherwise.

    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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  • Jazz At Lincoln Center's Big Band Holidays Concert

    December 14, 2015

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    Vocalist Audrey Shakir will join the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for this year's holiday show. Her son, saxophonist Walter Blanding, is a long-time Orchestra member. (Image Credit: Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    When the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra returns to the newly renovated Rose Theater, it'll bring one of its most popular traditions: its annual concerts of holiday music. The Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, will present new arrangements of favorite seasonal songs with guest vocalists Denzal Sinclaire and Audrey Shakir.

    NPR Music will stream a live performance of the JLCO's Big Band Holidays concert on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. ET.

    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • The Ladybugs Do Disney

    December 11, 2015

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    (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    The Ladybugs are a young band who draw on elements of hot swing, American folk music and blues. But their most salient features, the voices of dual frontwomen Martina DaSilva and Kate Davis, immediately recall an era when intricate vocal harmonies were more common in jazz. Appropriately enough, the quintet recently took on a program drawn from classic Walt Disney films at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola within Jazz at Lincoln Center.

    Jazz Night in America dives into how the group developed on the New York "hot" jazz scene and what new things can be done with the Disney songbook.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/series/347139849/jazz-night-in-america.