• The 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

    December 19, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    Steve Lehman edged out Wadada Leo Smith for the top spot in the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. (Image Credit: Willie Davis/Courtesy of the artist)

    NPR Music is pleased to present a poll in which 140 jazz critics picked their favorite recordings of 2014.

    For nine 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 welcome his exhaustive project back to our site.

    Below are full results of the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, highlighted by a playlist of the Top 10 overall picks. You'll find a list of the entire Top 50 in the voting for Jazz Album of the Year, with the top finishers in Latin Jazz, Vocal, Debut and Reissue/Historical categories as well. (You can find all the raw data, including individual ballots, at a website operated by Tom Hull, who annually collates all the information from the poll.)

    Davis shares his thoughts on each of 2014's Top 10 Jazz Albums below. You'll also want to read his breakdown of the poll results, including his personal picks for the year's 10 best. We invite you to browse and have a listen. —Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music

    The Rest Of The Top 50

    11. Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music) 95 points (on 15 ballots)

    12. The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring (Sony Masterworks) 88.5 (15)

    13. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden, Last Dance (ECM) 83 (14)

    14 (tie). David Virelles, Mbókò (ECM) 80 (13)

    14 (tie). Tyshawn Sorey, Alloy (Pi) 80 (13)

    16. Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time: The Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts) 73.5 (9)

    17. Chick Corea Trio, Trilogy (Stretch/Concord) 72 (10)

    18. Fred Hersch Trio, Floating (Palmetto) 67 (12)

    19. Jeff Ballard Trio, Time's Travels (OKeh) 66 (12)

    20. Vijay Iyer, Mutations (ECM) 64 (12)

    21. Mary Halvorson/Michael Formanek/Tomas Fujiwara, Thumbscrew (Cuneiform) 63.5 (14)

    22. Trio 3 & Vijay Iyer, Wiring (Intakt) 60.5 (10)

    23. Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski, Gathering Call (Palmetto) 60 (12)

    24. Aki Takase & Alexander von Schlippenbach, So Long, Eric! Homage to Eric Dolphy (Intakt) 59.5 (9)

    25. Billy Hart Quartet, One Is the Other (ECM) 59 (11)

    26. Tom Harrell, Trip (HighNote) 56 (9)

    27. Eric Revis, In Memory Of Things Yet Seen (Clean Feed) 53.5 (11)

    28. Jason Roebke Octet, High/Red/Center (Delmark) 53 (9)

    29. The Nels Cline Singers, Macroscope (Mack Avenue) 52 (10)

    30. Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, Habitat (Justin Time) 52 (8)**

    31. Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble, A Trumpet in the Morning (New World) 47 (7)***

    32. Frank Kimbrough, Quartet (Palmetto) 45.5 (8)

    33. Hafez Modirzadeh, In Convergence Liberation (Pi) 44 (7)

    34. Nels Cline & Julian Lage, Room (Mack Avenue) 43.5 (7)

    35. Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms, From the Region (Delmark) 43 (9)

    36 (tie). Joshua Redman, Trios Live (Nonesuch) 43 (6)

    36 (tie). Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5Passion) 43 (6)

    38. Avishai Cohen's Triveni, Dark Nights (Anzic) 42.5 (11)

    39. James Brandon Lewis, Divine Travels (OKeh) 42 (10)

    40. The Cookers, Time and Time Again (Motéma) 40.5 (9)

    41. Darius Jones, The Oversoul Manual (AUM Fidelity) 40.5 (5)

    42. Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein, Viper's Drag (Impulse!) 40 (8)

    43. Pat Metheny Unity Group, Kin (←→) (Nonesuch) 40 (7)

    44. Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (Concord Jazz) 39.5 (9)

    45. Farmers By Nature, Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity) 39 (11)

    46. Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The Offense of the Drum (Motéma) 38.5 (6)

    47. Sean Jones im•pro•vise (never before seen) (Mack Avenue) 37 (6)

    48. Dave Douglas & Uri Caine, Present Joys (Greenleaf) 35 (7)

    49. Ideal Bread, Beating the Teens: Songs of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform) 34.5 (7)

    50. Mary Halvorson, Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch) 34 (5)

    *Includes 21.5 points (on three ballots) from 2013.

    **Includes 23 (4) from 2013.

    ***Includes 12 (3) from 2013

    Reissue/Rara Avis

    1. John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance) 149 points, on 62 ballots

    2. Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4, New York Concerts (Elemental Music) 73 (34)

    3. Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance) 69 (35)

    4. Miles Davis, Miles At The Fillmore (Columbia/Legacy) 51 (29)

    5. Louis Armstrong, The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings (Mosaic) 33 (13)

    6. Charlie Haden/Jim Hall, Charlie Haden - Jim Hall (Impulse!) 32 (17)

    7. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Hamburg '72 (ECM) 26 (14)

    8. Frank Lowe, Out Loud (Triple Point) 15 (8)

    9. Bud Powell, Birdland 1953 (ESP-Disk') 13 (7)

    10. Horace Tapscott Quintet, The Giant Is Awakened (International Phonogram) 13 (6)


    1. Andy Bey, Pages from an Imaginary Life (HighNote) 13 votes

    2 (tie). Dianne Reeves, Beautiful Life (Concord) 5

    2 (tie). Catherine Russell, Bring It Back (Jazz Village) 5


    1. Jeff Ballard Trio, Time's Tales (OKeh) 16

    2. Otis Brown III, The Thought of You (Blue Note) 8

    3. Rudy Royston, 303 (Greenleaf) 7


    1. Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Offense of the Drum (Motéma) 19

    2. Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music) 16

    3. Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5Passion) 11

    4. Danilo Pérez, Panama 500 (Mack Avenue) 8

    5. David Virelles, Mbókò (ECM) 6

    6. Alfredo Rodriguez, The Invasion Parade (Mack Avenue) 5


    Voters were asked to submit choices for their top 10 new releases in descending order. Points were weighted by preference: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd place, etc. Albums on unranked lists were awarded 5.5 points each. Voters also submitted their top three reissues/historical recordings and their lone choices for the year's best vocal, debut and Latin jazz albums. A complete list of ballots is available here.

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

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  • In Memory Of 2014: Jazz Night Looks Back

    December 18, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    Gerald Wilson, 2010. (Image Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP)

    This year saw the passing of numerous jazz legends. In Jazz Night In America's year in review, we pay tribute to bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Horace Silver and composer/bandleader Gerald Wilson, among others. We'll listen back to great live performances recorded over the past 30 years from these musicians — all from the WBGO vault — and highlight remembrances from friends and loved ones.


    • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, "Teri" (Gerald Wilson)
    • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, "Carlos" (Gerald Wilson)
    • Charlie Haden & Quartet West, "My Old Flame" (Coslow/Johnston) [from Sophisticated Ladies]
    • Charlie Haden & Quartet West with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, "Now Is The Hour" (Scott/Kaiha/Stewart arr. Broadbent)
    • Charlie Haden & Quartet West, "Child's Play" (Haden) from In Angel City
    • Horace Silver, "Gregory Is Here" (Silver) from In Pursuit of the 27th Man
    • Art Blakey Quintet, "Quicksilver" (Silver) from A Night at Birdland Vol. 1


    Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: Wynton Marsalis, Sean Jones, Ryan Kisor, Marcus Printup, trumpet; Andre Hayward, Vincent Gardner, Wycliffe Gordon, trombone; Sherman Irby, Ted Nash, Walter Blanding, Victor Goines, Joe Temperley, reeds; Dan Nimmer, piano; Carlos Henriquez, bass; Ali Jackson, drums. Special guest: Anthony Wilson, guitar.

    Charlie Haden & Quartet West: Haden, bass; Ernie Watts, tenor saxophone, Alan Broadbent, piano; Rodney Green, drums. On "Now Is The Hour" and "Child's Play," substitute Larence Marable, drums.

    Horace Silver: Silver, piano; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Michael Brecker, tenor saxophone; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Mickey Roker, drums. Art Blakey Quintet: Lou Donaldson, alto saxophone; Clifford Brown, trumpet; Silver, piano; Curly Russell, bass; Blakey, drums.

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

  • A Jazz Piano Christmas 2014

    December 11, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    Harold Mabern, Kris Davis, Lynne Arriale and Cyrus Chestnut perform at A Jazz Piano Christmas 2014. (Image Credit: NPR)

    Every year, NPR Music invites a handful of the world's top keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to play some of their favorite holiday music for the audience — solo — and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.

    For its 25th anniversary, the program welcomes four artists. Harold Mabern, 78, is one of the great post-bop pianists. Kris Davis brings a distinct, experimental style that's made her a celebrated rising talent. The veteran performer Lynne Arriale returns to A Jazz Piano Christmas, and Cyrus Chestnut, at home in both the church and dialing up dazzling high-speed runs, has recently been named a professor at nearby Howard University.

    Jazz Night In America presents the 2014 edition of A Jazz Piano Christmas from the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center.

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

  • Ellis Marsalis At 80

    December 11, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    Ellis Marsalis celebrated his 80th birthday in performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center. (Image Credit: Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    Ellis Marsalis has four famous musical sons — Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis — but considering his career, he's a father figure for many more musicians. In high school and college classrooms, he's been the major figure in New Orleans jazz education since the time that formal jazz education didn't exist. And as a pianist, he carved out a space for contemporary jazz in his hometown, and has grown into an elder statesman of the scene.

    He turned 80 in November, and to celebrate, Jazz at Lincoln Center — where his son Wynton is managing and artistic director — hosted him and his band at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Jazz Night In America was in the house for Ellis Marsalis' birthday.

    Copyright 2014 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • Ellis Marsalis' 80th Birthday Concert

    December 10, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    Ellis Marsalis celebrates his 80th birthday in concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center. (Image Credit: Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    Ellis Marsalis is a father figure of modern jazz — in quite a few ways. As a pianist, he was among the first generation of musicians to bring bebop to New Orleans, and even worked with Ornette Coleman before the saxophonist recorded his landmarks of free jazz. As an educator, many great musicians came through Marsalis' tutelage, whether in New Orleans' arts high school or at various university programs. And of course, he is also the actual father of several exceptional musicians named Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis.

    He turned 80 in November, and to celebrate, Jazz at Lincoln Center — where his son Wynton is managing and artistic director — hosted him and his band. Jazz Night In America fetes Ellis Marsalis with a special birthday performance from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.

    Set List

    • "Monkey Puzzle" (James Black)
    • "Homecoming" (Ellis Marsalis)
    • "Bloomdido" (Charlie Parker)
    • "Beautiful Old Ladies" (Harold Battiste)
    • "Sweet Georgia Brown" (Bernie/Pinkard)
    • "Creole Love Call" (Duke Ellington)
    • "Happy Birthday" [encore with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra]


    Ellis Marsalis, piano; Derek Douget, saxophones; Jason Stewart, bass; Herlin Riley, drums.

    Copyright 2014 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .