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by Seth Colter Walls

May 17, 2014

Jazz 101: Today's Giants

by Seth Colter Walls  |  May 17, 2014

Jazz history is massive enough at this point to be a touch intimidating. With so many box sets and so many compilations to choose from, where to start? We've got you covered, era by era, with our Jazz 101 series, which you can follow here. Each daily playlist offers up five-star performances, and tips you off to albums with plenty more gold left to explore after the intro course is over. Enjoy.

You made it! (Or, if this is your first exposure to our Jazz 101 series: Welcome!) We conclude our series with the very exciting music being made by improvisers in the present day. Like jazz musicians have always done, today's giants are aware of the music in other traditions: Witness Jason Moran's interpretation of "Planet Rock"; Vijay Iyer's version of M.I.A.'s "Galang"; Steve Lehman transcribing the GZA; Robert Glasper's partnership with Erykah Badu (on "Afro Blue"); and Yasiin Bey and Pete Rock (on "Black Radio" the remix).

But jazz today isn't merely in the service of pop forms. All of the above artists boast killer originals -- as can other stars, like Matthew Shipp, Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn, Tyshawn Sorey and more. Check out all the modern heavyweights in the appended playlist -- and keep checking out our monthly jazz roundups for the latest exciting releases.

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