What's New at the Jazz Spot: Winter Edition
You'd think I would want to take a break from jazz. After all, I recently got through hundreds of releases and put together the list of the 20 best jazz albums of 2010. Practically every week I compile The Jazz Spot playlist and highlight the hottest new genre releases and reissues (along with some old favorites). I also program our numerous jazz radio stations, including The New Breed, which is dedicated to the best musicians working the scene today.
But, I cannot get enough of the music jazz is still offering up so much riveting, exciting and diverse musical sounds made by artists who are in it for love. Fast-rising star Esperanza Spalding chose to step away from an upcoming pop album and take a deep dive into a magical world of cool jazz/classical music. Marc Ribot has gone from being the favorite jazz guitarist of the indie rock crowd to producing a quiet solo set. Newcomer Gregory Porter has the pipes for R&B but instead chose to join the likes of Jose James in putting a new spin on the protest soul-jazz-vocal-bop of the 1960s and early '70s (as you will read below, even smooth jazz is catching this mighty protest bug). Likewise, two of the artists below would never consider themselves jazz musicians, yet they actively collaborate often with a new crop of European jazz musicians.
Each one of the following releases is distinct. While it's possible that you won't like every single one of them (perish the thought), I don't think you will feel cheated. I've included one massive box set retrospective because it's a good place to either start a lifelong romance with jazz or to get reacquired with an old flame. Thanks to Sarah Bardeen and Chuck Eddy for writing up a couple of the picks.