Best Jazz of 2023

This was an extraordinary year for women musicians and my top 25 albums reflect that. My list also includes a separate category of Historical albums, limited to five. As promised to Terri Lyne Carrington in my final episode of 2023 in the podcast Strictly Jazz Sounds, I intend to advance the names of women in jazz. Not because they are women but because they are outstanding artists who are women. Most notably, Lakecia Benjamin. 2023 was the year of Lakecia Benjamin in jazz. Photo of Lakecia Benjamin complements of her website.

  1. Lakecia Benjamin-Phoenix (Whirlwind)
  2. Linda May Han Oh-The Glass Hours (Biophilia)
  3. Chien Chien Lu-Built In System: Live in New York (Feeling Good Music)
  4. Mike Clark-Kosen Rufu (Wide Hive Records)
  5. Isaiah J. Thompson-The Power of the Spirit (Blue Engine)
  6. Kris Davis-Diatom Ribbons: Live at the Village Vanguard (Pyroclastic)
  7. James Brandon Lewis-For Mahalia, With Love (TAO Forms)
  8. Miki Yamanaka-Shades of Rainbow (Cellar)
  9. Johnathan Blake-Passage (Blue Note)
  10. Orrin Evans-The Red Door (Smoke Sessions)
  11. Walter Kemp 3: Black Whole-Live (Walter Kemp)
  12. Artemis-In Real Time (Blue Note)
  13. Emmet Cohen Featuring Houston Person-Master Legacy Series Vol. 5 (Mack Ave.)
  14. Tyshawn Sorey Trio: Continuing (Pi Recordings)
  15. Christian McBride’s New Jawn (Mack Ave.)
  16. Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band-Live From the Archives (Stoner Hill)
  17. Brandee Younger-Brand New Life (Impulse)
  18. Mark Turner-Live at the Village Vanguard (Giant Step Arts)
  19. Sean Mason-The Southern Suite (JALC-Blue Engine)
  20. Joe Farnsworth-In What Direction Are You Headed? (Smoke Sessions)
  21. Rachel Therrien Latin Jazz Project-Mi (Outside in Music)
  22. Kaisa’s Machine-Taking Shape (Greenleaf)
  23. Jane Bunnett and Maqueque-Playing With Fire (Jane Bunnett)
  24. Arturo O’Farrill-Legacies (Blue Note)
  25. Walter Smith III-return to casual (Blue Note)

Best Historical: To discover that there is another recording, a live recording, of John Coltrane sends the heart palpitating at a very fast rate. But, to have one with both John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, well, this is indeed a rare find. Furthermore, now that Terri Lyne Carrington has finally been crowned with the highest artistic recognition for a jazz musician, an NEA Jazz Master, it’s also wonderful to have some of her earliest recorded work shared with the public.

  1. John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy-Evenings at the Village Gate: John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy (Impulse)
  2. Terri Lyne Carrington-TLC& Friends (Candid)
  3. Charles Mingus-Changes: The Complete 1970s Atlantic Recordings (Rhino)
  4. Dorothy Ashby-Dorothy Ashby with Strings Attached (New Land)
  5. Dexter Gordon-Bouncin’ With Dex (Steeplechase)