If I Had To Choose: My Top Jazz Albums of 2011

Hey AT Readers,

Like many respectable jazz columns, blogs and so forth, I begin with the proverbial jazz opener:  My “Best Jazz of 2011” list is by no means the gospel.  It’s just my answer for the “If I Were On a Stranded Island and Could Only Take 10 Jazz Albums That Came Out In 2011 I’d bring…” game.

What.  You know you play that game.

2011 gifted us with some amazing music, evidenced by the list below.  No two albums are remotely the same, proving that jazz is most certainly vibrant and thriving. I am also extremely grateful to have interviewed half of the artists on my list this year.  The 1 – 10 order doesn’t really matter.  Just check out these artists if you haven’t already.  Every album here is worthy of a home in your listening device.



Best Jazz Albums of 2011

1. Gretchen Parlato: The Lost and Found (ObliquSound)

2. Marcus Strickland: Triumph of the Heavy Vol. 1 & 2 (Strick Muzik)

3. Ambrose Akinmusire: When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)

4. Ben Williams: State of Art (Concord Jazz)

5. Ari Hoenig: Lines of Oppression (Naive)

6. Captain Black Big Band: Captain Black Big Band (Posi-Tone)

7. J.D. Allen Trio: Victory! (Sunnyside)

8. Terri Lyne Carrington: The Mosaic Project (Concord Jazz)

9. Adam Cruz: Milestone (Sunnyside)

10. Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Volume 2 (Emarcy)

69 responses to “If I Had To Choose: My Top Jazz Albums of 2011

  1. Hi Angelika, first of all “Happy Holiday Days, Merry Christmas & New Year” to my follow jazz enthusiast!

    Great list, I haven’t heard them all but the majority I have delved into … as always you’re on point!

    Love, Peace and Joy always, Rob

  2. Good choices what about Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band album “Thats How We Roll?” Gotta love that rendition of Rhapsody in Blue

  3. I’d like to recommend Fallen Angeles by Daniel Rosenboom, my pick for the #1 jazz album of 2011, and the #1 album. Period. 🙂

  4. Reading through your list reminds me of how distanced I’ve become in recent years from current jazz (wonder what Dave Douglas is up to?). That said, I do have a list of recent releases in my Amazon shopping cart to purchase some day, and I’ll try to check out some of the items listed here.

  5. Oh, and BTW, it would be helpful since you’re not reviewing any of the records if you could provide links to reviews, the artists’ respective home pages, or places to purchase them. Maybe next time?

    • Point taken. I’ve interviewed many of the artists on my list this year on the blog. There is a ton of information there. The decision to leave it to the artists, album names and cover art was almost all my own. A part of it was that I was having some technical difficulty with adding media. But then I thought long and hard about it, and decided it would be fin to just keep it visually stimulating and let reader’s fingers do the googling, which many have been doing and writing to say so. I don’t know, to me, there is something still mystifying and fun about digging through the virtual crates (before all of the retailers shut down, it was super therapeutic for me to thumb through the CD’s at Tower Records 🙂 ). But I do understand your perspective, obviously. Thanks for stopping by, and hope some of these albums make it into your Amazon cart. Happy Holidays…

  6. Very nice!
    I’ve been very dubious and leery of a lot of new music because by-and-large I really don’t like it but every once in a while do come across good stuff worth listening to – though been out of the Jazz scene for a while.

    Thanks for sharing, some of this looks great and the little of it I’ve already check out online while reading the blog gives me hope – cheers!

  7. I haven’t listened to jazz in a long time, years. Back in the day, when I did, it was Coltrane. I listened to CD 101 fm. Wow, I haven’t thought about this in years. Unfortunately, I’ve no idea who the above artists are. My bad 😦

  8. My husband and I love to listen to jazz, mostly live local bands. This list intrigues me and I will have to check these artists out. We caught Esperanza Spalding on Austin City Limits this weekend and she was pretty amazing too. Merry Christmas!

  9. Angelika,

    Thanks for the post and list. Just checked out Ambrose Akinmusire. Great musician! I plan to go through the rest.

    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed and have a great holiday!

  10. What a great list…Captain Black are stunning…if there were room for an eleventh I would respectfully propose Tenoration by Pee Wee Ellis…

  11. I’ve listened to (and loved!) Gretchen Parlato’s album, but haven’t listened to the others. I’m always looking for more jazz music to add to my library, so this is perfect. Thanks for sharing the list!

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