Atomospheres – Tigran Hamasyn, Arv Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang

The Atmospheres created by these four European masters are quiet, spacious, and absolutely gorgeous. The younger of the four, Armenian pianist Tigran, brings a churning but elegant energy under the pristine trumpet work of Arve Henriksen and the live sampling of Jan Bang. Almost like a pointalist painting of a serene setting; the overall image is so pleasing that one doesn’t realize how much is going on inside it.

Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Steve Lehman & Selebeyone

This exciting release represents a bold new direction for the blazing genius of alto saxophonist Steve Lehman. In the Wolof language of Senegal, Sélébéyone, represents a confluence, or coming together. This new project brings Lehman into partnership with the French saxophonist/producer, Maciek Lasserre; and allows the already fluid elements of hard-driving post-bop jazz, Senegalese rap, and avant-global electronics, to flow together into a whole new vocabulary for music.

Pi Recordings, 2003
Notes by John Gilbreath

Countdown – Joey Alexander

Here is one of the most astounding prodigies to ever come along. Joey was just 12 when this recording was made. Never mind that his technique and mechanical skills are top level, it is the maturity with which he understands and expresses music that are most impressive. This date features originals and standards, recorded with some of the top artists of the day, mostly in a jazz trio setting, with the exception of a guest appearance by saxophonist Chris Potter. Absolutely amazing.

Motema Music, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Dark Territory – Dave Douglas

The mid-20-teens have been an incredibly productive time Dave Douglas. The respected trumpeter, a prodigy in his early years, has remained a pioneer of musical expression, and has become a mentor to new generations; moving fluidly between styles as diverse as shape-note-singing, straight-up jazz, and this example of explorations of down-tempo beats with dark electronic coloring. His “High Risk” ensemble is anchored and propelled by the drummer Mark Guilliana, who also helped to define David Bowie’s last release.

Greenleaf, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Stranger Days – Adam O’Farrill

This debut recording as a leader from the old-soul-in-a-young-body trumpeter, Adam O’Farrill, grandson of the great Chico O’Farrill, seems to be more of a continuation than a debut. The recording title alludes to Albert Camus, and the music is more inspired by Charles Mingus than any Latin Jazz master. This stuff is deep, dark, and inspiring.

Sunnyside, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Wanderlust – Allison Adams Tucker

In the company of a stellar lineup of New York heavy-hitters, including Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, and Scott Colley, the vocalist Allison Adams Tucker offers musical impressions of her travels, delivered in six languages, and overseen by award-winning producer, Matt Pierson. It’d be tough to go wrong with support like that, and Adams steps right up with assured pitch and delivery on a distinctive selection of tunes. On Seattle’s Origin record label.

Origin Records, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Second Impression – Eric Alexander

Known as one of the most solid tenor saxophonists on the main-stream jazz scene, Alexander should also be given credit for keeping the talents of be-bop masters like the pianist Harold Mabern and bassist Bob Cranshaw in the spotlight. He brings his muscular, post-Coltrane attack to bear on a couple of jazz standards, and some original works, so well delivered that they sound like standards.

Highnote, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

The Declaration of Musical Independence – Andrew Cyrille Quartet

The drummer Andrew Cyrille has been a long-time stalwart of New York’s black avant-garde, known for important work with some of the legends of the form. Always a modern thinker, he has formed and recorded a brand new quartet here with artists other than the “usual suspects;” including the bassist Ben Street, the rarely heard pianist Richard Tittlebaum, and the globally loved, Seattle resident guitarist Bill Frisell. The music is spacious and inventive, and, like all ECM recordings, beautifully presented.

ECM, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Frogtown – Anthony Wilson

Long known more as a capable and inventive guitarist – and the son of the cherished big band composer Gerald Wilson – than a vocalist, Wilson has assembled a fascinating group of musicians for a pretty fascinating collection of songs, which he delivers in a pleasant, warmly reedy tone. One of the surprises of the group is Petra Haden — one of the triplet daughters of the late bassist Charlie Haden — who is also becoming well known as a vocalist, but who plays violin on Frogtown, for the most part. Interesting

Goat Hill Recordings, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath