Editor's Choice: November 2023 | The best new jazz albums

Friday, October 20, 2023

Featuring new albums from John Scofield, Joshua Redman, Tania Giannouli, Rob Luft and more

corto alto


Bad With Names

New Soil/Bridge The Gap 

Liam Shorthall (g, el b, tb, tba, perc, prod), Mateusz Sobieski (ts, fl), Harry Weir (ts), James Copus (t, flhn), James Mackay (g), Fergus McCreadie (p), Graham Costello (d), Seonaid Aitken, Katrina Lee (vn), Patsy Reid (vla) and Alice Allen (clo)

'Bad With Names is Shortall’s first full-length album and is a highly polished affair, luxuriating in sumptuous strings and warbling lo-fi synths that add shimmering layers atop the muscular virtuoso drumming of Graham Costello...' Mike Flynn

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Sam Eastmond

John Zorn’s Bagatelles Vol 16

Tzadik Records

Sam Eastmond (arr, ldr, cond), Chris Williams (as), Asha Parkinson, Emma Rawicz (ts), Mick Foster (bs), Charlotte Keeffe, Noel Langley (t, flhn), Joel Knee (t), Tom Briers (tba), Moss Freed (g), Olly Chalk (p), Fergus Quill (b) and Alasdair Pennington (d)

'This album is an enormous achievement in so many ways, not least in that Sam Eastmond is the first British musician to have been entrusted with realising a selection of US maverick composer John Zorn’s 300 Bagatelles. It is also the first large ensemble interpretation of these works, the brief scoring of which is intended to permit both structure and freedom – always a challenge in bigger band arrangements...' Tony Benjamin

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George Freeman

The Good Life


George Freeman (g), Joey DeFrancesco (org), Christian McBride (b), Lewis Nash and Carl Allen (d)

'The youngest and last survivor of the famed Chicago-based Freeman brothers, guitarist George worked with the family at first and recorded, live, with Charlie Parker in the early 1950s. He has subsequently made much of his living playing in touring organ combos so the June session here catches him in a favourite setting with just organ and drums, the now-sadly-departed DeFrancesco comping and soloing with characteristic panache...' Peter Vacher

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Alex Hitchcock Dream Band

Live in London

Whirlwind Recordings

Alex Hitchcock (ts) plus 1) Mark Kavuma (t), Liselotte Östblom (vcl), Rob Luft (g), Rio Kai (b), Jamie Murray (d); 2) James Copus (t), Kit Downes (p), Lewis Wright (vb), Conor Chaplin (b), Marc Michel (d); 3) Alex Ridout (t), Ant Law (g), Kit Downes (p), Orlando Le Fleming (b) and James Maddren (d)

'It’s impossible to do justice in a short review to a long album as varied and richly satisfying as this. Suffice to say that the composer is an unabashed modernist. He has developed the knack of writing tunes whose shape is hard to discern at first, but which gradually assume recognisable form as they approach the end...' Peter Jones

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Tania Giannouli


Rattle Records

Tania Giannouli (p)

'Whether freely improvised or composed in ways that embrace Eastern phrasings, hints of Greek folk or European classical, Giannouli's prowess on the keys is quietly dazzling...' Jane Cornwell

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James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet

For Mahalia With Love

Tao Forms

James Brandon Lewis (ts), Kirk Knuffke (ct), William Parker (b), Chad Taylor (d) and Chris Hoffman (clo)

'Playing a repertoire associated with Mahalia Jackson, arguably the greatest exponent of the Negro spiritual tradition, Lewis captures the intensely emotive character of timeless standards such as ‘Let My People Go’, but most importantly, has found a personal route into this very specific vocabulary...' Kevin Le Gendre

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Rob Luft

Dahab Days

Edition Records

Rob Luft (g, kalimba), Joe Wright (ts), Joe Webb (p, org), Tom McCredie (b), Corrie Dick (d); Alice Zawadzki (vn, v), Byron Wallen (t), Steve Buckley (as, penny whistle), Amika string quartet: Simmy Singh, Laura Senior (vn), Lucy Nolan (vla) and Peggy Nolan (clo)

'Luft has already reached the point where his lush, melodic music sounds like no one else’s. It’s neither cautious nor introspective. Instead, it encourages us to look outwards, freed from time and place, to be continually inspired by curiosity and optimism. The whole album is a thrilling voyage of discovery...' Peter Jones

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Wolfgang Muthspiel

Dance of the Elders


Wolfgang Muthspiel (g), Scott Colley (b) and Brian Blade (d)

'A gift of an album, which words are too clumsy to describe. Just buy it...' Andy Robson

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Joshua Redman

where are we

Blue Note

Joshua Redman (ts), Aaron Parks (p), Joe Sanders (b), Brian Blade (d), Gabrielle Cavassa (v), with guests Joel Ross (vb), Kurt Rosenwinkel, Peter Bernstein (g) and Nicholas Payton (t)

'What is something of a diversion for Redman turns into one of the unexpected big hits of 2023...' Selwyn Harris

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John Scofield

Uncle John’s Band


John Scofield (g), Vincente Archer (b) and Bill Stewart (d)

'It’s his most absorbing and compelling album for a long while, simply because it captures the freewheeling let’s-see-where-the-music-takes-us ethos
that characterises Scofield’s playing in live performance...' Stuart Nicholson

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Shake Stew



Lukas Kranzelbinder (b, guembri), Johannes Schleiermacher (ts, f), Mario Rom (t), Astrid Wiesinger (as, kalimba), Oliver Potratz (el b), Nikolaus Dolp (d, log d), Herbert Pirker (d, perc) and Precious Nnebedum (v)

'This is an album of enormous, integral sonic detail and exploratory zeal, adding six more chambers to Shake Stew’s sultry house of music...' Nick Hasted   

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