The 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2022

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The votes are in! Featuring outstanding releases from Cécile McLorin Salvant, Charles Lloyd, Immanuel Wilkins, Mary Halvorson, Fergus McCreadie and many more...

If 2022 has been a year of global and domestic political turmoil, then jazz has had a consistently compelling 12 months, as is evident by the cracking Critics' Poll results below. This year is also unique, as pre-eminent US vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant becomes the first female artist to top our Albums of the Year twice, with Ghost Song matching 2017’s Dreams and Daggers to be voted to No.1. Charles Lloyd’s second place reflects his astonishing form aged 84, and alto sax ace Immanuel Wilkins’ scorching sophomore LP edged into third spot, just ahead of some truly excellent albums.

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1 Cécile McLorin Salvant 

Ghost Song 


'The primary undercurrent is a sense of haunting, of restlessness and torment. It is all there in Salvant’s finely shaded voice down to every careful accent and emphasis on revelatory lyrics, which are potently consolidated by the advanced subtleties of an ensemble in which master guitarist Marvin Sewell is both a suitably corporeal and spectral presence, drawing on his consummate bluesiness with no concession to cliché.' Kevin Le Gendre

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2 Charles Lloyd 

Trios: Chapel 

Blue Note 

'The close relationship Frisell and Lloyd have fostered is built on a shared musical DNA of homespun, black-rooted popular Americana and a certain spiritual, some might say spaced-out, vibe. It’s superbly grounded by the addition of the elegantly responsive bassist Thomas Morgan, a close collaborator of Frisell’s.' Selwyn Harris

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3 Immanuel Wilkins 

The 7th Hand 

Blue Note 

'Not unlike his biggest hero Kenny Garrett, Wilkins on The 7th Hand plays the alto with a deceivingly wispy yet soulful tone. Among other achievements is his delivery of intricate solos with an eloquent narrative development that constantly remains succinct and melody driven.' Selwyn Harris

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4 Mary Halvorson 



'The release of either of these albums would be significant: but to have them released simultaneously is a major musical event.' Andy Robson

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5 Fergus McCreadie 

Forest Floor 


'Solos by Bowden and Henderson are relatively few and far between, but they contribute mightily to the overall impact of this performance. As such, McCreadie has put sufficient space between himself and the meanderings of an average piano trio record, and it’d be interesting to see how he would integrate horns into his musical vision.' Brian Priestley

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6 Redman, Mehldau, McBride, Blade 

Long Gone 


'It's the closing 12-minute live take, ‘Rejoice’, that steals the show in its cryptically telling tenor blurts, hustling Mehldau-shadowed countermelodies, one-touch call-and-response and hurtling time-playing. As if all four were tuned into Sonny Rollins' mindset in his prime, it almost feels like the tunes are incidentals to this one-off band's dynamism.' John Fordham

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7 Avishai Cohen Trio 

Shifting Sands 


'Three supremely gifted musicians, playing first-rate originals and pushing each other on in the process. What's not to like? One of 2022's best, without doubt.' Kevin Whitlock

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8 Nduduzo Makhathini 

In The Spirit of Ntu 

Blue Note 

'Makhathini speaks of how the album was conceptualised in a “time of confusion and conflict’ in his homeland, and on tracks such as the minor keyed ‘Amathongo’ he succeeds in implying darkness and mystery, despite the bright tempo, a feeling which persists in the ballad like ‘Omagugu’ with an Anna Widauer vocal and a thoughtful trumpet intervention by Robin Fassie Kock.' Stuart Nicholson

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9 Trish Clowes 

A View With A Room 

Greenleaf Music 

'A View With A Room grows with each play and will be listened to way after the era of its becoming has passed. We hope.' Andy Robson

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10 Terri Lyne Carrington 

New Standards Vol.1 


'Slick sounding yet diversely stimulating, it’s that rare instance of a guest-star-heavy recording that succeeds in hitting most of the high notes.' Selwyn Harris

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11 Julia Hülsmann Quartet 

The Next Door 


'This is music that pushes forward in sophisticated, subtle but always with creative ingenuity.' Stuart Nicholson

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12 Tigran Hamasyan 



'It’s a testament to the twentieth-century American jazz songbook’s timelessness that contemporary jazz musicians can still see it as the ultimate challenge. Only the very few such as Tigran are able to make it sound fresh and new today.' Selwyn Harris

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13 Julian Lage 

View With A Room 

Blue Note 

'It is one of those albums that does not betray its secrets readily, and can be returned to time and again when a fresh nuance, an inspired moment of counterpoint or perfectly framed melodic variation reveal themselves to contribute to a broader understanding of the inspired creativity at work here.' Stuart Nicholson

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14 Oded Tzur 



'This is a bewitching session from the unique Tel Aviv-born improviser and composer Oded Tzur – a performer with a tenor saxophone sound as impressionistically recognisable as Jan Garbarek's was when he first emerged in the early 1970s.' John Fordham

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15 Gareth Williams 

Short Stories 

Miles Music

'In what must surely be his magnum opusShort Stories covers a lot of ground in terms of material, but what impresses most is the album’s clear statement of an artist who has reached artistic maturity.' Stuart Nicholson

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16 Arun Ghosh 

Seclused In Light 


'The steady momentum of ‘Surrender To The Sea’ or the affecting pulsation of ‘NineNight’ both show Ghosh’s skill in ratcheting up tension while exercising a certain constraint, and the latter’s wavering meter, based on a nine-beat cycle that reflects the musical riches of his south Indian heritage, is spellbinding.' Kevin Le Gendre

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17 Ches Smith 

Interpret It Well 

Pyroclastic Records 

'The busy separate schedules of these four players makes regular get-togethers on Ches Smith's ventures inevitably rare, so Interpret It Well is a particularly precious document.'

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18 Charles Lloyd 

Trios: Sacred Thread 

Blue Note 

'Sacred Thread represents the Trio series' most radical departure from the freeboppish or bluesily grooving soundscapes of its predecessors Chapel, and Ocean – a more open global-musical trip, as well as an homage to Lloyd's decades-long devotion to the spirituality of the East.' John Fordham

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19 Brad Mehldau 

Jacob's Ladder 


'On Jacob’s Ladder Mehldau gives you both something to think about as well as musically get your teeth into. Those are indeed rare qualities.' Selwyn Harris

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20 Alina Bzhezhinska 



'Emboldened by the acclaim that met 2017's Inspiration, a work in which she paid homage to Alice and (occasionally) John Coltrane, Bzhezhinska cherry picks from genres including trad jazz, spiritual jazz, trip hop and hip hop while bigging up Dorothy Ashby, that other doyenne of jazz harp.' Jane Cornwell 

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