My Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2016

My Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2016

Following my Top 5 Classical albums of 2016, here’s my take on Jazz this year.

2016 was tricky with regards to Jazz albums. Actually, usually I build these top 5 lists simply from my 5 star reviews. The thing is, in 2016 I only had one single 5 star Jazz album, GoGoPenguin’s latest release. All others are “only” 4 stars, but still I can wholeheartedly recommend all of them!


Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues And Ballads

Brad Mehldau Trio Blues and Ballads 24 88 Nonesuch 2016

I mentioned it before, I’m not always a fan of Brad Mehldau.

I have The Art Of The Trio vol. 3 in my 25 essential Jazz albums and find it to be a true gem of piano jazz, but run away from many of his more recent releases (YMMV).

This one again is really to my taste, he goes back to his roots, and does it well!

See my initial review here.

GoGoPenguin – ManMade Object

GoGo Penguin Man Made Object 24/44 Blue Note 2016

As mentioned above, the only 5 star album in this list. As you can see in my initial review, this is probably the true successor to Esbjörn Svenssons trio, bringing the Jazz trio into the age of Electronica.

Keith Jarrett – A Multitude of Angels

Keith Jarrett A Multitude Of Angels Modena Ferrara Torino Genova Solo Concerts ECM 2016

A new Keith Jarrett solo album is always an event, even if in this case we’re talking about previously unreleased material from 20 years ago. As you can see in my recent review, I really like it.

Paolo Fresu Richard Galliano Jan Lundgren: Mare Nostrum II

Paolo Fresu Richard Galliano Jan Lundgren Mare Nostrum II (24/88) ACT Music

Check out my review here. Essentially, if you like the accordion, get this. If you don’t like the accordion, at least check it out. It is worth it.


Thierry Maillard – Il Canto Delle Montagne

Thierry Maillard Andre Ceccarelli Dominique di Piazza Il Canto Delle Montagne 24/88 2016 Ilona Records

See my review here, beautiful trio jazz from France.

Your turn now.

As you can see, I was struggling  a bit to find truly oustanding Jazz albums this year. I’m sure there’s stuff I must have missed. Please do point me to albums that I may not have seen or heard that you’d recommend in 2016!


You can find the albums here:

Brad Mehldau:  here (Qobuz) and here (Nonesuch’s own online store)

Keith Jarrett: here (Qobuz) or here (Amazon)

Paolo Fresu et al:here (Qobuz)

Thierry Maillard: here (Qobuz)


Author: Musicophile

I'm not a professional musician, I don't work in the music industry, I'm just what the name says, somebody who loves music. I've been in love with music for all of my life, took piano lessons for nearly 10 years, and played in several amateur Jazz groups. I go to concerts, both classical and Jazz, quite regularly. And I collect music previously on vinyl and CDs, now on my computer, and am slightly OCD on my music collection. You can reach me at Musicophile1(AT)

15 thoughts on “My Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2016”

  1. I will offer two that I think stand up, and a third while good, is not quite there.

    First, the Joey Alexander album Countdown is excellent. While he draws from the songbooks of others (Strayhorn/Hancock/Monk to name a few) for the majority of the album, he has something new to add there. In the ensemble he has Larry Grenadier on bass and Ulysses Owens Jr on drums. It’s just a great group all around and his performance and approach spans many styles on the album. He is not a one trick pianist, lots of texture here.

    Second the Brad Mehldau/Joshua Redman album is up there for me. Most that listen to jazz know them distinctly individually, but together they are something more. They do an excellent job of listening to each other while playing and simply jump into the songs exploring and then resolving the piece. They do a great job of creating something special together.

    Last, Norah Jones album Day Breaks fits in my runner up bucket. I think on the surface most listeners and also reviewers that I have read hear this as a “return to the Come Away With Me” style. While that style might be present, I think the album is worth noting because of the songs and material. There is some pain here in these songs. They can really make you feel if you listen intently. Even the title Day Breaks could be taken as light out of darkness or hope out of despair. These bones have meat on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. George, thanks for your great ideas.

    I must admit I hadn’t heard the Joey Alexander yet. I just checked it out on Qobuz, and indeed, it seems like a lot of fun.

    I fully agree on Day Breaks, I really like the album. (I just would hesitate to classify it as “Jazz”)

    Nearness is the one album that I still haven’t fully made up my mind about. I’ll need to give it another spin or two to decide.


    1. We are on the same page with Day Breaks. Same town, just a different street.

      Circling back as another album comes to mind that I think floats to the top. Traces by Camila Meza was a 2016 release that I am pretty sure I shared along the way. Great songs, well produced, expertly engineered, and you get a bonus of Shai Maestro on piano and Kendrick Scott playing drums. I really enjoyed that one this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this list and the opportunity to discover great new jazz music (a style I seldom listen to). For this reason, I thought I would have no suggestion to offer to you. But the article about Shai Maestro that I read just after reminds me of an album from late 2015 where he plays with a new Israeli saxophone artist, Oded Tzur. The album is called Like a Great River and is on Spotify. I hope you’ll like it and wish you great music for Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephane, thanks for your nice feedback and I’m glad you’re able to discover new music from my blog, which really is why I started writing it in the first place.

      And thanks for suggesting Oded Tzur. This album has completely slipped my attention. It is on Qobuz, my streaming provider, and I’ll check it out!


  4. It was very hard to decide this short list – some of the records that amazed me most throughout 2016 are:

    Donny McCaslin // Beyond Now
    Marcus Strickland // Nihil Novi
    Henry Texier // Sky Dancers
    Phronesis // Parallax
    Melissa Aldana // Back Home

    season’s greetings!


    1. Great list. I also really like the Phronesis, and Melissa Aldana. I had not realized Texier has a new album out, have to check it out. I don’t know the two others, will have a look.

      Thanks for sharing! It is hard to choose isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would add to the top 5 Jazz list Catherine Russell’s brilliant Harlem on My Mind. She is one of the finest jazz vocalists working today and this is her best album of many fine ones. Also, both volumes of the Savory Collection (only available for download from iTunes) are spectacular additions to the jazz canon, although the recordings are old ones. People need to know about these.


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