My Top 5 Jazz Albums of 2017

Following my Top 5 Classical Albums of 2017 published some days ago, let me now write about my favorite Jazz albums.

2017 hasn’t been particularly impressive for me in terms of quantity of new Jazz albums that I really loved. I found myself more and more writing about classical music, or older recordings.

Not sure if this reflects a general slowdown of new Jazz releases or simply that my taste is rather particular. In any case, I also checked for reference some of the other top 2017 lists for Jazz, and didn’t find anything particularly exciting that I had missed.

But maybe you disagree? Let me know?

So here we go, here is my list for 2017. Note that while my Top 5 Classical list only had 5 star ratings, I also had to include two 4 star albums in here, just to make the numbers.

If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you won’t be surprised to see a large number of piano trio albums here, my favorite genre.

You’ll find download links to each album in the original reviews of the albums that are linked.


Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers

Cecile McLorin Salvant Dreams and Daggers 24 96 MackAvenue 2017

Well, let’s start strong anyhow: I’ve already postulated early on that Cécile McLorin Salvant could be the THE Jazz singer of the 21st century. It didn’t take rocket science nor a truffle dog to find this, in spite of her young age, she’s received praise from all over the world, including a Grammy nomination in 2014.

Dreams and Daggers is another masterpiece, with a nice mix of standards and originals, and a must have for any Jazz lover.

You´ll find my original review here.


Helge Lien: Guzuguzu



I’ve been a great fan of Helge Lien for years, since I discovered Hello Troll. Guzuguzu really confirms that he’s one of the most talented Jazz trio artists out there. As I wrote in my review, it combines “Scandinavian lyricism combined with often extremely complex rhythms”. I think there´s nothing much to add here.

See my original review here.


Triosence: Hidden Beauty

Triosence: Hidden Beauty (24/96) Okeh 2017

Don’t get deterred by the cover art. Germany´s Triosence is one of the stars of Jazz trio based heavily on beautiful melodies and harmonies. Some would argue this is not Jazz, I don’t even bother to argue, as I simply like it very much.

You’ll find my original review here.


Tingvall Trio: Cirklar

Tingvall Trio Cirklar 24/96 2017 Skip Records

Tingvall Trio is another German group if you count there home base in Hamburg, but actually are much more international if you look at the members of the trio.

Cirklar is very good, if not their best album ever, but if you like their style (and they have a very strong regional following), you should really check this out.

You’ll find my original review here.


Shai Maestro Live at Moods

Shai Maestro on piano live at Moods March 17, 2017 (c) Musicophile
Shai Maestro Live At Moods March 17, 2017 (c) Musicophile)


My last album actually isn’t an album at all. It is the captured videostream of an outstanding concert I attended this March at Moods Zurich, the best Jazz club in town.

You’ll find my original writeup of Shai Maestro´s concert here, and it was truly an outstanding concert.

But for once, you don’t have to take my word for it. Moods has recently installed what they call, basically a platform video streaming and archiving all concerts at Moods.

And I was really lucky, the technology just went live shortly before this concert. So with a subscription fee (you can cancel anytime if you don’t like it) you can now watch the entire back catalog of recorded concerts at moods with outstanding video and very good audio quality. Check out my article about it here. And no, I’m not getting sponsored for writing this.

What do you think?

My list is obviously very biased, very personal, but such is my entire blog.

Did I miss anything? I´d very much like to hear about your personal favorites for 2017.

Helge Lien’s New Album Guzuguzu – Fantastic

It’s been a while – sorry

This must have been the longest time between blog posts ever, and I don’t feel good about this.

My only excuse is work (my day job), I’m traveling more than ever including some intercontinential trips (actually, I’m writing this from an airport lounge) and free time was pretty much down to zero.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon, but I still hope I’ll be able to write my weekly blog post (there is more than enough material and notes in my Evernote account).

Helge Lien

I’m a big fan of Norvegian pianist Helge Lien. His trio albums Natsukashii and Hello Troll feature regularly in my playlists, and I’ve given a 4 star review to his previous album Badgers and Other Beings.

So when his latest trio album came out, I was naturally very interested, as a matter of fact, I bought it in less than a day after it came out (I still buy albums, digitally, in spite of also subscribing to streaming, to ensure that artists make at least some money from their art).

Guzuguzu (Ozella Music 2017)


I really didn’t have to hesitate a long time because the album is truly outstanding.

It is probably my favorite since Hello Troll. You get Scandinavian lyricism combined with often extremely complex rhythms. And even peaceful ballads like Shitoshito (Raining Quietly) get their share of chordal shifts and interesting rhythmic breaks.

Lien plays with his usual companions, Frode Berg on bass, and Per Oddvar Johansen on drums, and you can really hear the intimate connections between the musicians all the time, they truly melt into one common instrument.

Add to this that the recording quality of this album is outstanding, as produced again with recording Engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug at the brilliant Oslo Rainbow studio, this album really cannot be recommended higher if you like Scandinavian trio jazz, or actually trio jazz in general.

My rating: 5 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Highresaudio)

Helge Lien’s Badgers and Other Beings – A Scandinavian Trio to Watch

Last week I wrote about Triosence, who recorded their latest album in Norway, at Jan Erik Kongshaug’s legendary Rainbow Studios. The album below is recorded at the same studio, however, unlike the German trio above, they didn’t have a long trip to get there, as they are from Norway.

Helge Lien, before getting relatively well-known with his own trio, was playing with singers like Silje Neergard.

Helge Lien Trio Badgers And Other Beings Ozella Music 2014

Since 2008 the Helge Lien Trio (with Frode Berg on bass and Per Oddvar Johansen on drums) has released three albums, approximately every three years, Hello Troll (2008), Natsukashii (2011), and Badgers and Other Beings in 2014, all on the excellent Ozella Music label (see also my review of Edgar Knecht from the same label). For the audiophiles among my readers, all are available as high-res downloads and worth it. Note that this is the first time Johansen joins the trio, replacing Knut Aalefjær (who get’s a dedication in the song Knut).

Badgers and Other Beings

I could have chosen to review here any of the three, when I checked my iTunes ratings, all have the same mix of four star tracks with 3-4 five stars on each, and I wouldn’t want to miss any of them in my collection. So let me just take the latest release, which has been in pretty heavy on my system since I bought it just after it came out.

All tracks on this album, as usual with Lien, are his originals, no standards here. Already the starter track is very beautiful, Mor (apparently meaning mother in Norvegian).

The example above shows everything I like about this album, beautiful, complex melodies, and an interaction between the musicians that shows that they’ve been together for a long time and can follow each other blindly, and this in spite of the fact that Johansen is a new addition to the trio.

The following Joe is more uptempo, but keeps the same mood, and is another one of my five star tracks. My other two favorites are The New Black and the final track, Badgers Lullaby, where Johanssen on drums gets featured more prominently, and where time truly stands still, while fully drawing you into this very particular Nordic world.

My rating: 4 stars (but pretty borderline to five, I’m still hesitating whether I should start giving 4.5 stars at some point).

You can download it here ( and here (Qobuz) in 24/192 resolution, and at Bandcamp you’ll get a cheaper regular CD resolution download and you can even purchase a limited edition vinyl edition.