The 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Steve Lehman edged out Wadada Leo Smith for the top spot in the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. (Courtesy of the artist)
Steve Lehman edged out Wadada Leo Smith for the top spot in the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. (Courtesy of the artist)

NPR Music is pleased to present a poll in which 140 jazz critics picked their favorite recordings of 2014.

For nine consecutive years, this poll has been a labor of love by eminent critic Francis Davis. It's grown tremendously since he initially submitted the consensus of 30 writers to The Village Voice in 2006. Over the last month, print journalists, bloggers and broadcasters nominated more than 700 different albums. We're thrilled to welcome his exhaustive project back to our site.

Below are full results of the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, highlighted by a playlist of the Top 10 overall picks. You'll find a list of the entire Top 50 in the voting for Jazz Album of the Year, with the top finishers in Latin Jazz, Vocal, Debut and Reissue/Historical categories as well. (You can find all the raw data, including individual ballots, at a website operated by Tom Hull, who annually collates all the information from the poll.)

Davis shares his thoughts on each of 2014's Top 10 Jazz Albums below. You'll also want to read his breakdown of the poll results, including his personal picks for the year's 10 best. We invite you to browse and have a listen. —Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music

The Rest Of The Top 50

Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, The Art Of Conversation.
Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, The Art Of Conversation.

11. Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music) 95 points (on 15 ballots)

12. The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring (Sony Masterworks) 88.5 (15)

13. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden, Last Dance (ECM) 83 (14)

14 (tie). David Virelles, Mbókò (ECM) 80 (13)

14 (tie). Tyshawn Sorey, Alloy (Pi) 80 (13)

Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lakes Suites
Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lakes Suites

16. Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time: The Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts) 73.5 (9)

17. Chick Corea Trio, Trilogy (Stretch/Concord) 72 (10)

18. Fred Hersch Trio, Floating (Palmetto) 67 (12)

19. Jeff Ballard Trio, Time's Travels (OKeh) 66 (12)

20. Vijay Iyer, Mutations (ECM) 64 (12)

Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 3.
Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 3.

21. Mary Halvorson/Michael Formanek/Tomas Fujiwara, Thumbscrew (Cuneiform) 63.5 (14)

22. Trio 3 & Vijay Iyer, Wiring (Intakt) 60.5 (10)

23. Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski, Gathering Call (Palmetto) 60 (12)

24. Aki Takase & Alexander von Schlippenbach, So Long, Eric! Homage to Eric Dolphy (Intakt) 59.5 (9)

25. Billy Hart Quartet, One Is the Other (ECM) 59 (11)

Mark Turner, Lathe Of Heaven.
Mark Turner, Lathe Of Heaven.

26. Tom Harrell, Trip (HighNote) 56 (9)

27. Eric Revis, In Memory Of Things Yet Seen (Clean Feed) 53.5 (11)

28. Jason Roebke Octet, High/Red/Center (Delmark) 53 (9)

29. The Nels Cline Singers, Macroscope (Mack Avenue) 52 (10)

30. Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, Habitat (Justin Time) 52 (8)**

Marc Ribot Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard.
Marc Ribot Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard.

31. Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble, A Trumpet in the Morning (New World) 47 (7)***

32. Frank Kimbrough, Quartet (Palmetto) 45.5 (8)

33. Hafez Modirzadeh, In Convergence Liberation (Pi) 44 (7)

34. Nels Cline & Julian Lage, Room (Mack Avenue) 43.5 (7)

35. Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms, From the Region (Delmark) 43 (9)

Jason Moran, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Walker.
Jason Moran, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Walker.

36 (tie). Joshua Redman, Trios Live (Nonesuch) 43 (6)

36 (tie). Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5Passion) 43 (6)

38. Avishai Cohen's Triveni, Dark Nights (Anzic) 42.5 (11)

39. James Brandon Lewis, Divine Travels (OKeh) 42 (10)

40. The Cookers, Time and Time Again (Motéma) 40.5 (9)

Jane Ira Bloom, Sixteen Sunsets.
Jane Ira Bloom, Sixteen Sunsets.

41. Darius Jones, The Oversoul Manual (AUM Fidelity) 40.5 (5)

42. Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein, Viper's Drag (Impulse!) 40 (8)

43. Pat Metheny Unity Group, Kin (←→) (Nonesuch) 40 (7)

44. Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (Concord Jazz) 39.5 (9)

45. Farmers By Nature, Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity) 39 (11)

46. Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The Offense of the Drum (Motéma) 38.5 (6)

47. Sean Jones im•pro•vise (never before seen) (Mack Avenue) 37 (6)

48. Dave Douglas & Uri Caine, Present Joys (Greenleaf) 35 (7)

49. Ideal Bread, Beating the Teens: Songs of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform) 34.5 (7)

50. Mary Halvorson, Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch) 34 (5)

*Includes 21.5 points (on three ballots) from 2013.

**Includes 23 (4) from 2013.

***Includes 12 (3) from 2013

Reissue/Rara Avis

1. John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance) 149 points, on 62 ballots

2. Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4, New York Concerts (Elemental Music) 73 (34)

3. Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance) 69 (35)

4. Miles Davis, Miles At The Fillmore (Columbia/Legacy) 51 (29)

5. Louis Armstrong, The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings (Mosaic) 33 (13)

6. Charlie Haden/Jim Hall, Charlie Haden - Jim Hall (Impulse!) 32 (17)

7. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Hamburg '72 (ECM) 26 (14)

8. Frank Lowe, Out Loud (Triple Point) 15 (8)

9. Bud Powell, Birdland 1953 (ESP-Disk') 13 (7)

10. Horace Tapscott Quintet, The Giant Is Awakened (International Phonogram) 13 (6)

Vocal

1. Andy Bey, Pages from an Imaginary Life (HighNote) 13 votes

2 (tie). Dianne Reeves, Beautiful Life (Concord) 5

2 (tie). Catherine Russell, Bring It Back (Jazz Village) 5

Debut

1. Jeff Ballard Trio, Time's Tales (OKeh) 16

2. Otis Brown III, The Thought of You (Blue Note) 8

3. Rudy Royston, 303 (Greenleaf) 7

Latin

1. Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Offense of the Drum (Motéma) 19

2. Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music) 16

3. Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5Passion) 11

4. Danilo Pérez, Panama 500 (Mack Avenue) 8

5. David Virelles, Mbókò (ECM) 6

6. Alfredo Rodriguez, The Invasion Parade (Mack Avenue) 5

Methodology

Voters were asked to submit choices for their top 10 new releases in descending order. Points were weighted by preference: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd place, etc. Albums on unranked lists were awarded 5.5 points each. Voters also submitted their top three reissues/historical recordings and their lone choices for the year's best vocal, debut and Latin jazz albums. A complete list of ballots is available here.

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