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The 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Henry Threadgill's <em>Old Locks and Irregular Verbs</em> was voted the No. 1 jazz album of 2016.closemore
Henry Threadgill's <em>Old Locks and Irregular Verbs</em> was voted the No. 1 jazz album of 2016.

A decade ago, leading jazz critic Francis Davis corralled 30 jazz writers to create a list of the finest jazz albums of 2006 for the Village Voice. For the 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, Davis has marshaled more than quadruple the forces — 137 voters — to assess the best of an ever-expanding field.

Davis himself expounds on the Top 10 (you should read his analysis of this year's list here), and then the next 40 are ranked, followed by several intriguing specialty lists. We've got the year's best vocal albums, debuts and Latin jazz. The Reissue/Rara Avis category collects music by the likes of Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Lester Young. And all the critics' ballots, compiled by Tom Hull, may be seen here.

In a list this extensive, there's plenty to discover and debate. Even Davis himself admits he's not as fond of one top album as a colleague is. But that's the beauty of this massive annual project. We've got an unparalleled group of contributors with a dizzying range of enthusiasms — some you may share, others you'll come to love. We listen so you can, too.—Mark Mobley

The Rest

11. Darcy James Argue Secret Society Real Enemies 126 (20)

12. Charles Lloyd & the Marvels I Long to See You 117.5 (17)

13. J.D. Allen Americana: Musings on Jazz & Blues 112.5 (22)

14. Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio Perfection 108 (18)

15. Jane Ira Bloom Early Americans 105.5 (17)

16. Tyshawn Sorey The Inner Spectrum of Variables 90 (18)

17. Greg Ward Touch My Beloved's Thought 80 (14)

18. Aziza (Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, Eric Harland) Aziza 78.5 (15)

19. Andrew Cyrille Quartet The Declaration of Musical Independence 75 (15)

20. Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Moving Still 67 (12)

21. Kris Davis Duopoly 61.5 (14)

22. Sonny Rollins Holding the Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4 60.5 (11)

23. John Scofield Country for Old Men 59 (8)

24. Aruán Ortiz Trio Hidden Voices 57.5 (12)

25. Tom Harrell Something Gold, Something Blue 55.5 (10)

26. Fred Hersch Trio Sunday Night at the Vanguard 53 (9)

27. Barry Guy The Blue Shroud 53 (8)

28. Jason Moran The Armory Concert 52 (7)

29. Mark Dresser Seven Sedimental You 51 (9)

30. George Coleman A Master Speaks 50 (9)

31. Jaimeo Brown Transcendence Work Songs 49 (9)

32. Donny McCaslin Beyond Now 48 (9)

33. Julian Lage Arclight 47.5 (10)

34. Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau Nearness 45.5 (8)

35. Frank Kimbrough Solstice 45 (9)

36. David Bowie Blackstar 45 (5)

37. Melissa Aldana Back Home 43 (8)

38. Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow Andando el Tiempo 43 (7)

39. The Cookers The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart 43 (6)

40. Bill Charlap Trio Notes from New York 42 (6)

41. Brad Mehldau Trio Blues and Ballads 41 (7)

42. Jeff Parker The New Breed 41 (6)

43. Wolfgang Muthspiel Rising Grace 40 (7)

44. Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom Otis Was a Polar Bear 39.5 (7)

45. Anthony Braxton 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011 39.5 (5)

46. Logan Richardson Shift 39 (7)

47. Esperanza Spalding Emily's D + Evolution 39 (6)

48. Avishai Cohen Into the Silence 37.5 (8)

49. Taylor Ho Bynum Enter the PlusTet 37 (8)

50. Gregory Porter Take Me to the Alley 37 (5)


REISSUE/RARA AVIS

1. Larry Young Larry Young In Paris: The ORTF Recordings 84 (36)

2. The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Village Vanguard Recordings 71 (33)

3. Bill Evans Some Other Time: The Lost Sessions from the Black Forest 66 (30)

4. Miles Davis Quintet Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 55 (25)

5. Count Basie & Lester Young Classic 1936-1947 Studio Sessions Mosaic 32 (13)

6. Various Artists The Savory Collection, Volume 1: Body and Soul: Coleman Hawkins & Friends 23 (10)

7. Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Iréne Schweizer, Léon Francioli, Pierre Favre Musical Monsters 22 (11)

8. Keith Jarrett A Multitude of Angels 22 (10)

9. Shirley Horn Live at the 4 Queens 16 (9)

10. Peter Kuhn No Coming, No Going 16 (7)


VOCAL

1. Rene Marie Sound of Red 10

2. Branford Marsalis: Special Guest Kurt Elling Upward Spiral 9

3. Camila Meza Traces 8

4 (tie). Cyrille Aimee Let's Get Lost 7

4 (tie). Gregory Porter Take Me to the Alley 7

6 (tie). Norah Jones Day Breaks 6

6 (tie). Catherine Russell Harlem on My Mind 6

6 (tie). Esperanza Spalding Emily's D + Evolution 6


DEBUT

1 (tie). Victor Gould Clockwork 5

1 (tie). Ron Stabinsky Free for One 5

1 (tie). Earprint Earprint 5

4 (tie). George Burton The Truth of What I Am > The Narcissist 4

4 (tie). Jerome Jennings The Beast 4

4 (tie). Marcos Varela San Ygnacio 4

4 (tie). Christopher Zuar Orchestra Musings 4


LATIN

1. Pedrito Martinez Group Habana Dreams 10

2. Jane Bunnett & Maqueque Oddara Linus 9

3 (tie). Brian Lynch Presents Madera Latino Madera Latino: A Latin Jazz Perspective on the Music of Woody Shaw 8

3 (tie). Alfredo Rodriguez Tocororo 8

5. Guillermo Klein Los Guachos V 7

6. Edward Simon Latin American Songbook 6


Criteria

Voters were asked to rank their top 10 albums released in 2016. A No. 1 ranking earned 10 points, a No. 2 earned 9 points, and so on. Listings on unranked ballots received 5.5 points each. In the Reissue/Rara Avis category, voters ranked three releases of either previously-published material or unreleased recordings from over 10 years ago. Voters also picked their single favorite Vocal, Latin jazz and Debut recordings of the year.

Correction: December 22, 2016 12:00 am — A previous version of this story listed Logan Richardson's album title as Lift. The correct title is Shift.

Copyright NPR 2017.

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