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Best Jazz Albums of 1998

Discover the Best of Jazz selection for 1998 with our ten best jazz albums released that year. Once again, the albums are listed in no particular order: all are amazing in their own ways. At the end of the article, you will also find a playlist with a track to represent each of those ten albums, plus ten extra, for more than two hours of breath-taking music.

Best Jazz 1998

The 10 Best Jazz Albums of 1998

Akosh S. Unit Imafa

Akosh S. Unit


Imafa is still the most outstanding release of the Unit; it was their first album; it was a perfect balance of rawness, melancholy, delicacy, and poetry, and it contained “Azértis,” the most amazing free-jazz-folk fusion they ever made. This track in concert will bring you to tears; it has something so essential, so close to life—both in its brutality and its beauty—that it somehow contains it all. It is perfectly imperfect. Part of the Five Essential Akosh S. Albums

Akosh Szelevenyi: tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, kaval, flute, trumpet, kalimba, percussion, vocals, jug, xylophone; Bertrand Cantat: vocals, bells, harmonica, percussion; Joe Doherty: violin, viola, alto & baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, flute; Bernard Malandain: double bass; Philippe Foch: drum, djembe, cymbal, gong, bells, kalimba, chimes, bass drum; Bob Coke: sarod, jug, kalimba, trumpet, percussion.
Released 1998
Genre: Free Jazz

The Seatbelts - Cowboy Bebop

The Seatbelts

Cowboy Bebop

The Seatbelts is a Japanese group led by Yoko Kanno. Their main achievement is the soundtrack of the manga, Cowboy Bebop. Whether you like manga or not, this album is an explosive patchwork of jazz, blues, funk, swing, and more, with rhythms from space! Each track is truly unique.

Released May 21, 1998
Free Jazz, Harmonica Blues, Bop, Swing, Hard Bop, Piano Blues, Cool Jazz

Best Jazz 1998 - Burton, Corea, Metheny, Haynes, Holland - Like Minds

Burton, Corea, Metheny, Haynes, Holland

Like Minds
(Concord Records)

“Rhumbata” on Like Minds won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo in 1999, but this album is full of amazing solos, by amazing musicians.

Gary Burton: vibraphone; Chick Corea: piano; Pat Metheny: guitar; Roy Haynes: drums; Dave Holland: double bass
Released 1998
Contemporary Jazz

Best Jazz 1998 - Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet - Strata

Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet


“It is a stunning work, really, that showcases Shipp at the height of his compositional and improvisational powers, and points the way to the flowering of his vast talent as an arranger as well.”
— Thom Jurek, All Music

Matthew Shipp: piano; Roy Campbell: trumpet, pocket trumpet; Daniel Carter: alto sax, tenor sax, flute, trumpet; William Parker: bass
Released 1998
Space-Age Jazz

The Lounge Lizards - Queen Of All Ears

The Lounge Lizards

Queen Of All Ears
(Strange & Beautiful Music)

“Led by John Lurie’s sardonic alto and soprano saxophone playing, the band embraces West African music, expositions from New Orleans, and interludes of wicked gamelan. Simultaneously sarcastic and spiritual, this is an unorthodox album that those who aren’t jazz fans should be able to enjoy.”
— Mitch Myers

John Lurie: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Erik Sanko: bass; Jane Scarpantoni: cello; Calvin Weston: drums; Ben Perowsky: percussion; Evan Lurie: piano, organ; David Tronzo: slide guitar; Michael Blake: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Steven Bernstein: trumpet.
Released March 15, 1998

Amon Tobin - Permutation

Amon Tobin

(Ninja Tune)

Permutation is Amon Tobin’s third album, released in 1998 on Ninja Tune. On it, Amon Tobin creates a jazz mood with each track, which is crafted with turntables, music samples, and jungle rhythms.

Amon Tobin: Written-By, Producer
Released June 1, 1998
Leftfield, Drum n Bass, Future Jazz

Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos

Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos

Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos (The Prosthetic Cubans)

This album is a tribute to Cuban master Arsenio Rodriguez, and it does so beautifully. The sound is perfect, the rhythms captivating: Marc and his Prosthetic Cubans are just astonishing.

Marc Ribot: guitar, trumpet, vocals; Brad Jones: bass; EJ Rodriguez: percussion, vocals; Robert J. Rodriguez: claves, drums, percussion, vocals (all but (6)); John Medeski: organ, Mellotron (2,4,5,8); Anthony Coleman: organ (3,6); Madeline Hunt-Ehrlich, Mattan Ingram, Miles Ingram: vocals (4); Gregory Ribot: baritone saxophone (10).
Released June 16, 1998
Afro-Cuban Jazz

Best Jazz 1998 - Herbie Hancock - Gershwin's World

Herbie Hancock

Gershwin’s World
(Verve Records)

This album, released by Herbie Hancock in February 1999, won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance. Most of the compositions are by George and Ira Gershwin to whom the album pays homage, with the notable exception of the second movement of the concerto in G, composed by Maurice Ravel.

“On this record, we worked very hard to personalize the Gershwin material while staying true to the spirit of jazz. Anyone can play the straight Gershwin tunes. Our intentions were to reach inside to the core of each piece in search of the composer’s original impulses, and to take those elements and recompose and reconstruct them in our own way.”
— Herbie Hancock

Gershwin’s World is one of the 10 best Herbie Hancock albums.

Herbie Hancock: arranger, organ, piano; [see entire list]
Released October 20, 1998
Genre: Post-Bop, Contemporary Jazz

Nicholas Payton - Payton's Place

Nicholas Payton

Payton’s Place
(Verve Records)

Certainly a preservationist, definitely a provocateur, but mostly a divine trumpeter. Nicholas Payton is the savior of archaic pop.

Nicholas Payton: trumpet; Reuben Rogers: bass; Adonis Rose: drums; Anthony Wonsey: piano; Tim Warfield: tenor saxophone.
Released June 9, 1998

Anouar Brahem, John Surman, Dave Holland - Thimar

Anouar Brahem, John Surman, Dave Holland

(ECM Records)

Certainly, the most delicate and beautiful album of this selection.

“There is no glib fusion of traditions on Thimar but rather a coming together of three very distinctive musicians who sacrifice none of their individuality in the search for common ground. Arab classical music and jazz are the reference points here, but Anouar Brahem, John Surman, and Dave Holland meet as improvisers not limited by genre definition.”

Anouar Brahem: oud; John Surman: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Dave Holland: double-bass
Released May 18, 1998
Contemporary Jazz

Best Jazz 1998 – Albums List

  • Akosh S. UnitImafa (Barclay)
  • The SeatbeltsCowboy Bebop (Victor)
  • Burton, Corea, Metheny, Haynes, HollandLike Minds (Concord Records)
  • Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet Strata (hatOLOGY)
  • The Lounge LizardsQueen Of All Ears (Strange & Beautiful Music)
  • Amon TobinPermutation (Ninja Tune)
  • Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos PostizosMarc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos (The Prosthetic Cubans) (Atlantic)
  • Herbie HancockGershwin’s World (Verve Records)
  • Nicholas PaytonPayton’s Place (Verve Records)
  • Anouar Brahem, John Surman, Dave HollandThimar (ECM Records)

The 1990s

Discover all the other 1990s jazz selections: 19901991199219931994 – 1995 – 1996 – 1997 – 1999

Playlist “Best Jazz 1998”

Here is a link to the Spotify Playlist Best Jazz 1998, with a track for each album listed above. Plus, a bonus ten tracks from ten other amazing 1998 jazz albums, including John Scofield with “A Go Go”, Bill Frisell, Joshua Redman, Per ‘Texas’ Johansson, and more.

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