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Best Jazz Albums of 2017

Here is the finest jazz offerings of 2017, a year that gifted us with a kaleidoscope of sonic adventures, with each album being a testament to the genre’s ability to inspire, challenge and transcend musical boundaries. The albums featured in this Best Jazz Albums of 2017 list–which is in no order–represent styles, moods, and narratives that collectively embody the essence of jazz in its myriad forms.

So here are the 10 jazz albums that made 2017 an unforgettable chapter in the ever-evolving saga of this enchanting genre:

best jazz albums 2017

Best Jazz Albums 2017

Best Jazz 2017 - Colin stetson – all this i do for glory

Colin Stetson

All This I Do For Glory

Stetson’s playing is intense and relentless, creating a sense of urgency that carries through the entire record. But what makes this album a gem is Stetson’s innovative use of extended saxophone techniques, circular breathing, and multiphonics, creating a unique and immersive sonic experience. It is specified that all songs are recorded live (no overdubs/loops). Knowing this will make you even more fall in love with this album.

Colin Stetson: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, contrabass clarinet
Released April 28, 2017

Vijay Iyer Sextet - Far From Over

Vijay Iyer Sextet

Far From Over

Far From Over is a standout album blending intricate compositions with free-form improvisations. The Vijay Iyer Sextet, featuring a stellar lineup of musicians, creates a cohesive and dynamic sound throughout the record. The music here is just mesmerizing, made of complex rhythms, harmonically adventurous arrangements, and a seamless interplay between the musicians, creating a perfect balance between accessibility and innovation.

Discover next Uneasy

Vijay Iyer: piano; Graham Haynes: cornet, flugelhorn, electronics; Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Mark Shim: tenor saxophone; Stephan Crump: double bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums
Released August 25, 2017

Nicole Mitchell Mandorla Awakening II Emerging Worlds

Nicole Mitchell

Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds

Released as the second installment of her “Mandorla Awakening” series, Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds is a fusion of avant-garde jazz, electronic elements, and Afrofuturism. Mitchell’s vision is groundbreaking, innovative, and expansive; this album had a significant impact on the world of jazz in 2017, making it a contester for any 2010s list.

Discover next Artifacts – …and then there’s this

Nicole Mitchell: flute, electronics; avery r young: vocals; Kojiro Umezaki: shakuhachi; Renée Baker: violin; Tomeka Reid: cello, banjo; Alex Wing: electric guitar, oud; Tatsu Aoki: bass, shamisen, taiko; Jovia Armstrong: percussion
Released May 5, 2017

Best Jazz 2017 - Ahmad Jamal - Marseille

Ahmad Jamal

(Jazz Village/PIAS)

Ahmad Jamal must have fallen in love with Marseille, and he wanted to share it with the world. We can understand why, as Marseille is a vibrant French city by the Mediterranean Sea, a city much older than France itself, a unique melting pot of culture and history. The album features a mix of original compositions with guest vocalists–Abd Al Malik and Mina Agossi–and reimagined classics such as the exquisite “Motherless Child.” The music is an uplifting feel good brain teaser that just keeps delivering satisfaction.

Ahmad Jamal: piano; James Cammack: double bass; Herlin Riley: drums; Manolo Badrena: percussion; Abd Al Malik, Mina Agossi: vocals
Released July 7, 2017

Mark De Clive-Lowe - Live At The Blue Whale

Mark De Clive-Lowe

Live At The Blue Whale

Live At The Blue Whale showcases perfectly de Clive-Lowe’s prowess as a pianist, producer, and live performer, offering a thrilling snapshot of a night at the renowned Los Angeles venue, The Blue Whale. The format is short–an EP of 28 minutes–but the music will take your breath away.

Mark de Clive-Lowe: piano, keys, live electronics; Josh Johnson: alto sax, flute; Brandon Eugene Owens: bass; Gene Coye: drums
Released February 17, 2017

Rudresh Mahanthappa Indo Pak Coalition Agrim

Rudresh Mahanthappa – Indo-Pak Coalition

(Self released)

The Indo-Pak Coalition, featuring Rez Abbasi on guitar and Dan Weiss on drums, is an ensemble that transcends cultural boundaries, creating a sound that is both rooted in tradition of the Indian classical music and forward-looking jazz. One of the album’s standout qualities is its rhythmic complexity, with Weiss’s stunning drumming and Abbasi’s amazing guitar work, creating a musical fusion that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant with this–for many of us–distant culture.

Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Rez Abbasi: guitar; Dan Weiss: tabla
Released 2017

William Parker Quartets Meditation Resurrection

William Parker Quartets

(AUM Fidelity)

“William Parker’s exceptional gift as a composer of beautiful melodies and infectious rhythms have long been intrinsic to his art, and it has always been on full display in the work of the quartets featured here. Being that these groups are among the highest caliber jazz bands of our time, Parker’s luminous compositions are brought to vibrant, ever-giving blossom.”
–AUM Fidelity

William Parker: bass, tarota; Hamid Drake: drums, gongs; Rob Brown: alto saxophone; Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson: trumpet [CD 1]; kalimba; Cooper-Moore: piano [CD 2]
Released August 4, 2017

Wadada Leo Smith Solo Reflections and Meditations on Monk

Wadada Leo Smith

Solo: Reflections And Meditations On Monk

“Most people would never realize that I am closer to Thelonious Monk than to any other artist. What connects us is a vision of composition and its forms, music psychology, and our articulation of the ensemble as a trashing field for new information. With an illustration of silence, not as a moment of absence, or a space for resting, but as a vital field where musical ideas exist as a result of what was played before and afterward. Silence.”
–Wadada Leo Smith, New Haven, Connecticut, July 10, 2017

This solo project is a profound exploration of the music and legacy of the legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. It embodies Wadada Leo Smith’s deep appreciation for Monk’s compositions and it offers at the same time a personal and introspective view on the iconic pianist’s world.

Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Released October 20, 2017

Gonçalo Almeida Rodrigo Amado Marco Franco The Attic

Gonçalo Almeida, Rodrigo Amado, Marco Franco

The Attic

The music surges forward like an unstoppable wave, gathering energy as it rolls on. There is soaring saxophone and vicious drumming yoked together with superb bass playing. Savage in its intensity, it is an absolutely thrilling ending to a terrific recording, one of the finest of the year to date.
–Tim Niland, Bandcamp

Gonçalo Almeida: double bass; Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone; Marco Franco: drums
Released March 1, 2017

Best Jazz 2017 - Anouar Brahem - Blue Maqams

Anouar Brahem

Blue Maqams

Blue Maqams is a sublime album, a meeting point of East and West. Released on ECM Records, it is a testament to the Tunisian oud player‘s ability to blend diverse musical traditions. It explores a delicate balance between Brahem’s Arab musical heritage and the jazz traditions represented by his collaborators. The compositions are both contemplative and meditative, and Brahem’s oud serves as the guiding force, weaving intricate melodies that dance gracefully with the exceptional ensemble of musicians, including the venerable jazz pianist Django Bates, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Jack DeJohnette.

Anouar Brahem: oud; Dave Holland: double bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Django Bates: piano
Released October 13, 2017

Best Jazz 2017 Albums’ List

  • Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory (52Hz)
  • Vijay Iyer SextetFar From Over (ECM)
  • Nicole MitchellMandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE)
  • Ahmad JamalMarseille (Jazz Village/PIAS)
  • Mark de Clive-LoweLive At The Blue Whale (Mashibeats)
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak CoalitionAgrima (Self released)
  • William Parker QuartetsMeditation/Resurrection (AUM Fidelity)
  • Wadada Leo SmithSolo: Reflections And Meditations On Monk (TUM)
  • Gonçalo Almeida, Rodrigo Amado, Marco FrancoThe Attic (NoBusiness)
  • Anouar BrahemBlue Maqams (ECM)


Discover all the other 2010’s best of jazz playlists: 2019201820172016201520142013201220112010

As we conclude this journey through the best jazz albums of 2017, we find ourselves immersed in a kaleidoscope of sonic adventures. Jazz, with its ability to embrace diversity, defy conventions, and tell stories beyond words, continues to inspire and captivate. Here’s to the musicians who push boundaries, challenge norms, and create a legacy that resonates far beyond the years of their release.

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