OK, this year has been very different on Marlbank. You will have noticed a lot less content but listening behind the scenes goes on. My methodology this year is similar to previous years even if the sample pool is more highly selective deliberately so given the vast amount of music out there within jazz.
As ever there is huge subjectivity to all lists including this one based on a range of factors dictated by time and taste. I usually focus in on freshness and innovation as two of the most important factors and try to remember at all times that there is good and bad in all styles whatever the genre, in other words one genre (even country) or sub-genre (within jazz for instance, bebop, swing, free-jazz) is not necessarily better than another, preferences instead are usually decided by individual taste.
Predictions for 2018 include in the run-up to its 50th anniversary in 2019 because of newly permissible streaming by the label that ECM may very well be discovered by a new generation at least for the first time, not just their jazz of the last five years but hitherto unavailable-to-stream classics from 1975-78, the label’s first purple patch. Oddly this year Bandcamp was not as fertile a source for listening to jazz. Are fewer jazz artists using it, I wonder? It certainly remains a vital platform even so. Finally this is a memory test too, which means that the best albums of 2017 are also the most memorable. – Stephen Graham
10 Meilana Gillard Dream Within a Dream Lyte
9 Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet December Avenue ECM
8 Alexander Hawkins Unit [e] Alexander Hawkins Music
7 Parisien / Peirani / Schaerer / Wollny Out of Land ACT
6 Dwight Trible Inspirations Gondwana
5 Namby Pamby Boy Namby Pamby Boy Babel
4 Tom Rainey Obbligato Float Upstream Intakt
3 Bruno Heinen & Camerata Alma Viva Changing of the Seasons Babel
2 Vijay Iyer Sextet Far From Over ECM
1 Human Fractured Lands Babel