Mid-Year Best of 2013 (Modern & Mainstream Jazz)

By: S. Victor Aaron

For this middle-of-2013 version list of best modern and mainstream jazz records, I expanded the meaning of “modern and mainstream jazz” a little bit this year to take into account jazz that’s the “mainstream” or “modern” of today. In years past I might have placed the Brian Landrus record in fusion and the Matt Parker release under whack jazz, but among the artists of their generation, they’re not considered so far outside the “new” normal for what’s considered modern jazz today.

That, I believe, is healthy development. Every new wave of jazz practitioners seeks to leave a mark on the music form, sending it further along its path of evolution. Many of the dozen releases below have that freshness that does a good job of bringing jazz into the new century, and a few others do traditional forms so dead gummed well, it’s impossible to ignore their own charms. But most of these are here on this list because they combine the rich traditions of the old with the ingenuity of the new.

In no particular order or ranking, here are the best examples I’ve heard so far this year in real jazz. “Real” as I see it, at least…

Matt Parker – Worlds Put Together: This being Matt Parker’s first time out as a leader, Parker casts caution to the wind whereas most first time leaders take timid steps in establishing themselves. It is his daring while keeping intact a strong bond to classic jazz that make Worlds Put Together an astonishing debut.