21st Century Modern

Jazz music community with review and forums

As we move into the new century, jazz artists continue to merge and blend pre-existing genres in ways that make it hard to find easy labels. Today's jazz artist is likely to pull from the avant-garde, post bop, 3rd stream and modern fusion all within the same piece. Yet as these artists draw from all these eclectic sources, we begin to see some similarities in a lot of new jazz in the 21st century.

The 21st Century Modern genre at JMA is for artists who do not easily fit into pre-existing genres such as the aforementioned, Post Bop, Avant-Garde, Fusion, or 3rd Stream, but whose music may contain elements of all those genres, as well as other elements from outside the jazz world.

Despite all these eclectic elements, we do find some things in common with many of the artists listed in our 21st Century Modern genre.

1)Many artists in this genre feature arrangements and composition in their music, along with improvisation based on chord progressions, or entirely freely improvised sections as well. Large scale pieces with multiple sections are often a part of this genre. There is an attempt in modern jazz to blend composition and improvisation in ways that make them hard to tell apart.

2)Larger ensembles (5 to 8 pieces) and 'mini-big bands' play a part in a lot of modern jazz. Instruments like the violin, cello and clarinet have made a comeback.

3)Rhythmically, modern jazz is all over the map, sometimes swinging, sometimes drawing on international fusion, and sometimes totally free, almost any style can happen.

4)Harmonically modern jazz is equally eclectic, ranging from the extended harmonies of post bop, to atonal free jazz, to the simple triad based harmonies of folk songs and hymns, once again, anything can happen.

21st century modern top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

HENRY THREADGILL Henry Threadgill & Make A Move ‎: Where's Your Cup? Album Cover Henry Threadgill & Make A Move ‎: Where's Your Cup?
HENRY THREADGILL
4.52 | 3 ratings
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THE CLAUDIA QUINTET Royal Toast Album Cover Royal Toast
THE CLAUDIA QUINTET
4.40 | 6 ratings
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VIJAY IYER Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith : A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke Album Cover Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith : A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
VIJAY IYER
4.45 | 3 ratings
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MYRA MELFORD Snowy Egret Album Cover Snowy Egret
MYRA MELFORD
4.50 | 2 ratings
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WADADA LEO SMITH America's National Parks Album Cover America's National Parks
WADADA LEO SMITH
4.48 | 2 ratings
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CRAIG TABORN Chants Album Cover Chants
CRAIG TABORN
4.45 | 2 ratings
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MARY HALVORSON Mary Halvorson Octet : Away With You Album Cover Mary Halvorson Octet : Away With You
MARY HALVORSON
4.43 | 2 ratings
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CRAIG TABORN Daylight Ghosts Album Cover Daylight Ghosts
CRAIG TABORN
4.25 | 4 ratings
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KRIS DAVIS Save Your Breath Album Cover Save Your Breath
KRIS DAVIS
4.02 | 2 ratings
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CHES SMITH Ches Smith with Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri: The Bell Album Cover Ches Smith with Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri: The Bell
CHES SMITH
4.00 | 2 ratings
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TIM BERNE Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man Album Cover Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man
TIM BERNE
4.00 | 2 ratings
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ÉMILE PARISIEN Émile Parisien Quintet feat. Joachim Kühn : Sfumato Album Cover Émile Parisien Quintet feat. Joachim Kühn : Sfumato
ÉMILE PARISIEN
4.00 | 2 ratings
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21st century modern Music Reviews

ANDREW CYRILLE Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell : Lebroba

Album · 2018 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Seasoned drummer Andrew Cyrille is better known by his collaboration with leading jazz musicians of different time periods starting from Cecil Taylor to Anthony Braxton to Oliver Lake among many others but he has released two dozen albums as leader as well."Lebroba" is his second album for prestigious German ECM label and here he leads a super trio containing living legends trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Bill Frisell.

Don't worry much about unimaginative album's title(Lebroba is a contraction of Leland, Brooklyn and Baltimore, birthplaces of trio's members), the music is really more impressive.

Frisell,who did his name playing with John Zorn's radical avant-garde projects and later moved solo towards trademark Americana-jazz, is in great form here and differently from his many solo works from last decades he plays more inventively and far not such safe. There are even some explosive guitar solos what wasn't heard from him possibly from 80s. Still everyone knowing his sound will easily recognize who's playing guitar here.

Wadada Leo Smith was one of AACM founders in early 70s and he experiences huge renaissance during last two decades after all these years.His trumpet is a main beauty of "Lebroba" music. On many pieces he sounds as early electric Miles but not pushing the music ahed with explosive soloing but slowing it down with aerial and quite dry sound.

Now the music - it is expected for those familiar with Smith's most current works, but still quite different. Low-to-mid tempo songs are well-composed and sound not meditative but dry-calculated, minimalist and contains some internal tension. The opener is renown Frisell song "Worried Woman" sounding here as if Frisell has invited Miles Davis to his small band.

"Turiya:Alice Coltrane Meditations and Dreams:Love" is written by Smith and lasts 17+ minutes."TGD" is written by all three members and last two songs are Cyrille's.

Minimalist, with anchoring drummer and airy guitar and trumpet interplay (what an usual format for a trio!)spiced with tasteful and live-full (and sometimes free) soloing this music is new, beautiful,quite accessible but trully creative.

It's almost unbelievable how jazz veterans (with youngest Bill Frisell(68))can take risks searching for new sounds and succeed doing it.

MYRA MELFORD Snowy Egret

Album · 2015 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
It is a new Quintet for this 2015 release for pianist Myra Melford named “Snowy Egret” with the album titled the same comprising some highly interesting artists from today’s Modern Jazz scene. Ron Miles is playing cornet, Liberty Ellman, guitar, Stomu Takeishi is on Bass and Tyshawn Sorey is drumming with all these artists having a mix of individual experience at times with Bill Frissell, Henry Threadgill, John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Eric Friedlander, Roscoe Mitchell which gives a bit of a hint to the style of Jazz the band performs. Myra’s compositions within the album were inspired from Eduardo Galeano’s literary work Memoria Del Fuego ( Memory Of Fire trilogy) on colonialism in Latin America and it’s relevant poetry with the actual title for her project being “Language of Dreams” where in concert it was presented with the addition of dance, visuals, poetry but here for the album it is just the Jazz.

Of course it is all about composition incorporated by Myra into the album’s structure with fairly up tempo time with repetition used in the opening track ‘Language” having some great added input from Liberty Ellman on guitar and Ron Miles’ cornet and for the following number “Night Of Sorrow” it is introspection laced with reminiscence with beautiful input from Myra added on piano. “Promised Land” contains great interplay between the band with Myra getting out the Melodica for the following “Ching Ching/ For The Love Of Fruit” with some really interesting results within the track and perhaps one of my favourites. Still everybody gets a go with Tyshawn Sorey roaring in for an opening drum solo for in “The Kitchen” in this more accentuated Avante track with a some wonderful slower material to follow with Stomu Takeishi’s bass and Myra Melford’s piano being the main components in “Times Of Sleep And Fate”. Still my album favourite would the 2nd last composition “ The Virgin Of Guadalupe” as well as the album’s longest with Ron Miles’ solo cornet opening with Myra adding gradual piano and it is always a delight when you barely notice other band members coming in behind throughout this lovely composition. It is a jaunt to finish the album up for “Strawberry” which contains more wonderful interplay between this highly talented Quintet.

Already it has been five years since this album’s recording and a new album with Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret has just recently been released and if the music from this release is anything to go by I won’t even bother to have a pre listen of the new one as it won’t be required, I’ll just buy it.

JURE PUKL Doubtless

Album · 2018 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
European Jure Pukl has been getting quite a few accolades lately as one of the new Jazz innovators with a different modern approach to Jazz which is evident within his latest release “Doubtless” with the compositions included and the playing of the two saxophones from himself and Melissa Aldana in conjunction at various times throughout the album’s compositions. This current album from the prolific saxophonist is the fifth under his leadership in the last eight years with his prior being ‘Hybrid” which was released last year in 2017. He is also known for not sticking to one particular style of Jazz by taking on most forms with Avante Garde, Post Bop and Fusion being just three examples within his own releases not his mention his many appearances as a sideman with quite a few of Jazz’s well known names such as Maceo Parker, Esperanza Spalding, Vijay Iyer, Jeremy Pelt and Aaron Goldberg just to name a few. Melissa Aldana the other tenor saxophonist from Chile is no slouch either and she has been gaining quite a reputation for herself with four albums of her own with two being her Crash Trio and even picked up The Thelonious Monk award in 2013 being the first South American artist to win it. Also present within the album’s quartet is Joe Sanders on Bass having played with quite a few luminaries such as Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock with a longer list to add and we also have Gregory Hutchinson drumming who has been at it quite a while now since starting in the late eighties with another extensive list of his own a mile long bringing us to quite an experienced band for this current new release of Jure Pukl’s, “Doubtless”.

The album’s title is the first number with a slight touch of Avante inserted between the two saxophonists and the band following in for a call and response interplay between them both with Joe Sanders coming in for a brief interlude on bass in this interesting opening number. It is with the next composition “Doves (for my Mother)” where we have a conjunction with both saxophonists playing the opening together within this lovely more relaxed composition with the conjunction coming back each time for the theme and Gregory Sander’s bass following for another delightful solo. Gregory Hutchinson’s drumming has quite a distinct input of his own bringing a statement within this track as well as every other one included within the album. It is more co-play for “Intersong” with the following “Eliote” bringing back that saxophone conjunction and Joe Sanders to the fore. “Compassion” bears a ballad and introspective feel to the number with plenty of space for quite a nice dreamy feel. The remaining four compositions still keep up a high degree of interest in “Elsewhere”, “The Mind And The Soul”, “Where Are You Coming From?” and finishing up with more of that delightful sax conjunction in “Bad Year-Good Year”.

It is different with something new to hear and an album I sought out myself due to that fact and it is not only the saxophone co-play which is only present at times but the mix of styles inserted within the compositions bringing a touch of Bop and the Avante in amongst it all. Something new and original is what I am always chasing and albeit it does get harder over the years with so many ideas covered Jure Pukl has managed to come up with it for us listeners in an interesting and delightful manner within this current release. I for one will be keeping my eye out for his future albums. Good stuff!

WADADA LEO SMITH America's National Parks

Album · 2016 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
“Tracing back to Wadada Leo Smith’s most recent epic masterpieces, The Great Lakes Suites and especially Ten Freedom Summers” ( excerpt from the album’s notes) concerning the double album “America’s National Parks” construction and contents”. Wadada has changed how he does musical writing and notations with his theory of Ankhrasmation which uses a set of four colours and depending where they are positioned on the chart, left or right being slow or fast with six rhythm units included that start long and then become short with the cover for his album “Sonic Rivers” showing one example of this type of intonations and how “America’s National Park” was composed with the orchestra having a fixed bound input and the soloist free to go where he wants. The ensemble that was used for the album was Wadada’s Golden Quintet which has had quite a change in its line up throughout the years with this current one containing Anthony Davis on piano, Ashley Walters, cello, His old cohort John Lindberg on bass, Pheeroan akLaff, drumming and of course Wadada on trumpet as well as directing the ensemble. One other mention is Jesse Gilbert being a video artist as when the pieces were recorded film was running in front of the ensemble for each National Park pertaining to which piece was being played for it. Although not technically Free Jazz it does have on the album an element of it concerning the soloists.

“New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718” opens being a 21 minute in length composition with Pheeroan akLaff drum’s and Wadada’s trumpet commencing proceedings and the band following in fairly quickly as the music seems to be slowly getting stretched with more and more extensions from the trumpet and Anthony Davis’ piano becoming gradually more complex with the cello seemingly being pushed more to the front but the music does change when Davis’s piano returns with quite a lovely complex solo of varying times and then John Lindberg gets pushed to the front on bass for a delightful bass solo and input which gradually is moved out of the way for Ashley Davis on cello to have a shot with Wadada coming back to close things up. There are two other compositions Eileen Jackson Southern, 1920-2002; A Literary National Park” and “Yellowstone: The First National Park and The Sprit of America- The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872” following and although “Eileen Jackson Southern” not being quite as dramatic in sound as “Yellowstone” but that does not mean “Yellowstone” is bombastic either with its gradual opening containing seemingly more space than the prior composition. and I love Anthony’s piano solo within.

Disc 2: Three more suites are included opening “The Mississippi River: Dark and Deep Dreams Flow The River-a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC and as the first on Disc 1 it is the longest track running for 31 minutes with each musician having quite an individual input and often in short bursts entirely alone within the composition often punctuated with sharp trumpet interjections from Wadada but you could not name it as call and response either for this extremely interesting number where later into the composition Anthony Davis is playing the same four notes repetitively with Wadada’s trumpet just soaring in bursts with more change still to come within. “Sequoia/Kings Canyon national Parks: The Giant forest, Great Canyon, Cliffs, Peaks, Waterfalls and Cave systems 1890” having the longest title is actually the shortest track with piano and trumpet and plenty of space brought to the fore with the album finishing up with the majestic “Yosemite: The Glaciers, the Falls, the wells and the Valley of Goodwill 1890”

Highly original and interesting album which won awards in 2017. Although it is about the Parks, the politics concerning them played just as big a part in the album’s compositions and one would be going to find anything even close to similar in releases unless Wadada did it himself. Getting a bit tired with Bop, Third Stream, Fusion and Avante Garde well try this one for something refreshingly different.

HENRY THREADGILL Henry Threadgill & Make A Move ‎: Where's Your Cup?

Album · 1997 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
Henry Threadgill’s second album with what was at that time when released in 1997 comprised his current new ensemble, Make A Move being a Quintet with Henry providing alto sax and flute, Brandon Ross on electric and classical guitar, Tony Cedras, accordion and harmonium, Stomu Takeshi, 5 string bass with J.T. Lewis drumming. As per the usual for Henry the compositions maintain a degree of structure providing quite a solid ground for the above mentioned artists solos and input whilst keeping the music from becoming chaotic which can lead to the ruination of any Avante Garde Jazz album. Whilst not an easy listen the benefit of persevering becomes apparent after a few spins and like all good albums of this nature it requires a little work from you the listener. One other mention is Bill Laswell shares Production duties with Henry in the making of this delightful excursion into some truly original Jazz.

Being the most structured of the compositions “ 100 Year Old Game” kicks the album of with Tony Cedras’ accordion beginning the composition with a change in tempo and Henry commencing quite a delightful solo interjected with guitar and accordion as Henry just keeps bringing more and more intensity into it for this superb opening number which has another time change before heading back to the original start time. “Laughing Game” follows with a brief drum solo to get things going with great guitar work from Brandon Ross and Henry following with more of that intensity. The title “Where’s Your Cup” runs at a fairly slow tempo with guitar and accordion opening and Henry providing flute in this lovely atmospheric composition. Things just keep getting better with the album’s longest track “And This” bringing the accordion followed by electric guitar back to open another gradual build up and Henry following on alto with more superb input from Brandon Ross’ electric guitar to follow. There are three other compositions remaining with all keeping up the quality with the last title named “Go To Far’. Well did it?, not really because as I stated previously there is structure for this delightful Avante Garde album from Henry Threadgill’s back catalogue.

It needs work from you the listener as the music can be complicated at times but the reward is there if you persevere. Great album.

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