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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TYSHAWN SOREY The Inner Spectrum of Variables Album Cover The Inner Spectrum of Variables
TYSHAWN SOREY
4.50 | 2 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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VIJAY IYER Vijay Iyer Sextet ‎: Far From Over Album Cover Vijay Iyer Sextet ‎: Far From Over
VIJAY IYER
4.43 | 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
4.23 | 4 ratings
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ANDREW CYRILLE Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell : Lebroba Album Cover Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell : Lebroba
ANDREW CYRILLE
4.09 | 4 ratings
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WAYNE SHORTER Beyound the Sound Barrier Album Cover Beyound the Sound Barrier
WAYNE SHORTER
4.00 | 7 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

21st century modern online videos

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21st century modern New Releases

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12 Stars
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Dedication
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Louise
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ÉMILE PARISIEN
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Mars
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In Common III
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IN COMMON
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SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum)
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MARTA SÁNCHEZ
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The 7th Hand
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IMMANUEL WILKINS
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Ode To O
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THE OGJB QUARTET (OLIVER LAKE - GRAHAM HAYNES - JOE FONDA - BARRY ALTSCHUL)
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Sounds of Love
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JOHN HÉBERT
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The Cave Of Winds
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TONY MALABY
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2 Blues For Cecil
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ANDREW CYRILLE
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21st century modern Music Reviews

JAMES BRANDON LEWIS James Brandon Lewis Quartet with Aruán Ortiz, Brad Jones and Chad Taylor: Code of Being

Album · 2021 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Born in Buffalo in 1983, James Brandon Lewis is the son of a preacher father and a schoolteacher mother. A New York-based rising star sax player, he has a background in University studies under Wadada Leo Smith and also playing gospel as well. After some years working for TV and as a studio musician, Lewis started his recording career as a leader in 2010, playing avant-garde jazz and modern jazz-related crossover music. His soulful, r'n'b and soul rooted liquid sax sound is always mixed with free improvisation in the same way of the great free jazz masters of the 60s.

Lewis' first album with an accent on composition (and his European debut) was actually a duo album (James Brandon Lewis - Chad Taylor "Radiant Imprints", Off Records, 2018, Belgium). The duo played at Willisau Fest (released on "Live in Willisau", Intakt, 2020,Switzerland) and then grew into a quartet with bassist Brad Jones, and pianist Aruán Ortiz, which recorded and released their critically acclaimed debut on Swiss Intakt the same year.

Just released, "Code Of Being" is the quartet's second album and Lewis' third European release. Recorded in Switzerland, the album contains possibly the best music Lewis has played until now. The band is very capable, including one of the most interesting piano player of his generation, Cuban Aruán Ortiz. Many songs have strong melody and are quite memorable, with soulful Lewis' sax soloing (very much in Rahsaan Roland Kirk vein). Still differently from Kirk, Lewis doesn't play groovy r'n'b, his music is closer to cinematic pseudo-soundtrack, which incorporates many genres, from Ortiz Latin-scented piano on "Where Is Hella", to the almost chamberesque "Tessera". The album's opener, "Resonance", is an absolute beauty, it comes as today's minimalistic echo of Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra's debut music.

By its structure, the album's content is well balanced, mixing some very tuneful songs with more free and complex compositions. The listener never expect what comes next.

Being far not so simple under the skin, the music here sounds surprisingly accessible. "Code Of Being" is one among the better examples of modern creative jazz, which combines the tradition and modernity in a right proportion.

REZ ABBASI Unfiltered Universe

Album · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Pakistani-born US-based guitarist Rez Abbasi is better known from his jazz fusion works, often with a touch of Southern Asian tradition. Here on "Unfiltered Universe", he leads an international band containing such stars as pianist Vijay Iyer and sax player Rudresh Mahanthappa among others.

Differently from his many previous recordings, Abbasi concentrates more on composition here, while still maintaining his high energy sound known from his fusion works. Electric/processed guitar sound is on the front together with Mahanthappa's sax soloing. Drummer Dan Weiss (who has been active in the metal scene) adds more drive and heaviness to the album's music too. It's a pity Iyer's piano is often somewhere on the second plan with just a few solos.

Being a competent work of true professionals, "Unfiltered Universe" lacks compositional expressiveness. Even though they include some elements of Indian sub-continent music here and there, the songs often still sound as a bit dry and too formal and formulaic guitar fusion, not composition-oriented modern jazz.

PAUL VAN GYSEGEM Paul Van Gysegem Quintet : Square Talks

Live album · 2021 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Leaving aside stars of the past such as Django Reinhardt and Toots Thielemans, Belgian jazz is only fragmentarily known outside of their domestic scene. Besides classical music, most of what the outside world knows of Belgian music for the last couple decades is quirky non-conventional avant-rock bands.

Still, even for local jazz fans, seasoned bassist Paul Van Gysegem is hardly a household name. Omniscient Google says he's a sculptor and shows some examples of his art. Still, one can find out that in the magical, for jazz, year of 1971, Van Gysegem released a free jazz album on the renown French label, Fortuna, plus a few more albums during the next half-a-century.

"Square Talks" is Paul Van Gysegem's extremely rare release as a leader. Recorded live in 2019, he leads a sextet of seasoned Belgian musicians (trumpeter Patrick De Groote even played with Van Gysege on his above mentioned debut in 1971!) plus younger generation Czech ex-patriate drummer Marek Patrman.

I listened to this album during the last few days, when the weather outside was really freaky - the snow was falling day after day in the end of April, which isn't usual, even for us living in Northern Europe. It recalled for me the times when I was much younger, probably a teen, when winters were much colder and much longer. "Square Talks" music fitted pretty well to this deja vu feeling.

Van Gysegem's band doesn't demonstrate virtuosity or technical equilibristic at all. They play mature mid-tempo chamber avant-garde jazz as if it is still early 70s outside. Warm wooden bass, excellent sound and an almost non-existing anymore atmosphere of freedom, and escape with a touch of lyrical melancholy. Yeah, we all know that this world doesn't exist anymore, but what a beautiful world it was!

During some last years I found out some excellent artists, playing music without even a touch of some of the modern trends of the few last decades - fusion, hip-hop, electronics, even funk. Free-jazz, coming straight from the late 60s, plus some European chamber traditions, sometimes local folk elements. These artists are often based outside of the world's jazz capitols, as New York or London, and playing their own jazz in such different places such as Sardinia or Serbia. That absence of whole musical layers or decades of influence makes their music sound very special. Paul Van Gysegem's music works the same way, it's a nowadays recording but with a well-preserved spirit of European late 60s without being nostalgic or self-parodying at all. Not sure, if it works for those knowing about 70s from internet and movies only, probably to feel that spirit one needed to experience it in one way or another from living when it was the elixir of the day.

Those with still a strong memory will recognize it in this music quite soon , others can just try, why not?

VIJAY IYER Vijay Iyer Sextet ‎: Far From Over

Album · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Pianist Vijay Iyer is one of the more important figures on the American creative jazz scene for the last two decades. During this time, he built the solid reputation of a precise player who connects Indian roots, jazz tradition and modernity in one, usually unpredictable, complex but accessible mix, attractive for a wide range of listeners. Better known by his solo or small band recordings, his new sextet is a real triumph, probably his highest success till now.

Combining regular jazz trio (with star-drummer Tyshawn Sorey on board) with a brass trio on the front of the sound, Iyer offers a high-energy mini-big band, playing some of his most memorable compositions (all originals). Radically different from Iyers' regular acoustic trios, this new sextet sounds a lot like Miles' early fusion bands, just framed with modern chamber jazz-influenced composition. Iyer himself switches from acoustic piano to Rhodes, on some extended soloing, together with another first-range star - altoist Steve Lehman (who already played with Iyer and Sorey as Fieldwork trio).

To finish the mix, add some hip-hop and funky rhythms, and what you get is an excellent today's jazz album, containing no fillers, and sounding BIG, as revitalizing the times when jazz was really BIG. Almost a masterpiece.

MATT PANAYIDES Field Theory

Album · 2021 · 21st Century Modern
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js
Today’s installment in the ongoing series on jazz musicians who deserve wider recognition brings us to guitarist Matt Panayides. Matt spends a lot of his time in NYC as well as South Korea and China where he works with some of the top musicians in each location. Matt has been leading his own groups and composing original music since 2016 which leads us to his latest album, “Field Theory”. Matt’s approach is high energy as he draws from post bop, jazz rock and free jazz in his solos and in his compositions. Matt can fire off high speed runs that never sound gratuitously flashy, and he provides enough interesting twists and turns so that expected clichés are avoided. Despite his well developed technique, there is something appealingly rough and gritty about his playing that recalls Michael Gregory Jackson and the youthful version of John McLaughlin. Helping Panayides out on this album are synth reed player Matt Vashlishan, tenor sax player Rich Perry, Robert Sabin on bass and Mark Ferber on drums. These guy’s credits as accompanists range from Wadada Leo Smith to Norah Jones and Lee Konitz, plus many more. Vashlishan’s contributions on synth reed in particular add some interesting colors to the group’s sound.

“Field Theory” opens with the tough modern hard bop of “Kite Flying”, but from there Matt keeps things unpredictable as the next three tracks mix modern jazz with arrangements that may remind some of avante garde math rock. Title track, “Field Theory”, in particular has a rock like energy that has Panayides putting some distortion and overdrive on his ‘axxe’. “Energy Mover” is just that as the band swings into high octane neo be-bop with rapid fire solos from the three man front line. The last half of the album wanders a bit as the band swerves from short free jazz segments to folkish tunes and a couple more open ended fusion jams. A big plus throughout the whole album is drummer Mark Ferber’s beats that recall Jack DeJohnette’s ability to swing while smacking a rocking backbeat at the same time. If you are familiar with Jack’s playing on Miles Live at the Fillmore you’ll know what I mean.

Matt Panayides’ guitar has enough ‘shredding’ to appeal to the fusion fans, but also enough swing and melodic invention for the jazzers. His compositions are complex and full of unexpected twists and are very much on top of what is happening in jazz today. Overall this CD displays an excellent balance between clever intellect and hard workin sweat.

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Artists with 21st Century Modern release(s)

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