21st Century Modern

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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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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
4.24 | 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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ANDREW CYRILLE Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell : Lebroba Album Cover Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell : Lebroba
ANDREW CYRILLE
4.02 | 2 ratings
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MARY HALVORSON Reverse Blue Album Cover Reverse Blue
MARY HALVORSON
3.98 | 3 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!

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21st century modern Music Reviews

IMMANUEL WILKINS Omega

Album · 2020 · 21st Century Modern
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js
“Omega” is the first album by saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, but he is hardly a new comer to the jazz scene. Since his arrival in NYC in 2015 he has been building a solid reputation as an educator and as a sideman with artists as diverse as Jason Moran, Branford Marsalis, the Count Basie Orchestra and Bob Dylan. He and his chosen band have been working together for four years and it shows through in their strong communication and interplay. At first listen, “Omega” carries the hallmarks of modern jazz with its abstract and energetic mix of post bop, fusion and free jazz, but there is something new and different present in Wilkins’ music, and if you are not familiar with African American church music you might miss it. Yes, Wilkins’ music is often abstract and complex, but there is also a strong emotional element present as well. The cries and the longings of gospel music are here, but not in any cliché way. Immanuel and his band may present an emotional melody, but the way they work with it and develop it is pure modern jazz.

Wilkins often has a dry direct sax tone similar to Jackie MacLean and Steve Coleman, but he can also build up to an expressive melodic cry that recalls Albert Alyer and latter day Coltrane. The way in which Immanuel can build a solo off of a single melodic base may remind some of Kenny Garret as well. Pianist Micah Thomas has some Herbie Hancock in him, but he can also thunder in the big two handed tradition that has passed from Art Tatum to Matthew Shipp. Drummer Kweku Sumbry uses the entire kit in his maelstrom assaults in that style preferred by today’s NYC based drummers, and bassist Daryl Jones can be quite melodic, even doubling Wilkins on some of the songs melodies. The hallmark of this band is the way in which they can work together as an ensemble, trading and combining ideas in ways that break down the cliché roles of soloist and accompanist. The wide range of this band is also remarkable as they move from intense free modern bop to lyrical ballads.

The main difference in Immanuel’s music is in its powerful emotional content. There is so much great music these days, but so much of it is intellectual and dry and seems to lack heart. Even Wilkins’ song titles are significant as they reference poignant history such as Ferguson and Mary Turner, as well as his attempts to look inside with titles like “Grace and Mercy” and “Guarded Heart”. If you are tired of clever smirky play on words as song titles, you’ll find none of that here, same goes for the music. Immanuel and his band play like they mean it. Its rare for my reviews to indulge in superlatives, but this album deserves it. “Omega” is one of the best debuts I have ever heard and is also one of the best jazz albums for this year. Wilkins has managed to present a very original and personal vision, and that is not easy to do. Also, I don’t mind telling you that the ending of “Gaurded Heart” had me in tears, that doesn’t happen often with me and modern jazz music.

JUNIUS PAUL Ism

Live album · 2019 · 21st Century Modern
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js
Think of all the great musicians that have come from Chicago’s AACM and its influence. If you are not already familiar with Junius Paul, then you can add him to your list. Paul has been around for a while, jamming with heavyweights like the Art Ensemble, Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake and Fred Anderson, but he didn’t release his first album, “Ism”, until 2019. With an album out as a leader now, Paul’s name will start becoming more familiar because he is a powerhouse on the acoustic bass. I forget which famous bass player once said that the most important part of playing the bass is being heard. On “Ism”, Paul comes through loud and clear as he keeps a strong presence amid some very busy ensembles.

“Ism” is made up of various jam sessions, many recorded live, arranged cohesively to make a sort of collage album. Despite being recorded in different locations with different musicians, the album has a nice flow and logic. Junius is a very versatile musician and the music on here veers from free jazz, to hip-hop grooves, high energy McCoy Tyner styled modal trips, electronic psychedelics and simulated African percussion ensembles. Through it all, Paul is always a bass player and avoids any gratuitous soloing, he is a bass player’s bass player and that is what makes so much of this music sound so good and tightly together. An all-star cast of musicians appear on here, including Tomeka Reid, Marquis Hill, and many more.

JASPER HØIBY Planet B

Album · 2020 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Charismatic Danish double bassist Jasper Høiby, known fto millions as the British trio Phronesis' frontman, comes with his second solo album. Recorded in 2019 as a bass-sax-drums trio, it has been announced as the first release in a four-piece series, an "environmental" one. Released in March 2020, it's subject sounds quite outdated in the light of corona virus pandemic collapse in the big part of the world though.

Tightly composed,"Planet B" opens in a manner of a classic neo-prog rock album from the early 80s - with speaking words. As label's site says: "Planet B is a conversation about who we are as a people today, how we exist in relation to this earth and to each other, and where we want to go from here. Let us be inspired together and explore what a re-imagining of this planet can be.”

Nothing is wrong with taking on serious social and existential themes as a basis for jazz music, and adding some text is great if it helps to reach the target. Amiri Baraka's collaborations with early free jazzers is well known till now, as well as some more modern projects (incl. let say Anthony Joseph,etc). Poetry works with jazz in some cases quite well. Just speaking texts are probably more risky business since it often gives an anchoring effect on originally free jazz music nature. "Planet B" is such an example - returning voice with some speaking messages sounds a bit pathetic and moralizing over the free and creative sound.

Coming back to the album's music, it is more chamber than Phronesis works or even Høiby's first solo album. Two young musicians on board - British saxophonist Josh Arcoleo and French drummer Marc Michel - fulfill expectations of such an acoustic trio in full. Sound is warm and deep and energetic, and there are plenty of tuneful moments.

The trio sounds best when all three go towards more free improvisation (still never crossing the conceptual frame), the return to speaking voice destroys the album's atmosphere and leaves a mixed feeling though.

With full respect to the album's idea, I still have a feeling a solely musical edition (without words) would have sounded more integral and impressive.

CHRIS PASIN Ornettiquette

Album · 2018 · 21st Century Modern
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kev rowland
This is the fourth album as a band leader by New York-based trumpeter Chris Pasin, and is the second I have heard from him. The rather unusual title is to let the jazz fan understand that this is an album saluting NEA Jazz Master and Pulitzer Prize winner Ornette Coleman and his long-time collaborator Don Cherry. The line-up is rather unusual, in that although there is a singer (Ingrid Sertso), much of the album is instrumental with every musician taking the lead at different points. So while trumpet may be blowing up a storm on one, on another it could be Karl Berger (vibraphone, piano) who is very much in control, drummer Harvey Sorgen commanding attention, bassist Michael Bisio taking it over or Adam Siegel (alto saxophone) ripping it a new one.

What makes this album work so very well indeed is the sheer variety of styles at play, and the way that Chris understands sometimes music works best if he just stands there and doesn’t play a note. All the musicians work in similar manners, so while the rhythm section are normally there (but not always), the band could be functioning as a duo, multiple different trios, sometimes a quartet, and then there may even be vocals as well. Each time I played this album I found even more to discover, as this really is a delight. It grooves, it moves, it factures into avant garde, and then it can all be back on again with pure melody. Berger’s vibraphone skills are exemplary, and he adds additional polish and tonal contrast to what is already a very accomplished album.

Easily one of the finest jazz albums I have heard in recent years, this just gets better each time I play it.





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 ahead with explosive soloing,instead 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.

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