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

PAUL BLEY Not Two,Not One Album Cover Not Two,Not One
PAUL BLEY
4.67 | 3 ratings
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ENRICO RAVA Enrico Rava / Stefano Bollani : The Third Man Album Cover Enrico Rava / Stefano Bollani : The Third Man
ENRICO RAVA
4.75 | 2 ratings
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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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TYSHAWN SOREY The Inner Spectrum of Variables Album Cover The Inner Spectrum of Variables
TYSHAWN SOREY
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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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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CRAIG TABORN Daylight Ghosts Album Cover Daylight Ghosts
CRAIG TABORN
4.23 | 4 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

21st century modern New Releases

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Playing With Standards
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in-Visibility
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Song For Alice
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Sun Ra's Journey
Live album
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Christoph Irniger Pilgrim : Ghost Cat
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CHRISTOPH IRNIGER
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21st century modern Music Reviews

YOSUKE YAMASHITA 山下洋輔 Quiet Memories

Album · 2020 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Yosuke Yamashita, who will celebrate his 80 birthday later this month, is one of Japanese avant-garde jazz piano key figures. His trio during the late 60s - mid 70s released a series of excellent high energy impressive technique albums, building a golden fund of the country's creative jazz (incl. cult "Chiasma" and bold, very special atmosphere "Frozen Days", which I really like more, among some others). Yosuke moved towards more mainstream post-bop during 90s, played with big bands and recorded some semi-classical works. "Quiet Memories" is his last to date studio album, a 78 year sold pianist's solo work.

Recorded in a studio in Tokyo, this album contains eleven compositions: three standards, one Corsican folk song and seven Yamashita originals. As one could expect, Yamashita plays his whole life's music from mature, seasoned artist position. Fortunately, the album isn't a collection of sentimental ballads. It builds a very specific atmosphere of lite sadness and understanding that a long-lasting artist's career (and life) is going into the final faze. Unusually (for Yamashita) emotionally colored, it contains some his best songs from his youth (as "Mina's 2nd theme" and "Chiasma"), played more emotionally, than in the original versions. "Thought of Beatrice" is a Corsican ballade of rare beauty. Standards anchoring the album's music, make a tighter connection of Yamashita's own compositions with jazz roots. All the time interchanging the music's tempos perfectly controls the whole album's mood, making it more Zen-balanced, rather than melancholic. And without surprise, Yamahita choses "On the Sunny Side of the Street" for the closer.

SOPHIA DOMANCICH Le Grand Jour

Album · 2021 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Outside of France, Parisienne pianist Sophia Domanchich is mostly known because of her association with British Canterbury scene leading artists, such as Gong drummer Pip Pyle (who was her partner for some years) and, more significant, former Soft Machine members, sax player Elton Dean and bassist Hugh Hopper.

In her homeland, she is a renown musician and composer, active in both classical music and jazz. She started her career in music as an accompanist in Paris Opera, it was Steve Lacy(among others), who introduced her to jazz in the late 70s. Since then she has been a significant figure on the French scene, often combining modern concert hall music and jazz.

"Le Grand Jour"("The Great Day") is her newest to date album (and first original release of just revitalized French jazz label PeeWee!). Domancich presents eleven of her originals here (plus an opener - John Lewis "Jango"). She does here what she knows best - plays solo acoustic piano and (simultaneously) Fender Rhodes. The music can be described as elegant chamber jazz, influenced more by Satie than Chopin. Sophia's compositions are of an elegant cool beauty, opposite to the French scene's Montmartre sentimentality. The ascetic use of electric piano in moments recalls the sound of church organ, in other places it adds a rock song feel, in both cases it makes solo piano sounds more lively.

Being quite accessible, this album's music is of a multilayered origin, every listening opens new elements and emotions, again and again. It's like an Old Paris architecture - you can enjoy looking at these old Cathedrals and buildings again and again, never being bored.

DANA FITZSIMONS Fault Lines

Album · 2022 · 21st Century Modern
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js
I had just finished listening to a large part of the Paul Bley discography when the “Faultlines” CD by Dana Fitzsimmons showed up in the mail. Call it coincidence or divine intervention if you will, but the similarities to Dana’s album and a typical album by Bley were striking. Here you have artists that are both just as at home with a lyrical ballad as they are with pure exploratory improvisation, as well as artists who know how to freely improvise in ways that are subtle and attractive to a wide variety of listeners. In Fitzsimmon’s press release, Bley is not mentioned as an influence, but other contemporaries of his are, including Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, but most importantly to Dana as a drummer, the music and drumming of Paul Motian figures prominently on this album. Joining Dana for this outing is pianist Bill Graham and Bassist Brandon Boone. This is not a typical jazz album on which the rhythm section acts only as support, instead all three musicians interact equally in a constant three way conversation. Much of this music is freely improvised, but it is still mostly tonal and rhythmic, but at the same time, very loose and unpredictable. This is Dana’s album, but Graham’s piano work is one of the most salient features on the album with his often relaxed swinging right hand figures that recall Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau, and Bill also wrote many of the tunes on the album too.

The band engages in Tristano styled brainiac bop on “Slant Anagrams” and “Number Six”, and rocks out some on “Borders”, which closes with Graham playing Brubeck style block chords in stubborn repeating rhythms against Dana’s free drumming. The trio gets more avant-garde on “Weeble Wobbles” and “Intersections”, but contrasts that with a fairly straight ahead reading of Richard Rogers’ “Where or When”. Much of the rest of the album centers around rather abstract and spacious moody pieces that aren’t typical ballads, but lean in that direction. The trio closes with Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia”, which picks up a sort of Neil Young flavor with Dana’s lazy but pronounced snare backbeat and Bill’s country flavored piano work. Musically, “Fault Lines” is brilliant, but the production could use a little better focus and clarity, especially on Brandon’s bass and Fitzsimmon’s cymbals, but this is a minor complaint really, overall this album is highly recommended for fans of today’s post-post bop.

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.

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Artists with 21st Century Modern release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
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