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

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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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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

YUJI MUTO & NANA OMORI Vale Tudo

Live album · 2021 · 21st Century Modern
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DamoXt7942
Delicious.

This album "Vale Tudo" (in Portuguese, anything is alright), released on January 16 2021, was created / produced by Yuji MUTO & Nana OMORI, the third free / improvised jazz duo project of Yuji. The material for this creation has been recorded live on August 22 2020 at Jazz Club Intersat. Yuji's recorded and released other two albums in collaboration with great drummers like Mieko SAKAI or Mako KIMATA, and we have been looking forward to his forthcoming opus cooperated by a pianist of multiplicity Nana. Yes they do not betray our expectations.

Just curious how Nana synchronizes Yuji's kaleidoscopic guitar plays, and we can notice two musical cogwheels can engage with each other in a complex and perfect manner. Already we know well Yuji plays the guitar diversely (jazz, rock, metal ... and so on) but Nana's piano sound launching should not be defeated at all. Take a listen to the first track "Introduction" and we can get immersed in his smooth, sliding guitar plays, followed by Nana's sensitive but vivid piano performances. The power of their combination expands dozens of times actually. "Bloodshed On The Desert" is another revolution of sound, lyrically combined with two talented activities just like a fireworks display. Via the three Improvisations we can enjoy their natural appearances in the air. Wondering why they can work together quite smoothly and precisely. And another highlight: In "Desert Yellow" Nana's heavy desert piano oscillations are completely chasing Yuji's metallic dissonant guitar paranoia. On the contrary, the last "Someday My Prince Will Come" is soft and quiet, as if they would appreciate the prince, namely the upcoming era we will be safe and sound.

Sounds exactly like the two virtuosi say 2021 will not be bad. Believe them, and make a toast for the new year with such a tremendous creation.

WAYNE SHORTER Beyound the Sound Barrier

Live album · 2005 · 21st Century Modern
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Steve Wyzard
TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Recorded between November 2002 and April 2004 before very enthusiastic crowds, Beyond the Sound Barrier can best be described as a collection of tour highlights. I hope that doesn't sound too disparaging, because we are treated to some truly awe-inspiring performances. Yet at 61:17, it seems obvious that Verve Records didn't want to put out a double-disc set of a full concert. Instead, they have given us a "best of" selection without duplicating any titles from the previous live album, Footprints Live (2002).

When you are Wayne Shorter, you don't have to settle for just anybody, or whoever happens to be available when putting together a touring ensemble. If Wayne is on the line, nobody says, "Let me check my schedule." With John Patitucci on bass, Danilo Perez on piano, and Brian Blade on drums, Shorter would have been very hard-pressed to find more qualified players. These are all world-class performers of jaw-dropping virtuosity, and an excellent live mix makes sure every note comes through perfectly. Patitucci in particular shines extra brightly on this album.

So what do we get in a mere 61:17? "As Far as the Eye Can See" and "On Wings of Song" are both faded early in mid-performance. "Beyond the Sound Barrier" is faded in, then faded out. "Tinker Bell" is a brief trio improv with Shorter sitting out. The remaining 4 tracks are all complete performances. Shorter devotes far more time to the soprano sax than the tenor, but we aren't complaining. Don't miss his and Patitucci's amazing solos on "Joy Ryder", or Perez's stunning work on "Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean". The listener is almost tempted to take Blade's drumming for granted, but he never allows us to do just that.

This disc could have accommodated 18 more minutes of music, but for unknown reasons, Verve decided we could do without. That alone prevents this album from a higher ranking, because the actual performances could not be topped. Had I known about the truncated recordings, I would still have bought the album, as I am a huge fan of all the players involved. And while it does leave one to wonder what remains languishing in "the vaults", let us be thankful for what we do have here, especially for those of us who've never seen these guys live.

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.

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