Nu Jazz

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Nu jazz grew out of the combined influences of Jon Hassel’s Kiranic trumpet playing and ‘fourth world’ rhythms, Miles Davis’ soft tone and use of ambience on “In a Silent Way”, and the early 90s intersection of jazz and electronica, particularly trip-hop, dub and down-tempo. Some early Nu Jazz artists include Nils Petter Molvaer and Bugge Wesseltoft. Over time, other influences were introduced to the Nu Jazz sound.

For a time, the jangling ambient guitar sound of post-rock was a big influence on Nu Jazz, but that has mostly faded now. Meanwhile, bands like Jagga Jazzist and Snarky Puppy have re-discovered the lush orchestrations of sophisticated easy listening and exotica arrangers such as Henry Mancini and Les Baxter. Yet another influence, one that has emerged from the sound of the popular Portico Quartet and others, is the use of repeating minimalist phrases. This use of short repeating melodic phrases not only comes from minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, but also from Zeuhl artists and a long history of European art rock. An influence from ambient music is also part of the Nu Jazz genre, this can be found in the early music of Nils Petter Molvaer, as well as others. Nick Bartsch is a popular Nu Jazz artist who often combines the repeating figures of minimalism with a dub reggae style ambiance.

All of the above mentioned influences may appear on a Nu Jazz album, but not necessarily all. As Nu Jazz continues to develop, the most constant factors tend be a relaxed 'cool' approach, an influence from modern electronica and an appreciation for ironic kitsch and retro sounds. Some early precedents for Nu Jazz can found in the Terry Riley influenced ambient sections on Soft Machine's IIIrd album, Brian Eno's use of Brand X's funk/fusion backing tracks in building his late 70s ambient art rock albums, and Miles Davis' lengthy "He Loved Him Madly" from his "Get Up With It" album.

Although there are musical differences between Nu Jazz and Contemporary Jazz, from a pop-culture standpoint, the more obvious difference between the two is Nu Jazz’s self-aware ’hipster’ stance, compared to Contemporary Jazz’s more emotionally earnest approach.

nu jazz top albums

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

ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.) Live in Hamburg Album Cover Live in Hamburg
ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.)
4.94 | 7 ratings
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SNARKY PUPPY We Like It Here Album Cover We Like It Here
SNARKY PUPPY
5.00 | 3 ratings
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BUGGE WESSELTOFT New Conception of Jazz: FiLM iNG Album Cover New Conception of Jazz: FiLM iNG
BUGGE WESSELTOFT
4.81 | 4 ratings
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SNARKY PUPPY Tell Your Friends Album Cover Tell Your Friends
SNARKY PUPPY
5.00 | 2 ratings
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BEN MONDER Amorphae Album Cover Amorphae
BEN MONDER
5.00 | 2 ratings
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NIK BÄRTSCH Holon Album Cover Holon
NIK BÄRTSCH
4.63 | 10 ratings
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JAGA JAZZIST Jaga Jazzist Live with Britten Sinfonia Album Cover Jaga Jazzist Live with Britten Sinfonia
JAGA JAZZIST
4.86 | 2 ratings
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BUGGE WESSELTOFT New Conception of Jazz: Moving Album Cover New Conception of Jazz: Moving
BUGGE WESSELTOFT
4.61 | 5 ratings
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NIECHĘĆ Śmierć w miękkim futerku (Death In A Soft Fur Coat) Album Cover Śmierć w miękkim futerku (Death In A Soft Fur Coat)
NIECHĘĆ
4.62 | 4 ratings
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BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE Sunset Mission Album Cover Sunset Mission
BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE
4.75 | 2 ratings
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NIK BÄRTSCH Llyria Album Cover Llyria
NIK BÄRTSCH
4.40 | 10 ratings
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JAGA JAZZIST A Livingroom Hush Album Cover A Livingroom Hush
JAGA JAZZIST
4.29 | 23 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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Gary Bartz JID006
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JAZZ IS DEAD (YOUNGE & MUHAMMAD)
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nu jazz Music Reviews

10000 VARIOUS ARTISTS Blue Note Re:Imagined

Album · 2020 · Nu Jazz
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js
“Blue Note Re:imagined” is a two CD collection of tracks on which current UK jazz, hip-hop and RnB artists use classic Blue Note songs as inspirations for new creations. Taking a jazz song that was originally written in swing time and then slapping a contemporary backbeat on it does not always go well, so its fortunate that many of these artists often create creations that bear little resemblance to the original. Looking at this collection as a whole, if you are expecting some hip contemporary jazz leaning pop, then you will be happy with this, but if you expecting every track to be a heavy modern jazz statement, you may find yourself wanting, but all the same, there is some good contemporary, or ‘nu’, jazz to be found.

The best jazz cuts on here come from the artists who have the strongest reps, including Shabaka Hutchings, Alfa Mist, Blue Lab Beats, Nubya Garcia and Ishmael Ensemble. Of the pop tracks, Fieh’s “Armageddon” is a standout with its interesting chord progressions. Of the tracks that don’t work as well, Ezra Collective tries to place a hip-hop beat on Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” and it totally undermines the mystical flow of the original. There is a saving grace on this one though via an amazing keyboard solo from Joe Amon-Jones. On the other hand, Nubya Garcia’s hip-hop reworking of “A Shade of Jade” is almost an improvement over the hard bop original. A surprise success is an odd wordless vocal rendition of “Maiden Voyage” by Mr Jukes that works really well despite what that idea would sound like on paper. I ended up making my own CD off of this two CD album by recording just the best tracks and leaving off the others, with a little editing like that you can end up with a very good collection of today’s UK nu jazz sound.

MAGIC MALIK Magic Malik Fanfare XP, Vol. 2

Album · 2020 · Nu Jazz
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js
You may have noticed the recent drop off in new albums since the world wide pandemic put a serious dent in things. As many people seek the refuge of self quarantine, artists have been forced to dig through their recording archives and release things that may not have been put out under better circumstances. We can consider our selves very fortunate that Magic Malik was able to release “Fanfare XP Vol 2” while things cleared up in Europe for a while, because at this point, this album looks to be one of the best this year so far.

For many jazz woodwind players, the flute is a secondary instrument, something to play when they aren’t playing saxophone, but for Malik, it is his main axe, and it shows. Malik gets a big beefy sound out of the flute, no small feat as it can lean towards shrill thinness very easily. “Vol 2”, like many of his albums, features a fairly large ensemble with big sounding horns like the trombone to compete with, but Malik’s muscular flute tone is always able to elbow its way into the mix. Making yourself heard is not always easy in a Malik composition as he often has more than one solo going at a time, plus most tracks feature busy ensemble arrangements that compete with the soloists for air time.

You could roughly categorize the music on “Vol 2” as ‘nu jazz’, due to its use of modern beats and tasteful electronics, but unlike other trendy nu jazz offerings that tend to be lite and fluffy, Malik’s compositions are big on substance and innovation. Its that balance of attractive modernity and deep complex musical arrangements that promote concentrated listening that make “Vol 2” such a success. It’s not boorishly heavy, but it is definitely way more than hip background. If you want to hear something new in jazz that will still sound great 50 years from now, “Fanfare XP Vol 2” is your ticket.

LINDA MAY HAN OH Initial Here

Album · 2012 · Nu Jazz
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snobb
There have never been many female bass players in jazz. Malaysia-born (parents were Chinese immigrants) and Australia-raised, Linda Oh is with no doubt among the leading.

After studies in the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (her thesis was on the classical Indian music rhythms in Dave Holland's solos), she moved to New York in 2008 where she completed her master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music and released her first album as leader all that same year.

Linda very soon became a part of New York creative jazz scene, playing and recording with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, sax player Jon Irabagon and pianist Vijay Iyer among many others. In 2011 she became a member of the Dave Douglas Quintet, and a year later, Linda released her second album as leader, "Initial Here", on Douglas' Greenleaf label.

Of the album's ten songs, all but two are Oh originals. Her compositional talent is really impressive - the opener "Ultimate Persona" recalls Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra's Spanish revolutionary hymns-influenced songs and stays in your head for a long. "No. 1 Hit" is a beautiful mix of baroque and very playful Latin, with exceptional elegance, all - very groovy and danceful.

"Thicker Than Water" is a Chinese folk influenced song with another rising star, vocalist Jen Shyu singing in Mandarin and English. Of two non-originals, one is a brave and really successful take on classics, combining Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky on one song ("Something's Coming/Les Cinq Doigts").

The other is Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday", a piece of rare beauty here. The closer "Deeper Than Sad" is a piano-led memorable ballad with impressive sax soloing.

The band is really impressive - from Linda's regular collaborator of the time, Cuban pianist Fabian Almazan, to capable drummer Rudy Royston and tenor Dayna Stephens (who sounds here somehow less traditional than on his solo albums).

Linda's bass is a separate story though - it sounds warm, physical, but not too heavy and dominating, more as dancing over the tunes. Perfectly recorded, the music with no doubt sounds as a bassist album, but there is plenty of space for each band member's soloing. Dense sound is surprisingly aerial, worm and soft and full of playfulness.

This album of perfect tunes, variable, well played music and positive atmosphere, once started you will return back to it most probably more often than once or twice.

BILL LAURANCE Live at Ronnie Scott's

Live album · 2020 · Nu Jazz
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snobb
Better known as member of American jazz super-group Snarky Puppy, English pianist and composer Bill Laurance collaborates with some other renown artists and leads own bands as well. His trio (with British bassist Jonathan Harvey and Lithuanian drummer Marijus Aleksa) just released their live album, recorded a year and half ago in legendary London's Ronnie Scott's club.

Full-bodied, well composed and perfectly played acoustic nu jazz, in a key of early Phronesis, is a perfect example of best British music of the genre. No use of electronics, sound effects or studio technology. Each song has own face and appeal,delicate applause in a club adds warm atmosphere to almost studio-like recording.

Continuing the decades long tradition of acoustic piano-bass-drums jazz trios, Bill Laurance trio on this release builds a solid bridge from twenty's century to the first decade of the New Millennium. Best acoustic nu jazz looking from today becomes part of jazz history as well. Laurance's "Live At Ronnie Scott's" is a valuable illustration to the British page of it.

PORTICO QUARTET Memory Streams

Album · 2019 · Nu Jazz
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snobb
Brits Portico Quartet always had very special place on British nu jazz scene since they arrived more than a decade ago. Among very firsts in a genre their sound was closer to Brian Eno ambient than melodic chamber jazz/songs-oriented soft fusion of their scene's colleagues. But even more important - their ambient-jazz was very organic thanks to the use of exotic "hang"(form of steel-pan) instead of modern electronics of more club-oriented bands.

They received an early fame and some decline, changes in line-up and hardly successful flirting with vocal-based pop. With "Memory Streams" they return back to basis and it's their true return to form of sort.

Oppositely to their very early releases, band's fans wouldn't find an unexpected sound and very new music in general; on Portico's new album they play mostly everything they already played before. But they do it well.

Very melodic well executed "organic" ambient jazz,very accessible and often balancing on the dangerous edge with "elevators music" but fortunately never crossing the border. Not really a listening for one's brain but simply beautiful music for many's heart.

Band's traveling Europe with new program these days so don't miss your chance to see them playing live.

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Artists with Nu Jazz release(s)

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Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
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