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Kris Davis & Craig Taborn - 'Octopus'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Solo piano albums are tough listens. They're exercises in spacing, balance, dynamism, and are generally more intellectual exercises than most jazz albums. Duo piano albums are even tougher. One -- or a pair, really -- must really know what one is trying to pull off creating with such limitations, and have an even clearer idea when releasing that creation into the greater public. Kris Davis has always been an inventive, bold piano player. This is certainly true in her previous album, 2016's Duopoly, wherein she dueted with a coterie of exceptional musicians, but especially so the rapport she made with pianist Craig Taborn, so much so that the two have released a new duo album in that same spirit, Octopus, out now on Pyroclastic Records.

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Immortal Onion - 'Ocelot of Salvation'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Polish piano-bass-drum trio Immortal Onion are a young group, early twenties. They've got mastery of their instruments and they have a sound that's of their time. That's how youth invents-- as a desire to express present influences, driven by the winds of their taste. In their debut album, Ocelot of Salvation, one can hear an aural collage of what made them and what they have made in return.

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Anthony Dean-Harris' Favorite Jazz Albums of 2017

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

These albums, my favorites of 2017, didn't merely stay with me. They didn't just stay in rotation or live on my phone. They were part of my life, the subject of many a moment. They haunted me delightfully. They were the products of artists who made music to make people feel things and were very much successful when it came specifically to me. When it comes to the subject of art, our responses to it is, of course, emotional, subjective. "Best" can't truly be quantified; "favorite" difficult to explain, but still, we try. It's what we do.

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Anthony Dean-Harris' Favorite Non-Jazz Albums of 2017

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

I'm not exactly sure how my favorite non-jazz album list comes together. My moods shift here and there in the moment or throughout the year. I have things that come in and out of rotation for various reasons. Yet, these are the things that somehow filled out those other ends of bike rides and assorted commutes. Lists like these aren't necessarily why you, dear reader, are here, but they are the compliments to the musical moods we all have. A list like this is the further articulation of my year's musical fullness, and I'm glad to have had these albums around in the last year, among others, to keep my interest.

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Makaya McCraven - 'Highly Rare'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Something about drummer/producer Makaya McCraven's aesthetic always seems to come off as gritty. Sure, his latest album, Highly Rare, was recorded live to 4-track tape in a Chicago dive bar, but it's not like that same rawness hasn't always been there in his previous albums. It's not like his style on the kit isn't always fascinating and captivating. It's not like even his beat tape, Split Decision, isn't still the fuzzy jam. The man is a marvel, not just because of his proficiency but also because of his not being afraid to let the grittiness of the sound be an extra bit of texture, and texture is definitely something Highly Rare has in spades.