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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.

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Combsy - 's/t'

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

Chris Combs for some time had been a crucial element of Tulsa, Oklahoma's Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, adding not just angles to the group's sound but real curves. Playing the slide guitar will do that. So hearing his new solo project, aptly titled Combsy, will already provide some direction of the adventurous weirdness one would expect from a group of Combs' musical inclinations, for Combsy also has its fair share of curves.

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Nicole Mitchell and Haki R. Madhubuti - 'Liberation Narratives'

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

While jazz and poetry are two artistic media that frequently gravitate around one another (hell, they even share an appreciation month in the United States), there aren't so many instances where they meld into a work that feels Capital-I Important. Certainly not like the utterly exquisite Liberation Narratives, the collection of songs commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago for Mitchell to compose to accompany the work of her friend and colleague Haki R. Madhubuti.