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Brian Kiwanuka's Favorite Jazz Albums of 2017

Brian Kiwanuka
Contributing Writer
bkiwanuka91@gmail.com

It may seem a bit odd that a year-end list on a jazz publication only includes seven albums. As always, there has been a good amount of quality jazz releases this year. However, some of these records captivated me so much that I ended up devoting an obscene amount of time to them. Highlights include how Gerald Clayton returned and somehow matched the high quality of his last record and Mary Halvorson in general, who continues to be unflinchingly experimental, unique and brilliant - as a sidewoman and a bandleader. My favorite jazz moment of the year has to be when I saw Halvorson’s outstanding octet at the Village Vanguard, but as that concert was unfortunately not recorded, I will happily settle for the great records below.

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Brian Kiwanuka's Favorite Non-Jazz Albums of 2017

Brian Kiwanuka
Contributing Writer
bkiwanuka91@gmail.com

Maybe it’s not saying much, as I feel like I have been coming to this conclusion often yearly, but there were some truly fantastic records released this year. It would be a bit dishonest if I didn’t mention that as someone who fell in love with music through hip-hop, the genre is definitely the one that I keep up with the most. Left-field hip hop - the more lyrically abstract and experimental stuff - had some releases that I’m sure I will be consistently returning to. In regards to other genres, I discovered the music of a singer/songwriter from Peru who, with just two succinct albums, is now one of my favorite current musicians. Speaking of singers/songwriters, another one of my favorites also dropped a great album this year. Check out my top 10 non-jazz records of 2017 below.

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Gerald Clayton - 'Tributary Tales'

Brian Kiwanuka
Contributing Writer
bkiwanuka91@gmail.com

After a four year wait, fans will be pleased to hear that Tributary Tales, while surely taking a page out of the same book as its preceding album, A Life Forum, is another fantastic - and different - addition to the Clayton discography. On Tributary Tales the lineup of Clayton's previous record is almost intact featuring all of the previous musicians and vocalists with the exception of Akinmusire and Gretchen Parlato. New additions to the ensemble include Ben Wendel, who plays tenor sax with Stephens only appearing on "Wakeful" on baritone sax, Henry Cole and Gabriel Lugo on percussion and poet Aja Monet, who masterfully accompanies the cinematic deep tone of Hancock Rux's voice on "Lovers Reverie" and "Dimensions: Interwoven".