Let’s get into it. Below, check out KMHD’s top 10 jazz albums of 2022, curated and mused over by your KMHD hosts Deena B., Nicole D’Amato, Matt Fleeger, Alex Newman, Bri Richards, Meg Samples, Derek Smith and Bryson Wallace. And to take with you, a playlist put together incapsulating the year in jazz and beyond.
“Black Radio III” by Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper spins the dial to create a mixture of soul, gospel, blues, jazz and Hip Hop in his latest release Black Radio III. Glasper finds a different pace on the backend of his trilogy: one that is introspective, somber and inspiring. Infinite moments of both Black joy and pain, but mostly a musical dialogue about the American Black Experience. A report card stemming from the reckoning of 2020. — Deena B
“In These Times” by Makaya McCraven
Makaya McCraven is back again, this time offering a delicate piece of work that takes its time moving you through many different modes of feeling. And along on the orchestral journey: otherworldly musicianship from some of the best to do it today! This album will unwind you. — Bryson Wallace
“Where I’m Meant to Be” by Ezra Collective
It’s refreshing to know that the band that consistently puts on the most vital live shows in Jazz also makes some of its most vital albums. Case in point: Where I’m Meant to Be, which accomplishes the rare feat of giving the listener the experience of seeing EC live. Even a cursory listen will adjust your mood for the better. — Matt Fleeger
“This is Brian Jackson” by Brian Jackson
This release reminds you that Brian Jackson is hard to categorize with just one instrument. His flute, synth, and vocals are all on display at top form! A jazz album drenched in soul and funk and plenty of percussive layers. This Is Brian Jackson blends both acoustic and electronic sounds seamlessly. — Meg Samples
“Step on Step” by Charles Stepney
The layered soundscapes of producer Charles Stepney defined a whole new era of cosmic jazz, soul and funk in the late 60′s and 70′s. Comprised of 23 home recordings, Step on Step is an intimate journey through the genesis of the Stepney sound. From skeletal blueprints of classic tracks like Earth Wind & Fire’s “That’s the Way of the World” to unreleased gems, waiting to be refined into future hits by today’s tastemakers. — Bri Richards
“Pigments” by Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn
Artist, dancer, singer and Danity Kane alum, Dawn Richard, beautifully pivots in her latest ambient offering, Pigments. This insanely good collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Spencer Zahn, is a composition arranged in 11 movements (songs). Zahn provides a lush ethereal soundscape for Richard to vocally run through: a heavenly instrumentation with RNB harmonies. — Deena B.
“Psychosynthesis” by Greg Foat
What can Greg Foat NOT do?! This album is as innovative as it is velvet smooth. Tracks like “Baby Boy” and “Fatherhood” bring such a mood enhancing element that I almost considered this album to be ambient electronic, but the beats behind them bring it all home. — Bryson Wallace
“Education & Recreation” by Surprise Chef
Surprise Chef’s third full-length album is their most confident and clear assemblage of songs to date. The funk-rooted quintet from Melbourne meticulously arranges 12 tracks that are both airtight and effortlessly executed. Compliments.
— Alex Newman
“Could We Be More” by Kokoroko
After two EPs, London-based, eight-piece jazz collective, Kokoroko, released their highly anticipated debut album, Could We Be More, in August. An uplifting, joyful, introspective delight of a debut. Soulful, smooth, Afrobeat-inspired sounds fill your mind with long, warm, sunny days that never seem to end. A perfect late summer release to keep you toasty during the colder months. — Nicole D’Amato
“The Sea Will Outlive Us All” by Misha Panfilov
Scientists have estimated that more than 90 percent of living species reside in the oceans. Estonian multi-instrumentalist, Misha Panfilov, has crafted a hypnotic spiritual journey in moods that pays tribute to the aquatic world, a world the artist believes will endure beyond humanity’s legacy. He describes the sea as alluring and eternal, which also happens to be true of every second of this haunting record. — Derek Smith