Deluxe -- Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth -- Clean Feed.
Bassist Lightcap and his band make rippling, surging, ebullient music that borrows from pop, indie, Latin, funk, gospel and African music and sounds like none of them. It just sounds great. The breakout jazz album of the year.
Across the Sky -- GeggieTrio + Donny McCaslin -- Plunge.
Jazz thrives in the most unlikely places -- like Ottawa, Ontario, where John Geggie moves and shakes and programs jazz for the National Arts Centre. And plays a mean bass. On this session of smart, swinging, mainly straight-ahead tunes, his Canadian trio is joined by one of his many Stateside admirers, tenor giant Donny McCaslin, for some adventurous cross-border conversation.
Boom Tic Boom -- Allison Miller -- Foxhaven.
The versatile drummer (she's been keeping time for Ani DiFranco these past few years) says her second outing as a leader is "composed for and inspired by important women" in her life. One of them, pianist Myra Melford, teams with bassist Todd Sickafoose and, on one track, Humboldt homegirl Jenny Scheinman for a compelling collection that booms and tics between post-bop, country, funk and avant-garde.
Ten -- Jason Moran -- Blue Note.
MacArthur "genius" grant winner and pianist of the moment Moran celebrates the 10th anniversary of The Bandwagon, his powerhouse trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. Gorgeously perfect swing meets subtle electronic bricolage in this strikingly successful attempt to sound out the entire tradition of jazz piano, all at once, all the time.
Pathways -- Dave Holland Octet -- Dare2.
A live recording that's more than just a showcase for the exhilarating solo talents of its members: Holland brings a contemporary sensibility to the large ensemble with arrangements that are both lushly textured and intimately restrained. With new pieces and older material newly arranged, this album grooves hard while it charms you.
The Whole Tree Gone -- Myra Melford's Be Bread -- Firehouse 12.
Roman Nights -- Tom Harrell -- High Note.
Solo -- Vijay Iyer -- ACT.
The Storyteller -- Randy Weston's African Rhythms Sextet -- Motéma Music.
Live -- Geri Allen & Timeline -- Motéma Music.
Empire -- Scott Colley -- CamJazz.
More details on the bottom six at www.redwoodjazzalliance.org