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An Addendum to My Top 100 List for 2023: Twenty Releases That Fell Between the Cracks

Updated: Jan 16

At the end of each year when it’s time to compile my annual Best Of list, there’s always some that I overlook for one reason or another. Maybe I was never serviced with any copy of the recording, physical or otherwise. Maybe a link to the music, sent to by some conscientious publicist or in-house record company person, became buried in the blizzard of emails I receive on a daily basis. Maybe said recording came out so early in the year that I just forgot about it. For whatever reason, I missed several noteworthy CDs released in 2023, which I am now including in this addendum.

Perhaps the most egregious oversight in my original list was Jason Moran’s From the Dancehall to the Battlefield (on his own Yes Records label). A monumental meditation on the life and legacy of pioneering composer-arranger-bandleader James Reese Europe, who during World War I led the famed 369th U.S. Infantry Band, aka Harlem Hellfighters, it includes a couple of nods to W.C. Handy ("Memphis Blues," "St. Louis Blues," "Hesitating Blues") and Albert Ayler ("Ghosts") along the way.

A profound and vital tenet recording that celebrates the joys of syncopation from the early 20th century, Dancehall to the Battlefield  is a history lesson that also swings. Powered by the potent rhythm tandem of bassist Taurus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and featuring Moran’s always-elegant touch on the piano, it includes a couple of nods to W.C. Handy and Albert Ayler along the way, along with some sobering narration by the leader himself. I was definitely remiss in not including this stellar offering in my original Best Of list. (Thank you, Bandcamp, for letting me catch up on this important release).

Here’s another 19 noteworthy releases for 2023 that I, for one reason or other, missed when I was wrapping up the year:

Donald Harrison, Congo Square Suite (Truth Revolution)

Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits, On Different Paths (Truth Revolution)

Charles Pillow Large Ensemble, Electric Miles 2 (Mama Records)

Willie Morris, Conversation Starter (Posi-Tone)

Shorter Moments, Citizen Wayne (Posi-Tone)

Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, King’s Highway (Stoner Hill)

Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, Live from the Archives (Stoner Hill)

Louis Hayes, Exactly Right! (Savant)

Jerry Bergonzi, Extra Extra (Savant)

The 14 Jazz Orchestra, Islands (self-released)

Tima Volozh, Jubilee (Shifting Paradigm Records)

Allison Miller, Rivers in Our Veins (Royal Potato Family)

Billy Mohler, Ultraviolet (Contagious Music)

Amina Figarova, Joy (Amfi Records)

Emmet Cohen, Master Legacy Series Vol. 5 Featuring Houston Person (Bandstand Records)

Joel Harrison & Anthony Pirog, The Great Mirage (AGS Recordings)

Joey Alexander, Continuence (Mack Avenue)

Brandee Younger, Brand New Life (Impluse!)

Yussef Days, Black Classical Music (Nonesuch)

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