The Best Jazz Music of 2016

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

A roundup of the best jazz music of 2016, featuring picks from our editors and contributors.


In 2016, a number of great jazz albums were released. Here is a list of some of the best, according to critic Bob Campbell.

Best Jazz Albums of 2016

There were some amazing jazz albums released in 2016. These are the best of the best.

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

If you’re looking for an album that will transport you to another time and place, look no further than Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. This three-hour tour de force of an album is a modern jazz masterpiece, drawing on influences from all over the globe to create a sound that is both uniquely Kamasi Washington and distinctly of our time. With complex rhythms and soaring melodies, The Epic is an album that will keep you coming back for more.

Cécile McLorin Salvant – For One to Love

The best jazz albums of 2016 were led by fresh, boundary-pushing voices including vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, saxophonist Joshua Redman, and bassist Esperanza Spalding. These artists and more pushed the boundaries of what jazz could be in 2016, creating music that was both reflective and forward-thinking. These are the best jazz albums of 2016.

Vijay Iyer & Prasanna – Raw Materials

With dual musicianship on the piano and electric guitar, Vijay Iyer and Prasanna demonstrate their mastery of jazz improvisation and modern composition on Raw Materials. The result is an album that is reflective, spiritually inquisitive, and just downright fun to listen to. Iyer and Prasanna’s interplay is masterful, making Raw Materials one of the best jazz albums of 2016.

Joshua Redman – Walking Shadows

Walking Shadows is the latest offering from saxophonist Joshua Redman, and it is one of the best jazz albums of 2016. Redman is joined by an all-star cast of musicians, including pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade. The result is a collection of beautiful, melodic jazz tunes that are both complex and accessible.

Redman is a master of melody, and his saxophone playing is both technically proficient and emotionally expressive. Mehldau is one of the most accomplished pianists in jazz today, and his playing on this album is absolutely stunning. McBride and Blade are two of the most talented rhythm section players in the business, and they provide rock-solid support throughout.

If you’re looking for an album that will lift your spirits and make you feel good, Walking Shadows is a perfect choice. It’s an essential addition to any jazz collection.

Trombone Shorty – Parking Lot Symphony

When it comes to delivering a happy, life-affirming message via music, it’s hard to top Trombone Shorty. The New Orleans native always keep things fun and upbeat, and his newest album Parking Lot Symphony is no exception. horns and a rock-solid rhythm section locked in tightly behind him, Shorty take the listener on a tour of his native city with all its attendant sounds and styles. While the album features plenty of original material, the real highlights are the reworkings of classics like “Here Comes the Girls” and “On Your Way Down.” With Parking Lot Symphony, Trombone Shorty once again proves that he’s one of the most talented and creative musicians working today.

Best Jazz Songs of 2016

It’s no secret that 2016 was a great year for Jazz music. So many artists released amazing albums that it was tough to keep up. Here are some of the best Jazz songs of 2016 that you may have missed.

“Freedom” – Kamasi Washington

Washington’s debut album, The Epic, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim. “Freedom” is the first single from his second album, Heaven and Earth, which was released in 2018. The song is a call to arms for people of all colors and backgrounds to come together and fight for equality.

“So in Love” – Cécile McLorin Salvant

This songstress is a young phenom, ” So in Love”composed by Cole Porter is just one of the many examples of her vocal gymnastics and range. Cécile can sing any genre of music but always returns to her first love, jazz.

“Gangsterism” – Vijay Iyer & Prasanna

“Gangsterism” is a fiery, dynamic track off of Vijay Iyer and Prasanna’s 2016 album Agrima. The two Indian-born musicians create a jazz track that is both exciting and accessible, blending Iyer’s classical training with Prasanna’s traditional Carnatic influences. “Gangsterism” is the perfect example of the duo’s creativity and virtuosity, and is sure to be a hit with jazz fans of all stripes.

“The Dreamer” – Joshua Redman

“The Dreamer” is a beautiful, moving piece by Joshua Redman. It features Redman on saxophone, with a full band backing him up. The song starts out slow and dreamy, with Redman’s saxophone playing over a gentle piano melody. As the song progresses, the band comes in and the tempo picks up, giving the song an extra boost of energy. “The Dreamer” is a great example of how jazz can be both soft and powerfully emotional at the same time.

“Hurricane Season” – Trombone Shorty

“Hurricane Season” is the lead single from Trombone Shorty’s album Parking Lot Symphony. The song was written by Troy Andrews and produced by Neville Hendricks. The song peaked at number one on the US Billboard Jazz Digital Songs chart and number five on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart.

“Hurricane Season” is a funky, horn-driven track that features Trombone Shorty’s trademark New Orleans sound. The song’s catchy chorus and infectious groove make it one of the best jazz tracks of 2016.


In conclusion, the best jazz music of 2016 was marked by a continued return to more traditional styles and sounds. This was evident in the popularity of artists like Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard, as well as in the critical success of albums like Robert Glasper’s “Mood” and Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue in the years to come, but for now, it seems that jazz is once again finding its footing.

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