So I know it's late for this retrospective type of thing, but I thought it might be nice to have some conversation in here. All the posts I see in here seem to be some version of "I'm more of a rock fan but I want to get into some jazz" and people responding with "listen to Miles and Coltrane". Now that's all well and good, but there must be some other people on here who are actually interested in jazz, blues, funk, etc. past just the classics/giants.

Here are my picks (not in any order) with a tune from each one:

1) Vijay Iyer - Accelerando
This guy is gonna do big things (and kinda already has). The trio explores really adventurous, modern grooves (there's even a Flying Lotus cover in there) while keeping the sound firmly rooted in jazz traditions.

2) Robert Glasper - Black Radio
Probably the most accessible and high-profile album on this list but also one of the best. Glasper and the Experiment are killing as always but decide to take it in a heavy hip-hop/R&B direction this time. The results are amazing. The big name guests (Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Ledisi, Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, Lalah Hathaway, Erykah Badu, just to name a few) don't hurt either.

3) Rudresh Mahanthappa - Gamak
This is the most abrasive album on the list, but potentially also the most interesting. Double-neck microtonal guitarist David Fiuczynski (who I have the privilege of studying with) and Rudresh perfectly complement each others' complete and utter madness! This is not for the faint of heart. The music draws from styles as diverse as jazz, Indian classical music, funk, heavy metal, and various electronic genres.

4) Lettuce - Fly
This is the latest release from the world's tastiest modern funk band. Their lineup of players is (and has always been) just absurdly great, as are the tunes and arrangements.

5) Soulive & Karl Denson - Spark!
Another perennially awesome band (2/3 of which are members of Lettuce)! This record has a laid back vintage vibe to it.

6) Lionel Loueke - Heritage
Nice "world jazz" from everyone's favorite Beninese guitarist. Mixes tradtional west African music with jazz and a whole lot of other stuff.

7) Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society
Esperanza writes great jazzy neo-soul tunes (and chooses a couple good others) that get played by awesome musicians. It's meant to complement her last studio album, Chamber Music Society.

8) Omar Thomas Large Ensemble - I Am
Really great original big band stuff. Omar is also a really cool dude and a great teacher.

9) José James - No Beginning No End
Really groovy, smooth hip-hop/soul/jazz.

10) Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomahawk
These guys are gonna be HUGE (at least I hope so)! They describe themselves as "future soul," which is pretty accurate, but you should listen for yourself. The whole band just sounds great.

So, what do you guys think? What are your favorites?
Last edited by mattrusso at Mar 14, 2013,
I can't believe Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blue didn't make the cut.
Quote by ncowan
I can't believe Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blue didn't make the cut.

I definitely dig Gary's thing but his album was actually a little disappointing. Also, most of the best songs were already released. But that's just my opinion!