It's been a while since we did a roundup of our past guests' recent activity, and after such a long pause, it's hard to catch up. What follows, then, is more selective than comprehensive.
December is, among other things, the "Best Of" season. NPR's "50 Best Albums of 2018" include the new record by Myra Melford's Snowy Egret, The Other Side of Air, as well as Ambrose Akinmusire's Origami Harvest. (In his "Favorite Albums of 2018," former New York Times and Jazz Times jazz writer Nate Chinen, now Director of Editorial Content for NPR's flagship jazz station WBGO in Newark, New Jersey, also favored Akinmusire and Melford, as well as Cécile McLorin Salvant and Dan Weiss.)
The New York Times's "The Best Jazz of 2018" likewise includes Akinmusire and Melford, along with albums by Justin Brown (Akinmusire's longtime friend and drummer), Allison Miller (with Carmen Staaf), the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, and Cécile McLorin Salvant.
Salvant is also included among Rolling Stone's (well, veteran jazz critic Hank Shteamer's) 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2018, together with Dan Weiss's Starebaby and Still Dreaming, Joshua Redman's all-star tribute to the band Old and New Dreams, whose lineup also includes RJA alumni Ron Miles, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade.
Ambrose Akinmusire and Myra Melford are also high atop the Jazz Times Top 50, with Salvant, Still Dreaming, and Miguel Zenon not far behind. (Other RJA vets on the list: David Virelles, Tyshawn Sorey, Dan Weiss, Noah Preminger, Martin Wind, Gilad Hekselman, and Chris Lightcap.) At the Ottawa Citizen, Peter Hum singles out Frank Kimbrough, Ben Wendel (Linda Oh's Sun Pictures), Noah Preminger (with Frank Carlberg), and Myra Melford.
Finally, Dave Sumner's "Best Jazz Albums of 2018 [on Bandcamp]" include both the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble's All Can Work and Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch's Live in Healdsburg.
Jazz Speaks spoke to Jamie Baum, The Jazz Session hung with Helen Sung (so did WBGO's Salon Sessions), and Straight No Chaser chased down Ben Allison and Rudy Royston. Royston was plugging a new album, Flatbed Buggy, which had a featured review in DownBeat and an Editor's Pick in Rolling Stone. Sung, meanwhile, was touting her collection of settings of Dana Gioia poems, Sung With Words, which was also featured on NPR's First Listen in the week preceding its release.
Other notable new releases include Frank Kimbrough's magisterial, multi-volume set of the complete compositions of Thelonious Monk, Monk's Dreams:
and Miguel Zenón's collaboration with the Spektral Quartet, Viejo:
At WBGO, Nate Chinen previewed Viejo--and in his onlin "Take 5" column, he featured first Rudy Royston and Myra Melford, then Tyshawn Sorey and Allison Miller.
And speaking (once more!) of Allison Miller: the Thanksgiving episode of NPR's Jazz Night in America showcased the supergroup "Artemis," with Allison Miller, Anat Cohen, and Cecile McLorin Salvant.