2019: Branford Marsalis, Miles Davis, Linda May Han Oh & Other Top Stories of the Year

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Whether riffing on his latest album, his dynastic jazz family, his formative experiences in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, his teaching experiences, his interest in science or his love of sports, Branford Marsalis speaks his truth.

(Photo: Scott Chernis)

During 2019, DownBeat published hundreds of articles and album reviews. What’s below, though, are some features and web stories that seemed to have stuck out, whether for the sheer quality of the prose or simply the importance, thoughtfulness or audacity of the performers who were profiled.

There’s a lot to wade through, so take your time, and let the intensity and virtue of each of these players wash over you. Your new favorite recording might be buried in there somewhere.

For a look at some of our best stories from 2018, head over here. DB

Alicia Olatuja Has Faith in Her Voice

A New Golden Age of Pianists

A Renewed Spotlight on Anthony Braxton

Branford Marsalis Discusses the Genre, Teaching Music and Getting Up Early

Brian Blade Leads ‘Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration’

Church of St. John Coltrane Marks 50 Years, Sets Fundraiser

The Complex Sounds of Caspar Brötzmann

Cultivating the Legacy of Sam Rivers

ECM and Manfred Eicher on the Search for the Sublime

Eric Dolphy: The ‘Prophet’ of Freedom

For New Live Recording, Dave Liebman Heads Back Out ‘On The Corner’

Gilles Peterson on U.K. Scene, Brownswood, Starting a New Festival

Guitarist Rez Abbasi Crafts New Soundtrack for 1929 Silent Film ‘A Throw Of Dice’

How Musicians Are Evolving the Legacy of Resistance

The Kaleidoscopic Colors of Hiromi’s Pianism

Ivan Conti’s Been Combining Jazz, Rock, Samba for Decades

Jamaaladeen Tacuma and The Last Poets Move Beyond the Nation’s Combative Moment

James Carter Reimagines the Art of Django Reinhardt

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque Fosters Connection Between Cuban Music, Jazz

Jazzmeia Horn is Steeped Tradition, Yet Fully Planted in the Present

Jenny Scheinman on Risk, Adventure and Starting a New Band with Allison Miller

Jerry Bergonzi Shines with ‘Seven Rays’

Joshua Redman Finds ‘Founts of Inspiration’

Kendrick Scott at the ‘Height of Optimism’

Kenny Barron on Compatibility, Writing and Mulgrew Miller

Linda May Han Oh Reaches Across the Musical Spectrum

Melissa Aldana’s Indisputable Command

Mike Patton, Jean-Claude Vannier Collaboration Predicated on Versatility

Miles Davis Documentary Premieres, Portraying a Man of Contradictions

Miles Davis’ ‘Rubberband’ Finally Arrives

Noah Preminger in Perpetual Motion

Now’s the Time for Brandee Younger

Patrice Rushen’s Journey Through Jazz, Pop and Hollywood

Poncho Sanchez Provides the Percussive Punctuation

The Price, Cost and Value of Digital Music

Ron Carter, Beatniks and Corrective History

Sara Gazarek Charts Path Through Loss, Heartache on ‘Thirsty Ghost’

Separated by 50 Years, Israels, Diehl Find Common Ground

Terri Lyne Carrington Transforms the Culture

Theo Croker is a ‘Catalyst for Action’

The Transformative Power of Nat ‘King’ Cole

Three British Labels are Deep in Dialogue with the American Jazz Tradition



  • David_Sanborn_by_C_Andrew_Hovan.jpg

    Sanborn’s highly stylized playing and searing signature sound — frequently ornamented with thrill-inducing split-tones and bluesy bent notes — influenced generations of jazz and blues saxophonists.

  • Century_Room_by_Travis_Jensen.jpg

    ​The Century Room in downtown Tucson, Arizona, was born in 2021.

  • DonWas_A1100547_byMyriamSantos_copy.jpg

    “Being president of Blue Note has been one of the coolest things that ever happened to me,” Was said. “It’s a gas to serve as one of the caretakers of that legacy.”

  • MichaelCuscuna_Katz_2042_6a_1995_copy.jpg

    Cuscuna played a singular role in the world of jazz as a producer of new jazz, R&B and rock recordings; as co-founder of a leading reissue record label; as a historian, journalist and DJ; and as the man who singlehandedly kept the Blue Note label on life support.

  • Cecile_McLorin_Salvant_Ashley_Kahn_bu_David_Morresi_copy.jpg

    ​“She reminds me of my childhood and makes we want to cry,” Cécile McLorin Salvant, pictured here with writer Ashley Kahn, said of Dianne Reeves.


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