WWOZ Hosts' Favorite Recordings of 2019

Published on: December 13th, 2019

WWOZ's show hosts have begun compiling lists of their favorite recordings of 2019. Let those-in-the-know point you to the latest great tunes and help you catch up on what you might have missed.

T.R. Johnson | Slangston Hughes | Mark Landesman | Carrie Booher | Breaux Bridges | Michael Dominici | Dave Dauterive | Alski | Murf Reeves | Andrew Grafe


T.R. Johnson, host of the Tuesday edition of Jazz from the French Market, 4-7p

Here is my list of the ten best records of the year:

1. Nicholas Payton "Relaxin with Nick"
2. Joel Ross "Kingmaker"
3. Theo Croker "Star People Nation"
4. Greg Ward "Stomping off from Greenwood"
5. Julian Lage "Love Hurts"
6. Chris Potter "Circuits"
7. Joshua Redman "Come What May"
8. Dave Douglas "devotion"
9. James carter – "Live at Newport"
10. Matt Mitchell "Phalanx Ambassadors"

Best pop records of the year: "The Imperial" by The Delines and "Believe" by Cole Williams.

Also, honorable mentions go to:

Yazz Ahmed "Polyhymnia"
Tom Harrell "Infinity"
Quiana Lynell "A Little Love"
Melissa Aldana "Visions"
JD Allen "barracoon"
Herlin Riley "Perpetual Optimism"
Branford Marsalis "the Secret between the shadows"
Extended "Harbinger"
Tony Dagradi "Downtime"
Session "Collusion"
Brad Walker "Live at Snug Harbor"
Brad Mehldau – "Finding Gabriel"
Terri Lynn Carrington "The Waiting Game"


Slangston Hughes, co-host of the Draw Fo with Slangston Hughes & Thelonious Kryptonite, Thursdays, Midnight - 3a

Here's my list in no particular order:

Little Brother - "May The Lord Watch"
Freddie Gibbs x Madlib - "Bandana"
Mahalia - "Love and Compromise"
SiR - "Chasing Summer"
Alfred Banks - "Road To A Rolex"
Tyler the Creator - "IGOR"
Brother Ali - "Secrets & Escapes"
Anderson .Paak - "Ventura"
Tank and the Bangas "Green Balloon"
Rapsody "Eve"

Honorable Mentions:
Big K.R.I.T. - "K.R.I.T. Iz Here"
Dreamville - "Revenge of the Dreamers III"
Kota The Friend - "Foto"
Solange - "When I Get Home"
YBN Cordae - "The Lost Boy"


Mark Landesman, host of The Sunday Morning Jazz Set, 6 - 8:30a

Released in 2019:

Carrie Wicks, Reverie.
A soft, sultry singer out of Seattle, Carrie has a modest, classic-old-jazz style. Many of the songs are written by Carrie and she has a gift for lyrics. Good songs not on the list of standards is a good reason to buy this album.

Scott Hamilton, Danish Ballads... & More.
Scott Hamilton always plays innovatively but without sacrificing attention to the melody. This album is no different.

Catherine Russell, Alone Together.
Catherine Russell sings a mix of standards and more obscure songs in a classic style that relies on the song to sell itself. Another great release by Ms. Russell.

Acquired but not released in 2019:

We owe a debt to Norman Granz for arranging the performances in the following 2 recordings. They are GREAT classic jazz performances and a window into a bygone era of jazz.

The Complete Norman Granz Jam Sessions, Verve, 2004.
Jam sessions recorded by the great jazz artists of the 50's just swinging and having fun.

The Complete Jazz At The Philharmonic On Verve 1944-1949, Polygram 1998.
Also arranged by Norman Granz, JATP was a changing assembly of the greatest jazz artists of the time who went on tour world wide. JATP toured and recorded from the 1940's through the 1970's. This boxed set focusses on JATP's earliest years.

Johnny Hodges, The Complete Verve Johnny Hodges Small Group Sessions 1956-61, Mosaic Records, 2000.

An extensive collection of music which captures a snapshot of The Sunday Morning Jazz Set. Alternately swinging and bluesy, the songs are easy to listen to, interesting, and mostly not on the list of standards you hear all the time by contemporary artists. They played a lot of great songs back then that just didn't make it into the list of big hits. Many of those songs that you won't find anywhere else are included in this release. A great opportunity to hear music you won't find elsewhere.


Carrie Booher, Digital Content Editor and substitue show host

Keeping it local this year:
Alexey Marti: Mundo (Independent)
Bobby Rush: Sitting on Top of the Blues (Deep Rush Records)
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Ancestral Recall (Ropeadope)
Cole Williams: Believe (Louisiana Red Hot Records)
Dave Bartholomew: The King of New Orleans R&B (2 CDs) (Jasmine)
Davell Crawford: Dear Fats, I Love You (Basin Street Records)
Dr. John & the WDR Big Band: Big Band Voodoo (recorded in Germany 1995) (Orange Music)
Earl King: More Than Gold: The Complete 1955-1962 Ace & Imperial Singles (2 CDs) (Soul Jam)
Esther Rose: You Made It This Far (Father/Daughter Records)
Fats Domino: I’ve Been Around: The Complete Imperial and ABC Records (12 CDs & DVD) (Bear Family)
Feufollet: Prends Courage: A 20 Year Retrospective (Feufollet Records)
Hot 8 Brass Band: Take Cover (EP) (Tru Thoughts)
John Boutte: A “well tempered” Boutte (Independent)
Jumbo Shrimp Jazz Band: The Crustaceous Capers of the Jumbo Shrimp Band (Independent)
Leroy Jones and Katja Toivola: Vol. II (Independent)
Little Freddie King: Jaw Jackin’ Blues (Made Wright Records)
Lost Bayou Ramblers: On Va Continuer! (DVD & CD) (Worklight Records)
Mia Borders: Good Side of Bad (Blaxican Records)
Professor Longhair: Live on the Queen Mary (CD & Vinyl) (Capitol Records)
Quiana Lynell: A Little Love (Concord Records)
Roland Guerin: Grass Roots (Louisiana Red Hot Records)
Russell Welch: Acetate Sessions (Twerk-O-Phonic)
Sarah Quintana & Christophe Lampidecchia: Love Letters (Independent)
Sierra Green & the Soul Machine: Sierra Green & the Soul Machine
Smoking Time Jazz Club: Contrapuntal Stomp (Independent)
Soul Brass Band: Levels (Independent)
Soul Rebels: Poetry in Motion (Mack Avenue)
Tank and the Bangas: Green Balloon (Verve Forecast)
Tuba Skinny: Some Kind-A-Shake (Independent)
Uncle Nef: Love Songs (Ropeadope)


Breaux Bridges, host of the Wednesday edition of The Morning Set, 6 - 9a

Several New Orleans musicians released noteworthy recordings that I listened to frequently:

Herlin Riley – Perpetual Optimism
Extended – Harbinger
Cyrille Aimée – Move On: A Sondheim Adventure
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Ancestral Recall
Charlie Dennard – Deep Blue
Brad Walker – Quartet Live at Snug Harbor

Among releases by non-New Orleanians, check out:

Abdullah Ibrahim – The Balance
Alan Broadbent Trio – New York Notes
Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez - Duologue
Allison Miller’s Boom-Tic-Boom – Glitter Wolf
Amina Figarova – Road to the Sun
Anat Cohen Tentet – Triple Helix
Art Pepper – Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings
Avishai Cohen – Arvoles
Ben Monder – Day After Day
Ben Winkelman Trio – Balance
Bill O’Connell & The Afro-Caribbean Ensemble – Wind Off the Hudson
Bob Sheppard – The Fine Line
Brad Mehldau – Finding Gabriel
Camilla Meza & The Nectar Orchestra - Ambar
Chano Dominguez & Hadar Noiberg – Paramus
Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade – Trilogy 2 (Live)
Corey Christiansen – La Proxima
Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Chris Potter (Crosscurrents Trio) – Good Hope
Dave Liebman, Dave Binney, Donny McCaslin & Samuel Blais – Four Visions
Dave Stryker – Eight Track III
Ellen Rowe Octet – Portraits of Women in Motion
Eric Reed – Everybody Gets the Blues
Etienne Charles – Carnival: The Sounds of a People, Vol. 1
Fabian Almazan – This Land Abounds with Life
Gerald Cleaver – Live at the Firehouse 12
Guillermo Klein – Los Guachos Cristal
Hiromi – Spectrum
JD Allen – Barracoon
Jamie Saft Quartet – Hidden Corners
Jazzmeia Horn – Love and Liberation
Jenny Scheinman and Allison Miller’s Parlour Game – Parlour Game
Joey DeFrancesco – In the Key of the Universe
John Coltrane – Blue World
Jonathan Kreisberg – Capturing Spirits: Jkg Live!
Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider – Sun on Sand
Joshua Redman Quartet – Come What May
Julian Lage – Love Hurts
Kendrick Scott Oracle – A Wall Becomes a Bridge
Laurence Hobgood – tesseterra
Linda May Han Oh -- Aventurine
Lisa Hilton— Chalkboard Destiny
Marc Copeland, Joey Baron & Drew Gress – And I Love Her
Melissa Aldana – Visions
Mike LeDonne – Partners in Time
Miles Okazaki – The Sky Below
Monty Alexander – Wareika Hill Rastamonk Vibrations
Phil Ranelin – Collected Works, 2003-2019
Ray Blue – Work
Ron Carter – Foursight – Stockholm, Vol. 1
Steve Khan – Patchwork
Ted Nash, Steve Cardenas & Ben Allison – Somewhere Else: West Side Story Songs
The Christian Jacob Trio – The Originals
Tierney Sutton Band – ScreenPlay
Ulysses Owens, Jr. – Songs of Freedom
Yotam Silberstein – Future Memories



Michael Dominici, host of the Thursday edition of The New Orleans Music Show, 11a - 2p

Leyla McCalla, Capitalist Blues is my #1

Malevitus is #2

Herlin Riley, Perpetual Optimism

Branford Marsalis

The Abitals




Dave Dauterive, host of the Friday edition of The Morning Set, 6 - 9a

Top 10 albums, 2019

1. Herlin Riley — Perpetual Optimism
2. Bonerama - Plays Zeppelin
3. Buddy Rich — Just In Time: Final Recording
4. Poncho Sanchez — Trane’s Delight
5. Woodenhead - Live at Chickie Wah Wah
6. Preservation Hall Jazz Band — A Tuba to Cuba
7. Wynton Marsalis and Various Artists — Motherless Brooklyn Soundtrack
8. Akira Tana and Otonowa - Ai San San - Love’s Radiance
9. Big Band Brothers — A Jazz Celebration of Allman Brothers
10. The Adam Deitch Quartet — Egyptian Secrets


Allan "Alski" Laskey, host of the The Rhythm Room, Friday 10p - MIDNIGHT

Best Music 2019 - no particular order, except:

Release of the year:
Our Native Daughters  -  Songs of Our Native Daughters

Mavis Staples  -  We Get By
Inna de Yard  -  Inna de Yard
Black Flower  -  Absyssinia Afterlife
The Bamboos  -  Classics
James Brown  -  Live at Home with His Bad Self
Gaby Moreno & Van Dyke Parks  -  ¡Spangled!
London Afrobeat Collective  -  Humans
Lakou Mizik  -  HaitiaNola
Bobby Sparks II  -  Schizophrenia: The Yang Project
Dexter Story  -  Bahir
Tribu Barahu
The Mavericks  -  Play the Hits
The Lalibelas  -  The Lalibelas
Oku Onuora  -  I've Seen
Leyla McCalla  -  The Capitalist Blues
Galactic Already  -  Ready Already
Nicole Willis & Banda Palomita  -  My Soul Sensation
Mdou Moctar  -  Ilana (The Creator)
Gyedu-Blay Ambolley  -  The Message
Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward  -  Music! Music! Music!
The Blassics  -  Togetherings
GRiZ  -  Ride Waves
UB40  -  For the Many


Murf Reeves, host of the Monday edition of the New Orleans Music Show, 11a-2p

The Electric Arch - Out of Range I really enjoy the layering of instruments in the songs. I usually hear one instrument or the part it’s playing and I’m drawn to it, as it feels like a big part of the personality of the song, ( Keyboards in the ‘Can’t Stand it’) I really enjoy the album cover artwork, the tunnel of dots, an archway, follow it.

Tank and the Bangas - Green Balloon - Tank’s voice is a whole palette of skills, abilities, magic spells, and the in-between. Tank puts a ton of emotion into the words she chooses and it is radness listening to the words she is saying as well as HOW she is saying them. Whether it is a message or phrasing or enunciation, Tank sculpts the word shapes to create part of the melody. The music follows her voice, almost improvising, but maintaining a strong rhythm, whatever the lyrics require, but with tasty pockets of groove.

Soul Rebels - Poetry in Motion - The Soul Rebels are creating something new with their exploration of hip hop with horn lines. The horns can sound as if they are working as turntables laying down lines like a DJ would lay down scratches. Representing New Orleans with so many vocalists and emcees and props to trumpeter Julian Rosin, his lyrics and vocal really add to the shape of this album.

Lilli Lewis Project - We Belong - Lilli Lewis’s voice is powerful, reminding me of Mahalia Jackson (Coretta’s Song). Comfortable with soul, blues, gospel, the emotion is pouring out when she sings. The band Lilli assembled for this project spans a wide range of New Orleans sounds which gives Lilli room in her compositions to stretch and explore, check out "When the Sun Comes Down."

Lulu and the Broadsides - Sampler - A taste of Dayna Kurtz’s new project, although I think this is more of another persona of Dayna. Exploring Soul, R&B, and early rock n roll, the track ‘Cindy Lou’ sounds like a blend of Buddy Holly and Tom Waits, with Dayna’s powerful vocals giving strength to Cindy Lou. The live performance really brings the project to full circle as the band is tight and really gets inside the songs.

John Boutte - A Well Tempered Boutte - Listening to John Boutte over the years has been a real pleasure. His voice reminds me of so many different vocalists and styles, but his personality is what gives the songs a real shine. With the opening tune, ‘Nevertheless I’m in Love with You’ evokes Nat King Cole with a slight, elegant grit. Boutte effortlessly takes us through the blues, Indian music, and swing, with a band that is almost like a glove for Boutte’s voice. The last recording with guitarist Todd Duke and Nobumasa Ozaki on bass and Oscar Rossignoli on piano.

Herlin Riley - Perpetual Optimism - I was first drawn to the title, a command, mantra, suggestion, or maybe just a feel when making music. I felt I was given just a nibble of a clue, amping the desire to give the record a listen. One of the first things I heard, was the strength of the drums not in volume but in the solid time, but able to let the personality of the tunes come through, especially in ‘You Don’t Know What Love is’ and “Wings and Roots.’ The version of ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ has the feel of driving a nice sports car, with a smooth groove but echoing the original essence of the tune. The overall feel of this album seems to be joy. The songs are all energetic in feel, whether uptempo or down.

Earl King - The Single Collection 1953-1962 - For me, so many of the classic New Orleans R&B artists and albums are like going to funky university that teaches its lessons on the jukebox. A compilation such as this gives me a fuller picture of the evolution of an artist, Earl King. Hearing melodies evolve through different songs, I am listening to an artist discovering himself, and l am discovering myself hearing singles I have never heard before.

Chick Corea, Brian Blade, Christian McBride - Trilogy 2 - Holy Crap this album is a supernova in the speakers. This is the second time this trio has toured and recorded together and the sound is immense. I am a Brian Blade fan, and hearing him in this setting was hearing him as another level of drummer, improviser or translator, and his interplay with Christian Mcbride is sorcery and science with groove. Chick Corea is a maestro in the choice of musicians and songs for them to explore and bring to life. The trio is playing songs, creating soundscapes, and having conversations simultaneously and I have such a good time listening to this recording.

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra - Songs, The Music of Allen Toussaint - To me, Allen Toussaint was one of the main umbrellas, that underneath so many other styles and feels were grown and given form. Each time I hear an Allen Toussaint in a different arrangement I can only smile because of the versatility of Allen’s songs. The opening track, ‘Southern Nights’ moves and swings like I have not heard before, but the vocals bring it back to the heart of the tune. Director Adonis Rose’s choice of songs really brings to light some lesser-known Toussaint tunes and makes them swing, ‘Zimple Street’ ‘Working in a Coal Mine.’ Adonis also explores rhythm, letting the listener ponder some of the other flavors and styles that may have been on Toussaint’s mind when he was composing. A really fun album to enhance your day.

Pet Fangs - Ultra Deluxe - I had never heard of this band until they reached out for an interview. I heard three tunes, saw them live and now I’m in all the way. Dirty electro pop flavored with Prince and Tom petty, it feels as if a dance lifestyle is being nurtured in the walls of the songs. I am interested in hearing the sounds of electronica mixed with organic playing and hearing what comes out, and Pet Fangs are really bringing dance music with some balls and grit.


Andrew Grafe, host of the Blues Eclectic, Mondays 2-4p

Best of the decade.

Jason Isbell, “Southeastern”
Lydia Loveless, “Somewhere Else”
Cedric Burnside Project, “The Way I Am”
Bombino, “Agadez” (or Nomad)
Radiohead, “King of Limbs”
Robert Finle,y “Age Don’t Mean a Thing”
Leo Bud Welch, “I Don’t Prefer No Blues”
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, “Cypress Grove”
Jake Leg Stompers, “Hill Country Hoodoo”
Little Freddie King, “You Make My Night”
Jimbo Mathus, “Confederate Buddha”
Lonesome Shack, “More Primitive”
Lost Bayou Ramblers, “Mammoth Waltz”
Valerie June, “Pushing Against a Stone”
Shovels & Rope, “Swimming Time”
Rough 7, “Give Up Your Dreams”
Lee Fields & the Expressions, “Emma Jean”
Gil Scott-Heron, “I’m New Here”
Daft Punk, “Random Access Memories”
The War on Drugs, “Lost in a Dream”

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