‘Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project,’ Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd
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Chris Barton’s best jazz albums of 2013

‘Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project,’ Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd
Jazz meets hip-hop and poetry to detail the costs of war. Haunting.

MORE: Read the review (Vaughn Browne)
‘Hagar’s Song,’ Charles Lloyd, Jason Moran
A masterful duet-as-conversation, examining familiar and undiscovered ground with grace.

MORE: Interview with Charles Lloyd (D. Darr / Getty Images)
‘Tootie’s Tempo,’ Albert Heath
A clinic in jazz swing from one of the keepers of its heartbeat, backed by Ethan Iverson and Ben Street.

MORE: Read the review (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
‘Chants,’ Craig Taborn Trio
A first-call sideman delivers on the promise of his ethereal solo debut with arresting energy and atmosphere. (John Rogers / ECM Records)
‘Dysnomia,’ Dawn of Midi
Telepathic piano trio spins one ever-evolving, 47-minute song. Is it jazz? Who can say, but it’s spellbinding.

MORE: Read the review (Falkwyn de Goyeneche / Fully Altered Media)
‘Moment & the Message,’ Jonathan Finlayson
A knotted but melodic puzzle with an off-centered drive from the Berkeley-born trumpeter. (Scott Benedict / Courtesy of Jonathan Finlayson)
‘Womanchild,’ Cécile McLorin Salvant
Just try and find a more joyful album in 2013 than this 24-year-old singer’s vintage jazz and blues. (Jean-Pierre Dodel / Courtesy of Cécile McLorin Salvant)
‘Four Directions,’ Marc Cary Focus Trio
A funky electro-acoustic split from a pianist who can draw from India, DC go-go and Betty Carter. (Rebecca Meek)
‘Unfold Ordinary Mind,’ Ben Goldberg
Bay Area clarinetist anchors the bass for a gruff, melodic band featuring Nels Cline and Ches Smith. (Adam Goldberg)
‘Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile,’ Matana Roberts
Family history as social history in a swirling mix of free jazz, opera and spoken word. Challenging yet ultimately beautiful.

MORE: Read the review (Jason Fulford / Constellation)