The past, present and future of jazz were all well represented throughout 2023.

It was a year of major new releases by some of the most prominent and prolific names in contemporary jazz, with artists like Cécile McLorin Salvant, Kurt Elling, Brandee Younger, and Christian McBride showing everyone that they’re at the top of their game.

The year saw promising debut albums and breakthrough efforts by up-and-coming artistic voices like Nicky Schrire, Yussef Dayes, and Matt Greenwood.

It was also a year of firsts even for established artists, such as Joshua Redman’s first vocal album and Gregory Porter’s first holiday album, as well as re-emergences like Kenny Barron’s first solo piano album in four decades and Hilario Durán’s return to a big band for the first time in 17 years.

And while we enjoyed newly unearthed gems in the form of archival releases from legends like Nina Simone, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, and Dave Brubeck, we were also treated to a number of contemporary names paying tribute to the forebears that inspired them, such as Duncan Hopkins honouring Kenny Wheeler, Adi Braun sharing her love of Cole Porter, Brad Mehldau’s take on The Beatles, Joe Alterman’s tip of the cap to Les McCann, and Wynton Marsalis’s revitalization of Louis Armstrong classics.

In keeping with the spirit of jazz, collaboration was key to many of the notable releases throughout 2023. Some of our favourite albums this year came from exciting supergroups like Artemis, the Canadian Jazz Collective, säje, the Nimmons Tribute, the Heavy Hitters, and the Composer’s Collective Big Band.

Amidst all of this great music, some of it stood out above the rest. Here are 20 of our favourite albums of 2023.