Harish Raghaven - Calls For Action
Harish Raghaven (b), Joel Ross (vibes), Kweku Sumbry (dr), Micah Thomas (p) & Immanuel Wilkins (sax)
Recorded at Brooklyn Recording; Dec. 15-17, 2018; Whirlwind Recordings
I'm calling this lush, spiritual jazz. Somewhat in the character of much of Bill Lee's music. It's textural and cinematic and thoroughly Bed-Stuy derived, which makes perfect sense, since Harish is a neighbor and artistic pillar of the community.     
Mkwaju Ensemble  -  Mkwaju
Midori Takada (perc), Yoji Sadanari (perc), Junko Arase (perc), Pecker (perc), Hideki Matsuake (computer programming) & Joe Hisaishi (key)
Recorded Nippon Columbia Studios, Tokyo, Japan; 1981
orgiginally released: Better Days Japan Records 1981 - reissue WRWTFWW Records (you know what I'm talking about) Zürich 2018
The only problem with the LP is that it should be longer. As in, it should never end. Get ready for a percussive journey friends. This is earlier work from Midori Takada, who is still making incredible music.
Fela Kuti and Africa 70 - Fear Not For Man
Recorded in Lagos, Nigeria - 1977 
There's been a whole lot of Fela in the rotation lately, so there could be any number of albums which could fill this slot. We'll give the nod to 'Fear Not For Man' here because, while it is musically equal to many of Fela's better known albums (Shakara, Upside Down, ITT, Zombie, etc.), it doesn't receive the same love (for the same reason, we almost gave the nod to 'Sorrow, Tears and Blood'). "What is your favorite Fela album?" is sort of like asking, "what is your favorite wine?"  
Prince  -  Sign 'O' the Times
artists: Prince and a band somewhere in between the Revolution and the New Power Generation... Wendy & Lisa are there, so is Eric Leeds. And Shiela E. too! Plus many more of course.
Paisley Park; 1987
It's a foolhardy task to even think of namely a "best" Prince album - "favorite" is okay, but "best" is just wrong to do. And, where we're at, "favorite" is also impossible. But!, this one is just a subtle killer (much of the time, sometimes there's nothing subtle about the magic funk happening). Every track is perfect. That's not hyperbole. 'Starfish & Coffee' 'Ballad of Dorothy Parker' 'Slow Love'... c'mon?!?! and none of those were even singles?!?!?  
Max Roach  -  Percussion Bitter Sweet
Max Roach (dr), Abbey Lincoln (voc), Booker Little (tr), Clifford Jordan (sax), Eric Dolphy (clan., fl., sax), Mal Waldron (p) and many many more
Impulse! Records, 1961
This just popped back on to our radar... and how could it have been gone for so long? This is an insanely, star-studded group of musicians (granted), but Max Roach was always a seeker of new sounds and ideas, so this is such a unique experience. Abbey's vocals - sounds, not words - are haunting. And powerful. And heartbreakingly beautiful. The musicians around her are every bit the equal.  
Salvador Trio  -  Tristeza
Salvador da Silva Filho (p & org), Sergio Barroso (b) & Edison Machado (dr)  
Recorded in Brazil, 1966
- reissued: Mr. Bongo 2012
It's Brazilian, but you would be forgiven, with just a cursory listening, for thinking it was 1960s jazz from the American jazz library; with some McCoy Tyner-type influences. A focused ear will pull in some subtle, tropical pulses, but overall it's just a wonderful, lyrical ride.
Makaya McCraven - In The Moment
International Anthem Recording Co.; 2015
percussionist Makaya McCraven w/ Matt Ulery (b), Marquis Hill (tr), Justefan (vibes), Jeff Parker (g), Josh Abrams (b), De'Sean Jones (sax), Junius Paul (b) & Tony Barba (sax)
We literally swapped out Makaya's previous LP for this one. Not better, just different (currently, we like it more, but that's because it's fresh to our ears). I'm personally getting a lot of late 90s/early 00s DJ Krush vibes from this album - and I couldn't be happier about it. This guy is: killing. it. right. now. Another, related LP that is getting some solid play here is Junius Paul's "Ism" -  also on this LP & also on International Anthem Recordings - two birds/one stone.
Chick Corea - Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
Chick Corea (key), Miroslav Vitous (b) & Roy Haynes (dr)
Recorded in 1966
I believe this was originally released by Toshiba in Japan and later in America by a couple of different labels. This is a less common cover - reissued by Pacific Jazz in the '80s.
Fred knows I've been on a "sparse piano" kick lately, and this one definitely fits the bill. I think this is his second recording under his name (his first, Bliss!, is also fantastic). This one is a beautiful, intellectual work out. Five originals that are as exciting as they are beautiful.