When the Heart Emerges Glistening" (Blue Note) An earnest young trumpeter with a bracingly original styleshadowy tone, sure attack, surprising turns of phraseMr. Akinmusire puts the focus here on the gleam of his crackerjack quintet. It's a smart dispatch from the new post-bop frontier, and the rare album of that description to feel emotionally unarmored.
Obliqueק" (Pi) Having proven himself as both an astonishing, combustible drummer and an ambitious but runic composer, Mr. Sorey filled this album with pieces for a working combo. They pulse and swirl, approachable even as they court abstraction: a credit to the players, especially Todd Neufeld on guitar and Loren Stillman on alto saxophone.
TUNE-YARDS Whokill" (4AD)
Discursive but focused, brash but precise, shot through with rough kinetic grace, the second album by Tune-Yards, a k a Merrill Garbus, is a spring-loaded marvel. For nearly every burst of textural detail, there's a lyric that flashes darkly, as when the clamor of Riotriot" halts long enough for Ms. Garbus to yelp, There is a freedom in violence that I don't understand!"
Avenging Angel" (ECM) Every track on this gemlike, largely improvised solo-piano recital seems to materialize out of wintry stillness, before getting on with its inquisition. Mr. Taborn, an unusually matter-of-fact virtuoso, teases out structural affinities among free jazz, postimpressionist classical and electronic music, forging something uniquely his own.
Take Care" (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic) It can be hard to get past the mopey exhibitionism of Drake's third album, and the fact that he passes it off as introspection. The redeeming factors are plenty, though: a throbbing unity of mood; a smirk, and a shrug, in the face of genre; wickedly nimble execution. Rapping well, singing even better and erasing distinctions between the two, Drake made the sleekest, most self-aware pop album of the year.
Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook" (Marsalis Music) The dragonfly speed and lightness of Mr. Zenón's alto saxophone playing is reason enough to love this meditation on the music of his homeland. So too is his liberal approach to the repertory, mostly classic boleros and ballads, furnished with woodwind orchestrations by Guillermo Klein.
Hearts Wide Open" (Le Chant du Monde) On one level it's an object lesson in the high bar facing a young jazz guitarist today: Mr. Hekselman, born and raised in Israel, has so much fluid knowledge it's scary. But his band, featuring a wise tenor saxophonist, Mark Turner, finesses his songs in a way that feelsnot easy, exactly, but effortless.
undun" (Def Jam) Dire narrative has always sustained this tirelessly adaptable hip-hop crew, and undun," the backward-spooling parable of an ill-fated hustler, is a mother lode. The grooves insinuate rather than chug; the words disarm any concept-album pretensions. Even the instrumental coda hits its mark.
Strange Mercy" (4AD) An otherworldly glow emanates from the songs on this latest from Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent), which dwells on unsettled reflection, using terms either borrowed or conjured. Her lyrics are cryptic, but their effect is immediate, and often as intoxicating as the warmly synthetic sound she gets out of an electric guitar.
Double Demon" (Delmark) The cornetist Rob Mazurek, the vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz and the drummer John Herndon make up this trio, steeped in ecstatic free improvisation and the dynamics of experimental rock. Their cohesion, intense and unforced, comes across with articulate bluntness.
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