10 Albums You Need to Know: May 2022

A master guitarist entering into a dialogue with himself on a new solo recording; a young piano virtuoso stepping out as a composer and bandleader; a newly-discovered concert recording of a genius at the height of his powers; an intimate celebration of the golden age of traditional jazz. All this and more are in our list of ten albums released this month (May 2022) that you need to know about.


John Scofield, John Scofield (ECM)

Release date: May 6

John Scofield revisits some of his own compositions and offers interpretations of classic tunes on his first-ever solo full-length recording. The self-titled album, released via ECM, finds the guitar great entering into a dialogue with himself and charting an intimate path through the styles and idioms that he has traversed until today.


Ray Charles, Live in Stockholm 1972 (Tangerine)

Release date: May 6

Tangerine Records releases this month a newly-discovered concert recording of Ray Charles from 1972, capturing a performance in Stockholm, Sweden, and featuring the Genius himself at the height of his powers. The program features a mix of hit songs, covers and rarities, kicking off with his classic concert opener “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and closing with an 8-minute extended version of “I Got a Woman.”


Gilad Hekselman, Far Star (Edition)

Release date: May 13

Responding to the constricting times of the pandemic, guitarist Gilad Hekselman uses new approaches and methods to explore new sonic worlds on his self-produced album, Far Star. The result is among his most adventurous full-lengths to date, defined by a sound that is both timeless and progressive and enriched by the presence of special guests on selected tracks.


Mary Halvorson, Amaryllis & Belladonna (Nonesuch)

Release date: May 13

Guitarist Mary Halvorson showcases her many musical influences on two new LPs, available individually and as a 2-LP set. Belladonna is a collection of through-composed tracks augmented by improvised guitar work, featuring the Mivos string quartet. Amaryllis is a six-song suite performed by a newly-formed sextet of master improvisers, joined by The Mivos Quartet on three of the songs. 


Tank and the Bangas, Red Balloon (Verve Forecast)

Release date: May 13

Emerging from a pandemic-imposed break, Red Balloon is Tank and the Bangas’ latest genre-defying full-length and a companion piece to their 2019 LP Green Balloon. A 16-track tour-de-force with tons of guest appearances, the ensemble also describes Red Balloon via a joint statement as “one of the best attempts thus far at capturing what happens when we’re all playing at the same time.”


Joey Alexander, Origin (Mack Avenue)

Release date: May 20

18-year-old virtuoso pianist Joey Alexander steps out as a composer and bandleader on his first album of all-original material, Origin, which he defines as representing “a turning point for me.” Alexander’s Mack Avenue debut features his longtime collaborators Larry Grenadier and Kendrick Scott, plus special guests Gilad Hekselman and Chris Potter.


Melody Gardot, Philippe Powell, Entre Eux Deux (Decca)

Release date: May 20

Entre Eux Deux is an intimate album of brooding jazz torch songs performed by vocalist Melody Gardot and pianist Philippe Powell, which also feels like a celebration of the golden age of traditional jazz. Gardot defines the new record as “a dance between two people who love and value the same things: deep poetry and solid melodies.”


Peter Erskine Trio, Live in Italy (Fuzzy)

Release date: May 20

Live in Italy captures a concert in Camogli, Italy, from 2021 by drummer Peter Erskine with his trio, featuring Alan Pasqua on keys and Darek Oles on bass. The live album documents their masterful interplay via cinematic original material written by each trio member, as well as new arrangements of standards and a moving tribute to the much-missed Chick Corea.


Nduduzo Makhathini, In the Spirit of Ntu (Blue Note Africa)

Release date: May 27

Visionary pianist/composer Nduduzo Makhathini’s new ten-track collection finds him considering the thematic, sonic and conceptual notions explored throughout his body of work up to this point. In the Spirit of Ntu also marks the very first release on the newly-formed imprint Blue Note Africa and is performed with an ensemble of some of South Africa’s most exciting young musicians.


Steve Davis, Bluesthetic (Smoke Sessions)

Release date: May 27

Trombonist Steve Davis offers ten new original compositions on his latest album, Bluesthetic. They are performed with a stellar quintet of revered musicians, including Peter Bernstein, Steve Nelson, Geoffrey Keezer, Christian McBride, and Willie Jones III. “With a dream team like this nothing could go wrong, but it ended up being even better than I anticipated,” says Davis via a press release.


Featured photo by Nick Suttle.

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