5 sprawling jazz albums for the modern listener

A good jazz album is truly something worth investing time into. You pour yourself a tall glass of your favourite poison, clear the schedule, and sink into whatever plush couch, bed or hammock you have on hand – it’s a journey.

As much as there is to be said for jazz luminaries like John Coltrane or Sun Ra, there are a huge number of modern jazz or jazz fusion albums just waiting to be consumed by an eager listener.

To celebrate the return of Snarky Puppy to Australian shores this coming April, we’ve put together a list of five albums keeping jazz kicking into the 2010s.

snarky puppy jazz albums

Ascend to a higher plane with Snarky Puppy, Kamasi Washington, and more. Presenting 5 contemporary albums bringing a little jazz into it.

Snarky Puppy – We Like It Here

As an instrumental group who consistently calls members in and out of a huge group of musicians known as ‘The Fam’, Snarky Puppy are one of the most unique bands touring and releasing music right now.

They’ve released a score of albums to date and taken home a few Grammy Awards for their trouble – despite what bandleader Michael League has to say about that institution. Their 2014 album We Like It Here wasn’t one that took them to music’s biggest and arguably most estranged awards night, but we (amongst many others) still think it’s a winner.

If you’re based in Australia, you can catch Snarky Puppy performing in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and at Byron Bay Bluesfest in April 2019. Grab the details here.

Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

Heaven and Earth by spiritual jazz juggernaut Kamasi Washington is the genre at its most frenetic. He manages to push every sound to its outer limits, implode them, and begin again – often multiple times per song.

If you dig this album, be sure to check out The End, a entire second LP he hid within the vinyl packaging of Heaven and Earth for fans to discover.

Thundercat – Drunk

Just last year Thundercat released Drunk, an album calling in appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell Williams, and Kenny “Danger Zone” Loggins. This came as no surprise to fans who knew Stephen Bruner’s story.

A living bass legend, Thundercat’s list of collaborators is one of the most densely populated on the planet. Get yourself drunk on the jazzy vibes below.

The Necks – Body

Australian cult classics The Necks have been around since the late ’80s, and their work has only become more formidable as time goes on. Improvisation has always played a huge part in their compositions, which is likely why they’re so inimitable.

Body is one of their latest, a single-track album spanning 57 minutes of soaring grooves. Clear the rest of your day and dive on in.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – IC-01 Hanoi

The instrumental compositions of Unknown Mortal Orchestra are as essential to their fans as any of their more radio-friendly albums. From the sprawling, 20 minute odysseys of their SB series to the recently released IC-01 Hanoi, these moments are when Ruban Nilson is at his most sublime.

This record certainly calls influence from jazz, but don’t expect to sink into your leather couch while giving it a spin. IC-01 Hanoi is bursting at the seams with seismic energy – enter, if you dare.


Find out more about Snarky Puppy’s Australian tour here.