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Courtney Blue's Hot Five of 2023

Courtney Blue, host of Late Evening Jazz
Courtney Blue, host of Late Evening Jazz on WRTI

Without question, 2023 gave us some great music. From new releases and debuts to limited reissues and archival finds, there was something special for almost anyone.

We asked our jazz hosts to give us their five favorite tracks of 2023, so have a listen and read what they have to say. With pleasure, we present WRTI's Hot Fives.

Michelle Lordi, "Moon and Sand"

Michelle Lordi’s captivating vocals, accompanied by the impeccable musicianship of pianist Orrin Evans and bassist Eric Revis, make for a hauntingly beautiful rendition of this classic song. The motif of the composition is further established by drummer Nasheet Waits and his percussive brush work, evocative of the ocean tides invading the shore.

Endea Owens, "Where The Nubians Grow"

An ebullient jazz gem. Not only does it exhibit Owens’ skill as a composer but also her masterful bass playing. This song is an instant burst of vibrant vibes anytime you press “play.”

Brandee Younger, "You're A Girl For One Man Only"

Brandee Younger’s latest album, Brand New Life, is a heartfelt tribute to jazz harp pioneer Dorothy Ashby. It captures the essence of Ashby’s legacy while also updating it with fresh arrangements, a nod to the influence her music has had on hip-hop. This song is an original Ashby composition, though Younger has the honor of being the first to ever put it to tape.

Margherita Fava, "Hard To Say"

Pianist Marguerita Fava’s debut album is called Tatatu — a gibberish word concocted when she was a toddler. It’s a word she would utter to her Mom as a statement of independence: “I can do it myself.” As an adult, Fava continues to exert that assurance, as the album is independently released, self-financed and produced. This particular track elicits many repeat plays from my library.

Cecilia Smith, "Sketch 1- Truth Be Told for MLW"

With The Mary Lou Williams Resurgence Project, Volume 1: Small Ensemble Repertoire, vibraphonist Cecilia Smith pays tribute to the remarkable legacy of one of jazz’s great innovators. Williams composed and arranged for Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and her own albums as leader. She was also a mentor to Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and others. With this original composition, Smith intends to remind folks of her enduring influence.

Ms. Blue, or "DJ CB," has been on a musical path her entire life - as a young child copying radio shows to tape cassette, and as a student of various musical instruments and dance genres. Her first foray in the industry was with WDCR at Delaware County Community College, where she was hired as a DJ for the student-run station and quickly became station manager, a position she held for two years. There she ushered in new technology and programs to embrace the early days of podcasting.