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Josh Lee's Hot Five of 2023

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.


Cécile McLorin Salvant, “D’un feu secret”

Vocal genius Cécile McLorin Salvant exercises her boundless versatility with her haunting yet soulful rendition of Michel Lambert’s “D’un feu secret.” In concert with another musical genius, Sullivan Fortner, Salvant expertly dives into the classical realm with perfect French as her counterpart provides a lush counterpoint.

Sean Mason, “Closure”

“Soulful” is the adjective that comes to mind when experiencing rising piano star Sean Mason’s Southern Suite. “Closure” is a prime example. Maron’s compositional talent is on full display as his incredible band nimbly weaves throughout that beautiful melody.

Terell Stafford, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Terell Stafford and his longtime frontline partner Tim Warfield deliver yet again with the ever soulful Between Two Worlds. Terell’s rendition of the gospel hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is a samba sure to lift spirits and inspire whoever listens to dance.

Sullivan Fortner, “Cute”

The bounds of Sullivan Fortner’s musical imagination are all but unlimited in this impressive display of solo piano virtuosity. Sullivan offers a tribute to Count Basie and the famous Neal Hefti composition “Cute,” in a performance that embodies the spirit of piano giant Art Tatum.

Samara Joy, “Reincarnation of a Lovebird”

Samara Joy’s masterful rendition of the Charles Mingus tune “Reincarnation of a Lovebird” can’t be found on an album, at least not yet. But a seemingly impossible melody is sung with ease in perfect accord with her all-star band in this footage from Marciac, France. The sky’s the limit for this young vocal phenom.