For my list of the 100 best albums of 2016, go here

Below you will find a list of my favorite tracks. Each listing contains (from top to bottom)
the name of the artist, the track, the album, and the genre/style.
Here are my favorite tracks of 2016.
Äl Jawala (wity Rukie)                    
Road to Eldorado                                    
Balkan Beat Hip-Hop

Melissa Aldana                             
Back Home    
Back Home    

Alsarah & The Nubatones    
Sudanese Afropop

EDM with Jazz and Ambient Elements

Applewood Road    
Old Time Country Song    
Applewood Road    

Contemporary Music for Berimbau

Fahir Atakoğlu    
Live at Umbria Jazz    
Jazz + Turkish Melodies + Cuban Rhythms

Aziza (Dave Holland / Chris Potter / Lionel Loueke / Eric Harland)    
Sleepless Night    

Daniel Bachman    
Farther Along    
Daniel Bachman    
Guitar Instrumentals

Devendra Banhart      
Middle Names    
Ape in Pink Marble    
Freak Folk

Nik Bärtsch's Mobile    
Modul 60    
Zen-Funk Hypnotic Jazz

Julianna Barwick    
St. Apolonia    
Ambient Crypto-Pop

Minimalist Pop

John Beasley    
Round Midnight    
John Beasley Presents Monk'estra, Vol. 1    

Michael Benita & Ethics    
I See Altitudes    
River Silver    
Ethereal Mood Jazz

Rory Block    
Keepin' Outta Trouble    
Keepin' Outta Trouble: A Tribute to Bukka White    

African Trance Music

Fiona Brice    
Koh Yao Noi    
Postcards From    
Contemporary Classical Music

Brock Landers    
The Well    
The Prequel to the Sequel    
Post-Hardcore Rock

Laura Cannell   
Fragments from Summer Saltings    
Simultaneous Flight Movement    
Modern Medieval

Bill Charlap    
Make Me Rainbows    
Notes from New York    

Choral Scholars of University College Dublin     
Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair    
Invisible Stars
Choral Music

George Coleman    
Darn That Dream    
A Master Speaks    

David Crosby    
Look in Their Eyes    

Alan Cumming    
Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs: Live at the Cafe Carlyle    
Contemporary Cabaret Music

Boo Boo Davis    
Blues on My Mind    
One Chord Blues    
Nasty Old Blues

Nathan Davis (composer), Jacob Greenberg (pianist)    
On the Nature of Thingness    
Contemporary Classical Music

Lucas Debargue    
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit    
Scarlatti, Chopin, Liszt, Ravel    
Classical Piano Music

Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane / Matthew Garrision    
In Movement    

Luther Dickinson    
Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger's Songbook, Volumes 1 & 2    

Tashi Dorji & Shane Parish    
Wounded Healer    
Guitar Duets

Peter Eldridge    
Wish You With Me    
Disappearing Day    

Nick Ellis    
The Grand Illusion    
Daylight Ghosts    
Liverpool Modern Folk Singer-Songwriter

Hannah Epperson    
Farthest Distance    
Experimental Pop/Chamber Music Fusion

Piers Faccini & Dawn Landes    
Heaven's Gate    
Desert Songs    
West African-Influenced Folk Music

Family Atlantica    
Cosmic Unity    
Venezuelan Folk/Pop Dance Music

Cason Fentress & The Euphonious Express    
19th Century Dame    
Clear Cool    
Steely Dan-ish Jazz Pop

Chris Finnen & Jay Hoad    
Favourite Thing    
Off the Cliff    

Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band    
Tres Palabra    

William Fitzsimmons    
People Change Their Minds    
Charleroi: Pittsburgh, Vol. 2    
The Moody Folk Bard of Pittsburgh

Sara Gazarek/Josh Nelson    
Father, Father    
Dream in the Blue    
Jazz Vocal/Piano Duets

Giovanni Guidi    
What We Talk About When Talk About Love    
Ida Lupino    

Petra Haden    
Tell Me What I'm Supposed to Do    
Seemed Like a Good Idea: Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris    

Ross Hammond & Sameer Gupta    
Duets for 12-String Guitar & Tabla

Barbara Hannigan    
Let Me Tell You How It Was (Part 1)    
Hans Abrahamsen: Let Me Tell You    
Shakespeare-Inspired Contemporary Art Song Cycle

Keith Harkin    
On Mercy Street    

Craig Hartley    
Mood Indigo    
Books on Tape. Vol. II    
Pastiche Jazz Piano

Fred Hersch    
For No One    
Sunday Night at the Vanguard    

Christopher J. Hoh    
Remembering All: Five Sandburg Poems: 2: Monotone    
Cadence: New Works for Voices in Verse    
Contemporary Choral Music

Reuben Hollebon    
Fields, for Fields    
Terminal Nostalgia    

Cool2    Hoops    

James Horner & Simon Franglen    
Volcano Springs    
Soundtrack to The Magnificent Seven    
Film Soundtrack

Huelgas Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel    
Hélas que pourra devenir mon cueur    
Firminus Caron: Twilight of the Middle Ages    
Renaissance Music

Sierra Hull    
Weighted Mind    
Progressive Bluegrass

Sarah Jarosz    
Early Morning Light    

Keith Jarrett    
Genoa (Part II)    
A Multitude of Angels    
Previously Unreleased Live Jazz Concerts from 1996

Glenn Jones    
In Durance Vile    
Solo Fingerstyle Guitar

Glenn Jones    
June Too Soon, October All Over    
Solo Fingerstyle Guitar

Anthony Joseph    
Our History    
Caribbean Roots    
Caribbean Griot Funk

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis    
I Thought I Knew    
Azul Infinito    

Masabumi Kikuchi    
Little Abi    
Black Orpheus    

Bill Kirchen & Austin de Lone    
The Times They Are A-Changin'    
Translantic Americana/Country

Sarathy Korwar    
Indefinite Leave to Remain    
Day to Day    
Experimental Sufi Electronica

Lake Street Dive    
How Good It Feels    
Side Pony    

The Lazy Lies    
(Things Will Eventually) Backfire    
The Lazy Lies    
Melodic Pop-Rock from Barcelona

Nils Landgren (arr. Vince Mendoza)    
A Simple Song    
Some Other Time - A Tribute To Leonard Bernstein    

The Lifers    
Listen to the Rain    
Out and In    
Folk Pop

Harold López-Nussa    
Me Voy Pa Cuba    
El Viaje    
Melodic Latin Jazz

Loretta Lynn (with Willie Nelson)    
Lay Me Down    
Full Circle    

Branford Marsalis with Kurt Elling    
Practical Arrangement    
Upward Spiral    

Wynton Marsals and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra    
Offertory: The Son    
The Abyssinian Mass    
Jazz/African-American Folkloric

Brad Mehldau    
Since I Fell for You    
Blues and Ballads    

Brad Mehldau & Joshua Redman    
The Nearness of You    
Jazz Piano & Sax Duets

Michael Messer's Mitra    
You Gonna Be Sorry    
Call of the Blues    
Hindustani Clasical Music/Traditional Blues Fusion

Michael Messer's Mitra    
You Got to Move    
Call of the Blues    
Hindustani Clasical Music/Traditional Blues Fusion

Pat Metheny    
Roof Dogs    
The Unity Sessions    

Buddy Miller & Friends    
Angel from Montgomery    
Cayamo Sessions at Sea    

Michael Mizrahi    
The Currents (Sarah Kirkland Snider)     
Contemporary Piano Music

Marc Mommaas & Nikolaj Hess    
The Peacocks    
Ballads and Standards    

Jane Monheit (with Nicholas Payton)    
Something's Gotta Give    
The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald    

Trevor Morris    
London Has Fallen    
Soundtrack to London Has Fallen    
Film Soundtrack

Nico Muhly & Teitur     
Describe You    
Nordic Pop Meets Contemporary Chamber Music

Laura Mvula    
The Dreaming Room    
Soul/Dream Pop

Žak Ozmo     
Tone 3: Passamezzo Antico    
Vincenzo Galilei: The Well-Tempered Lute    
First Recording of Important 1584 work by Galileo's Father

Houston Person & Ron Carter    
Blame It On My Youth    
Jazz Duets

Roberta Piket    
One For Marian: A Tribute to Marian McPartland    

Leslie Pintchik    
True North    

Mo Pitney    
I Met Merle Haggard Today    
Behind This Guitar    

Gregory Porter    
Holding On    
Take Me to the Alley    
Jazz Vocals

Noah Preminger    
Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground    
Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground    
Contemporary Jazz Arrangements of Traditional Blues

Grégory Privat    
Happy Invasion    
Family Tree    

Corinne Bailey Rae    
The Heart Speaks in Whispers    
The Skies Will Break    
Jazz/Pop/Soul-Oriented Singer-Songwriter

Susana Raya    
The Wind    
Wind Rose    
The Andalusian Eva Cassidy

Doug Richards & The Great American Music Ensemble    
West End Blues    
It's All in the Game    
Big Band Jazz

Roomful of Teeth    
William Brittelle: The Colossus    
The Colorado    
Contemporary Choral Music

Alec Roth/Allegri String Quartet    
String Quartet No.2: 1 Waiting    
Alec Roth: String Quartets    
Contemporary Chamber Music

L.A. Salami    
Going Mad as the Street Bins    
Dancing With Bad Grammar: The Director's Cut    
Experimental Genre-Crossing Singer-Songwriter

Noura Mint Seymali    
Moorish Funk from Mauritania

Finnegan Shanahan    
The Two Halves    
The Two Halves    
Avant-Garde Pop Song Cycle

Paul Simon    
Stranger to Stranger    

Sokratis Sinopoulos    
Eight Winds    
Contemporary Jazz-Oriented Music for Greek Lyra

Sociedade Recreativa    
Sociedade Recreativa    
Forró-Based Brazilian Dance Music

Peggy Stern    
Red Bug Slough    
Z Octet    

Petrol Head    
57th & 9th    

Markus Stockhausen / Florian Weber    

Third Coast Percussion/Steve Reich    
Nagoya Marimbas    
Third Coast Percussion/Steve Reich    
Contemporary Music for Percussion

Da Creep    
Electric Beanstalk    
Electronica Bluegrass

Ilya Toshinskiy    
Red Grass    
Red Grass    

Ilya Toshinskiy    
Train Station    
Red Grass    

Rokia Traoré    
Né So    
Malian Singer-Songwriter

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi    
Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning    
God Don't Never Change: The Music of Blind Willie Johnson    

William Tyler    
I'm Gonna Live Forever (If It Kills Me)    
Modern Country    
Ambient Country Guitar Instrumentals

The Lock & The Key    
Love is Melancholy    

Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil    
As Camélias do Quilombo do Leblon    
Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música    
Brazilian Tropicalismo

Zachary Wadsworth    
Come to the Road    
The Far West    
Contemporary Choral Music

Seth Walker    
High Time    
Gotta Get Back    

Joanna Wallfisch    
This is How You Make Me Feel    
Gardens in My Mind    
Jazz-Oriented Art Songs

Dwight Yoakam    
Purple Rain    
Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars.    

Young Magic
Still Life
Brooklyn Dream Pop Influenced by Indonesian Music

Denny Zeitlin    
Infant Eyes    
Early Wayne   
Solo Piano Interpretations of Wayne Shorter's Music

Jeremy Zuckerman    
Ambient Classical Music
Related Links:

The 100 Best Albums of 2016
The 100 Best Albums of 2015
The 100 Best Albums of 2014
The 100 Best Albums of 2013
The 100 Best Albums of 2012
The 100 Best Albums of 2011


I am often asked how I compile my
annual list of the 100 best albums.
Here is some background information.  

What styles of music do I include in
my listening?

I listen to all genres and all styles of
music. I like to listen to music that is
fresh and different, and this spurs me
to search outside the dominant
commercial categories and hit
releases. But I also listen to the
heavily promoted albums from the
major labels.    

How much music do I listen to?   

I like to hear new music every day.   
During 2016 I listened to more
than 1,000 new  album releases.
(The exact number was 1,021.)  

Why do I compile this list?

Like any music lover, I enjoy
sharing my favorite music with others.
But in the last few years, a different
motivation has spurred me. I believe
that the system of music discovery is
broken in the current day. There is
more music recorded than ever before,
but it is almost impossible for listeners
to find the best new recordings.  The
most creative work in music is
increasingly found on self-produced
projects and releases from small
indie labels— to an extent hardly
conceivable only a decade ago.  Very
little of this music ever shows up on
the radio, where formats seem to get
narrower and narrower with each
passing year.  Music fans once heard
good new music at indie record stores,
but most of them have closed. Or
they could read reviews in the
newspaper, but both the newspapers
and the music reviews are shrinking or
disappearing. And the big record
labels are the worst culprits of all,
picking acts for their looks or their
potential appeal to fourteen-year-olds,
or some other egregious reason, and
in general jumping on the most trivial
passing fads. On the other hand,
the Internet presents an almost
infinite amount of music and music
commentary—yet where do fans
even begin to separate the good from
the bad and ugly?  My personal solution
to this dilemma has been to listen to
lots and lots of music, and try to
identify recordings of quality and
distinction. I share my list because
I know, from past experience, that
many other listeners are frustrated
with the broken system of music
discovery, and are also looking for
good new music.  

What criteria do I apply?  

I have no axe to grind.  My list is
filled with music I enjoy, and suspect
others will too—especially if they
have a reasonably good ear, and
an open mind.  I like recordings that
show some flair and creativity, a
sense of style, solid musicianship,
and an emotional commitment to
the moment of performance. I
appreciate it when an artist
possesses a sense of musical
tradition; on the other hand, I don’t
want to see slavish imitation of the
past.  When music strikes me as
too formulaic or contrived or cold,
I start to lose interest.  Like any critic,
I want my readers to think that I am
cool and hip and oh-so-up-to-date,
but I learned some time ago that
many of the best recordings are
decidedly uncool and unhip.  So if
you want to laugh at me for honoring
some unfashionable aging rocker or
superannuated country singer,
go right ahead. But also check
out some of the lesser-known titles on
the might just be pleasantly
surprised by what you hear.

Happy listening!
Ted Gioia
The Best Tracks of 2016
Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at
Selected articles by Ted Gioia

The African Origins of the Love Song
The Rise of the Fragmented Novel
Why Are Music Scholars Ignoring Musical Universals?
The Adventurer's Guide to Finnegans Wake
Notes on Conceptual Fiction
Has Music Criticism Turned Into Lifestyle Reporting?
Vladimir Nabokov, Sci-Fi Writer
How Sartre Cured Existential Angst with Jazz
If John Coltrane Had Lived
The Decline of Satire
My Year of Horrible Reading
The Backlash Against Jazz
The Con Man Who Invented American Popular Music
The Bumbling Shostakovich
The Rise of Artisan Music
The Year American Speech Became Art
What We've Learned About the NSA
The 8 Memes of the Postmodern Mystery
Ted Gioia Interviews Composer Terry Riley
Why the Fuss About Jonathan Franzen?
Slaves for Love: How Bondage Shaped the Love Song
A Conversation About Jazz with Ted Gioia
The 100 Best Recordings of 2015
The 100 Best Recordings of 2014
The 100 Best Recordings of 2013
The 100 Best Recordings of 2012
The 100 Best Recordings of 2011
The Weirdest 1960s Novel of Them All
Franco: The James Brown of Africa
How Alice Got to Wonderland
Does the Music Business Need Musicianship?
The King of Western Swing
Post Cool
The Year of Magical Reading
Frank Sinatra at 100
What is the Clumsiest Classic Novel?
The Crisis in Music (podcast)
The Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft
How to Fix Online Music
My 10 Favorite Novels on Music
A Conversation with Ted Gioia about Love Songs
The Music of the Tango
The Letter That Changed the Course of Modern Lit
The End of the Angry Guitar
Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook
Do Blues Musicians Need to be Really, Really Old?
The Unconventional Sci-Fi of Kurt Vonnegut
Twelve Essential Tango Recordings
Alan Lomax and the FBI
Robert Musil and The Man Without Qualities
Cool Jazz in 100 Tracks (Part 1) (Part 2)
Lecture on the History of Love Songs
Henry James, Horror Writer
Why Only Revolutions Will Not Be Televised
David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
The Crisis in Music (video lecture)
How Good a Singer Was Dean Martin?
How Music Videos Changed Love Songs
Why Bessie Smith Matters
The Zombification of Popular Music
The New Revolt of the Masses
Was Ambrose Bierce Inspired by Agoraphobia?
Apple's New Paradigm for Music
Fix-Up Artist: The Chaotic SF of A.E. van Vogt
Jazz Vocals in the New Millennium
A History of New Orleans Music in 100 Tracks
The Making of Ulysses
The Great American Novel That Wasn't
In Search of Dupree Bolton
Gulliver's Travels and the Birth of Genre Fiction
Five Essays on Novelist John Fowles
Where Did Our Revolution Go?
How Lester Young Changed the English Language
The Reinvention of the Cowboy Novel
The Many Lives of James Joyce
The Complex Gender History of the Love Song
William Gaddis's The Recognitions
5 Lessons the Music Biz Can Learn from TV
Hipsters: The New Scapegoats
B.B. King's Best Performances
The Most Mysterious Woman in Sci-Fi
12 Memorable Works of Hispanic Fiction
Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice
The Alt Reality Nobel Prize
The Decline of a Great Jazz Record Label
Don DeLillo's Underworld
How NY Became Center of the Jazz World
Milton Nascimento: 12 Essential Tracks
When Science Fiction Grew Up
The Most Influential Film of the 20th Century
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch
Is Sleep Music a Real Genre?
Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections
Curse You, Neil Armstrong!
Bill Evans: 12 Essential Tracks
Early Vintage Wynton Marsalis
Remembering Cordwainer Smith
My Favorite American Novel
Q&A with Ted Gioia
The Jazz Pianist JFK Saved
A Look Back at Martin Gardner
Robert Heinlein at One Hundred
The Fourteen Skies of Michael Chabon
Is Bird Dead?
Philip K. Dick's VALIS
Why Lester Young Matters
Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire
Making a Case for Clark Ashton Smtih
Who is Grace Kelly?
Italo Calvino's Winter's NIght
Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude
Could Chet Baker Play Jazz?
Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow
The Jazzy Side of Frank Zappa
Fritz Leiber at 100
Günter Grass's The Tin Drum
David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas
Harlem Jazz: 12 Essential Tracks
Mark Z. Danielweski's House of Leaves
The Postmodern Mystery: 50 Essential Works
Art Tatum at 100: 12 Essential Tracks
Fringe Guitar
J.G. Ballard's Crash
Interview with Dana and Ted Gioia
The Puzzling Case of Robert Sheckley
Robert Johnson and the Devil
Fear and Self-Loathing in Scandinavia
Herbie Hancock: 12 Essential Tracks
Remembering Drums of Passion
Three Existential Horror Novels
Keith Jarrett: 12 Essential Tracks
In Defense of The Hobbit
Brad Mehldau: 12 Essential Tracks
David Foster Wallace's The Pale King
The South Asian Tinge in Jazz
Assessing Brad Mehldau at Mid-Career
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian
Can Clubs Legally Ask Musicians to Play for Free?
Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones
Lennie Tristano: 12 Essential Tracks
Virginia Woolf's Orlando
Why Cool is Dead
A Tribute to Richard Matheson
The Pianism of Denny Zeitlin
The Chronicles of Narnia
David Bowie's Jazz-Oriented Valedictory
Tito Puente: The Complete 78s (1949-1955)
Toni Morrison's Beloved
The Tragedy of Richard Twardzik
Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue
The Science Fiction of Samuel Delany
Can Tarzan Survive in a Post-Colonial World?
Ian McEwan's Atonement
Can a Dictionary be a Novel?
New Details About the Young William Gaddis
Interview with Ted Gioia (on Delta Blues)
William Gaddis's JR
Roberto Bolaño's 2666
Talking to Myself About the State of Jazz
Harper Lee and Her Great Southern Novel
Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain
Italo Calvino's Neglected Sci-Fi Masterpiece
Philip Roth's American Pastoral
Ken Kesey's Novel-in-a-Box
How I Learned I Was a Jazz Fan