Wildcard - Darius Christian Jones

1. Q-tip - The Renaissance, track 10 "Life is Better"

I rediscovered this album while enjoying coffee on St. Patricks Day in the Village with Yuma Sung. Everything the bartender was playing was gold. When I heard the track "Life is Better" I was captivated by the singer, and had this uncanny feeling that I knew who she was. Her soulful phrasing and sweet voice was in a new context. To my surprise, it was Nora Jones!

2. James Blake

When I listen to J.B. I am launched into an electronic freeze-frame. Time is no longer linear, but it's rotating and swirling. Blake's incredible production and ethereal voice is harmonized, displaced, and effected with various filters and reverb. At the most fundamental level his voice is incredibly dynamic and stands alone. His voice reminds me of a sensitive British Alien robot who absorbed the soul of Tracey Chapman and any great gospel singer from space.

3. Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit

Hands-down, and yet somehow simultaneously extended towards the sky in joy; Gregory Porter is one of my favorite male jazz/soul crossover vocalists. His phrasing, resonance, and wonderfully-simple instrumental arrangements are on point for me. There is a rawness in his story-telling, and the nostalgic listening can run free. Preach it!!

4. Opsvik and Jennings - A Dream I Used to Remember

My dear friend, Cam Collins, turned me on to this recording. I must admit this was the first recording of Eivind Opsvik that I had checked out. I didn't know what to expect. I put on my jazz-school listening ears, which of course is setting oneself up for failure when it comes to listening to any kind of music. I was delightfully tricked and thrown into a new world, where there were rainbows, acoustic instruments, and dancing melodies. Was that a leprechaun surfing on a cloud? In summary, this is one of the most joyful records I have ever heard in my life. One that will transform any cloudy day into a moon bounce.

5. Pharrell Williams - G I R L

Williams has probably had one of the best two years of commercial success. From his work with Robin Thicke, to Daft Punk, to Justin Timberlake, everything he touches as of late seems to become gold! This latest record doesn't disappoint. The Title track "Happy" stands alone as a means for celebrating life. All I have to say about this record is: Production, POCKET, and shameless pop love.

Darius Christian Jones is a trombonist, composer, and educator who currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.