This is the third first-place finish in a row for saxophonist/vocalist/composer Grace Kelly. Last year’s Mood Changes was the fifth album on her own Pazz label — she released the first on her 12th birthday. What continues to be stunning about Kelly is that now, at 18, she still sounds old beyond her years — not just the chops, but in her tone and phrasing. She’s impressed her teachers from the very beginning, and she’s played alongside sax greats like Phil Woods and Lee Konitz, recording 2008’s GRACEfulEE with the latter as well as studying with him. She’s also appeared with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Boston Pops and played Newport, and she’s now enrolled at Berklee. Always more to learn.
2. Amanda Carr with the Kenny Hadley Big Band
3. Jim Hobbs and the Hobbettes
4. Charlie Kohlhase