The creative response to the past year was quite extraordinary — a lineup of music that was bursting with strength and vitality. When you listen to many of the jazz albums that were released in 2021, there’s a noticeable feeling of defiance and perseverance. The music rose to the moment.

Throughout the year, jazz musicians crossed time and space in the making of their art. Regions, eras and genres didn’t serve as borders or barriers, but as roadmaps for richer, fuller musical exploration. There were journeys to a variety of distant parts of the world and amalgams of multiple decades of music history. In the greatest works, you could sense the innovation and tradition squeezed into, and out of, every note.

Here are 25 of our favourite albums from 2021.