Styles encompass chamber jazz, dreamy vocals and prog-jazz. Their Ant Law release Life I Know was a winner among a rash of great releases.
Spiritual jazz and increasingly electronic-jazz leaning: the inspirations of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders are never far away while the jazztronica of bands such as Mammal Hands point to a vastly different dance and chill-out arena.
Avant in a very American sense, Pi are also good at finding new artists and also providing a canvas for masters such as Steve Coleman and Henry Threadgill.
Musician run label that values visual presentation as well as curation, records by Justin Brown and Maria Grand stood out this year.
5 Stoney Lane
This small British label based in Birmingham has found its feet in 2018 more than ever by moving away from the hit and miss avant garde to dreamy, literate vocals, with the Liane Carroll influenced What We’re Made Of by Sara Colman lighting us all up.
A fairly new label whose output is still patchy but this year impressed most with records by Martin Speake and Helena Kay.
One of Europe’s very best labels over many years. Their championing of the bandleading output of Antonio Sánchez over a sustained period is a significant example of just how vital their work is building on their love in the past of the music of Kenny Wheeler.
Out of the doldroms this year their output is still patchy and many of their releases remain far too middle of the road. They scored mightily however with the brilliant Sfumato and reminded us of the majesty of EST.
Set up initially as a strictly vinyl-only label Edition continue to grow. The unreleased 1963 radio air shot tracks that formed Mønk was beautifully mastered, and their new signings remain inspired.
Sometimes too prolific and too unwilling to stray too far from bebop and the new Cool School not everything worked this year for this musician-owned label. But Vista by Julian Siegel made up for the flops, a quite brilliant statement from the saxophonist and his mighty quartet.