If you were placing money on the next breakout star from “The Daily Show,” Minhaj may be your surest bet of 2017. First, he delivered a fearless, devastatingly funny turn at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, then his latest stand-up special, structured like a storytelling show with screens and roving camera angles, was a next-level shift for the visual potential of the form. Not to mention the strength of the material — a sensitively drawn, occasionally raw look at growing up brown and Muslim in America — which remains among the year’s funniest yet.
Ambrose Akinmusire’s “A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard”:
Already a musical force so distinctive that his trumpet often seems to breathe with an ethereal, searching grace, Akinmusire hasn’t been heard from since his ambitious 2014 sophomore release, which landed on multiple year-end lists. This double album, recorded at the musical holy ground that hosted landmark albums by John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, offers further evidence that he should be considered among those continuing that legacy. Backed by a nimble, daring band, Akinmusire’s expressive, at times turbulent excursions reveal something new with each listen.