Mark Feldman, Benoît Delbecq, and Fred Frith & Ikue Mori

Artist: Mark Feldman

Title: Sounding Point

Label: Intakt Records

Release Date: 2/12/21

Personnel: Mark Feldman – violin

Impression: Feldman has a long history of dazzling with his imaginative and technical proficiencies in a wide variety of settings, but he has never played more sensitively and inventively than he does on this set of inspiring originals and fascinating covers.

More Info: Intakt Records site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp  and Intakt Records Store

 

 

Artist: Benoît Delbecq

Title: The Weight of Light

Label: Pyroclastic Records

Release Date: 2/12/21

Personnel: Benoît Delbecq – piano

Impression: By now, the Cageian prepared piano tends to invoke rather one-dimensional “outsider” music, but at the hand of a master of Delbecq’s caliber, it is elevated to an idealized and expressive tool for the creation of highly compelling art such as this fine recording.

More Info: Pyroclastic Records

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Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Fred Frith and Ikue Mori

Title: A Mountain Doesn’t Know It’s Tall

Label: Intakt Records

Release Date: 2/12/21

Personnel: Intakt; 2/12; Fred Frith – home-made instruments, various toys and objects, electric guitar; Ikue Mori – laptop electronics

Impression: Frith and Mori stand atop the legions of improvisers working to create beguiling alien landscapes and on this fiery tome they seem to have finally gone and implemented Plan 9.

More Info: Intakt Records site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp and Intakt Records Store

 

Elliott Sharp, Nick Schofield, and Adam Rudolph

Artist: Elliott Sharp

Title: Filiseti Mekidesi

LabelInfrequent Seams

Release Date: 01/29/21

Personnel: Elliott Sharp – composer, libretto, director; Tracie Morris – texts; Edwin Torres – texts; Kamilya Jubran – soprano
Voxnova Italia: Soprano: Susanna Rigacci; Mezzosoprano: Monica Benvenuti, Anna Clementi; Tenor: Sandro Naglia; Baritone: Oliviero Giorgiutti; Bass: Nicholas Isherwood; ENSEMBLE MUSIKFABRIK: Flute: Helen Bledsoe; Oboe: Peter Veale; Clarinet: Carl Rosman; Horn: Christine Chapman; Trumpet: Matthew Conley; Trombone: Bruce Collings; Tuba: Melvyn Poore; Keyboards: Ulrich Löffler, Benjamin Kobler; Percussion and drums: Rie Watanabe, Michael Weilacher; Violin: Hannah Weirich; Viola: Axel Porath; Violoncello: Dirk Wietheger; Contrabass: Florentin Ginot

Impression: Sharp’s newest opera Filiseti Mekidesi translates toshelter migration”, and the chilling tone he has created suitably mirrors the pathos the uprooting process continues to cause for so many refugees and immigrants in search of a safe, new home.

More Info: E# website

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Nick Schofield

Title: Glass Gallery

Label: Backward Music

Release Date: 02/5/21

Personnel: Nick Schofield – Prophet-600 Synth

Impression: Glass Gallery is majestic minimalist electronic music created entirely on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-600 synthesizer and acts as a soothing balm for the many stresses of our global pandemic.

More Info: Nick Schofield website

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Adam Rudolph

Title: Focus and Field

Label: Meta Records

Release Date: 12/4/20

Personnel: Sumie Kaneko – vocal, koto, shamisen; Stephanie Griffin – viola; Kaoru Watanabe – shinobue, noh kan, fue, taiko, percussion; gamin – piri, saenghwang; Sara Schoenbeck – bassoon; Ned Rothenberg – shakuhachi, bass clarinet; Ivan Barenboim – b flat clarinet, contra-alto clarinet; Michel Gentile – c, alto, and bass flutes, bamboo flutes; Adam Rudolph – handrumset

Impression: On Focus and Field Rudolph took inspiration from structural aspects of Japanese Noh theater, resulting in a satisfying and meditative sonic brew for those inclined towards soundworlds between Takemitsu and Don Cherry’s Codona project.

More Info: Meta Records site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

2020 NPR Jazz Critics Poll

Happy new year and best wishes to everyone for a significant upgrade for 2021!  This is my final reflection on a decidedly terrible 2020.

The 2020 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll has now been published and Francis Davis has again let me chime in.  Go buy all of this great music!

The overview results are here

Davis’ commentary is here

…and my contribution is here

My favorite part of this poll is reading each of the contributor’s picks, which can be done here

 

My best of 2020 are as follows…

NEW RELEASES

Craig Taborn’s Junk Magic, Compass Confusion (Pyroclastic)

Jennifer Curtis and Tyshawn Sorey, Invisible Ritual (Tundra)

WHO Trio, STRELL The Music of Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington (Clean Feed)

Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl, Artlessly Falling (Firehouse 12)

Susan Alcorn, Pedernal (Relative Pitch)

The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, Soundpath (Clean Feed)

Ingrid Laubrock, Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt (Intakt)

Ron Miles, Rainbow Sign (Blue Note)

Steph Richards, Supersense (Northern Spy)

Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra, Dimensional Stardust (International Anthem/Nonesuch)

 

REISSUES

Charles Mingus, @ Bremen 1964 & 1975 (Sunnyside)

Theloinious Monk, Palo Alto (Impulse)

Ivan Zagni and Steve Garden, Trouble Spots (Rattle Echo)

 

VOCAL

Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl, Artlessly Falling (Firehouse 12)

 

DEBUT

Emi Makabe, Anniversary (Greenleaf)

 

LATIN

Aruán Ortiz with Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera, Inside Rhythmic Falls (Intakt)

Nicholas Lens & Nick Cave, Roots Magic, and Ivan Zagni & Steve Garden

Artist: Nicholas Lens & Nick Cave

Title: L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S

Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Release Date: 12/4/20

Personnel: Clara-Lane Lens & Denzil Delaere & Nicholas L. Noorenbergh & Claron McFadden – vocals; Maaike Cottyn – solo flute/alto flute; Midori Mori
- solo clarinet/bass clarinet; Rhonny Ventat – saxophones; Clara-Lane Lens & Nicholas Lens – keyboards & programming; Alain Cremers – solo bassoon; Joe Kina & Jack Pinger – percussion; Gudrun Vercampt – solo violin; Maryna Lepiasevich – solo viola; Amy Norrington – solo cello; with
The Fourteen Storks Ensemble

Impression: Resuming where they left off with 2014’s Shell Shock, Lens and Cave have busied themselves in lockdown by crafting a consuming chamber music suite incorporating Taizé-like mediations on the full range of human experience.

More Info: Deutsche Grammophon site , Nick Cave site and Nicholas Lens site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Deutsche Grammophon site

 

 

Artist: Roots Magic

Title: Take Root Among the Stars

Label: Clean Feed Records

Release Date: 07/24/20

Personnel: Alberto Popollla – clarinet & bass clarinet, objects; Errico De Fabritiis – alto & baritone sax, mouth harp; Gianfranco Tedeschi – double bass; Fabrizio Spera – drums, percussion, zither; guests: Eugenio Colombo – flute on 1, bass flute on 3; Francesco Lo Cascio – vibraphone on 1, gong

Impression: TRAtS is the artfully paced house party a weirdo introvert like me is longing to attend as soon as the entire world is vaccinated.

More Info: Roots Magic site and Clean Feed Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp and Clean Feed Records Store

 

 

Artist: Ivan Zagni and Steve Garden

Title: Trouble Spots

Label: Rattle Echo

Release Date: 06/9/20

Personnel: Ivan Zagni – acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, voices; Steve Garden – drums, percussion, voices, loops and treatments; Peter Scholes – recorders, sax, clarinet; Don McGlashan – bass, prc, vox; Amanda Hollis – flute, vox; Richard Nunns – pukaea, putorino

Impression: TS is a surprise pop-Dadaist masterpiece reissued by New Zealand’s Rattle Records under its new and stellar Rattle Echo imprint; this one will keep you guessing at each successive track.

More Info: Rattle Echo site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

SUSS, Dino Saluzzi, and Thelonious Monk

Artist: SUSS

Title: Promise

LabelNorthern Spy Recs

Release Date: 12/4/20

Personnel: Jonathan Gregg – Pedal Steel, dobro; Bob Holmes – Mandolin, baritone guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, violin; Pat Irwin – Electric guitars, National guitar, eBow, harmonium, keyboards, melodica, loops; Gary Leib – Keyboards, looping, imaging

Impression: The New York-based quartet SUSS makes minimal and patient musical-vignettes and Promise is a warm blanket on a forlorn winter’s night.

More Info: Northern Spy Recs and SUSS site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp and Northern Spy Recs

 

 

Artist: Dino Saluzzi

Title: Albores

Label: ECM Records

Release Date: 11/6/20

Personnel: Dino Saluzzi – bandoneon

Impression: Albores, Saluzzi’s first solo release in more than thirty years, is overflowing with the kind of sublime and healing sonorities that could only come from the hands of an absolute master.

More Info: ECM Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: ECM Records

 

 

Artist: Thelonious Monk

Title: Palo Alto

Label: Impulse Records

Release Date: 9/24/20

Personnel: Thelonious Monk – piano; Charlie Rouse – tenor saxophone; Larry Gales – bass; Ben Riley – drums

Impression: I’m a little late to this one, but as a teacher, just the thought of this perennially transformative music being performed in a high school auditorium in tension-filled 1968 fills my heart with almost unmatched joy.

More Info: Thelonious Monk site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Thelonious Monk site