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)

Charles Mingus, Susan Alcorn Quintet, and The Nels Cline Singers

ArtistCharles Mingus

Title: @ Bremen 1964 & 1975

LabelSunnyside Records

Release Date: 11/13/20

Personnel: Charles Mingus – bass; Johnny Coles – trumpet (1-6); Eric Dolphy – alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet (1-6); Clifford Jordan – tenor saxophone (1-6); Jaki Byard – piano (1-6); Dannie Richmond – drums; Jack Walrath – trumpet (7-15); George Adams – tenor saxophone, vocals (7-15); Don Pullen – piano (7-15)

Impression: This bounteous collection features the greatest ensemble in all of music (’64 Mingus Euro tour group) at the height of its powers as well as the little-documented Mingus ’75 group who had recently wrapped up the Changes One and Changes Two recording sessions, and there is little to be done to quiet my rapturous applause to Sunnyside Records for releasing it.

More Info: Sunnyside Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Susan Alcorn Quintet

Title: Pedernal

Label: Relative Pitch Records

Release Date: 11/13/20

Personnel: Susan Alcorn – pedal steel guitar; Mark Feldman – violin; Michael Formanek – bass; Mary Halvorson – guitar; Ryan Sawyer – drums

Impression: This singular set of music tenderly invites you in and suggests that you take a seat and to breathe in deeply and receive this stirring gift, and to then be rewarded anew by subsequent adherence to these simple directions.

More Info: Relative Pitch Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: The Nels Cline Singers

Title: Share The Wealth

Label: Blue Note Records

Release Date: 11/13/20

Personnel: Nels Cline – guitars; Scott Amendola – drums, percussion; Skerik – tenor saxophone; trevor Dunn – bass; Brian Marsella – Fender Rhodes, acoustic piano, Hammond C3, Farfisa, melodica, analog synths, toy piano; Cyro Baptista – percussion universe vox

Impression: Composerly Nels is peak-Nels and considerable and compelling territory is deftly covered here with a distinctive aesthetic, making StW his magnum opus to this point in time.

More Info: Nels Cline website and Blue Note Records

Listen/Watch Here:
and

Buy Here: Blue Note Store