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)

SPAZA, Ron Miles, and Erik Friedlander

Artist: SPAZA

Title: UPRIZE! (Music from the Original Motion Picture)

Label: Mushroom Hour Half Hour

Release Date: 10/16/20

Personnel: Ariel Zamonsky – bass; Gontse Makhene – percussion; Malcolm Jiyane – piano/trombone/vocals; Nonku Phiri – vocals

Impression: With their original motion picture soundtrack to the documentary UPRIZE! the revolving-member South African musical collective known as SPAZA artfully asserts that the bold and transformative spirit of resistance to oppression from ’76 Johannesburg endures, underlining it’s significance to our current, tragic reality.

More Info: Mushroom Hour Site  and  SPAZA site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

Artist: Ron Miles

Title: Rainbow Sign

Label: Blue Note Records

Release Date: 10/09/20

Personnel: Ron Miles – Cornet; Brian Blade – Drums; Bill Frisell – Guitar; Jason Moran – Piano; Thomas Morgan – Bass Guitar

Impression: One could attempt to discover a more cohesive contemporary ensemble performing refined tunes with seemingly effortless proficiency, but that exercise would be in vain.

More Info: Blue Note Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Blue Note Store

 

Artist: Erik Friedlander

Title: Sentinel

Label: self-released

Release Date: 10/02/20

Personnel: Ava Mendoza – guitar; Diego Espinosa – drums & percussion; Erik Friedlander – cello

Impression: Incisors, canines, and molars masticate in concert on Sentinel with decidedly amenable results.

More Info: Erik Friedlander’s Site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp