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)

Nick Dunston, Steph Richards, and WHO Trio

Artist: Nick Dunston

Title: Atlantic Extraction: Live at Threes

Label: Out of Your Head Records

Release Date: 7/24/20

Personnel: Nick Dunston – double bass, compositions; Louna Dekker-Vargas – flute, alto flute, piccolo; Ledah Finck – violin, viola; Tal Yahalom – guitar; Stephen Boegehold – drum set

Impression: As evidenced by the overabundance of inspired ideas/execution/processes on this modestly recorded live date, there is no doubt that Dunston will continue to flourish as a major force in the direction of new music. Additionally, for every sale of this album OOYH Records will donate $1 to the Third Wave Fund, an organization chosen by Dunston.

More Info: Nick Dunston website and Out of Your Heads Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Steph Richards

Title: Supersense

Label: Northern Spy Recs

Release Date: 10/23/20

Personnel: Steph Richards – trumpet, flugelhorn, resonating drums/water; Jason Moran – piano; Stomu Takeishi – bass; Kenny Wollesen – drums, Wollesonics; Andrew Munsey – track 7, Wollesonics; Sean Raspet – scent design

Impression: In the midst of this recording of consummate masters tasked with, among other assignments, interpreting/responding to an array of scents, we are submerged in a truly distinctive environment…one that I anticipate experiencing in full when scratch-and-sniff swatches are mailed out with physical copies of the release in December.

More Info: Steph Richards website and Northern Spy Recs

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: WHO Trio

Title: STRELL The Music of Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington

Label: Clean Feed Records

Release Date: 09/04/20

Personnel: Michel Wintsch – piano; Gerry Hemingway – drums, voice; Bänz Oester – bass

Impression: No one has bested Duke Ellington’s mastery of all things musical and no group of musicians in recent memory has done greater justice to the Ellington / Strayhorn’s songbook as a pan-genre blueprint than WHO Trio.

More Info: Gerry Hemingway website and  Clean Feed Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp and Clean Feed Records Store