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These are the 2020 "Best of Jazz" lists and commentaries compiled by Members of the Jazz Journalists Association. They are displayed in the order received, with the most recent on top. 

It's up to each member to decide what to include in his or her post -- recordings, books, live performances or whatever -- how many choices to include, and how the post will be formatted.

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  • 14 Dec 2020 9:40 AM | Marcela Breton
    • 1.       Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow “Life Goes On” (ECM)
    • 2.       Muriel Grossmann “Reverence” (RR Gems Records)
    • 3.       John Santos “Art of the Descarga” (Smithsonian Folkways)
    • 4.       Lakecia Benjamin “Pursuance : the Coltranes” (Ropeadope)
    • 5.       Sasha Berliner “Azalea” (eponymous?)
    • 6.       Carolina Calvache “Vida Profunda” (Sunnyside)
    • 7.       Ingrid Laubrock & Kris Davis  “Blood Moon” (Intakt)
    • 8.       Allegra Levy “Lose My Number : Allegra Levy Sings John McNeil” (SteepleChase)
    • 9.       Eva Cortés “Todas Las Voces” (Truth Revolution)
    • 10.   Jason Yeager “New Songs of Resistance” (Outside In)
    • 11. Luedji Luna "Bom Mesmo e Estar Debaixo D'Agua" (album visual, 23 min. youtube.com)
    • 12. Ingrid Laubrock "Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt" (Intakt) (2 CDs)
    • Reissues:

      • 1.       Bill Evans “Live at Ronnie Scott’s” (Resonance) (2 CDs)
      • 2.       Nina Simone “Fodder on My Wings (Verve)
      • 3.       Ibrahim Ferrer “Buenos Hermanos” (World Circuit)
      • 4.    Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers "Just Coolin'" (Blue Note)
  • 12 Dec 2020 2:11 PM | John Szwed

    Keith Jarrett     Budapest      ECM

    Charles Lloyd    8: Kindred Spirits   Blue Note

    Maria Schneider   Data Lords   Artist Share

    Matt Shipp    Unidentifiable   ESP-Disk

    Susan Alcorn     Pedernol     Relative Pitch

    Carla Bley     Life Goes On      ECM

    Ron Miles    Rainbow Sign   Blue Note

    Sun Ra   Swirling   Strut

    The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound      Soundpath.  Clean Feed

    Jeff Parker.  Suite for Max Brown.  Nonesuch


    Historical:

    Charles Mingus    Mingus at Bremen  1964 and 1975    Sunnyside

    Sonny Rollins     Sonny Rollins in Holland     Resonance Records

    Thelonious Monk     Palo Alto   Impulse


    Vocal:

    Leïla Martial     Warm Canto    Laborie Jazz


    Debut:

    Raphaël Pannier    Faune     French Paradox


    Latin:

    Poncho Sanchez    Trane’s  Delight   Concord Picante

  • 09 Dec 2020 11:51 AM | James Hale
    1. Lina Allemano’s OHRENSCHMAUS: Rats & Mice (Lumo)
    2. Nels Cline Singers: Share The Wealth (Blue Note)
    3. Dave Douglas: Marching Music (Greenleaf Music)
    4. Ran Blake & Andrew Rathbun: Northern Noir (SteepleChase)
    5. Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau/Christian McBride/Brian Blade: Round Again (Nonesuch)
    6. Aaron Parks: Little Big II—Dreams Of A Mechanical Man (Ropeadope)
    7. Carla Bley: Life Goes On (ECM)
    8. Liberty Ellman: Last Desert (Pi)
    9. John Scofield: Swallow Tales (ECM)
    10. Ron Miles: Rainbow Sign (Blue Note)



  • 09 Dec 2020 9:21 AM | Sanford Josephson

    10 Favorite Albums of 2020 (alphabetical)

    Eric Alexander: Eric Alexander With Strings (HighNote)

    Don Braden, Joris Teepe: The Spirit of Herbie Hancock (O.A.P. Records)

    Joe Farnsworth: Time To Swing (SmokeSessions)

    Lafayette Harris, Jr.: You Can't Lose the Blues (Savant)

    Eddie Henderson: Shuffle and Deal (SmokeSessions)

    Diana Krall: This Dream of You (Verve)

    Alex Levin: A Sunday Kind of Love (Alex Levin Music)

    Jeremy Pelt: The Art of Intimacy (HighNote)

    Eric Reed: Such a Time as This (SmokeSessions)

    James Taylor/John Pizzarelli: American Standard (Fantasy)





  • 06 Dec 2020 2:58 PM | Ralph A. Miriello

    Big Band:

    John Hollenbeck w Kate McGarry, Theo Bleckmann and Gary Versace and the Franfurt Radio Band: Song You Like A Lot, Flexatonic Records

    Maria Schneider: Data Lords: Artists Share

    Dave Stryker w Bob Mintzer and WDR Big Band : Blue Soul: Strikezone Records

    John Beasley's Monk'estra: Monk'estra Plays John Beasley: Mack  Avenue Records

    The Ed Palmero Big Band: The Great Un-American Songbook Vol III: Sky Cat Records

    Gregg August: Gregg August Dialogues on Race Vol 1: Self Produced

    Modern Jazz Smaller Groups:

    Jerry Bergonzi: Nearly Blue: Savant Records

    Jeff Cosgrove w John Medeski and Jeff Lederer: Histroy Gets Ahead of the Story: Grizzley Music

    Wolfgang Musthspiel w Scott Colley and Brian Blade: Angular Blues ECM Records

    Gregoire Maret w Romain Collin and Bill Frisell: Americana: ACT Records

    Brian Landrus: For Now: Blueland Records

    Ricardo Grilli: 1962 : Tone Rogue Records

    John Scofield w Bill Stewart and Steve Swallow: Swallow Tales: ECM Records

    Aaron Parks Little Big III: Dreams of a Mechanical Man: Ropeadope Records

    Dayna Stephens w Ben Street and Eric Harland: Liberty: Contagious Music

    Eric Revis: Slipknots Through a Looking Glass; Pyroclastic Records

    Chamber Jazz and Jazz  Opera:

    Ryan Keberle, Frank Woeste and Vincet Courtois: Reverso The MElodic Line: Outhere Music

    Pete Malinverni and Juliet Kurtzman: Candlelight: Love in the Time of Cholera: Self-Produced

    John Ellis and Andy Bragen: The Ice Siren: Parade Light Records

    Best Debut Jazz Album :

    Raphael Pannier Quartet: Faune: French Paradox

    Best Vocal Jazz Album:

    Somi w John Beasley and the Franfurt Radio Band: Holy Room Live at Alte Opre

    Best Latin Jazz Album:

    Chico Pinheiro: City of Dreams: Buriti Records

    Best Historical Jazz Releases:

    Thelonious Monk Quartet: Live at Pao Alto : Impulse Records

    Bill Evans w Eddie Gomez and Jack Dejohnette: Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott's : Resonance Records

    Nat King Cole: Nat King Cole Hittin' the Ramp  The Early Years 1936-1945: Resonance Records

    Additional worthy music from this year:

    Aaron Diehl w Pal Skivie and Gregory Hutchinson: The Vagabond: Mack Avenue Records

    Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio : Whirlwind Records

    Chick Corea w Christian McBride and Brian Blade: Trilogy 2: Concord records

    Edgar Djangirov: Rhapsodize: Twelev Tone Resonance

    Steve Cardenas: Blue Has A Range: Sunnyside records

    Amina Figarova Edition 113: Persistence: AmiFi Records

    Kenny Barron w Dave Holland and Joanthan Blake: Without Deception: Dare 2 Records

    Marvin Stamm and Mike Holober: Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar: Big Miles Music

    Denny Zeitlin w Buster Williams and Matt Wilson: Denny Zeitlin Live at Mezzrow: Sunnyside Records

    Martin Wind, Philip Catherine and Ack Van Rooyen: White Noise: Liaka Records

    Rez Abbazi w Neil Alexander and Michael Sarin: Django Shift: Whirlwind Records

    Chris Dingman: Embrace: Inner Arts Inniative

    Jason  Palmer:The Concert: 12 MUsings for Isabella: Giant Steps Arts

    John DiMartino: Passion Flower: The Music of Billy Strayhorn: Sunnyside Records

    Than Alexa: Ona: Self-Produced

    Sirkis/Bialis IQ: Our New World: Moonjune Records

    Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmsophere: Dizzy at Zero Gravity: Greenleaf Music

    Marcin Wasilewski Trio w Joe Lovano: Artic Riff: ECM

    Keb'Mo': Oklahoma: Concord records

    Craig  Taborn: Junk Magic- Compass Confusion: Pyroclastic records

    Jeff Hamilton Trio: Catch Me if You Can: Capri Records

    Guiseppe Paradiso Meridian 71: Metropolitan Sketches: Self Produced






  • 04 Dec 2020 11:32 AM | Bill Brownlee

    Top Ten Jazz Albums of 2020
    1. Jyoti- Mama, You Can Bet! (SomeOthaShip Connect)
    2. Jennifer Curtis and Tyshawn Sorey- Invisible Ritual (New Focus)
    3. Ambrose Akinmusire- On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note)
    4. Bill Frisell- Valentine (Blue Note)
    5. Kaja Draksler Octet- Out For Stars (Clean Feed)
    6. Jeremy Pelt- The Art of Intimacy, Vol. 1 (HighNote)
    7. Angelica Sanchez and Marilyn Crispell- How to Turn the Moon (Pyroclastic)
    8. Sara Serpa- Recognition (Biophilia)
    9. Rudresh Mahanthappa- Hero Trio (Whirlwind)
    10. Brad Mehldau- Suite: April 2020 (Nonesuch)

  • 03 Dec 2020 10:04 PM | W. Royal Stokes

    BEST RELEASES OF 2020

    Nota bene: All of my choices are in alphabetical order by artist and are to be equally rated within each category. 

    BEST 10 NEW RELEASES 

    Susan Alcorn Quintet, Pedernal (Relative Pitch)

    David Boswell, The Story Behind the Story (My Quiet Moon)

    The Claire Daly Band, Rah! Rah! (Ride Symbol)

    Chris Hopkins, Chris Hopkins Meets the Jazz Kangaroos, Vol. 1 (Echoes of Swing)

    Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wayne Shorter and Wynton Marsalis, The Music of Wayne Shorter (Blue Engine)

    Okuden Quartet (Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Hamid Drake), Every Dog Has His Day But It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (ESP-Disk)

    Benny Rubin Jr. Quartet, Know Say or See (Benny Jr. Music)

    Maria Schneider, Data Lords (Artists Share)

    Gregory Tardy, If Time Could Stand Still (WJ3)

    Charles Tolliver, Connect (Gearbox)


    BEST 3  REISSUES/HISTORICAL  

    Sonny Rollins, Rollins in Holland, 1967 (Resonance)

    Lennie Tristano, The Duo Sessions, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1976,  (Dot Time)

    Norma Winstone & John Taylor, In Concert, 1988 (Sunnyside)


    BEST VOCAL

    Kurt Elling, Secrets Are the Best Stories (Edition)


    BEST DEBUT

    New Orleans High Society, New Orleans High Society (2020) (1718 Records)


    BEST LATIN

    Carla Campopiano, Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections Vol. II (CarlaCampopiano.com)

    Also see See my “A ROUNDUP OF 140 OR SO JAZZ, BLUES, BEYOND, AND OTHER BOOKS PUBLISHED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO,” at wroyalstokes.com. 

    W. Royal Stokes

    Amazon.com/W.-Royal-Stokes/e/B001HD17MY



  • 03 Dec 2020 4:16 PM | Mike West
    1. Charles Tolliver Connect (Gearbox)
    2. Nubya Garcia Source (Concord Jazz)
    3. Jeff Parker Suite for Max Brown (International Anthem)
    4. Chicago Underground Quartet Good Days (Astral Spirits)
    5. Jim Snidero Project K (Savant)
    6. Tyshawn Sorey Unfiltered (self-released)
    7. Charles McPherson Jazz Dance Suites (Chazz Mack)
    8. Ron Miles Rainbow Sign (Blue Note)
    9. Lakecia Benjamin Pursuance: The Coltranes (Ropeadope)
    10. Kenny Barron & Dave Holland Trio Without Deception (Blue Note)
  • 03 Dec 2020 3:17 PM | Ken Franckling

    The 10 best new jazz releases of 2020

    1.     Tim Ray, Excursions and Adventures (Whaling City Sound)
    2.     Maria Schneider Orchestra, Data Lords (ArtistShare)
    3.     Artemis, Artemis (Blue Note)
    4.     Jeff Rupert and George Garzone, The Ripple (Rupe Media)
    5.     Lynne Arriale, Chimes of Freedom (Challenge)
    6.     Bernard Purdie, Christian Fabian, Ron Oswanski, Move On! (Consolidated Artists)
    7.     3D Jazz Trio, I Love to See You Smile (DIVA Jazz)
    8.     Funk Shui NYC, Shark NATO on a Plane (Zoho)
    9.     Wayne Alpern, Standard Deviation (Henri Elkan Music)
    10.The Michael O’Neill Quartet, And Then It Rained (Jazzmo)

    The best historical/reissues of 2020 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued):

    1. Sonny Rollins, Rollins in Holland (Resonance)
    2. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto (Impulse!/Sony)
    3. Ella Fitzgerald, Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes (Verve)
    4. Bill Evans, Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Resonance)
    5. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Just Coolin' (Blue Note)

     2020’s best vocal recordings:

    1.     Sinne Eeg & The Danish Radio Big Band, We’ve Just Begun (Stunt/BFM Jazz)
    2.     Kenny Washington, What’s The Hurry (A-Train Entertainment)
    3.     Clairdee, A Love Letter to Lena (Declare Music)
    4.     Melody Gardot, Sunset in Blue (Decca)
    5.     Susan Tobocman, Touch & Go (Soliterra)

    2020’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

    1.     Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra, Puertos: Music From International Waters (Avantango)
    2.     Calle Loiza Jazz Project, There Will Never be Another You (self-produced)
    3.     John Daversa Quintet, Cuarantena: With Family at Home (Tiger Turn)
    4.     Jose Rizo’s Mongorama, Mariposas Cantan (Saungu)
    5.     Vanderlei Pereira, Vision for Rhythm (Jazzheads)

     2020’s best debut recording:

    Douglas Olsen, 2 Cents (self-produced)

    The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2020, listed alphabetically:

    • Lynne Arriale, “3 Million Steps” from Chimes of Freedom (Challenge)
    • Frank Colón, “Spanish Heart” from Latin Lounge (Technoprimal)
    • Jenny Davis, “Wise Up” from Rearranged (Three Penny)
    • Erik Jekabson, “Dusk” from Erik Jekabson Sextet III, One Note at a Time (Wide Hive)
    • Austin McMahon, “Sol” from The Lost Melody, New Songs For Old Souls (Tie)
    • Dave Morgan, Noel Cohen, “July Groove/September Funk” from Funk Shui NYC, Shark NATO on a Plane (Zoho)
    • Josh Nelson, “Kintsugi” from Josh Nelson Trio, The Discovery Project Live in Japan (Steel Bird)
    • Jose Rizo and Francisco Torres, “Descarga Ramon Banda” from Jose Rizo’s Mongarama, Mariposas Cantan (Saungu)
    • Renee Rosnes, “Big Top” from Artemis (Blue Note)
    • Maria Schneider, “A World Lost” from Data Lords (ArtistShare)
  • 03 Dec 2020 10:07 AM | John Chacona

    In a year overflowing with mixed blessings, the opportunity to hear more recorded music must rank in my Top Ten--not that I always had the taste or mental energy for doing so. Still, this extraordinary year brought so much extraordinary music to my ears that this alphabetical list is 15 items long. The fact that all releases are by BIPoC and women artists is not an accident.

    Ambrose Akinmusire: On the tender spot of every calloused moment (Blue Note)

    Camilla Nebbia: Aura (ears & eyes Records)

    Code Girl: Artlessly Falling(Firehouse 12)

    Dayna Stephens Quartet: Right Now! Live at the Village Vanguard (Contagious Music)

    Eric Revis: Slipknots Through A Looking Glass (Pyroclastic Records)

    Ingrid Laubrock: Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt (Intakt Records)

    Ingrid Laubrock+Kris Davis: Blood Moon (Intakt Records)

    Irreversible Entanglements:  Who Sent You? (International Anthem)

    Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express Big Band: José Martí En Nueva York (Greenleaf Music)

    Maria Schneider Orchestra: Data Lords (ArtistShare)

    Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (Tao Forms)

    Shabaka And The Ancestors : We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!)

    Steph Richards: Supersense (Northern Spy)

    Thumbscrew: The Anthony Braxton Project (Cunieform)

    Tyshawn Sorey: Unfiltered (self released)

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