Jazz Journalists Association
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These are the 2021 "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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  • 28 Dec 2020 10:27 AM | C. Andrew Hovan

    A Dozen Top Jazz Picks for 2020

    1. Connie Han- Iron Starlet  (Mack Avenue)

    2. Redman/Mehldau/McBride/Blade- Round Again (Nonesuch)

    3. Joe Farnsworth- Time to Swing (Smoke Sessions)

    4. John Scofield- Swallow Tales (ECM)

    5. Peter Bernstein- What Comes Next (Smoke Sessions)

    6. Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy- Onward & Upward (Onyx)

    7. Christian McBride Big Band- For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver (Mack Avenue)

    8. Wayne Escoffery- The Humble Warrior (Smoke Sessions)

    9.  Paul Desmond- The Complete 1975 Toronto Recordings (Mosaic)

    10. Thelonious Monk- Palo Alto (Impulse)

    11. George Coleman- In Baltimore (Reel to Real)

    12. Bill Evans- Live at Ronnie Scott's (Resonance)

    SPECIAL MENTION- Blue Note Records' Tone Poet Series brought over two dozen choice titles from the vaults delivered in pristine sound and deluxe gatefold packaging complete with Frank Wolff photos.

  • 27 Dec 2020 1:31 PM | Anonymous

    TOP 10 JAZZ2K DISCS OF 2020:

    1. Maria Schneider Orchestra - Data Lords (ArtistShare)
    2. Shabaka & the Ancestors - We Are Sent Here by History (impulse!)
    3. Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science - Waiting Game (Motema)
    4. Orrin Evans / Captain Black Big Band - The Intangible Between (Smoke Sessions)
    5. Lakecia Benjamin - Pursuance: The Coltranes (Ropeadope)
    6. Bright Dog Red - Somethin' Comes Along (Ropeadope)
    7. Dave Douglas - Dizzy Atmosphere (Greenleaf Music)
    8. Dan Loomis - Job's Trials: A Jazz Song Cycle (Self-released)
    9. Jimmy Greene - While Looking Up (Mack Avenue)
    10. Nduduzo Makhatini - Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds (Blue Note)

    2020 JAZZ2K AWARDS:

    • BEST PARTY DISC: Funk Shui NYC - SharkNATO On A Plane (Zoho)
    • BEST VOCAL DISC: Karrin Allyson Sextet - Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women's Suffrage (eOne)
    • BEST SOLO OR DUO DISC: Brian Charette - Like The Sun (Self-released)
    • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Randy Brecker / Eric Marienthal - Double Dealin' (Shanachie)
    • ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Nubya Garcia - Source (Concord Jazz)
    • LOCAL HERO AWARD: Dylan Canterbury - Going Places (Self-released)
  • 24 Dec 2020 12:05 PM | Dan Ouellette

    NEW RELEASES

    1. Thana Alexa, ONA (self-released)
    2. Jyoti, Mama, You Can Bet! (SomeOthaShip)
    3. Webber/Morris Big Band, Both Are True (Greenleaf Music)
    4. Ron Miles, Rainbow Sign (Blue Note)
    5. Liberty Ellman, Last Desert (Pi)
    6. Lakecia Benjamin, Pursuance: The Coltranes (Ropeadope)
    7. Susan Alcorn Quintet, Pedernal (Relative Pitch)
    8. Dafnis Prieto Sextet, Transparency (Dafnison Music)
    9. Joel Harrison + 18, America at War (Sunnyside)
    10. Jason Miles & Kind of New, Black Magic (Ropeadope)

    REISSUES/HISTORICAL

    1. Thelonious Monk, Palo Alto (1968, Impulse)
    2. Sonny Rollins, Rollins in Holland (1967, Resonance)
    3. Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You (1965, Verve)


  • 21 Dec 2020 1:38 PM | Rick Mitchell

    On December 19, 2020, from 2-5 p.m., I reviewed the top tracks from some of the best jazz albums that came my way this year on the radio program The Motif: Reimagine a Jazz Sensibility on KBOO, 90.7 FM in Portland, Oregon. Many of these tracks also have been or will be featured on my national program, Jazz In the New Millennium, syndicated through the African American Public Radio Consortium. The aesthetic core of these programs is to help define a modern mainstream for the 21st Century. It does not represent the full range of what I listen to, both within the jazz world and beyond. Here is the playlist:

    Set one

    Christian McBride, "Sister Rosa," The Movement Revisited (Mack Avenue)

    Warren Wolf, "For Ma," Reincarnation (Mack Avenue)

    Gregory Porter, "Dad Gone Thing," All Rise (Blue Note)

    Christian Sands, "Can't Find My Way Home," Be Water (Mack Avenue)

    Set two

    Tim Ray, "Paint It Black," Excursions and Adventures (Whaling City Sound)

    Charles Lloyd, "La Llorona," 8: Kindred Spirits (Blue Note)

    Bill Frisell, "Baba Drame," Valentine (Blue Note)

    Tony Allen/Hugh Masekela, "Coconut Jam," Rejoice (World Circuit)

    Set three

    Joel Ross, "After the Rain," Who Are You? (Blue Note)

    Immanuel Wilkins, "The Dreamer," Omega (Blue Note)

    Lauren Henderson, "Day by Day," The Songbook Session (Brontosaurus)

    Aaron Diehl, "Polaris," The Vagabond (Mack Avenue)

    Set four

    Doctor Michael White, "Summertime," Live (Basin Street)

    Maceo Parker, "Hard Times," Soul Food: Cookin' with Maceo (The Funk Garage)

    Christian McBride Big Band, "Road Song," For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver (Mack Avenue)

    Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, "Hammer Head," The Music of Wayne Shorter (Blue Engine)

    Set five

    Derrick Hodge, "The Cost," Color of Noize (Blue Note)

    Ndudzo Makhathini, "Saziwa Nguwe," Modes of Communication Letters from the Underworlds (Blue Note)

    Gerald Clayton, "Rejuvenation Agenda," Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

    Ambrose Akinmusire, "Yessss," On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note)

    Set six

    Maria Schneider Orchestra, "The Sun Waited for Me," Data Lords (Artist Share)

    Billy Childs, "Leimert Park," Acceptance (Mack Avenue)

    John Beasley, "Monk's Mood," Monk'estra Plays John Beasley (Mack Avenue)

    Pat Metheny, "Same River," From This Place (Nonesuch)

    Set seven

    Artemis, "If It's Magic," Artemis (Blue Note)

    Rudresh Mahanthappa, "Ring of Fire," Hero Trio (Whirlwind)

    Harold Lopez Nussa, "Van Van Meets New Orleans," Te Lo Dije (Mack Avenue)

    Derrick Shezbie, "Didn't He Ramble," The Ghost of Buddy Bolden (Clubhouse)

    Set eight

    Fred Hersh, "Wichita Lineman," Songs from Home (Palmetto)

    Warren Wolf, "Do You Hear What I Hear?," Christmas Vibes (Mack Avenue)

    Closer

    Robert Cray Band, "This Man," That's What I Heard (Nozzle/Thirty Tigers) 




  • 19 Dec 2020 11:00 PM | Rob Shepherd
    Here are my top eleven for 2020. I also list another 14 albums that greatly impressed me- along with comments on these 11- over at PostGenre.

    New Releases

    1. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey, Invisible Ritual (Tundra/New Focus)

    2. Alabaster Deplume, To Cy & Lee: The Instrumentals Vol. 1 (International Anthem) [Much of this album was previously released, so often doesn't count on new releases lists]

    3. Kahil El'Zabar, Kahil El'Zabar's Spirit Groove ft. David Murray (Spiritmuse)

    4. Lakecia Benjamin, Pursuance: The Coltranes (Ropeadope)

    5. Josh Johnson, Freedom Exercise (Northern Spy)

    6. Carla Bley - Andy Sheppard - Steve Swallow, Life Goes On (ECM)

    7. Charles Lloyd, 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from the Lobero) (Blue Note)

    8. Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell, How to Turn the Moon (Pyroclastic)

    9. Susan Alcorn Quintet, Pedernal (Relative Pitch)

    10. George Burton, Reciprocity (self-released)

    11. Lionel Loueke, HH (Edition)

    Historical

    1. Dudu Pukwana, Dudu Phukwana and the "Spears" (Matsuli Music)

    2. The Heshoo Beshoo Group, Armitage Road (We are Busy Bodies)

    3. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Just Coolin' (Blue Note)

    4. Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins in Holland (Resonance)

    5. Thelonious Monk, Palo Alto (Impulse!)


    Vocal

    Norah Jones, Pick Me Up Off the Floor (Blue Note)


    Debut

    Josh Johnson, Freedom Exercise (Northern Spy)

    Latin

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

  • 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






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