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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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  • 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)

  • 01 Dec 2020 1:28 PM | Howard Mandel (Administrator)

    Yes, it's hard to select 10 best of the year. Downloads are not making it easier to organize -- I'm flooded! Great to have so much music at my fingertips, so that's not a complaint. And I may return to this list to add other notable releases, but I can recommend all of these albums -- and urge you to hear the title track of 92-year-old-though-you-wouldn't-know-it bluesman Jimmy Johnson's "Ever Day of Your Life."

    Monk'estra plays John Beasley (Mack Avenue), John Beasley

    Ism (International Anthem), Junius Paul*

    Old New, (Cuneiform), Tomeka Reid Quartet*

    Omega (Blue Note), Immanuel Wilkins

    General Semantics (Delmark), Geof Bradfield-Ben Goldberg-Dana Hall Trio

    Night Visitors (SE Records), by Dave Bryant with Charnette Moffett and Gregg Bendian

    Every Day of Your Life (Delmark), Jimmy Johnson

    Rainbow Sign (Blue Note), Ron Miles

    Like the Sun (Dim Mak), Brian Charrett

    Cosmicomics (Queen Bee Records), Lisa Mezzacappa

    * released in 2019

    Also -- Human Rights Trio, Jason Kao Hwang

              Swallow Tales (ECM), John Scofield

  • 25 Nov 2020 10:38 AM | Sammy Stein

    Top releases 2020 - in no order

     Sothiac feat Paul Jolly ' Superluna' ( Sotrhiac/33Jazz)

     Ivo Perelman/Gordon Grdina ' The Purity of desire' ( Not Two records)

     The End Allt Ir Intet ( Rare Noise records)

     Will Glaser and James Allsop ' New River Ramble' ( self release)

     Archie The Goldfish 'Hidden Depths' ( Ropeadope)

     Elliot Galvin and Binker Golding 'Ex Nihillo (Byrd Out)

     Ensemble C Small World ( Self Release)

     Dinosaur ' to THe Earth' ( Edition)

     Erodoto Project ' Mythos- Metomorphosis ( Cultural Bridge)

     Tony Kofi - Another Kind Of Soul ( Last Music Company)

     Witch N Monk ' Witch 'N Monk' ( Tzadik )

     David Grubbs/Mats Gustafsson ' The Underflow' (Corbet vs Dempsey)

    All of these are worth checking out. So difficult to choose just a few.

    Best Interviews I carried out in 2020

    Ivo Perelman       Ivo Perelman is Prolific in His Creativity: An Interview with Ivo Perelman ~ The Free Jazz Collective (freejazzblog.org)

    Mats Gustafsson  An Interview with Mats Gustafsson ~ The Free Jazz Collective (freejazzblog.org)

    Daniel Bennett LOOKING FOR THE BLESSINGS! - Daniel Bennett offers hope during Coronavirus (jazzviews.net) 

    These interviews were very revealing






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