Monday, January 4, 2021

Tim Mah's Recommended International Jazz Albums of 2020

And...we're back. 

Thanks for checking in and now that 2020 is behind us, hopefully we can look forward to better things in the year ahead. Stay safe and be patient everyone.

Today's blog post features the third instalment of Tim Mah's three-part series of recommended jazz releases from 2020. Part one featured recordings released by drummers and Part two featured releases by Canadian jazz artists. Today's guest column features recommended new jazz music released in 2020 from a global perspective.

Tim's weekly radio program Jazz Today can be heard on CJSW Radio 90.9 fm (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) on Thursday mornings from 530-7am MST. It is also streamed on the CJSW website and is available through Apple Podcasts.

I'd like to thank Tim for taking the time to put together these extensive year-end retrospectives. The focus of his radio program (and of these lists) is to feature some of the great new music that is being released these days and to highlight many of the artists that are creating new and original music (I think his radio program is appropriately named in that very regards!) Anyone who thinks that there is nothing new happening these days need only listen to an episode of Tim's radio program or check out any of the artists listed below.

I would encourage you all to take a listen to the artists that Tim has selected as he has carefully curated these compilations and listened to a lot of new music this year. I'm sure you'll discover something new (I certainly have!) Personally, I am encouraged by the amount of great new music being released these days and I think this offers a great sense of hope and optimism moving forward despite the uncertainty of the months ahead.

Onwards & Upwards.

Tim Mah's 2020 International (non-Canadian) Jazz Album Recommendations

There was an abundance music released this year. Below is a list of some of my favourite albums from international (non-Canadian) artists, released from December 2019 to November 2020, excluding drummers.

Drummers were featured in previous posts (May 15 and December 21, 2020). Since the Four on the Floor blog is about drumming, I wanted to put a spotlight on drummer-led albums released during the year. Hopefully, featuring drummers on a separate list will bring more focus on these albums and the drummers.    

The 2021 Grammy nominations included drummers Terri Lyne Carrington, John Hollenbeck and Poncho Sanchez. However, there are many more drummer-led albums worth your attention. Please refer back to the previous posts and listen to 2020 albums from Asher Gamedze, Chad Taylor, Quin Kirchner, Makaya McCraven, Rudy Royston, Eric Binder, Jim Black, Nate Smith and Dan Weiss, to name a few. And go back to lists from previous years. For example, the drummers on the 2019 list included from Kendrick Scott, Johnathan Blake, Terri Lyne Carrington, Allison Miller, Ali Jackson (with the Yes! Trio) and Jerome Jennings.

For Canadian artists, please refer to the previous guest post on December 28, 2020. There are a lot of great albums released this year that will not be mentioned in this post.

The intent of this list is not to be comprehensive, but rather to provide readers with a starting point to explore the music that is currently available.    

Maria Schneider Orchestra “Data Lords”

Here’s the album trailer:


Luciana Souza with the WDR Big Band Cologne and Vince Mendoza “Storytellers”

Below is a video of a live performance of Luciana Souza and the WDR Big Band performing “Mar de Copacabana” (written by Gilberto Gil):


Ben Williams “I am a Man”

Here is the audio for “If You Hear Me”:


Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl “Artlessly Falling”

This is the audio for “Lemon Trees”

Ambrose Akinmusire “on the tender spot of every calloused moment”

Below is the audio for “Mr. Roscoe”:

Irreversible Entanglements “Who Sent You?"

Here is the official music video for “No Mas”:

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah “Axiom”

This album was recorded live at the Blue Note jazz club in New York, before the pandemic restrictions were announced. Below is the audio for “Diaspora (Live)”:

Heroes Are Gang Leaders “Artificial Happiness Button”

Below is the audio of “Artificial Happiness Button":

Sara Serpa “Recognition”

Here is the audio for “Queen Nzinga”:

Thana Alexa “Ona”

This is a video of Thana Alexa and her band performing “Pachamama” at the Jazz Standard:

John Ellis “The Ice Siren”

Below is is the video of the performance of “The Ice Siren” at the Jazz Gallery:

Rob Mazurek & Exploding Star Orchestra “Dimensional Stardust”

Here is the official music video for “A Wrinkle in Time Sets Concentric Circles Reeling”:

Shabaka & the Ancestors “We Are Sent Here By History"

The official music video for “The Coming of the Strange Ones”:

Aubrey Johnson “Unraveled”

Below is the official music video for “Unraveled.”:

Nubya Garcia “Source”

Here is the audio for “Source":

Angel Bat Dawid and Tha Brothahood “Live"

This is the audio for “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Live)”:

Immanuel Wilkins “Omega”:

Below is the audio for “Omega”:

Gerald Clayton “Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard”

Here is the audio for “A Light":

Aaron Parks “Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man”

This is the audio for “The Shadow and the Self”:

Eric Revis “Slipknots Through a Looking Glass”

Below is the audio file for “Baby Renfro”:

Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio “Angels Around”

Here is the official video for “Ugly Beauty” (written by Thelonious Monk), featuring Dario Deidda (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums):

Artemis “Artemis”

The members of Artemis are Renee Rosnes, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Anat Cohen, Melissa Aldana, Ingrid Jensen, Noriko Ueda and Allison Miller.

Below is the audio for “Goddess of the Hunt” (written by Allison Miller):

Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride & Brian Blade “RoundAgain”

This is the video of the band performing “Right Back Round Again”:

Ron Miles “Rainbow Sign"

Here is the video for “Queen of the South”:     

Kathleen Grace with Larry Goldings “Tie Me to You”

Below is a video for “Where or When” (written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart):     



If you would like more recommendations, below is a list of more artists with new releases in 2020 (in alphabetical order):

Aaron Diehl “The Vagabond”

Alan Braufman “The Fire Still Burns”

Andrew D’Angelo & DNA Orchestra “DNA Orchestra”

Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1 “Racing a Butterfly”

Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell “How to Turn the Moon”

Aruan Ortiz, Andrew Cyrille & Mauricio Herrera “Inside Rhythmic Falls”

Avishai Cohen “Big Vicious”

Bill Frisell “Valentine”

Billy Childs “Acceptance”

Black Art Jazz Collective “Ascension”

Brandon Seabrook “Exultations (with Cooper-Moore & Gerald Cleaver)”

Butcher Brown “#KingButch”

Carla Bley (with Steve Swallow & Andy Sheppard) “Life Goes On”

Carlos Nino & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson “Chicago Waves”

Carolina Calvache “Vida Profunda”

Cathlene Pineda “Rainbow Baby”

Chad McCullough “Forward”

Charles Lloyd “8: Kindred Spirit (Live at the Lobero)”

Chicago Underground Quartet “Good Days”

Chris Dingman “Embrace”

Chris Speed / Dave King / Reid Anderson / Tim Berne “Broken Shadows Live”

Christian McBride “The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons”

Christian McBride Big Band “For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver”

Christian Sands “Be Water”

Clark Sommers’ Ba(SH) feat. Dana Hall & Geof Bradfield “Peninsula”

Cory Smythe “Accelerate Every Voice”

Connie Han “Iron Starlet”

Dan Rosenboom “Absurd in the Anthropocene” and “Points on an Infinite Line”

Derrick Hodge “Color of Noize”

Dinner Party (Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9thWonder & Kamasi Washington) “Dinner Party”

Dinosaur “To the Earth”

Dustin Laurenzi’s Natural Language “A Time and a Place”

Elsa Nilsson “Hindsight”

Emi Makabe “Anniversary”

Fred Hersch “Songs from Home” and “Live at the Village Vanguard (with Esperanza Spalding)”

Gary Bartz & Maisha “Night Dreamer”

Geof Bradfield, Ben Goldberg & Dana Hall Trio “General Semantics”

Gregory Porter “All Rise”

GoGo Penguin “GoGo Penguin”

Ingrid Laubrock “Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt”

James Brandon Lewis “Molecular” and “Live in Willisau (with Chad Taylor)”

Jasper Hoiby “Planet B”

Jason Kao Hwang “Human Rites Trio”

Jason Palmer “The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – released seven albums in 2020; all sound great. Check out “The Music of Wayne Shorter” and the Duke Ellington tribute “Black, Brown & Beige” 

JD Allen “Toys / Die Dreaming”

Jeff Parker “Suite for Max Brown”

Jen Allen “Sifting Grace”

Jeremy Pelt “The Art of Intimacy, Vol. 1”

Joel Ross “Who Sent You?”

John Scofield “Swallow Tales" (feat. Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart)

Jorge Roeder “El Suelo Mio”

Jose James “No Beginning No End 2”

Josh Johnson “Freedom Exercise”

Junk Magic “Compass Confusion”

Jure Pukl “Broken Circles”

Jyoti “Mama, You Can Bet!”

Kat Edmonson “Dreamers Do”

Kathrine Windfeld “Orca”

Kenny Barron & Dave Holland Trio (feat. Johnathan Blake) “Without Deception”

Kurt Elling (with Danilo Perez) “Secrets Are the Best Stories”

Lakecia Benjamin “Pursuance: The Coltranes””

Liberty Ellman “Last Desert” 

Lionel Loueke “HH”

Logan Richardson “Afrofuturism”

Luke Stewart Exposure Quintet “Luke Stewart Exposure Quintet”

Mara Rosenbloom “Flyways: Murmuration (feat. Anais Maviel & Rashaan Carter) and “Respiration (feat. Sean Conly & Chad Taylor)”

Mark de Clive-Lowe “Dreamweavers” (feat. Andrea Lombardini & Tomasso Cappellato)

Marquis Hill “Soul Sign” and “Love Tape with Voices”

Matt Gold “Imagined Sky”

Matt Ulery “Pollinator”

Matthew Halsall “Salute to the Sun”

Matthew Shipp “The Piano Equation” and “The Unidentifiable”

Micah Thomas “Tide”

Nate Wooley “Seven Storey Mountain VI”

Nduduzo Makhathini “Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds”

Nir Felder “II”

Okkyung Lee “Yeo-Neun”

Omer Avital “Qantar: New York Paradox”

Orrin Evans & the Captain Black Big Band “The Intangible Between”

Pat Metheny “From This Place”

Peter Bernstein “What Comes Next”

Reverso (Ryan Keberle & Frank Woeste) “The Melodic Line”

Sam Gendel “Satin Doll”

Sasha Berliner “Azalea”

Somi “Holy Room: Live at the Alte Oper”

Sun Ra Arkestra “Swirling”

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio “Free Hoops”

Takuya Kuroda “Fly Moon Die Soon”

The Nels Cline Singers “Share the Wealth”

Thumbscrew “The Anthony Braxton Project”

Thundercat “It Is What it is”

Tigran Hamasyan “The Call Within”

Tineke Postma “Freya”

Tomeka Reid & Alexander Hawkins “Shards and Constellations”

Trio Grande (Will Vinson, Gilad Hekselman & Antonio Sanchez) “Trio Grande”

Warren Wolf “Reincarnation”

Wayne Escoffery “The Humble Warrior”

Will Vinson “Four Forty One”

Wolfgang Muthspiel “Angular Blues”

Zara McFarlane “Songs of an Unknown Tongue”

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