Friday, December 25, 2020

Have a holly, jolly, jazzy Christmas - and a merrier New Year

Best wishes to you, your families and friends from the Jazz Notes staff as we hunker down for this Christmas 2020. We're looking forward to the New Year as we prepare to had into a brighter 2021. 

A toast to you all as we share some vintage musical cheer from among our holiday favorites. Raise your glass, whatever your favorite libation!

While Louis Armstrong's "Zat You, Santa Claus?" and Ella Fitzgerald's saucy take on "Santa Claus Got Stuck in my Chimney" are at the top of our vintage holiday music list, the season is never complete without the delightful animated video of The Drifters’ doo-wopping their way through “White Christmas” with feeling. It features Bill Pinckney on lead bass and Clyde McPhatter on tenor.

This animated cartoon by Joshua Held is excellent - and quite special.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A glimmer of hope

Damn, 2020 has been virtually a wipeout year for the performing arts, thanks to the impact of the pandemic. In jazz, musicians, promoters and venues have been limping along at best.

This posting from New Orleans-based Offbeat, Louisiana's music magazine, reveals that there is some belated good news contained in the $900 billion relief bill that the House and Senate passed over the weekend. Read here about the Save Our Stages component.

Fingers are crossed here that the $10 billion allocation helps immensely.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My take on the best jazz recordings of 2020

‘Tis the season for the outpouring of Top 10 lists, and their many variations, for jazz, world events, etc. The jazz lists tend to have a lot of variation depending on the individual reviewer's personal tastes, as well as what they listened to during the year.* Bottom line, all listings are very subjective - and quite disparate.

My choices below (aside from top 10 new songs of the year) were submitted to the Jazz Journalists’ Association and NPR Music 2020 compilations. (The latter is the 15th annual Francis Davis-produced poll previously published by The Village Voice and The Davis poll is the largest, most-trusted year-end survey of its kind.)

As I begin preparing my review of the year's significant events and trends in jazz for All About Jazz, I thought I'd share my "best of 2020" lists. *Always keep in mind the above caveats.

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 Col√≥n, “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, Sharknato 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)