The Wicked Sound favorite / best Jazz albums of 2021:
01. Marcos Resende & Index Marcos Resende & Index [FarOut]
This album was recorded 45 years ago but sound so fresh like a recent release from a young band. Previously unreleased Marcos Resende & Index self-titled debut album from 1976, contributing a crucial missing work from the glory days of progressive Brazilian instrumental music. Resende in 76 after touring Europe with his previous band returned home to Brazil as an established highly regarded keyboardist, composer, and innovative electronic musician. Inspired and invigorated by US jazz and British progressive rock he’d experienced while residing in Europe, Resende went all out acquiring a keyboard arsenal to be reckoned with, which included the Prophet 5, Yamaha CP-708 and Mini Moog. Determined to integrate his newfound inspirations with Brazilian rhythms and jazz traditions, he formed a new quartet with Rubão Sabino (bass), Claudio Caribé (drums) and the late great Oberdan Magalhães, of Banda Black Rio and Cry Babies fame. Marcos Resende & Index recorded their self-titled debut at Sonoviso Studios with the legendary sound engineer Toninho Barbosa, known as the ‘Brazilian Rudy Van Gelder’ whose impressive resumé includes the era defining classics Light As A Feather by Azymuth, Previsão Do Tempo by Marcos Valle, and Quem É Quem by João Donato. Marcos Resende & Index fits perfectly amongst these masterpieces, sharing both the timeless ethereal qualities as well as the progressive and futuristic ideals of Light As A Feather in particular.
A generous sideman and bandleader, multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane stands at the vanguard of his prodigious generation of jazz musicians. Operating from the centre and the fringes of the South African jazz scene, the trombonist (and pianist) is an enigmatic yet charismatic galvaniser of his contemporaries, able to put them through their paces in his own compositions, while giving them enough room to interpret them anew. In UMDALI, his debut album as frontman, Jiyane delivers not only a major contribution to the canon -- one shaped around dedications to key figures in his personal and professional life -- but an honest snapshot of his personal circumstances at the time of recording.
Positioned at the edge of this precipice, Jiyane turned to a core of talented musicians mostly based around Soweto's jamming scene, as well as to key figures in his own creative trajectory. The coterie of bassist Ayanda Zalekile, drummer Lungile Kunene, percussionist Gontse Makhene (SPAZA, Shabaka & The Ancestors), pianist Nkosinathi Mathunjwa, saxophonist Nhlanhla Mahlangu and trumpeters Brandon Ruiters and Tebogo Seitei shrouded him in his time of need, providing intuitive musicianship through which to execute his ideas, and, more importantly, life-affirming comradeship.
03. Mathias Modica Sonic Rohstoff [Kryptox]
Mathias Modica’s Sonic Rohstoff is the new album on Kryptox Music. Sonic Rohstoff is a journey through abstract downtempo vibes, lofi jazz and futuristic electronica. Most people might know Modica from his earlier works as a producer, keyboard player and founder/ creative mind behind Toy Tonics, Gomma and Kryptox. Over the past two decades he has made a name for himself by discovering and breaking new talent and styles of music. This is Modica’s first album under his own name, following three albums under his monikers Kapote and Munk. All instruments are performed by Modica himself, embellished by guest musicians from the new Berlin Jazz scene.
Bassist and composer Shay Hazan is a mainstay on the vibrant Tel Aviv jazz scene. His new album Nuff Headlines finds him in the leadership role, a rare (although not unheard of) position for a bass player. The quintet is filled out by the two-horn duo of Tal Avraham on trumpet and Eyal Netzer on saxophone, along with Milton Michaeli on piano and Haim Peskoff on drums. Hazan’s musical roots spread far and wide into the magical realm of Moroccan Gnawa music (Hazan often plays gimbri, the traditional three-stringed skin-covered bass lute), the new wave of hip hop, and the 1960's Chicago free jazz and human rights movement. These roots all feed the single organism of the band, with Hazan leading from the bottom, anchoring and propelling the music with a force only a bassist can provide.
Zurich-based musician Arthur Hnatek is one of a new breed of players who see their music as a continuum stretching between genres, always thinking in terms of links rather than boundaries, possibilities rather than limits. His time spent playing drums with similarly adventurous and unclassifiable artists Tigran Hamasyan and Shai Maestro opened his ears to the possibilities of rhythmic variation: his immersion in electronic music production and the motorik tradition of Jaki Liebzeit alerted him the possibilities of repetition. Now, with Static, he presents his first trio record: joined by his equally fearless bandmates Fabien Iannone on bass and Francesco Geminiani on tenor sax, this is music created by classic jazz line-up and steeped in an improvisational facility, yet simultaneously utterly unlike anything in the standard jazz tradition.
06. Marcelo Monteiro Deyeh [self released]
Marcelo Monteiro, a saxophonist from Sao Paulo, Brazil, has played with various Brazilian and international artists and at the same time was developing his own authorial work. Has excelled in the jazz scene in São Paulo, currently, he has performed with his group, which may be in trio, quartet or quintet version. With his group plays compositions of his own. His music follows the style of groove, funk and modern jazz, simple but very creative themes, with a hint of Brazilian swing. On his new album, Deyeh, he experimented with arrangements with flutes and saxophones, exploring the sound combining contemporary jazz, Brazilian rhythms, in a modern concept. The album was recorded remotely with each musician recording from their own home studio.
07. Amaro Freitas Sankofa [FarOut]
From the slums of Recife in Brazil’s North-East to international jazz icon, Amaro Freitas has worked tirelessly to become the artist he is today. Gaining international attention for his debut and sophomore albums Sangue Negro (2016) and Rasif (2018) arrived on a wave of instant acclaim. His new album Sankofa - a spiritual quest into the forgotten stories, ancient philosophies and inspirational figures of Black Brazil - is his most stunning and sincere work to date. But for Amaro Freitas, work isn’t just playing the piano, his art delves far deeper than music theory and practice. Explaining the impetus behind Sankofa, Amaro elucidates the imperative behind his music: I worked to try to understand my ancestors, my place, my history, as a black man. Brazil didn’t tell us the truth about Brazil. The history of black people before slavery is rich with ancient philosophies. By understanding the history and the strength of our people, one can start to understand where our desires, dreams and wishes come from.
The album introduces Lassy's new combo with bassist Ville Herrala and drummer Jaska Lukkarinen – both We Jazz Records roster artists on their own right. The new Lassy sound is tight, swinging, and funky, led by the strong and riff-ready sax of the tenor player. The new Lassy sound is tight, swinging and funky, led by the strong and riff-ready sax of the tenorman. That being said, the album's sound is not limited to that of the swinging trio. Lassy's new vision also brings in some subtle electronics (played by Lassy, Dalindèo frontman Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen and Ilmiliekki Quartet pianist Tuomo Prättälä) and lush strings performed by Budapest Art Orchestra as arranged by Finnish artist Marzi Nyman. It's a new sound for Lassy, but one which keeps true to his no-nonsense cookin' on the tenor.
09. Myele Manzanza Crisis and Opportunity, Vo.1 - London [Deep Matter]
World-renowned drummer/composer, & producer/beatmaker, Myele Manzanza, has proved that he's an artist who continues to dissolve the borders between modern jazz and electronic beat production. Having released three solo albums, and racking up tours and collaborations with Jordan Rakei, Theo Parrish, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Recloose and Amp Fiddler amongst others. Myele is already developing a strong live presence in his new London base; his quartet has shared stages with the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bad Plus, Alfa Mist, and drawing packed houses to top venues such as The Jazz Café and Ronnie Scott’s. Crisis & Opportunity Vol.1 - London features a top tier cast of young London based talent including Ashley Henry (piano), James Copus (trumpet), George Crowley (tenor saxophone), Benjamin Muralt (bass) and additional contributions from the legendary Mark de Clive-Lowe (synths), with Myele Manzanza (drums) captaining the ship.
It was inevitable that Dan Berkson (formerly of electronic dance duo Berkson & What) would make a jazz album like Dialogues: joyful, danceable, entertaining, driven by the pleasure principle, and filled with virtuosity. It represents Berkson's experiences in London, where jazz is a living, breathing, dancing scene. It's his love letter to the city, bristling with British talent such as bassist Andrea di Biase and drummer Jon Scott and recorded in his final days in the city before relocating to California. All his groove-based influences, from blues and ragtime through funk to house can be heard, as can his love of the studio as an instrument and mixdowns that suit a club soundsystem. Detroit dons Theo Parrish and Moodymann are every bit as important to this record as Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre, and Herbie Hancock.
11. Kaidi Tatham An Insight To All Minds [First Word]
Kaidi Tatham is a legendary multi-instrumentalist. Once dubbed "the UK's Herbie Hancock" by Benji B, he's a virtuoso on the keys and a true innovator in sound production as one of the original creators of the Broken Beat sound. Over the years his musical prowess has blessed numerous projects, initially with the likes of Bugz In The Attic and The Herbaliser, and more recently with DJ Jazzy Jeff (through the PLAYlist projects), Andrew Ashong (on the acclaimed Sankofa Season EP last year) and with a longtime accomplice, Dego. This is in addition to session work for artists such as Mulatu Astatke, Slum Village or Amy Winehouse. An Insight To All Minds is Kaidi's 3rd solo album under his own name, following several EPs and two albums for First Word; 2018's acclaimed It's A World Before You and the re-press of his seminal 2008 sophomore album In Search Of Hope last year.
12. JAUBI Nafs at Peace [Astygmatic]
JAUBI continue the Nafs journey, which commenced with the single Satanic Nafs (featuring the remix by legendary LA producers The Gaslamp Killer & Mophono) released in March 2021. Now JAUBI draw on the elements of North Indian classical music, Hip-Hop and modal/spiritual jazz in their debut LP entitled Nafs At Peace. The journey officially began back in April 2019 when London’s multi-instrumentalist and 22a Record label boss Ed “Tenderlonious” Cawthorne and Polish pianist/composer Marek “Latarnik” Pędziwiatr of EABS/Błoto, visited the group to record in Lahore. Together they channeled their personal struggles at that time into the two recording sessions allowing the musicians to find a spiritual path through this musical purge.
13. Balimaya Project Wolo So [Jazz Refreshed]
Driving collective polyrhythms, blazing frontline horns & virtuosic kora stylings collide across this dynamic meeting of traditional Mandé music/culture and contemporary jazz. Led by composer/arranger and leading UK-based Djembe player, Yahael Camara Onono and featuring members of bands includingKokoroko and Seed Ensemble, Balimaya Project intently synthesize and bridge London’s bustling jazz circuit with traditional repertoire and folklore of the Mandé peoples of West Africa, and in turn, connect the music’s contemporary and ancestral forbearers.
14. Panam Panic Love of Humanity [Melius Prod]
Panam Panic is the project of pianist-composer Robin Notte. Panam Panic is one of the best Jazz-Groove french band, influenced by musician like Yussef Dayes, Robert Glasper, Roy Hargrove or Christian Scott, the band mixes up Jazz with groove, Hip hop and electronic textures. Robin Notte's bet: to create a Jazz sharp enough to delight connoisseurs and accessible enough to initiate neophytes. This is how Panam Panic defends resolutely current jazz, open without borders or blinders, mixing powerful organic grooves, neat melodies, delicate harmonies, and frenzied solos. An original repertoire of carefully simmered compositions. Mission fully achieved on this beautiful record.
15. Nate Smith Kinfolk 2 See the Birds [Edition Records]
Kinfolk 2: See the Birds is the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2017 Grammy-nominated album Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere. Featuring the diverse and all-star talents of Brittany Howard, Amma Whatt, Joel Ross, Kokayi, Michael Mayo, Regina Carter, Stokley and Vernon Reid, Kinfolk 2: See the Birds is the inspired and emphatic album that exemplifies Nate’s artistry as one of the most exciting, dynamic and innovative drummer-composers of his generation, adept across multi-genres and styles. Taking inspiration from his teenage years spent absorbing the diverse and eclectic riches of Prince, Michael Jackson and Living Colour. Kinfolk 2: See the Birds is a multi-faceted jewel and is set to be one of the most significant albums of 2021.
16. Matthias Lindermayr Triptych [Squama Records]
Known for his soothing trumpet work in German jazz group Fazer, Matthias Lindermayr released his third album Triptych on Squama Records with his all-new trio. With Philipp Schiepek on acoustic guitar and Simon Popp on percussion, the Munich-based musician created a forward-thinking record between jazz and contemporary classical, conceptually bold and utterly beautiful. Triptych is a thrillingly quiet record. His compositions, most written especially for this group, are of a noble simplicity allowing the musicians to focus more on interaction and sound and gave Matthias more room to share the nuances of his playing.
17. Web Web x Max Herre Web Max [Compost Records]
The fourth album by Web Web Web Max is a great spiritual jazz work - sometimes floating, sometimes soulful, always intense, and a wonderful homage to early 70s Jazz. Web Web mastermind Roberto Di Gioia is accompanied for the first time by Max Herre as a composer, musician, and producer. Both came together with guest musicians such as Mulatu Astatke, Brandee Younger, Charles Tolliver (Strata East), and others to deliver a virtuoso masterpiece. The album is an amazing result from the spur of that moment. It is a wonderful homage to the cosmic open-mindedness of early 70s jazz, to the transcendent sublimity of spiritual sound.
18. Menagerie Many Worlds [Freestyle]
Australian 9-piece Spiritual Jazz group Menagerie announce their highly anticipated third album ‘Many Worlds’, released 15th January 2021 on esteemed U.K label Freestyle Records. Menagerie is the Melbourne-based Jazz ensemble founded by producer, songwriter, guitarist, DJ and recording artist Lance Ferguson, also the driving force behind The Bamboos, Lanu, Rare Groove Spectrum and Machines Always Win. Recorded at Union Street Studio by award-winning engineer John Castle, ‘Many Worlds’ features some of Australia’s finest musicians, including pianist Mark Fitzgibbon (a regular performer at Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge’s original Dingwalls sessions), drummer Daniel Farrugia and renowned saxophonist Phil Noy (The Bamboos). Inspired by both the post-Coltrane generation of the 70’s, labels like Strata-East, Impulse! and Tribe, along with the current ‘New Wave Of Jazz’, Menagerie aligns with the world of Kamasi Washington, Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia, whilst also bringing their own unique twist.
19. James Brandon Lewis Jesup Wagon [TAO Forms]
Astonishing new work from the fertile creative mind of tenor saxophonist–composer James Brandon Lewis. Performed by the Red Lily Quintet (James Brandon Lewis, Kirk Knuffke, William Parker, Chris Hoffman, Chad Taylor), an exceptional & singular inter-generational ensemble, this album speaks to the forever-evolving continuum of the jazz tradition. Voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist in the 2020 DownBeat Magazine International Critic’s Poll, James Brandon Lewis supercharges his remarkable evolution with Jesup Wagon, a brilliant and evocative appreciation of the life and legacy of turn-of-the-19th century African-American musician-painter-writer-scientist George Washington Carver.
20. Scrimshire Nothing Feels Like Everything [Albert's Favourites]
The sixth studio album from Scrimshire is an atmospheric and emotional experience. Moments of swirling orchestral energy perfectly countered by quiet, meditative calm. The record still carries on a tradition of collaboration on Scrimshire albums with contributions from Jessica Lauren, Idris Rahman (Soothsayers, Wildflower, Ill Considered), Nat Birchall, Huw Marc Bennett, Miryam Solomon, Emanative and recent Albert's Favourites signing Pie Eye Collective. Throughout lockdown I've been writing so much, and when I released Believers Vol. 1 back in November, I'd wanted to bring people something that captured the warmth and hopefulness I think we needed in spite of deep political and cultural turmoil, says Scrimshire.
21. Josef Akin Flightcase [Sola Terra]
Astonishing Recorded in a rare moment of freedom between lockdowns, Flightcase represents the joy of collaboration and the importance of human connection. This is an album of many voices. Influences ranging from Herbie Hancock to Sun Ra, but also from other projects Josef Akin is involved in, Amara & GABO, shine through in an album that acknowledges the various music that inspires and influences Akin, whilst trying to create something new and unique. Akin Subscribes to the philosophy of allowing each musician to create however they feel to, trying to do little more than create the framework and allow the other musicians to express themselves within this. This felt particularly important in a time marred by restrictions.
22. John Carroll Kirby Septet [Stones Throw]
John Carroll Kirby's Septet album was recorded live in the studio with a range of talents playing keys, vibes, bass, percussion and drums. The composer and keyboardist leads the charge and approached the album wanting to play with the chaos of jazz fashion in the 70's/80's, bands like Weather Report and Miles Davis. He sure does that but there is beauty in the madness, with plenty of lush and golden keys dancing above lithe and ad hoc rhythms.
23. Sons of Kemet Black To The Future [Impulse]
Sons of Kemet returns in 2021 with their new album Black To The Future, the follow-up to 2018’s Mercury Prize nominated breakout release Your Queen Is A Reptile. This release finds the UK-based quartet at their most dynamic – showcasing harmonically elegant arrangements and compositions, coupled with fierce, driving material that will be familiar to initiated fans. Frenetic, spiritual, cosmic jazz energy from Shabaka Hutchings, Theon Cross and crew featuring guest spots from the likes of Kojey Radical, Moor Mother, Angel Bat Dawid, Joshua Idehen, D Double E.
24. Gary Bartz, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad Gary Bartz JID006 [Jazz Is Dead]
The shadow that Gary Bartz casts over the last six decades of progressive Black music, and his continued dedication to the same, makes him a logical and very welcome contributor to the Jazz Is Dead label.A look at his body of work reveals dalliances with bebop, hard bop, free jazz, spiritual jazz, soul jazz, jazz-funk, fusion and acid jazz, all while resolutely remaining unmistakably Gary Bartz. His groundbreaking and highly influential Ntu Troop albums of the early ‘70s and his jazz-funk work including two classic albums with the Mizell Brothers, one of which supplied A Tribe Called Quest with a sample that was smooth like butter. An alto saxophonist steeped in the history and tradition of his instrument who is also restlessly experimental and not prone to the purism of any kind, he enjoys both the respect and admiration of his peers and the hero-worship of several generations after him – including Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, which inevitably led to Gary Bartz JID 006.
25. Irreversible Entanglements Open The Gates [International Anthem]
Irreversible Entanglement’ third full-length album Open The Gates is ethereal shards of jagged onyx, melancholic exploration of the post-colonial debris that surrounds us. Irreversible Entanglements are Luke Stewart on bass, Aquiles Navarro on trumpet, Keir Neuringer on sax, Tcheser Holmes, on drums, and Camae Ayewa aka the Moor Motheron words of wisdom. Pulling from a wider sonic vocabulary than on previous excursions, the agit-jazz found here is simultaneously pre- and post-apocalypse, as bass lurches in a tranced-out loop, horns are up in the track grooves like poltergeists playing in the streets, poetry cascades like a warrior call at a satsang, the drums both wild and refined pulse with uhuru-heart cadence.
26. Ill Considered Liminal Space [New Soil]
Free-wheeling live improvisers Ill Considered open a new chapter with their first fully produced studio album on New Soil, Liminal Space. UK-based outfit exploded onto the scene with 9 self-released albums between 2017 and 2019. Capturing a moment of transformation for the group, Liminal Space not only features a new core line-up of Idris Rahman (saxophone), Liran Donin (bass) and Emre Ramazanoglu (drums), but also sees Ill Considered bounce their live-wire style off a range of collaborators such as Collocutor’s Tamar Osborn, Steam Down saxophonist Ahnanse, tuba player Theon Cross and percussionist Sarathy Korwar.
27. Matt Carmichael Where Will The River Flow [Pothole Music]
Matt Carmichael released his debut album on his own label, Porthole Music. He has already developed quite a profile and an impressive list of collaborations; he also reached the finals of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020. His quartet, formed five years ago, consists of his contemporaries, award-winning Fergus McCreadie on piano, Ali Watson on bass and Tom Potter on drums. Like McCreadie, Carmichael creates music that feels highly personal, fusing an energetic yet sensitive modern jazz into a bedrock of Scottish traditional music.
28. Daniel Casimir Boxed In [Jazz Refreshed]
London-based composer/bassist, Daniel Casimir returns with his solo debut album Boxed In, a dynamic collision of pulsing modern jazz & orchestral instrumentation. Featuring Casimir’s quintet of fellow British jazz luminaries, including Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd, Al Macsween & James Copus, Boxed In astutely bridges traditional and contemporary jazz forms with enveloping strings, woodwind & brass arrangements, but under its intricate musical surface seeks to confront some necessary hard truths.
29. Nala Sinephro Space 1.8 [Warp Records]
London based Caribbean-Belgian composer, producer, and musician Nala Sinephro steps out on her own with a deeply personal debut album Space 1.8 and her first release with Warp Records. Nala Sinephro fuses meditative sounds, jazz sensibilities, folk and fieldrecordings. Her musical practice is rooted in the study of frequency and geometry and guided by the premise that sound moves matter. What’s more with a glowing musical troupe including Nubya Garcia (Jazz re:freshed), James Mollison (Ezra Collective), Shirley Tetteh (Jazz Jamaica, Groundation, Nérija), Dwayne Kilvington (Wonky Logic, Steam Down) and Eddie Hick (Sons Of Kemet) unfurling its luscious biome of ideas, Space 1.8 is set to be one of contemporary UK jazz’s key releases.
30. Amanda Whiting After Dark [Jazzman]
Taking cues from Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane at their most delicate, renowned Welsh harpist Amanda Whiting’s mesmerizing Jazzman full-length LP After Dark arrives as soft as moonlight to gladden the soul and delight the ear—without forgetting to bring the swing. Summoning the nocturnal mood suggested by the album’s title, Whiting’s harp flows and cascades, dances and alights, broods and haunts, informed by a deep understanding of both classical and jazz music, ultimately revealing a top-drawer composer with rare melodic gifts at the top of her game.
31. Kansas Smitty's Plunderphonia [7K!]
On this essential new collection of forward-looking jazz reinterpretations, Kansas Smitty's bandleader Giacomo Smith delves deep into the catalogues of celebrated yet often overlooked artists that inspire his work with Kansas Smitty's; Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbeck, even Maurice Ravel. Created for the Plunderphonia series for 7K!, itself a reinterpretation of the acclaimed !K7 DJ-Kicks series, the album owes as much to Giacomo's decade of living and playing in London as it does to the forefathers of jazz that he is paying homage to here.
32. Bremer McCoy Natten (The Night) [Luaka Bop]
Danish duo Bremer/McCoy, made of pianist Morten McCoy and bassist Jonathan Bremer released a new album Natten via Luaka Bop. Based in Copenhagen, their sound is both melodic and meditative and in respect of the deeper vibrations, they travel with their custom-built sound system. That might seem like a lot of effort for a quiet Danish duo, but for Bremer/McCoy, making music is all about what happens in the room. That’s why they go through the trouble of carrying their own equipment, and it’s why they record analog. When they write music, they aim for direct transmission—idea straight to composition.
33. Brandee Younger Somewhere Different [Impulse]
Somewhere Different is Brandee Younger’s major-label debut album, out on Impulse! Brandee composed and recorded the album in New York City and at the legendary Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey. Somewhere Differentevokes nostalgic Black soul, informed by pioneering harpists Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby as well as ‘90s R&B groups like SWV and Xscape. Side A is introspective and downtempo, soundtracking months of isolation during the pandemic, while side B includes raucous rock arrangements and more vigorous tracks. Features appearances by legendary bassist Ron Carter.
34. BADBADNOTGOOD Talk Memory [XL Recordings]
Canadian ensemble BadBadNotGood made their name by crossing genres. This seamless movement between style hit hard when they took hip hop into jazz and vice versa. The group drew their inspiration from hip hop and other contemporary genres, instead of working with traditional jazz standards, to create a unique sound rooted in Black American music. Talk Memory pays homage to the musicians, composers and influences that first informed their work. Their latest album – and first with XL recordings – demonstrates them going back to their instrumental beginnings. Instead of looking at the now, they reflected the history and innovation of those that influenced them.
15. JD73's Electrio Pyramid [Atjazz]
JD73's Electrio - Pyramid is a colourful & energetic live recording session presenting 8 incredible pieces of music. Dan 'JD73' Goldman is known the world over for his contributions to the world of Jazz & modern electronic soul music and is backed up on Pyramid by Hamlet Luton (Bass) and Gordon Kilroy (Drums) completing the ElecTrio. Dan's ability to construct these incredible melodic gems centered on the sound of the Rhodes Piano is something to behold. This is a real collectors album and if you're a fan of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bob James & George Duke you need this on your record shelf for sure.
36. Jackson Mathod Travels in a Confined Space [self released]
Jackson Mathod is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Drawing on influences from the likes of Miles Davis, Submotion Orchestra and Christian Scott to name a few. Jackson studied Jazz atGuildhall School of Music and Drama, but never feeling fully embedded in the Jazz world, he quickly went onto the session musician circuit, playing for high profile artists such as Stormzy and Jordan Rakei. This year he finally released his debut 8-track Latin-infused album Travels In a Confined Space. The project features a whole host of talented Jazz musicians ranging from Harry Pope, James Beckwith, David Mrakpor, Miguel Muziq & Joao Caetano.
37. Chris Potter Sunrise Reprise [Edition Records]
One of the most prolific improvisers of his generation Chris Potter, returns with the follow up to his 2019 Circuits album: a powerful and cathartic record featuring keyboardist James Francies and drummer Eric Harland. In Sept 2020, a small window emerged from the restrictions and saw an opportunity to record Sunrise Reprise with his Circuits trio. It was the first time anyone in the group had recorded with other musicians in months, and for prolific musicians such as these, it resulted in an outpouring of collective creativity, energy, and spirit.
38. Rebecca Vasmant With Love, From Glasgow [Rebecca’s Receords]
Glaswegian musician, producer, DJ and curator Rebecca Vasmant announces her debut LP With Love, From Glasgow’, showcasing the breadth of the incredible Jazz talent the city has to offer. Through the ethereal, floating textures of LP opener Start Of Time via the uptempo beats and horns of first single Jewels Of Thought, and the sombre, reflective sonics of tracks such as Morning Mourning, From Glasgow, With Love is textured, emotive and calming listen from start to finish. A crucial insight into the modern-day sounds of a city which has already contributed so much to music culture.
39. Matti Klein Soul Trio Live On Tape [Shuffle Shack Records]
Soul Trio Live On Tape contains these very first sessions of the Matti Klein Soul Trio and comprises new arrangements of songs that had primarily been composed for Klein’s band Mo' Blow; favourites already back then, timeless classics now thanks to these exciting ‘deep-fried contemporary soul jazz’ versions. Matti Klein’s Soul Trio actually began as an idea rather than a group. Their interaction can clearly be heard, resonating with the sound of the legendary room in which their efforts were taped. None wore headphones and there was no acoustic separation; rather, each found their desired space live and direct, locking into the immediacy of the groove.
40. Thiago Franca The Importance of Being Espetacular [Mais Um Discos]
A Espetacular Charanga do França is a São Paulo-based carnival collective and brass band who combine retro horns with cumbia, baile funk, jazz, Michael Jackson and much more as demonstrated on The Importance of Being Espetacular a compilation of their signature songs collected together for their debut worldwide release. The group is the brainchild of saxophonist Thiago França, best known as a founding member of Afro-punk explorers Metá Metá, and one of São Paulo’s most in-demand horn players, with credits on influential albums by Criolo, Elza Soares, Céu and Lucas Santtana.
41. Turbulance Turbulance [Cooperation Records]
Producer and beatmaker Kid Sublime, teams up with Georgian DJ and Producer Mishulino and jazz piano protege Beka Gochiashvili to form the group Turbulance. A mutual love for the Broken Beat sound and Kid Sublime’s Hip-Hop backbone resulted in this project morphing together in Kid’s studio over a period of 5 weekends in between Beka’s tours with Stanley Clarke recording the sessions. The final result being nothing short of an exemplary example of the ongoing renaissance of bruk fusion. From Hip Hop to Brokenbeat to Bosanova to House to Fusion Jazz…this album captures the energy and late-night boozed-out studio sessions on tape!
42. PS5 Unconscious Collective [Hyperjazz]
Unconscious Collective is the first album by PS5 - the new ensemble led by Pietro Santangelo (Nu Guinea, Slivovitz, Fitness Forever). It’s a further step in the label’s path in trying to connect the musical tradition of South Italy, the love for African-American music, and new ways of expression. The arrangements wrote by Santangelo are based on great freedom of improvisation: while the melodic textures of the two saxophones didn’t give any clear references, the other musicians followed the rhythmic pulse and its unpredictable ways. The music moves naturally along an imaginary line highlighting the ancestral connection between Jamaica and Ethiopia or between Nigeria and Cuba.
43. Jan Van Angelopoulos Streams [Terenga Beat]
The drummer-composer Yannis Angelopoulos, aka Jan Van, is a well-known musician in the Athens jazz scene, accompanied by three fellow musicians, he created an album Streams with a tough background story. By the end of May, a few days after the end of the lockdown, they gathered in a studio and recorded a live session of spontaneous compositions and improvisations. During that session each musician took a step back to listen and give space to one another. None of the tracks was composed before the recording. The result is a deep album which consists of organic beats with spiritual jazz vibes, sometimes exploring fusions with demotika (traditional) elements, sometimes leaning to cinematic atmospheres.
44. Joel McCullough Starsign [self released]
This South Florida native’s musician Joel McCullough combines traditional jazz and prog rock, along with Afro-Cuban funk and South Beachelectronica, into that jazz-fusion vibe that we might as well call “Miami Modern.” As a keyboard player and composer, Joel manages to find the best in every style of music he works with. As an arranger and bandleader, he seems to bring out the best in every musician he works with.
45. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few Cosmic Transitions [Division 81 Records]
Isaiah Collier a brilliant talent from Chicago leads the way on Soprano and Tenor Saxophone, with the support of the other members Jeremiah Hunt, Michael Shewoaga Ode, and Mike King. A release filled with a wide range of human emotions and musical possibility. Cosmic Transitions, is a Five-part suite, that addresses interpersonal relationships during a Retrograde period. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few fully explore moments of the past, present, and yes the future. Each part of the Suite weaves into the next. Not for the faint of heart, the album sets out to be a timestamp for before and after. The recording of this project took place on September 23rd, 2020 at Rudy Van Gelder's legendary studio where greats like John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and many other great musicians expressed what they felt in those moments. Cosmic Transitions was crafted with the full intention to awaken those who hear it.
46. Athletic Progression cloud high in dream, but heavy in the air [Touching Bass]
Touching Bass released the progressive second album (and third project) from Danish/Tanzanian trio, Athletic Progression — Jonas Cook (keys), Jonathan J. Ludvigsen (drums) and Justo Gambula (bass). cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air sees the Aarhus-based band dive deeper into their intricately fused world of experimental, groove-based music. Recorded over the course of one week in Copenhagen in 2019, bringing together songs that had been marinating and evolving during their live shows, they finally felt ready to eternalise them in the studio. The rest of the album was written in in the studio, turning iphone memos of ideas from soundchecks into songs and improvising.
Vels Trio reap their jazz-fusion crop with a stellar 11-track debut album Celestial Greens on Rhythm Section International. Wandering through their versatile musical vision, the LP represents the amalgamation of London’s finest jazz players; Jack Stephenson-Oliver on keys (Poppy Ajudha), Dougal Taylor behind the drum kit (Emma-Jean Thackray) and Cameron Dawson on bass (Puma Blue). Celestial Greens represents an exploration of a new vision of modern progressive music, consolidating their influence on the emerging UK soul and RnB scenes, whilst creating a sound that’s idiosyncratic yet accessible to any fan of electronic music.
48. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures Air [The Jazz Diaries]
Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Air is a spirited celebration of jazz virtuosity and Motor City house music, showcasing Malik Alston’s roots in jazz, gospel, soul and dance music. Air a collection of long lost tracks created by Malik and his band Painted Pictures. The immaculate and vivacious qualities of the LP convey a message steeped in the spirit. The production elements perfectly marry the instruments, vocals and scatting to offer a cheerful, soulful and expressive work of music and emotion.
49. Throttle Elevator Music Final Floor [Wide Hive]
Final Floor is eleven new tracks featuring saxophonist Kamasi Washington and trumpeter Erik Jekabson with longtime collaborators and songwriters Matt Montgomery and Gregory Howe. Joining them are Mike Hughes on drums, Kasey Knudsen on Alto Saxophone, Ross Howe on Fender Guitar and Mike Blankenship on organ. As the title indicates, this album represents the final original recordings of Throttle Elevator Music. Final Floor has upscale energy with elements of rock and punk that fuel the overall sound and dynamically bring an edge back to jazz.
The debut album by Emma-Jean Thackray feels exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience. Across its 49 minutes, Yellow draws glowing lines between ‘70s jazz fusion and P-Funk, the cosmic invocations of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, and the gorgeous orchestration of the Beach Boys. I wanted the whole thing to sound like a psychedelic trip, explains Thackray. You put on the first track, it takes you through this intense experience for almost an hour, and then you emerge on the other side transformed.