The Best Jazz Albums Of 2020

If you’ve followed our #New Music Friday posts throughout the year, then you know we love Jazz here at Hifitrends. So with all the Best Jazz Album lists coming out, we just had to put our two cents in. As you can see we’ve assembled a huge selection of albums, and they are arranged in no certain order.

In the group, we have some old favorites, like a project from one of our favorite crooners Kurt Elling (“Secrets Are The Best Stories”), some great Latin jazz from Paquito D’ Rivera (“El Duelo”), and several projects from/including Bassist Christian McBride. The quartet album “Round Again” with Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, and Brad Mehldau was especially good, as was his protest album, “The Movement Revisited” (Check out the documentary below). It was also beautiful to hear the late Gil Scott Heron dropping knowledge once again with the help of super talented drummer Makaya McCraven (“We’re New Again”).

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The London Jazz Scene once again pushed the envelope with some funky genre-shifting, and produced some standout projects, like Nubya Garcia’s “Source”, Shabaka and the Ancestors’ “We Are Sent Here By History”, Oscar Jerome’s “Breathe Deep”, and Kamaal Williams’ “Wu Hen”.

Of course, London doesn’t corner the market on futuristic funk, Chicago’s Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids blew our mind with “Shaman”, as did L.A. producer _BY.ALEXANDER with his album “000 Channel Black”. Don’t forget Irreversible Entanglement’s “Who Sent You?” or Jyoti’s “Mama You Can Bet”. “Blue Note Re:Imagined” is good too. 

For some atmospheric, abstract Jazz selections, check out Ron Miles’ “Rainbow Sign”,  Exploding Star Orchestra’s “Dimensional Stardust”, Mary Halverson’s Code Girl’s “Artlessly Falling”, or Mammal Hands’ “Captured Spirits”.

African music and musicians are also represented with an awesome project from Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience (“To Know Without Knowing”), The late Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela’s “Rejoice” along with Nduduzo Makhathini’s “Modes Of Communication”.

There’s also some great traditional swing and reissues like Art Blakey’s “Just Coolin'”, or Nina Simone’s “Fodder On My Wings” and “Nina at Newport”. Bill Frissell’s “Valentine” and Yellowjackets “Jackets XL” are nice too.

I recommend you just dig in. There’s definitely something for everyone and I’m sure you’ll find at least one new favorite.

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