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Year in Review: The Top 40 New Jazz Releases of 2020 (10-1)

Our critics vote on the year's top new releases

Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider’s album Data Lords was voted the best of 2020 by JazzTimes‘ contributors. (photo: Briene Lermitte)

For our 2020 Year in Review section, we calculated the top 40 new releases and top 10 historical/reissue recordings of 2020 based on year-end lists by our writers. They were asked to choose the 10 best new releases and five best historical titles—i.e., albums and box sets consisting primarily of music recorded 10 or more years ago. To see each voter’s ballot, go here. Albums and box sets released between Nov. 10, 2019 and Nov. 13, 2020 were eligible. Some discs may have slipped through the cracks, however, as official release dates shifted or weren’t available. For numbers 40-31, go here; for numbers 30-21, go here; and for numbers 20-11, go here.

10. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!)

10. Shabaka and the Ancestors: <i>We Are Sent Here by History</i> (Impulse!)
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Incorporating strains from the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, and A Love Supreme, London’s Shabaka and the Ancestors lead the U.K. jazz revival, complete with Shabaka Hutchings’ tooting, simmering Caribbean-styled tenor, found sound loops and percussion, rumbling drums, and heaving acoustic bass amid sweltering atmospheres. Though it brings nothing new, the music’s resuscitation/mashup of past jazz glories speaks to everything lost in the heady 1970s, with a nod to a hopeful jazz future. KEN MICALLEF