Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

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.

2. John Scofield: Swallow Tales (ECM)

2. John Scofield: <i>Swallow Tales</i> (ECM)

The tune’s the thing as Sco and bass guitarist Steve Swallow bring new life to the latter’s distinctive compositions. The longtime collaborators, with drummer Bill Stewart, imbue everything with lightness, vitality, and synchronicity. “Falling Grace” is built on a loop-like structure, while “Eidertown” offers a catchy bluesy-to-bop melody; Swallow brought both to Gary Burton’s groups. Other gems: Ballad “Away,” twisting burner “Radio,” and the now-laidback “Awful Coffee,” featuring one of Swallow’s most melodic solos. PHILIP BOOTH