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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.

4. Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind)

4. Rudresh Mahanthappa: <i>Hero Trio</i> (Whirlwind)
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Perhaps it’s the lack of a chording instrument that encourages this heroic threesome (Mahanthappa on alto, Francois Moutin on bass, Rudy Royston on drums) to see melody not as something to go beyond but as an ever-nourishing well to keep returning to. That the melodies come from both the jazz canon (Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman) and the pop charts (Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash) reminds us of the melodic richness of the former and the improvisatory potential of the latter. GEOFFREY HIMES