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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.

7. Gerald Clayton: Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

7. Gerald Clayton: <i>Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard</i> (Blue Note)

In 15 years, pianist/composer Gerald Clayton has amassed four Grammy nominations, appointments as musical director of the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour and artistic director of MJF’s Next Generation Orchestra, a Duke University commission, and impressive sideman gigs. Comparatively, Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard is only his fifth recording. In quintet and trio settings Clayton excels through lengthy originals “Patience Patients” and “Envisionings,” along with “Body and Soul,” Bud Powell’s “Celia,” and Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane.” CHRIS J. WALKER