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.
If there was ever a year in which the world needed to hear the unparalleled joyful noise that is the Sun Ra Arkestra, 2020 is certainly it. The Arkestra’s first studio album since 1999 captures the full range of zany, awe-inspiring work that has endeared the big band to this celestial blue orb for the last 60-plus years. Under the tireless direction of Marshall Allen, and featuring the cosmic cry of vocalist Tara Middleton, the Arkestra allows us all to glimpse the untold potential available to us should we dare to knock at the door of the cosmos. JACKSON SINNENBERG