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THE TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2020
One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t manage to shut down was the flow of jazz releases, both new and historical. Our contributors picked their absolute favorites and commented on a few.
BRIGHT MOMENTS: SONNY ROLLINS
The legendary saxophonist discusses the newly released Rollins in Holland, recorded in 1967, and takes us through other highlights of his discography from the past 50-plus years. His companion on this far-reaching musical tour is his official biographer (and frequent JT contributor) Aidan Levy.
He’s regarded as one of the foremost modern interpreters of Thelonious Monk, and he earned four Grammy nominations this year for his compositional and arranging skill. More than 40 years into his professional career, John Beasley is winning well-deserved recognition—but he’s still mainly looking to get lost. By Allen Morrison
“The piano trio is done to death, but Sylvie is breathing new life into it.” So says no less an authority than Kris Davis. Swiss-born virtuoso Sylvie Courvoisier won’t make any such grand claims for herself, of course; in conversation with Ted Panken, she simply calls what she does “taking ideas from everywhere.”
Opening Chorus: Noah Haidu pays tribute to hero Kenny Kirkland; the hip-hop fusion of Kassa Overall; Lawrence Sieberth goes to Europe; Harold López-Nussa delves deeper into Cuba; Cat Toren meditates on the moment; and farewells to Toshinori Kondo, Viola Smith, Baron Wolman, Cándido Camero, and Andrew White
Chops: Two ways of setting up a piano trio
Chronology: Ethan Iverson on Eubie Blake
Coda: Colin Fleming listens to Art Tatum’s V-Discs
Overdue Ovation: Donald Brown
Before & After: John Fedchock
Audio Files: Brent Butterworth picks the gear of the year
Gearhead: Fun equipment old and new
Reviews: Craig Taborn’s Junk Magic, Chris Potter, Ella Fitzgerald, Lafayette Gilchrist, and a standout debut by Mariel Bildsten
Cover Image: Sonny Rollins at the Go-Go Club, Loosdrecht, Netherlands, May 5, 1967, courtesy of Beeld en Geluid