MUSIC FAVORITES OF THE YEAR

SOME 2020 MUSIC FAVORITES 

By András Goldinger, Music Buyer

My annual 4-page Favorites handout, available at the store, lists a few of my favorite recordings.

 

New Released Historical Gems / Re-Issues

Joni Mitchell, ARCHIVES VOL. 1: The Early Years (1963 – 1967) (Rhino, 5 CDs) – Before her first album

HARRY SMITH B-SIDES (Dust to Digital, 4-CD box-set & book) – The “flip side” of the songs in Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952)

Ella Fitzgerald, THE LOST BERLIN TAPES (Verve) – On March 25, 1962, Ella & trio shook up Berlin again!

Thelonious Monk Quartet, PALO ALTO (Impulse) – On October 27, 1968, Monk shook up a Palo Alto HS…

Sonny Rollins, ROLLINS IN HOLLAND (Resonance, 2 CDs) – The Saxophone Colussus in his prime

Bill Evans, LIVE AT RONNIE SCOTT’S (Resonance, 2 CDs) – w/ Eddie Gomez & Jack DeJohnette

Charles Mingus, AT BREMEN 1964 & 1975 (Sunnyside, 4 CDs) – 1964: Eric Dolphy, Johnny Coles, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard. 1975: George Adams, Jack Walrath, Don Pullen. Dannie Richmond, drums; Mingus, bass!

HOW THE RIVER GANGES FLOWS: Sublime Masterpieces of Indian Violin, 1933 -1952 (Third Man)

BLACK FIRE: SOUL LOVE NOW: The Black Fire Records Story 1975 – 1993 (Strut)

Leyla McCalla, VARI-COLORED SONGS (Smithsonian Folkways) – Re-issued tribute to Langston Hughes

 

Pop / Soul / Roots

The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks), GASLIGHTER (Columbia) – The return of the trio

Fiona Apple, FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS (Epic) – POW!

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, REUNIONS (Southeastern Records) – All new Isbell songs.

Bob Dylan, ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS (Columbia, 2 CDs) – Late-period Dylan at his finest

Bettye LaVette, BLACKBIRDS (Verve) – A tribute to the great Black women whose songs inspired her.

Lianne La Havas, LIANNE LA HAVAS (Nonesuch) – The British star returns with her distinct soul/pop songs.

Robert Cray Band, THAT’S WHAT I HEARD (Nozzle) – the bluesman salutes his heros

James Taylor, AMERICAN STANDARD (Fantasy) – JT’s easy way with the Great American Songbook

Shemekia Copeland, UNCIVIL WAR (Alligator) – Hard charging blues

Lucinda Williams, GOOD SOULS BETTER ANGELS (Highway20) - Fierce

Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn, WU FEI & ABIGAIL WASHBURN (Smithsonian Folkways)

Kathleen Edwards, TOTAL FREEDOM (Dualtone) – A return after eight years

Leon Bridges & Khruangbin, TEXAS SUN (Dead Oceans) – Soul vocalist Bridges meets the global chill trio

Jake Blount, SPIDER TALES (Free Dirt) – Resurrecting Afro and Indigenous banjo

Alicia Keys, ALICIA KEYS (RCA)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, A LETTER TO YOU (Columbia) – With the E Street Band

Phoebe Bridgers, PUNISHER (Dead Oceans)

Sarah Jarosz, WORLD ON THE GROUND (Rounder) – Vocalist, mandolin wiz & a wonderful songwriter

Bombino, LIVE IN AMSTERDAM (Partisan) – The Tuareg guitar wizard

Sturgill Simpson, CUTTIN’ GRASS (30 Tigers) – Hot bluegrass renditions of his best songs (Dec. 11)

Kacy & Clayton/Marlon Williams, PLASTIC BOUQUET (New West) – Folk-harmony collaboration (Dec. 11)

 

JAZZ

Kahil El’Zabar, AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL (Spiritmuse) – Percussionist assembles a powerful quartet with Hamiet Bluiett on baritone sax (on his last recording), Corey Wilkes, trumpet, and Tomeka Reid, cello, along with the James Sanders String Quartet

Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blades, ROUNDAGAIN (Nonesuch)

Artemis, ARTEMIS (Blue Note) - Melissa Aldana, saxophone; Anat Cohen, clarinet; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Renée Rosnes, piano; Noriko Maeda, bass; Allison Miller, drums; and Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals.

Ron Miles, RAINBOW SIGN (Blue Note) – Cornetist Miles with pianist Jason Moran, guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Brian Blade

The Westerlies, WHEREIN LIES THE GOOD (Westerlies) – 2 trumpets + 2 trombones = great music

Joel Ross, WHO ARE YOU? (Blue Note) – The young vibraphonist’s ensemble

Nubya Garcia, SOURCE (Concord) – The young saxophonist, at the forefront of the hot London jazz scene.

Kenny Barron-Dave Holland-Jonathan Blake, WITHOUT DECEPTION (Dare 2) – Dynamic piano trio

Ambrose Akinmusere, ON THE TENDER SPOT OF EVERY CALLOUSED MOMENT (Blue Note)

Lucian Ban, John Surman, Mat Maneri, TRANSYLVANIAN FOLK SONGS: The Béla Bartók Field Recordings (Sunnyside) – Pianist, saxophonist/bass clarinetist, and violist transform Bartók

Bobby Watson, Vincent Herring, Gary Bartz, BIRD AT 100 (Smoke) – Alto sax masters salute Charlie Parker

Aaron Diehl Trio, THE VAGABOND (Mack Avenue) – Plays John Lewis, Roland Hanna, Prokofiev & Glass

Thumbscrew, THE ANTHONY BRAXTON PROJECT (Cuneiform) – Guitar/bass/drum trio with Mary Halvorson out front

Susan Alcorn, PEDERNAL (Relative Pitch) – The adventurous pedal-steel player w super collaborators

Anthony Pirog, POCKET POEM (Cunieform) – The DC guitarist w Michael Formanek, bass & Ches Smith, drums

 

Solo Piano

Keith Jarrett, BUDAPEST CONCERT (ECM) – Regarded by Jarrett as one of his best solo recitals ever

Brad Mehldau, SUITE: APRIL 2020 (Nonesuch) – A suite for solo piano while in Covid-19 lockdown

Fred Hersch, SONGS FROM HOME (Palmetto) – Another recital response during quarantine

 

Vocals & Big Bands

Diana Krall, THIS DREAM OF YOU (Impulse) – Singer/pianist w/ duets, trios, quartets & larger ensembles

Candace Spring, THE WOMEN WHO RAISED ME (Blue Note) – Songs by women vocalists who most influenced her.

Luciana Souza and the WDR Big Band Cologne, STORYTELLERS (Sunnyside) – Classic Brazilian songs

Sun Ra Arkestra, SWIRLING (Strut) – Saxophonist Marshall Allen keeps the Sun Ra spirit alive

Christian McBride Big Band, FOR JIMMY, WES AND OLIVER (Mack Ave) – A tribute to Jimmy Smith guitarist Wes Montgomery and composer/arranger/bandleader Oliver Nelson

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, THE MUSIC OF WAYNE SHORTER (Blue Engine, 2 CDs) – With Mr. Shorter as guest soloist!

Loudon Wainwright III, I’D RATHER LEAD A BAND (Search Party) – With Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, singing hits from the 1920s and ’30s.

 

Classical

Jacob Heringman, INVIOLATA: JOSQUIN DES PREZ (Inventa) – Beautiful lute music

Takács Quartet & Garrick Ohlsson, ELGAR & BEACH PIANO QUARTETS (Hyperion) – An inspired and creative pairing of Edward Elgar & Amy Beach

Emerson String Quartet, SCHUMANN (Pentatone) – The three string quartets

BEETHOVEN: TRIPLE CONCERTO & SYMPH NO. 7 (DG) - Yo-Yo Ma, Anne-Sophie Mutter & Daniel Barenboim (playing piano and conducting his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra)

 

Piano & Keyboards

Vikingur Ólafsson, DEBUSSY / RAMEAU (DG) – Imaginative juxtapositions

Igor Levit, ENCOUNTER (Sony) – Arrangements of Bach & late Brahms; more Brahms, then Morton Feldman

BRAHMS: The Final Piano Pieces (Hyperion) – Stephen Hough w Fantasias, Intermezzos & Clavierstücke,

Marc-André Hamelin, LISZT & THALBERG: Opera Transcriptions & Fantasies (Hyperion) – Works based on Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Rossini.

Anthony Romaniuk, BELLS (Alpha) – Variety on 4 keyboards: harpsichord, fortepiano, piano & Fender Rhodes

Simone Dinnerstein, A CHARACTER OF QUIET: Schubert & Glass (Orange Mt.) – Recorded at home this June

András Schiff & Jörg Widmann, BRAHMS: Clarinet Sonatas (ECM)

Jean Rondeau & Thomas Dunford, BARRICADES (Erato) – Harpsichord & lute

Alexandre Tharaud, VERSAILLES (Erato) – Playing vibrant French Baroque music

FREDERICK RZEWSKI: SONGS OF INSURRECTION (Coviello) - Thomas Kotcheff, piano

 

Voices

GERSHWIN: PORGY AND BESS (Met Opera) – Starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the title roles

Ruby Hughes, CLYTEMNESTRA (BIS) – Soprano w/ works for voice and orchestra: Berg, Mahler & Samuel

Kate Lindsey, ARIANNA (Alpha) – Mezzo-soprano sings arias from Baroque works on the Ariadne myth

BACH: REDEMPTION (Alpha) – Soprano Anna Prohaska, and the ensemble Lautten Compagney, directed by Wolfgang Katschner, recorded an album of selections from Bach Cantatas, recorded during the pandemic.

Lawrence Brownlee & Michael Spyres, AMICI E RIVALI: ROSSINI (Erato, $18.98) – Two lyric tenors

HANDEL: AGRIPPINA (Erato) – With Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d’Oro

Ethel Smyth, THE PRISON (Chandos) – The world-premiere recording of the 1930 choral symphony by English composer Ethel Smyth (1858 – 1944).

Sabine Devieilhe & Alexandre Tharaud, CHANSON D’AMOUR (Erato) – The soprano and pianist explore the rich world of French mélodie in works by Fauré, Poulenc, Ravel, and Debussy.

Ora Singers, TALLIS: Spem in Alium & MACMILLAN: Vida Aquam (Harmonia Mundi) – The 450th anniversary of Thomas Tallis’s beautiful 40-part motet, Spem in Alium with a new 40-voice composition

2 by Isabelle Faust:

MOZART: SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & FORTEPIANO VOL 2 (H Mundi) –Alexander Melnikov,

SCHOENBERG: Violin Concerto / Verklärte Nacht (H Mundi)

2 by Thomas Adès:

THOMAS ADÈS CONDUCTS ADÈS (DG) – the composer conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra

JANÁĈEK: SOLO PIANO (Signum) – Adès’s love letter from one composer to another