2020 Jazz Releases, Vol. VII

A colorful collection, full of pleasant surprises, comes as the outro of a hard year, mainly characterized by lots of small/independent productions, reissues and previously unreleased historical recordings, something that will probably continue this year as well.
Let’s wish that this period of forced introversion for musicians will lead to a future explosion of artistic creativity!

Enjoy the playlist on music streaming services:

(misses one track)

Information about the 19 albums contributing to the playlist:

ERJ Orchestra – Cedar’s Blues
Genre: Contemporary jazz, Big Band
Label: Camera Jazz Record Sessions
Place: Italy
Reviews: CameraJazzClub
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Let’s warm up with ERJ Orchestra, a quality band that works on tradition

Moose the Mooch – King of the Castle
Genre: Jazz-hop, funk
Label: Moosemania
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

There is no information available about this album, we simply trust our ears

Will Bonness – Change of Plans
Genre: Contemporary jazz, vocal
Label: Will Bonness Music
Place: Manitoba, Canada
Reviews: JazzWeekly, OrangeGroovePublicity 
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

An interesting, energetic quintet, by pianist/composer, professor Will Bonness, featuring Jon Gordon (as), Julian Bradford (b), Fabio Ragnelli (dr), Jocelyn Gould (voc)

Aaron Burnett & The Big Machine – Jupiter Conjunct
Genre: Modern jazz
Label: Fresh Sound New Talent
Place: USA
Reviews: JazzTrail, Glidemagazine
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Holding important credentials, saxophonist Aaron Burnett, on his second album, presents a modern concept together with notable, new generation musicians: Adam O’Farrill (tp), Joel Ross (vib), Carlos Homs (p), Nick Jozwiak (b), Kush Abadey (dr), Esperanza Spalding (voc. #3,9)

Saxappeal – Black Gold
Genre: Smooth jazz, hip-hop, funk, R&B/Soul
Label: EVRY Music
Place: Detroit
Reviews: SoulBounce, SaxDacota (interview)
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Smooth jazz with a fresh beat, by saxophonist LaDarrel Johnson who tells us he has something for everyone

Marya Lawrence – Paying the Bills 
Genre: Vocal jazz, Soul
Label: Marya Lawrence / Madamorphosis Music
Place: NY
Reviews: About
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Marya Lawrence, with her pretty voice, her cheerful temperament and the contribution of her brother,  saxophonist and flutist  Erik Lawrence, pays tribute to “Bills” (Billy Holliday, Bill Withers, Bill “Count” Basie, Bill Preston and Billie Eckstine).
The two different groups also include some famous musicians who were friends with her father, saxophonist Arnie Lawrence.
Larry Goldings (p), Peter Bernstein (g), Cameron Brown (b), Ben Perowsky (dr), or Grégoire Maret (harm), Freddie Bryant (g), Jennifer Vincent (b), Mino Cinelu (perc)

János Löber – Cherry Blossom
Genre: Contemporary jazz, post-bop, modern jazz
Label: recordJet
Place: Cologne, Germany
Listen: Bandcamp, Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Trumpeter János Löber’s youthful sextet does not lack moments of inspiration

The Royal Bopsters – Party of Four
Genre: Vocal jazz
Label: Motema
Place: New Jersey
Reviews: LondonJazzNews, GlideMagazine
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Royal Bopsters (Amy London, Holli Ross, Pete McGuinness, Dylan Pramuk) showcase the art of the vocal bop quartet, accompanied by Steve Schmidt (p), Cameron Brown (b), Steve Williams (dr), Steven Kroon (perc) and 91 y.o. Sheila Jordan (#4),  Bob Dorough (#8), Christian McBride (#2,7) as guests

inDOLPHYlités – inDOLPHYlités
Genre: Modern jazz, avant-garde
Label: Arfi
Place: Lyon, FR
Reviews: Citizenjazz, JazzLyon
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

A creative approach, as befits Eric Dolphy’s music, by a group from the historical ARFICollectif (Association à la Recherche d’un Folklore Imaginaire – est. 1977, Lyon).
Clément Gibert (cl, bcl, as), Guillaume Grenard (tp, flh, fl), Mélissa Acchiardi (vib), Christophe Gauvet (b), Christian Rollet (dr)

Kobi Arad Band – Sketches of Monk
Genre: New jazz, fusion
Label: GMP Inc.
Place: NY
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

An album without any promotion, by Israeli pianist Kobi Arad’s electric trio, that rhythmically and harmonically modernizes Thelonius Monk’s compositions

Terrace Martin – Village Days
Genre: New jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop
Label: Sounds of Crenshaw / EMPIRE
Place: LA
Reviews: SoulBounce
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Famous producer, saxophonist/musician Terrace Martin‘s latest EP is inspired by his homeland

Nicole McCabe – Introducing Nicole McCabe
Genre: Contemporary jazz, post-bop
Label: Minaret Records
Place: LA
Reviews: DebbieBurkeAuthor
Listen: Bandcamp, Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Dexterity and advanced vocabulary, by talented Nicole McCabe on her debut album, together with her mentor George Colligan (p) and Jon Lakey (b), Alan Jones (dr), Charlie Porter (tr. – #3,5,6)

Lori Williams – A New Book
Genre: R&B/Soul, Smooth jazz
Label: LoriJazz-CSI
Place: Washington, D.C.
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Lori Williams’ deep, warm and sensual voice is quite reminiscent of Maysa’s and can cause similar effects

Subway Jazz Orchestra – Still Screaming
Genre: Contemporary big band jazz
Label: Galileo Music Communication
Place: Cologne, DE
Reviews: JazzImSubway
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Original compositions and arrangements, by the Subway Jazz Orchestra on their fourth album

Theresia Philipp – Pollon with Strings
Genre: Modern jazz, avant-garde
Label: Galileo Music Communication
Place: Cologne, DE
Reviews: NRWjazz
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

A sophisticated project including strings, from the winner of “2020 Cologne Jazz Prize”, saxophonist, clarinetist, composer Theresia Philipp, featuring David Helm (b), Thomas Sauerborn (dr), Axel Lindner (vl), Radek Stawarz (vla) and Elisabeth Coudoux (vlc)

R-Kay – Ivory
Genre: Neo-soul, rap/hip-hop
Label: Rhythm & Reason
Place: London
Reviews: InSearchOfMedia
Listen: Bandcamp, Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Today’s grooves painted with jazzy colors, by producer/musician R-Kay on his debut album

Kei Matsumaru – Nothing Unspoken Under The Sun
Genre: Modern jazz, free-bop
Place: Tokyo
Reviews: DiskUnion
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

“Genious with a strong personality”, winner of a 2018 Downbeat competition, 25-year-old saxophonist (alto, soprano) Kei Matsumaru uses the modern language of jazz to offer substance and spectacle, in a mature and charming second album, along with Akira Ishii (p), Hideaki Kanazawa (b), Shun Ishiwaka (dr, perc). – Five stars from modernjazz.gr!

Julia Werup – The Thrill of Loving You
Genre: Vocal jazz, new jazz
Label: Stunt Records
Place: Copenhagen
Reviews: JazzViews, UKpromotion
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

“Cool modern interpretations and new arrangements of classic jazz standards, with an electronic and fresh touch” by Julia Werup (voc),  Sven-Erik Lundequist (p), Johnny Åman (b), Thomas Blachman (dr, el.prog)

Louis Dowdeswell, Callum Au – Louis & Cal’s On Stage!
Genre: Contemporary jazz, Big Band
Label: Louis & Cal’s
Place: London
Listen: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube

Classic mainstream jazz, by the high-performance trumpeter Louis Dowdeswell and the super band of the rising band-leader, composer, arranger, trombonist Callum Au

Enjoy the playlist on music streaming services:

(misses one track)

More new releases are listed below (links to Deezer)










  • Anja Lechner, Francois Couturier – Lontano (ECM)
  • Johanna Burnheart – Burnheart (Ropeadope)








  • Tania Giannouli Trio – In Fading Light (Rattle)
    [Andreas Polyzogopoulos, Kyriakos Tapakis]
  • Maria Manousaki – Sole Voyage (Pkmusic)
    (ft. Petros Klampanis, Shai Maestro, ..)
  • Savina Yannatou – Ways of Notseeing

Extra bonus material here: The Critics’ Choices!
Download a table containing 358 albums that appeared on 49 different lists titled  “BEST JAZZ RELEASES OF 2020” on the web

Happy, Jazzy and Covid-free New Year!