Album of 2020- Jazz Revelations Awards 2020
Updated: Jan 11
‘Album of 2020’ will be awarded for a full-length jazz-orientated release whose quality is supreme in a year flowing with the highest quality music.
See our nominees below...
Gil Scott-Heron - We're New Again: a Reimagining by Makaya McCraven
On the tenth anniversary of legendary poet Gil Scott-Heron’s final album - I’m New Here - Chicago-based beatmaker and drummer Makaya McCraven has forged a truly monumental reimagining. Tapping into Gill’s gruff growls, Makaya manufactures a magical musical landscape, capturing the poet’s encapsulating stories and giving them a new lease of life. Calling on his regular collaborators - Junius Paul (bass), Jeff Parker (guitar), Brandee Younger (harp) and Ben Lamar Gay (percussion) - Makaya’s natural instinct to sample and repurpose has led to the creation one of the finest records of the year without a shadow of a doubt. We’re New Again is tremendous.
Ally J Steel
Greg Foat - Symphonie Pacifique
Lush, expansive and nothing short of magnificent. UK-based composer and pianist Greg Foat’s Symphonie Pacfique calls upon a mighty force of strings, choir and a multi-generational array of fine musicians (including drummer Moses Boyd) to chart this courageous outing. In a year which has been testing for all, Greg’s musical odyssey has been a temptatious source of joy.
Ally J Steel
Jyoti - Mama, You Can Bet!
Acclaimed songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow returned with her third studio album under the identity of Jyoti, a name given to her by Alice Coltrane, as she explores electronica, jazz fusion and hip-hop to create a timeless LP of spiritual lounge music. Having only been introduced to Muldorw’s music over the past year, this album just blew me away as her movements between different moods completely consumes you.
You can enjoy the avant-garde funk of ‘Hard Bap Duke’ and ‘Swing, Kirikou, Swing!’ thrown in amongst the peaceful ‘Orgone’ and ‘Quarrys, Queries’, whilst also be entranced by the magic of spiritual ‘Ra’s Noise’ and ‘Zane, The Scribe’ alongside the cosmic hip-hop of ‘Bemoanable Lady Geemix’ - an incredible album for those who like their jazz music experimented with.
Mammal Hands - Captured Spirits
Mammal Hands' 2020 release, Captured Spirits, is 5 stars through and through. The trio’s well-drilled formula of looping piano phrases, hushed complex fluid drumming, and emboldened, fervent sax, carve captivating dramatic visual melodies. This panoramic music is fresh fruit for the imagination. You can close your eyes and transform your mind into an epic cinematic scene, or gaze out of the train window and watch the world fly by as this soundtrack transforms your experience.
Maria Chiara Argirò & Jamie Leeming - Flow
Italian-born pianist Maria Chiara Argirò's latest collaborative album with guitarist Jamie Leeming reveals their magical connection. Together they embody a serene, cinematic soundscape. Leeming graces Maria’s gentle piano melodies with perfectly delicate improvisation in this classically touched, enthralling duet. These musicians together are harmonic. I won’t compare this record to Nils Frahm or any other minimalist pianist. Like Kenny Wheeler and Brian Dickinson or Gary Burton and Chick Corea, Argriò and Leeming’s assimilation embodies one modernly striking sound to remember.
Matthew Halsall – Salute to the Sun
Spiritual jazz is back baby! In reality, it never went anywhere and Manchester’s Matthew Halsall proves that. In many ways, he’s the British grandchild of the tradition laid down by figures like John and Alice Coltrane, as well as Pharaoh Sanders. Salute to the Sun is Halsall’s best album to date for me. Tracks like ‘Harmony with Nature’ and ‘Tropical Landscapes’ really shine as a celebration of nature and mindfulness. In 2020, we need spiritual jazz more than ever.
Mino Cinelu, Nils Petter Molvær - SulaMadiana
Nordic ambient trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and French percussionist Mino Cinélu present a deeply soothing album of minimal soundscapes blended into post-bop jazz and African rhythms. The musical exchange between the two investigates how the sounds of their different cultures can connect to each other and it feels completely unique. There is always a strong pulse to each song on the LP, with ambient tracks ‘Theories of Dreaming’, ‘Indianala’ and ‘Process of Breathing’ hauntingly tingling your nerve endings with their beauty as much as the empowering and intense ‘Take the A# Train’ and ‘Song for Julle’ tracks. A really engrossing and inspirational album of both meditative and energetic music.
Shabaka & The Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History
We Are Sent Here By History is an artistic triumph. The spiritual and apocalyptic music, fronted by Hutchings’ tenor sax, accompanies the poetry of Siyabonga Mthembu perfectly. It’s such a powerful album: blissfully peaceful in some movements and aggressively stormy in others, a cry against the injustices of history. I really get the sense that I’m listening to an artistic masterpiece with this one.
Make sure to keep up-to-date with the rest of our nominations here.