Updated: Jan 11, 2021
'EP of 2020’ will be awarded to a jazz-orientated extended play release which captivated us and stood out amongst the fold in a highly packed 2020.
See our nominees below...
44th Move - 44th Move
Two titans of the London scene, Alfa Mist (keys) and Richard Spaven (drums) have blended their beautiful rhythms and styles together on this highly listenable eponymous EP. A freely moving, modern sound, featuring Alfa Mist’s haunting storytelling on the microphone in ‘Hope’. Introducing trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, was the cherry on top.
A modern collision of the scene’s best sounds, intertwined so perfectly. Everything we love here at Jazz Revelations in a nutshell.
Bluestaeb & S. Fidelity present Underground Canopy - Underground Canopy
Parisian group Underground Canopy’s self-titled debut dropped early in 2020 and has stayed with me the whole year. Fusing, grooving and oozing with jazz-hop and psychedelic vibes, the group's self-titled project builds to the final 10-minute track - 'UC Visions' - in a jaw-dropping manner. The quintet’s debut work is simply bliss.
Ally J Steel
Calabashed - Behold A Black Wave
The debut EP from London sextet Calabashed is a wonderfully soothing release, exploring the sonic capabilities of the guitar, harp and saxophone merging together with FX and percussion. There is a spiritual vibe to the music, as the patient buildups help to trickle into some fine lyricism from poet and MC Joshua Idehen. There’s a heartfelt tone to the vocals and they reverberate with the melodies fantastically, with a soft cinematic mood echoing through the EP. ‘Ode to Jazzman John Clarke’ s my favourite, and the production from Comet Is Coming and Soccer96 mastermind Danalogue is particularly noticeable on the phat, beat-heavy ‘Take It Outside’.
Emma-Jean Thackray - Rain Dance
The first release of 2020 for Emma-Jean Thackray was her Rain Dance EP on her new label Movementt and it is sublime. ‘Rain Dance / Wisdom’ journeys through some free jazz into a hot outro of glorious improvising, whilst the breakbeat of ‘Open’ starts to bridge the sound into hard funk but with light, chilling keys. This paves the way nicely into the house of ‘Movementt’ with the bassline prominently guiding the rhythm section and EJT’s beautiful trumpet patterns; the anthemic chant of “move your body, move your mind, move your soul” feels completely appropriate for EJT’s music.
Mamilah - Talk Less
Saturday night kitchen stomp soundtrack, Talk Less is Mamilah’s musical fibre. Infectiously positive vibes, rousing horn choruses, and singer Lydia Kotsirea is remarkably brilliant.
They’re an exceptional band on stage, but this EP has moved their delightful presence into your home, as a wholly fun record to play on every occasion, as has been so much in this difficult year.
PYJAEN – Sage Secrets
Sage Secrets cheered me up during lockdown. Fun, carnivalesque jazz grooves underscore a sweet EP. ‘Gold Plated’ is a tune I’ve been playing on repeat since I heard it. Odette Peters probably gets Amy Winehouse comparisons all the time but that's no bad thing. The other tunes too, like ‘Sage Secrets’ and ‘PJFC’, sound like PYJAEN at their finest.
Vertaal - Paradigm Shifting
Swirling with heavy grooves, it’s hard not to be anything but completely transfixed by Vertaal’s Paradigm Shifting. Brimming with improvisational energy and bursting with layered tantalising rhythms, the London’s duo’s expressive EP sends you into a head-nodding trance which can’t be broken. Just brilliant.
Ally J Steel
Zyggurat – Earth II
Birmingham-based Zyggurat produced a marvel this year with Earth II. The electronic colourisation conjures up its intergalactic imagery and beneath that is a really good jazz groove. Crunching synths, throbbing bass, vibraphones and drums make up the wonderful landscape of Earth II.