Music Year 2021

Of course, it's too early for a year-end list. But as the proto-fascist organization of my youth insisted, one should always be prepared. For records in hand, * identifies an advance copy, ** something borrowed or streamed. Some albums released in previous years are included here, noted by a "-NN" (e.g., -20 for 2020) -- these are mostly imports or self-releases, often hard to figure out official dates, but they were either December 2020 releases or unknown (to me, at least) before the current year.

I keep adding to the 2020 until the end of calendar 2021, especially where the record was known to exist in 2020 and I'm just getting around to it.

New Records

  1. James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms)
  2. Todd Snider: First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder (Aimless) **
  3. Magnet Animals: Fake Dudes (RareNoise) *
  4. Steve Earle & the Dukes: J.T. (New West) **
  5. Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor: Long Tall Sunshine (Not Two) **
  6. Carsie Blanton: Love & Rage (So Ferocious) **
  7. Ivo Perelman Trio: Garden of Jewels (Tao Forms)
  8. Aki Takase/Christian Weber/Michael Griener: Auge (Intakt) **
  9. Irène Schweizer/Hamid Drake: Celebration (Intakt) **
  10. Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough (Legacy) **
  11. Michael and Peter Formanek: Dyads (Out of Your Head)
  12. Miguel Zenón/Ariel Bringuez/Demian Cabaud/Jordi Rossy: Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman (Miel Music) **
  13. Flow Trio With Joe McPhee: Winter Garden (ESP-Disk)
  14. Ruth Weiss: We Are Sparks in the Universe to Our Own Fire (Edgetone)
  15. Ignaz Schick/Oliver Steidle: Ilog2 (Zarek)
  16. Frank Gratkowski/Achim Kaufmann/Wilbert de Joode/Tony Buck: Flatbosc & Cautery (NoBusiness -20)


Records in hand, but which haven't yet been graded (sorted by artist, or release date if future).

  • Liudas Mockunas/Arfvydad Kaziauskas: Purvs (Jersika -2LP)
  • Matt Niess & the Capitol Bones: The Beat Goes On (Summit)
  • Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue: Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses (Pi)
  • The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: The 2021 Jazz Heritage Series (self-released)
  • Amber Weekes: 'Round Midnight Re-Imagined (Amber Inn Productions)
  • Alchemy Sound Project: Afrika Love (ARC) [05-14]
  • Aaron Germain: Bell Projections (Aaron Germain Music) [05-14]
  • Maria Grand: Reciprocity (Biophilia) [05-14]
  • Gabor Lesko: Earthway (Creativity's Paradise Music) [05-14]
  • Nnenna Freelon: Time Traveler (Origin) [05-21]
  • Greg Germann: Tales of Time (Origin) [05-21]
  • Brent Jensen: More Sounds of a Dry Martini (Origin) [05-21]
  • Shawn Maxwell: Expectation & Experience (Jazzline) [05-21]
  • Carlos Vega: Art of the Messenger (Origin) [05-21]
  • Rossano Baldini: Humanbeing (RareNoise) * [05-28]
  • Almog Sharvit: Get Up or Cry (Unit) [05-28]
  • Ches Smith/We All Break: Path of Seven Colors (Pyroclastic) [06-11]
  • Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Joshua Abrams/Tim Daisy/Tyler Damon: The Covid Tapes: Solos, Duos, & Trios (Aerophonic, 2CD) [06-15]
  • Ben Goldberg: Everything Happens to Me (BAG Productions) * [06-18]

Also Noted:

Records in hand, graded B+ or below, in alphabetical order within grade slots:

  • The Anchoress: The Art of Losing (Kscope) **
  • Yaala Ballin: Sings Irving Berlin (SteepleChase LookOut) **
  • Enzo Carniel/Filippo Vignato Silent Room: Aria (Menace)
  • Ian Charleton Big Band: A Fresh Perspective (none)
  • Damata: What's Damata (Dugnad)
  • Paul Dunmall/Percy Pursglove/Olie Brice/Jeff Williams: Palindromes (West Hill) **
  • Eminem: Music to Be Murdered By: Side B (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope -20) **
  • Joe Fahey: February on Ice (Rough Fish) **
  • R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob's Son: R.A.P. Ferreira in the Garden Level Cafe of the Scallops Hotel (Ruby Yacht) **
  • For Those I Love: For Those I Love (September) **
  • Satoko Fujii: Hazuki: Piano Solo (Libra)
  • Satoko Fujii Tokyo Trio: Moon on the Lake (Libra)
  • Binker Golding/John Edwards/Steve Noble: Moon Day (Byrd Out) **
  • George Haslam/João Madeira/Padro Catello Lopes/Mario Rua: Ajuda (Slam -20)
  • Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir (Smoke Sessions) **
  • Kari Ikonen: Impressions, Improvisations and Compositions (Ozella) **
  • In Layers: Pliable (FMR -20)
  • Vijay Iyer: Uneasy (ECM) **
  • Charles Lloyd & the Marvels: Tone Poem (Blue Note) **
  • João Madeira/Hernâni Faustino: dB Duet (FMR)
  • Hafez Modirzadeh: Facets (Pi)
  • Ben Monder/Tony Malaby/Tom Rainey: Live at the 55 Bar (Sunnyside) **
  • Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge: Jazz Is Dead 5: Doug Carn (Jazz Is Dead -20) **
  • Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge: Jazz Is Dead 6: Gary Bartz (Jazz Is Dead, EP) **
  • Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans (577)
  • Natural Information Society/Evan Parker: Descension (Out of Our Constrictions) (Aguirre/Eremite) **
  • RED Trio & Celebration Band: Suite 10 Years Anniversary (NoBusiness, 2CD -20)
  • Ruben Reinaldo & Kely Garcia: Acuarel (Free Code -20)
  • Archie Shepp & Jason Moran: Let My People Go (Archieball) **
  • Sleaford Mods: Spare Ribs (Rough Trade) **
  • Dave Stryker: Baker's Circle (Strikezone)
  • Veronica Swift: This Bitter Earth (Mack Avenue) **
  • Three-Layer Cake: Stove Top (RareNoise) *
  • Thumbscrew: Never Is Enough (Cuneiform) **
  • Yuma Uesaka/Cat Toren/Colin Hinton: Ocelot (577)
  • Michael Waldrop: Time Frames (Origin)
  • Miguel Zenón & Luis Perdomo: El Arte Del Bolero (Miel Music) **
  • Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet: Social Distancing (Saponegro)
  • Lina Allemano Four: Vegetables (Lumo) **
  • Franco Ambrosetti Band: Lost Within You (Unit)
  • Tamar Aphek: All Bets Are Off (Kill Rock Stars) **
  • Rahsaan Barber: Mosaic (Jazz Music City, 2CD)
  • Nik Bärtsch: Entendre (ECM) **
  • Jon Batiste: We Are (Verve) **
  • Benny the Butcher: The Plugs I Met 2 (Black Soprano Family, EP) **
  • Dan Blake: Da Fé (Sunnyside)
  • John Butcher/Veryan Weston/Øyvind Stonesund/Dag Erik Kriedal Andersen: Mapless Quiet (Motvind -20) **
  • Sarah Mary Chadwick: Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby (Ba Da Bing!) **
  • Emmet Cohen: Future Stride (Mack Avenue) **
  • Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt: Made Out of Sound (Palilalia) **
  • Charley Crockett: 10 for Slim: Charley Crockett Sings James Hand (Son of Davy) **
  • Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club (Polydor/Interscope) **
  • Benoît Delbecq: The Weight of Light (Pyroclastic)
  • Ani DiFranco: Revolutionary Love (Righteous Babe) **
  • Pat Donaher: Occasionally (none)
  • Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg (4AD) **
  • Scott DuBois: Summer Water (Sunnyside) **
  • Yelena Eckemoff: Adventures of the Wildflower (L&H Production, 2CD)
  • Elephant9: Arrival of the New Elders (Rune Grammofon) **
  • Marianne Faithfull With Warren Ellis: She Walks in Beauty (BMG) **
  • Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra: Promises (Luaka Bop) **
  • David Friesen & Bob Ravenscroft: Passage (Origin)
  • Noah Haidu/Buster Williams/Billy Hart: Slowly: Song for Keith Jarrett (An Die Musik)
  • Frode Haltli: Avant Folk II (Hubro) **
  • The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (Positive Jams) **
  • Joseph Howell Quartet: Live in Japan (Summit)
  • Ethan Iverson/Umbria Jazz Orchestra: Bud Powell in the 21st Century (Sunnyside) **
  • Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier: February Meets Soldier String Quartet (EEG)
  • Achim Kaufmann/Ignaz Schick: Altered Alchemy (Zarek, 2CD)
  • La Femme: Paradigmes (Disque Pointu) **
  • Andy LaVerne: Rhapsody (SteepleChase) **
  • Lukas Ligeti: That Which Has Remaind . . . That Which Will Emerge . . . (Col Legno)
  • Damon Locks/Black Monument Ensemble: Now (International Anthem) **
  • Doug MacDonald Duo: Toluca Lake Jazz (Doug MacDonald Music)
  • Roberto Magris & Eric Hochberg: Shuffling Ivories (JMood)
  • Mai-Liis: Mai-Liis on Life (OA2)
  • Mast: Battle Hymns of the Republic (World Galaxy) **
  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Songs of Joy (Ubuntu Music)
  • Simon Moullier Trio: Countdown (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • Nortonk: Nortonk (Biophilia) **
  • Jeannine Otis: Into My Heart (Adrielle Music/Monpolyhouse)
  • Nicki Parrott: If You Could Read My Mind (Arbors) **
  • Rich Pellegrin: Solitude: Solo Improvisations (OA2)
  • Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction) (Dark Entries) **
  • Jason Ringenberg: Rhinestoned (Courageous Chicken) **
  • Dan Rose/Claudine Francois: New Leaves (Ride Symbol)
  • Schapiro 17: Human Qualities (Summit)
  • Charlie Sepúlveda: Charlie Sepülveda & the Turnaround (HighNote)
  • Idit Shner: Live at the Jazz Station (OA2)
  • Grete Skarpeid: Beyond Other Stories (Origin)
  • Skarbø Skulekorps: Dugnad (Hubro) **
  • Dr. Lonnie Smith: Breathe (Blue Note) **
  • Jim Snidero: Live at the Deer Head Inn (Savant)
  • Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel's 20th Century in 100 Songs (Louisiana Red Hot) **
  • Natsuki Tamura/Satoko Fujii: Keshin (Libra)
  • Alexa Tarantino: Firefly (Posi-Tone) **
  • The Weather Station: Ignorance (Fat Possum) **
  • Chris White/Lara Driscoll: Firm Roots (Firm Roots)

  • Albare: Albare Plays Jobim Vol. 2 (Alfi)
  • Julien Baker: Little Oblivions (Matador) **
  • Baker's Brew: New Works (Psychosomatic, 2CD)
  • Cabaret Voltaire: Dekadrone (Mute) **
  • Cowboys & Frenchmen: Our Highway (Outside In Music)
  • Dan Ex Machina: Bail Shag EP (self-released, EP) **
  • Michael Dease: Give It All You Got (Posi-Tone) **
  • The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band Featuring Bonnie Eisele: Hot Night in Venice: Live at the Venice Jazz Club (Origin)
  • Rebecca Dumaine and the Dave Miller Trio: Someday, Someday (Summit)
  • Yoav Eshed/Lex Korten/Massimo Biolcati/Jongkuk Kim: A Way Out (Sounderscore)
  • Jared Feinman: Love Is an Obstacle (West of Philly) *
  • Focusyear Band 2021: Bosque (Neuklang)
  • Futari: Beyond (Libra)
  • Ghetts: Conflict of Interest (Warner) **
  • The Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble: Jagged Spaces (Grassvita Music)
  • Barry Guy: Irvin's Comet (NoBusiness -20)
  • Roderick Harper: Evolving (R.H.M. Entertainment)
  • Hennessy Six/Colorado Springs Youth Symphony: The Road Less Traveled (Summit)
  • Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom (Fridman Gallery) **
  • Jazz Worms: Squirmin' (Capri)
  • Katarsis 4: Live at the Underground Water Reservoir (NoBusiness -20)
  • Mark Lewis Quartet: Naked Animals (Audio Daddio)
  • Johan Lindström Septett: On the Asylum (Moserobie)
  • Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas: Soundprints: Other Worlds (Greenleaf Music)
  • A Love Electric: Permanent Immigrant (Imagination Demand -20) **
  • Madlib: Sound Ancestors (Madlib Invazion) **
  • Madre Vaca: The Elements (Madre Vaca)
  • Shai Maestro: Human (ECM) **
  • Wu Man/Kojiro Umezaki: How (In a Circle)
  • Meridian Odyssey: Second Wave (Origin)
  • Gary Negbaur: You've Got to Be Carefully Taught (BluJazz)
  • Larry Newcomb Quartet: Love, Dad (Essential Messenger)
  • Palberta: Palberta 5000 (Wharf Cat) **
  • Evan Parker Quartet: All Knavery and Collusion (Cadillac) **
  • Ben Patterson: Push the Limits (Origin)
  • Reggie Quinerly: New York Nowhere (Redefinition)
  • Dan Rose: Last Night . . . (Ride Symbol)
  • Jeff Rosenstock: Ska Dream (Polyvinyl) **
  • The Justin Rothberg Group: Hurricane Mouse (self-released)
  • Jacques Schwarz-Bart: Soné Ka-La 2: Odyssey (Enja)
  • Zoe Scott: Shades of Love (Zoe Scott Music -20)
  • Serpentwithfeet: Deacon (Secretly Canadian) **
  • Slowthai: Tyron (Method) **
  • Tony Tixier: I Am Human (Whirlwind, EP) **
  • Sabu Toyozumi/Mats Gustafsson: Hokusai (NoBusiness -20)
  • Theo Walentiny: Looking Glass (self-released)
  • Rodney Whitaker: OutroSpection: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin)
  • Nate Wooley/Liudas Mockunas/Barry Guy/Arkadijus Gotesmanas: NOX (NoBusiness)
  • Jakob Bro/Arve Henriksen/Jorge Rossy: Uma Elmo (ECM) **
  • Nick Cave & Warren Ellis: Carnage (AWAL) **
  • Joe Chambers: Samba De Marcatu (Blue Note) **
  • Avishai Cohen: Two Roses (Naive) **
  • Randal Despommier: Dio C'è (Outside In Music)
  • Signe Emmeluth: Hi Hello I'm Signe (Relative Pitch) **
  • Amit Friedman: Unconditional Love (Origin)
  • Marcus Joseph: Beyond the Dome (Jazz Re:freshed) **
  • Joe Lovano: Trio Tapestry: Garden of Expression (ECM) **
  • Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun (BMG Modern) **
  • Willie Nelson: That's Life (Legacy) **
  • Nubiyan Twist: Freedom Fables (Strut) **
  • Charlie Porter: Hindsight (OA2)
  • R+R=Now: Live (Blue Note) **
  • Greg Skaff: Polaris (Smoke Sessions) **
  • John Stowell/Dan Dean: Rain Painting (Origin)
  • Rodney Whitaker With the Christ Church Cranbrook Choir: Cranbrook Christmas Jazz (Origin)
  • Greg Yasinitsky Yazz Band: New Normal (Origin)
  • Reza Khan: Imaginary Road (Painted Music)
  • Amber Weekes: My Romance: A Special Valentin (Amber Inn Productions, EP)

Limited sampling: Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society: Mandatory Reality (Eremite) **
  • Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Ding Dong. You're Dead. (Rune Grammofon) **

Reissues/Compilations/Vault Music:

In previous years I tried to separate reissues from compilations, including newly released vault items in the latter. This made sense when I was reviewing a lot of Recycled Goods material, but led to other problems with year-end lists, so as of 2013 anything containing any previously released material is collected here, and anything that is wholly previously unreleased is treated as new, above.

  1. Schlippenbach & Johansson: Onkel Pös Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1978 (SÅJ) **
  2. Sam Rivers Quartet: Braids [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 4] (1979, NoBusiness -20)
  3. Juju: Live at 131 Prince Street (1973, Strut) **

Pending (sorted by artist, or release date if future).

Also Noted:

  • Henry Franklin: The Skipper (1972, Black Jazz/Real Gone Music) **
  • Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977 (Origin, 2CD)
  • Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band: Hot Night in Roslyn: 1976 Radio Broadcast Recording (Hobo) **
  • Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy (1992, Strut) **
  • Roberto Miranda's Home Music Ensemble: Live at Bing Theatre: Los Angeles, 1985 (Dark Tree)
  • Now That's What I Call Music! Outlaw Country (1968-2015, NOW) **
  • Sun Ra: On Jupiter (1979, Enterplanetary Koncepts) **
  • Steve Tintweiss and the Purple Why: Markstown (1968, Inky Dot Media)
  • Derek Baiey/Mototeru Takagi: Live at FarOut, Atsugi 1987 (NoBusiness -20)
  • The Cucumbers: The Desk Drawer Tapes (1988-2005, Life Force) **
  • Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1 (1980-85, Analog Africa) **
  • Allen Ginsberg's The Fall of America: A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute (Ginsberg) **
  • New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers: Volume 2 (2007, Stony Plain) **
  • Ojoyo: Plays Safrojazz (1996, Sunnyside)
  • Nancy Sinatra: Start Walkin' 1965-1976 (Light in the Attic) **
  • Joe Strummer: Assembly (1986-2002, Dark Horse) **
  • Masauyki JoJo Takayanagi/Nobuyoshi Ino/Masabumi PUU Kikuchi: Live at Jazz Inn Lovely 1990 (NoBusiness -20)
  • Neil Young: Young Shakespeare (1971, Reprise) **
  • Neil Young With Crazy Horse: Way Down in the Rust Bucket (1990, Reprise, 2CD) **
  • Don Cherry: Cherry Jam (1965, Gearbox, EP) **
  • La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990 (Bongo Joe) **
  • Gary Lucas: The Essential Gary Lucas (Knitting Factory, 2CD) **
  • Chester Thompson: Powerhouse (1971, Black Jazz/Real Gone Music) **
  • Juozas Milasius/Tomas Kulavicius/Dalius Naujokaitis/Lithuanian Young Composers Orchestra: Live at Willisau, 1993 (NoBusiness -20)