Jazz may not have the mainstream cultural dominance that it once did, but it remains a thriving, multi-faceted form of music that continues to have so much more to say. Jazz informs so much of the rap and electronic music that does have mainstream cultural dominance today, and it's long popped up in indie rock, metal, punk, and other styles of popular music too. Though jazz never went away, the past few years have seen a serious jazz renaissance that continues to grow, branch out into new innovative territory, and attract new listeners. The world of jazz is so vast and we don't claim to be experts of all of it, but if you're looking to catch up on some of the great jazz albums released in 2020, we put together a list of 15 that we strongly recommend. It's not a definitive best-of, and we probably haven't even heard all of the great jazz albums released this year, but we'd like to think it's a pretty good place to start.
Read on for the list. What were your favorite jazz albums of 2020?
Nubya Garcia - Source
Nubya Garcia was already a household name within the UK jazz scene thanks to playing on modern classics like Ezra Collective's Juan Pablo: The Philosopher, Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings, and Sons of Kemet's Your Queen Is A Reptile; playing in the bands Maisha and Nérija; and releasing a couple well-liked EPs; but with Source -- her first full-length album as a bandleader -- she's made her grandest statement yet. As a London-based musician with immigrant parents from Guyana and Trinidad, Nubya's life has always been rooted in diaspora, and that comes across in the music on Source, which ties spiritual jazz to dub, cumbia, Afrobeat, soul, and more across nine deep, bold songs. Produced by Solange collaborator Kwes and featuring members of Ezra Collective, KOKOROKO, Nérija, and others, Source has an impressive cast, and Nubya knows when to hand the spotlight over to a guest vocalist or another musician and when to take it for one of her stirring sax solos. But no matter who's center stage at any given moment, the vision is all Nubya's, and that vision led to one of the year's most simultaneously dizzying and heartwarming records.