Despite Covid, the tumultuous election, and the lack of live performances, 2020 resulted in a large assortment of very good jazz CDs being released. Do not let anyone try to convince you that CDs are extinct or passé. Even with all of the difficulties, CDs continued to pour out on a regular basis. Relatively few recordings were actually made after February 2020 (other than one-man band efforts, trio dates where everyone kept their distance, or overdubbed sessions) but luckily there was a big backlog of recordings from 2019 to contend with and enjoy.
Here are the 35 new releases (covering many different approaches and styles) and 20 sets of reissues/historic music CDs that made the biggest impression on me in 2020, listed in alphabetical order by artist. Since I do not focus exclusively on cutting-edge music, this list is certainly much different than any other lists that others will compile of the top 2020 recordings. Every one of these recordings is highly recommended. Of course there are scores of other worthy releases from all over the world that could have made this list; I could have easily listed 100 in each category. No matter how much one tries to listen to every possible jazz recording, it is impossible to hear them all, but I’m doing my best! Suffice it to say, get these recordings and then tell me what was left out. I’ll look forward to hearing them in 2021.
Dear friends & fellow music lovers,
At this time of unprecedented global uncertainty, with such tremendous hardship for so many people on so many levels...I am almost at a loss for words. Of course, I wish you safety & wellness during these tough times. I also hope that however you are currently being affected by this pandemic, you find the strength to keep on moving forward...with love in your heart.
One thing I know for sure is that music is a healing balm for our spirits. In the darkest times of history, we humans have always used song as a kind of prayer, as a way back to our faith....whatever that faith might look like. So remember to sing in the shower, in the car, while you wash dishes, anywhere!...it will uplift you, I guarantee it. Surround yourself with familiar tunes that bring back happy memories as well as new music that soothes, uplifts, and inspires you. When I made my album FAR MORE just a few years ago, it was my hope that listeners would be able to sing along & hopefully, experience some peace while listening. Check it out, it's about 20 minutes of "chill electronica" original songs as well as covers and I'm very proud of the work I did with my uber talented & frequent collaborator John Ballinger.
Or check out my latest release, GIRL GONE WILDER! — also produced with and beautifully arranged by John Ballinger. It's a completely different genre (and a new one for me as a singer) — vintage jazz covers in the style of Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald — with some swingin' cocktail hour tunes, romantic love songs, and bittersweet, haunting melodies.
Most importantly, be safe, stay at home, keep some distance from others, and know that this too shall pass. We will get through this together. Until that worldwide dance party in the future happens...be well.
A nod to the legendary jazz composer, Susannah's cleverly titled Girl Gone Wilder! paints a "verbal portrait of Wilder as complex, emotional, and lonely" which was illustrated with strong performances of songs that reflected those traits.
In an exciting departure from pop music, Susannah has taken on the challenging jazz genre. Reviewers congratulate Susannah for bringing a "familiar sound and fusing it with her stunning vocal ability," which she puts to best use on Girl Gone Wilder!