10 Albums You Need to Know: February 2021

A highly-anticipated live album debut; an astronomical thrash-jazz showcase; a 63-piece orchestra jazz fusion epic. All this and more in our list of ten albums out this month that you need to know about.

 

Archie Shepp and Jason Moran, Let My People Go (Archieball)

Release date: February 5

Let My People Go gathers a number of live duet performances by two jazz masters: saxophonist Archie Shepp and pianist Jason Moran. This is also their first album together. Gathering their live versions of Negro spirituals and classics from 2017 and 2018, with Shepp on vocals on several of its tracks, the record documents two deeply connected souls bonding musically over their shared love of the jazz tradition.

 

Jakob Bro, Uma Elmo (ECM)

Release date: February 12

Uma Elmo is the characteristically atmospheric and richly melodic new album by Jakob Bro and marks his fifth album for ECM. It also showcases his new trio with Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy. Despite their musical synergy, the three musicians performed together for the first time ever for this album’s sessions in Lugano, Switzerland, with ECM founder Manfred Eicher producing.

 

R+R=NOW, R+R=NOW Live (Blue Note)

Release date: February 12

R+R=NOW Live is the first live album by jazz supergroup R+R=NOW, formed by Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin and Justin Taylor. The music was recorded at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City in October 2018, shortly after the release of their debut album Collagically Speaking, and includes live renditions of tracks from the record and more.

 

Cameron Graves, Seven (Artistry)

Release date: February 19

Pianist/vocalist/composer Cameron Graves conceptually draws on his interest in theology, astrology, astronomy and martial arts for his brand new, eleven-track program of new-gen jazz fusion featuring his core quartet and guest spots by fellow West Coast Get Down clique members. Seven is also a showcase of Graves’ own thrash-jazz, which is influenced by metal and hard rock.

 

John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Cunliffe, Trio (Le Coq)

Release date: February 19

Veteran jazz virtuosos pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta join forces for the first time as a trio. This album, simply titled Trio, captures their high-spirited, vigorously swinging standards session, including takes on compositions by George Shearing, Chick Corea, Miles Davis and more, and is released via the new imprint Le Coq.

 

José James, José James: New York 2020 (Rainbow Blonde)

Release date: February 19

Singer/songwriter José James played no shows in 2020, yet finds a way to bring live music to the people on his first-ever live album. José James: New York 2020 documents two live sets recorded at Levon Helm Studios and (Le) Poisson Rouge, performed with what James has defined via a Facebook post as what “might be the best band I’ve ever had.”

 

Lyle Workman, Uncommon Measures (Blue Canoe)

Release date: February 19

Uncommon Measures is the first album by multi-instrumentalist Lyle Workman in more than a decade. The album is an epic progressive rock and jazz fusion collection featuring a 63-piece orchestra under the direction of John Ashton Thomas. “This record ties together all the different threads of who I am,” explains Workman, adding that it took four years to make but is “really the culmination of a lifetime in music.”

 

Ben Monder, Live at the 55 Bar (Sunnyside)

Release date: February 26

Recorded last March as the world was on the brink of shutting down, Live at The 55 Bar is a cathartic record by guitarist Ben Monder and his bassless trio with longtime collaborators, saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey. Their fully improvised and organically flowing three-part suite, produced by Joseph Branciforte and recorded at the title New York City venue, reinforces the importance of live music made in the moment.

 

Joe Chambers, Samba de Maracatu (Blue Note)

Release date: February 26

Multi-instrumentalist Joe Chambers makes his Blue Note return with Samba de Maracatu, a nine-song set of original compositions, standards and pieces by Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson and Horace Silver. The album sees him playing drums, vibraphone and percussion alongside Brad Merritt and Steve Haines, and includes a guest appearance from rapper MC Parrain on one of the tracks.

 

Thumbscrew, Never Is Enough (Cuneiform)

Release date: February 26

Top avant-jazz collective trio Thumbscrew – formed by Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanex and Tomas Fujiwara – present a new batch of original songs refined as they worked on The Anthony Braxton Project, released last year. Never Is Enough is their sixth album in seven years and sees them continuing to take the simple guitar trio into new territories via unmatched musical interplay and focused forward momentum.

 

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