10 Albums You Need to Know: January 2021

The stride piano tradition revisited; video game music getting elite big band treatment; a jazz visionary’s 10-volume magnum opus. All this and more in our list of ten new albums out this January 2021 that you need to know.


Andy James, Tu Amor (Le Coq)

Release date: January 8

Vocalist Andy James’ passion for jazz singing and Flamenco dancing come together on Tu Amor, with arrangements by Bill Cunliffe and featuring an all-star lineup including, among others, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta and John Beasley. This album, featuring classics and an original piece by percussionist Alex Acuña, is also the first solo release by an artist on Le Coq, the new label James founded with her husband Piero Pata.


The 8-Bit Big Band, Backwards Compatible (Teamchuck)

Release date: January 8

Charlie Rosen and his spectacular 70+ ensemble, The 8-Bit Big Band, return with a brand new collection of arrangements of music from the “Great Video Game Songbook.” Backwards Compatible is their third full-length recording and compiles new arrangements of compositions from the score of some of the most beloved video games of all time, including Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario Land, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and more.


Miguel Zenón and Luis Perdomo, El Arte del Bolero (Miel)

Release date: January 8

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón and pianist Luis Perdomo share their passion for the bolero with the world on their new collaborative album. In doing so, they revisit its legacy in the development of jazz. Recorded in one take at New York City’s The Jazz Gallery in September 2020, El Arte del Bolero sees them performing fresh duo renditions on familiar classics of the bolero and also celebrating the vocalists of this Hispanic genre.


Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, The Democracy! Suite (Blue Engine)

Release date: January 15

The Democracy! Suite is Wynton Marsalis’ follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Ever Fonky Lowdown and was written in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as a response to the political, social and economic struggles facing the United States. The suite is performed by the trumpet great alongside handpicked members of the acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and, having traveled as a touring concert film, is available this month exclusively via Blue Engine on digital platforms.


Leon Lee Dorsey, Thank You, Mr. Mabern (JazzAvenue 1)

Release date: January 20

Bassist Leon Lee Dorsey’s Thank You, Mr. Mabern! is a trio session recorded two months prior to the passing of the late jazz luminary Harold Mabern last year, and compiles new renditions of quintessential compositions popularized throughout the pianist/composer’s illustrious career. Former Headhunters drummer Mike Clark is also featured alongside Dorsey and Mabern.


Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, I Told You So (Colemine)

Release date: January 29

Having introduced their fresh take on the organ jazz tradition on their acclaimed 2018 debut album, the acclaimed Seattle-based Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio returns with their sophomore effort, I Told You So. As suggested by its title, the new album reaffirms and strengthens the impact of their fresh blend of jazz, soul and blues, as well as the explosive chemistry shared between Delvon Lamarr on Hammond, Jimmy James on guitar and Dan Weiss on drums.


Emmet Cohen, Future Stride (Mack Avenue)

Release date: January 29

Acclaimed pianist Emmet Cohen takes the stride tradition into our century’s second decade. Future Stride is a forward-looking and personal take on the lessons learned from such greats as Art Tatum and Willie “The Lion” Smith. The music is performed with a band of Cohen’s venerable peers, including longtime rhythm section partners Russell Hall and Kyle Poole, as well as Marquis Hill and Melissa Aldana, two of the most progressive voices in jazz.


Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry, Garden of Expression (ECM)

Release date: January 29

Saxophonist Joe Lovano introduced Trio Tapestry, his brand new ensemble with pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi, on his ECM debut as a leader in 2019. Now, he returns for more on the trio’s sophomore album, Garden of Expression, delving deeper into his tenderly melodic and harmonically open side, showcasing sublime chemistry with his creative partners and their interaction with each other, which Lovano defines as “magical.”


Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Bernstein Reimagined (MCG Jazz)

Release date: January 29

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra celebrates the legacy of Leonard Bernstein, mining the legendary composer’s vast repertoire for a vibrantly diverse program of pieces rarely performed in a jazz context. Bernstein Reimagined was commissioned as part of the worldwide celebration of Bernstein’s centennial year in 2018 and is being released on record for the first time.


William Parker, Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World (Centering)

Release date: January 29

Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World is William Parker’s much-awaited 10-volume magnum opus. It features vocal and instrumental suites recorded between 2018 and 2020, performed in a wide variety of settings and drawing influences from an eclectic range of musics and the world at large, testifying to the bassist/composer/bandleader’s visionary nature and expansive creativity.


Featured photo by Taili Song Roth.

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