10 Albums You Need to Know: June 2020

A funk master’s first studio album in years; a musical “dissection” of black life in America; a hard bop messenger keeping it real. All this and more on our list of ten albums released this month that you need to know about.


Ambrose Akinmusire, on the tender spot of every calloused moment (Blue Note)

Release date: June 5

On the tender spot of every calloused moment asserts Ambrose Akinmusire as one of the top trumpeters in the world and affirms his talents as a composer via eleven originals, which present a contemporary and compelling blend of modern jazz that powerfully aims to dissect the complexity of black life in America. The album features Akinmusire’s longtime bandmates: pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown.


Dave Stryker with Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band, Blue Soul (Strikezone)

Release date: June 5

Saxophonist Bob Mintzer serves as the principal conductor of Germany’s acclaimed WDR Big Band. Dave Stryker is one of the top guitarists on the scene. Blue Soul brings them together on a new collaborative project. The album features new big band arrangements by Mintzer of some of Stryker’s previous works. The selection was drawn from the guitarist’s own original compositions and the ‘70s pop tunes from his Eight Track series.


John Scofield, Swallow Tales (ECM)

Release date: June 5

Guitar great John Scofield returns to the trio format on his new album, Swallow Tales. This ECM release was recorded in just one day and finds him paying tribute to his friend and mentor Steve Swallow via interpretations of some of his compositions. Swallow himself is featured on the record, teaming up with longtime Scofield collaborator, drummer Bill Stewart, to form Swallow Tales’ driving swinging foundations. Click here to listen to our interview with Scofield for JAZZIZ Daily Brunch.


Boney James, Solid (Concord)

Release date: June 12

Boney James is a smooth jazz icon and he continues his artistic evolution on his uplifting new album, Solid, where he carries on in his pursuit of breaking down genre barriers. The album features eleven tracks, all of which were produced and written or co-written by the saxophonist. The single “Be Here” also includes R&B star, Kenny Lattimore. Click here to listen to our interview with James for JAZZIZ Daily Brunch.


GoGo Penguin, GoGo Penguin (Blue Note)

Release date: June 12

Acclaimed British instrumental trio GoGo Penguin return with a brand new, self-titled album where they once again blur the lines between jazz, neoclassical and such modern styles as electronica and EDM. The new songs find them expanding on their rich sonic palette, exploring the space and tension created by this invigorating mix of influences with a surprisingly limited arsenal of effects. Click here to listen to our interview with Chris Illingworth and Nick Blacka on GoGo Penguin for the JAZZIZ Happy Hour.


Norah Jones, Pick Me Up Off the Floor (Blue Note)

Release date: June 12

Norah Jones returns with her first album since 2016’s Day Break. Pick Me Up Off the Floor, is a collection of songs left over from sessions with collaborators. It presents an eclectic range of influences – blues, soul, Americana and various shades of jazz – but holds together beautifully, connected by the sly groove of her piano trios. The bulk of the program explores various types of pain and trauma, constructing a narrative that leans into darkness before ultimately finding the light.


Rudresh Mahanthappa, Hero Trio (Whirlwind)

Release date: June 19

Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa celebrates some of his musical heroes on his 16th album as a leader, Hero Trio. The record finds him leading a cordless trio of longtime collaborators and together they perform his imaginative arrangements of compositions by Sonny Rollins (an innovator of the cordless trio), June Carter Cash, Stevie Wonder and Charlie Parker, among others. Click here to listen to our interview with Mahanthappa for the JAZZIZ Daily Brunch.


Bobby Watson, Keepin’ It Real (Smoke Sessions)

Release date: June 26

A former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, saxophonist/composer Bobby Watson has been committed to keeping the creative flame of the hard bop tradition burning. In the spirit of his mentor, on Keepin’ It Real, he debuts a new incarnation of his Horizon quintet, performing a program of originals and covers with a team of hungry young collaborators and founding band member Curtis Lundy. Click here to listen to our interview with Bobby Watson for the JAZZIZ Happy Hour. 


Derrick Hodge, Color of Noize (Blue Note)

Release date: June 26

“It’s the contrast, it’s the beauty, it’s the chaos, it’s the freedom,” says visionary artist Derrick Hodge of the melting pot of influences that his new album, Color of Noize, reflects. The tracklist is made up entirely of his own original compositions, the one exception being a take on Wayne Shorter’s “Fall.” Color of Noize, co-produced by Don Was, is also his first album to feature a live band playing throughout, with Hodge himself supplying bass, keys, guitars and voice.


Maceo Parker, Soul Food – Cooking with Maceo (Funk Garage/Mascot Label Group)

Release date: June 26

Saxophonist/funk master Maceo Parker returns with his first studio albums in eight years. Soul Food – Cooking with Maceo blends raw, old-school funk with the flavors of New Orleans. The record finds him collaborating with several acclaimed New Orleans musicians to perform versions of iconic songs from such Mississippi masters as Dr. John, The Meters, Prince and more, as well as a selection of his own compositions.


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