Sound Grammar: the 25 Best Recordings of 2020

Dean and Britta (with Luna) playing Portland in February, a few weeks before going into quarantine. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Pedernal
Susan Alcorn Quintet
(Relative Pitch)

Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Fiona Apple
(Epic)

Pursuance: the Coltranes
Lakecia Benjamin
(Bandcamp)

Quarantine Tapes
Dean & Britta
(Bandcamp)

The Unraveling
Drive-By Truckers
(ATO)

Ghosts of West Virginia
Steve Earle & The Dukes
(New West) 

The Lost Berlin Tapes 
Ella Fitzgerald
(Verve)

America at War
Joel Harrison
(Sunnyside)

Budapest Concert
Keith Jarrett
(ECM)

Blacktop Run
Sonny Landreth
(Provogue)

Mabern Plays Mabern
Harold Mabern
(Smoke Sessions)

We’re New Again: a Reimagining
Makaya McCraven / Gil Scott-Heron
(XL)

Exquisite
Mekons
(Mekorpse)

Palo Alto
Thelonious Monk
(Impulse!)

No Tears Suite (For the Little Rock Nine)
Christopher Parker and Kelley Hurt
(Mahakala)

All Rise
Gregory Porter
(Blue Note)

That’s How Rumors Get Started
Margo Price
(Loma Vista)

Rawer Than Raw
Bobby Rush
(Deep Rush Records)

We Are Sent Here by History
Shabaka and the Ancestors
(Impulse!)

Blonde on the Tracks
Emma Swift
(Continental)

It is What It is
Thundercat
(Brainfeeder)

José Martí en Nueva York
Manuel Valera & the New Cuban Express Big Band
(Greenleaf)

Old Played New
Christina Vane
(Blue Tip Records)

Keepin’ It Real
Bobby Watson and the Horizon Band
(Smoke Sessions)

Mind Hive
Wire
(Pink Flag)

 

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3