2020 has been strange, but once again, WWOZ show hosts are compiling lists of their favorite recordings of the year. Let those-in-the-know point you to the latest great tunes and help you catch up on what you might have missed.
T.R. Johnson | Sondra Bibb | Logan | Duane Williams | Charles Laborde and Jim Hobbs | DJ Swamp Boogie | Jennifer Brady | Michael Longfield | Breaux Bridges| Carrie Booher | Alski | Boudin Man | Ol' Man River | Murf Reeves | Missy Bowen | Slangston Hughes | Charles Burchell | Cole Williams | David Kunian
T.R. Johnson, host of the Tuesday edition of Jazz from the French Market, 4-7p
Album of the year: "Rainbow Sign" by Ron Miles
Close runner-up: "Who are You" by Joel Ross.
Here are the others that I consider keepers for the long haul, listed alphabetically by album title:
"The Art of Intimacy, Vol 1" by Jeremy Pelt
"Artemis" by Artemis
"Be Water" by Christian Sands
"The Color of Noize" by Derrick Hodge
"Cri$el Gems" by Paul Bryant
"Dinner Party" by Terrace Martin
"The Dockside Sessions" by Brad Walker
"Fly Moon Die Soon" by Takuya Kuroda
"Happenings: Live at the Village Vanguard" by Gerald Clayton
"Kindred Spirits" by Charles Lloyd
"King Butch" by Butcher Brown
"Life Goes On" by Carla Bley
"Meeting in Progress" by Nutria
"Night Dreamer" by Gary Bartz and Maisha
"Omega" by Emmanual Wilkerson
"Pick Me Up Off the Ground" by Norah Jones
"Rosewood" by Mike Dillon
"Round Again" by Josh Redman
"The Shadows and the Light" by Quinn Kirchner
"Suite for Max Brown" by Jeff Parker
"Three" by Gilfema
"To Cy and Leigh" by Alabaster DePlume
"Unanimous Sources" by Jeff Albert
"Wu Hen" by Kamaal Williams.
Sondra Bibb, host of Jazz from the French Market, Wednesdays, 4 - 7pm
Charles Lloyd 8:Kindred Spirits (Live from the Lobero)
Pat Metheny, From This Place
Christian Sands, Be Water
Billy Childs, Acceptance
Ron Miles, Rainbow Sign
Kurt Elling, Secrets Are The Best Stories
Kassa Overall, Shades of Flu - Healthy Remixes For An Ill Moment
Immanuel Wilkins, Omega
Keith Jarrett, Budapest Concert
Logan, host of Transatlantic, Tuesdays, MID - 3:00am
My list is short but oh so sweet:
#1. Tony Allen and Hugh Masakela: rejoice
#2. Little Freddie King: Going Upstairs
#3. Mulatu Astatke + Black Jesus Experience: To Know Without Knowing
#4. Ambrose Akinmusire: on the tender spot of every calloused moment
Duane Williams, host of What's New, Sundays, 10pm - MIDNIGHT
Favorite Records of 2020 in no particular order:
10. Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn’s Self-titled album. This collaboration was such a breath of fresh air. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a fun dance, combining Appalachian music with folk tunes from Xinjian province. I kept ignoring it as popped up in my feed and deeply regret not giving it a listen sooner. Just more proof that music can bring us all closer together even in a year like this one.
9. Lenora Zenzalai Helm’s album For The Love of Big Band was a nice revisiting of the days of big band. Appropriate for the return of the Roaring 20s. It’s a fun throwback with some fun new takes to some traditional tunes.
8. Joy, the latest work from Benjamin Boone & The Ghana Jazz Collective. This album was a treat from beginning to end. Another fantastic blending of cultures brought together to make some beautiful music.
7. One shocking single to come out this year was The Real Folk Blues from Mason Lieberman and Yoko Kanno. To have The Seatbelts come back out of retirement to cover their own work from nearly twenty years ago as a fundraiser for COVID research was an absolute blast from the past which I couldn’t stop listening to for a while.
6. Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons just has an amazing blend of powerful music and spoken word. Covering the history of Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mohamed Ali. It paints a great picture covering not just the version of history we all learned in school, but even some corrections they spoke out about later in their lives. Again, it helps to remove that feeling of knowing everything by teaching you something new.
5. Thelonious Monk’s Palo Alto album. An album which is only around thanks to the talented janitor who sat on the steps by a high school stage to record this performance. A performance which only came about because a high school student reached out to Monk and asked him to come just to try to bring people together over music during such a divided time. Keep in mind this took place in 1968. Thankfully, the performance was preserved and we were treated to it this year.
4. Tobe Nwigwe’s album, The Pandemic Project was a much more powerful piece than I expected. A friend had pointed me in the direction of a more comical song from the album. When I listened to the rest of it, I couldn’t wait to play it on the air. Given some of the calls I received, it also touched you.
3. The Rolling Stones caught me completely off guard by randomly dropping Goat’s Head Soup (2020 Deluxe). I never saw a hint of it coming and then all of a sudden I lost an entire day just sitting back and enjoying their live performance in Brussels from ’73 and their more recent performances in 2020 from the studio. Just an outstanding collection that let me enjoy some of the new and old from these legends.
2. In the same vein as the Stones, Bob Dylan first caught me unawares by randomly releasing a single he had been holding onto for years. Murder Most Foul. A seventeen minute tribute to JFK and his assassination. If that wasn’t enough, nearly two months later he released an entire album including that track. Rough and Rowdy Ways was another great surprise from Dylan which did not disappoint.
1. Yusuf’s rerecording of his iconic album Tea for the Tillerman, now Tea for the Tillerman 2 was a nice tweaking to most of the tunes he became famous for performing back in the 70s.
Charles Laborde and Jim Hobbs, co-hosts of the Cajun and Zydeco Show, Sundays, NOON - 2pm, AKA "Lache Pas!
Best Cajun, Creole and Zydeco recordings of 2020
Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours. "Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours." Self-released. (Grammy nominee)
Daiquiri Queens. "Daiquiri Queens." Self-released. Features New Orleans’ own John Dowden on accordion and fiddle.
Feufollet: Prends Courage: A 20 Year Retrospective (Feufollet Records)
Lost Bayou Ramblers: On Va Continuer! (DVD & CD) (Worklight Records)
Michot's Melody Makers. "Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn." Nouveau Electric Records NER 1012, 2020.
Sweet Cecilia. "A Tribute to Al Berard." Self-released. (Grammy nominee)
DJ Swamp Boogie, host of R&B with DJ Swamp Boogie, Thursdays, 7 - 10pm
Here are my favorite releases for 2020. List is no particular order. All rank #1.
1. Trouble, Reverend John Wilkins, Goner Records. This posthumous release is simply perfect. Performances by Rev. Wilkins with his three daughters, including backing instrumentation from Memphis' finest musicians. Expertly recorded at the legendary Royal Studios (Hi Records, Al Green Ann Peebles, etc) by Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell (son of Willie Mitchell), and produced by Amos Harvey, this record transcends Blues, Gospel and Soul. A must have for music lovers.
2. You Make Me Feel, Don Bryant, Fat Possum Records. The second release on Fat Possum showcases the superb singing of Don Bryant. Produced and recorded by Scott Bomar, serious soul fans need to grab this immediately. Nominated for a Grammy. Catch me singing in my car to this one.
3. Expect the Unexpected, 79rs Gang, Sinking City Records. Authentic, raw, innovative and danceable. This album takes the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Tradition to new horizons. The lyricism and delivery are astonishing. Grab this now. Independent label release from New Orleans.
4. Nouveau Electric Records Releases. Cosmic Cajuns From Saturn, Michot Melody Makers; La Danse a St. Ann's, Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys. From the brilliant mind of Louis Michot (Lost Bayou Ramblers), Nouveau Electric Records has an ambitious roster of releases focusing on both traditional and innovative artists from Louisiana. Keep a keen eye on this new independent label.
5. Bible and Tire Recording Company Records. Increasingly my favorite music to listen to and collect, Gospel music that straddles soul, funk, and spirituality is represented here with three incredible releases. Two new groups with their debut releases The Sensational Barnes Brothers, Nobody's Fault But My Own and The Dedicated Men Of Zion, Can't Turn Me Around are getting a lot of spins on my program and at home. The re-issue of JCR Records "lost tapes" The Last Shall Be First (various artists) is one of the best gospel compilations to be released. Hats off to former New Orleans resident Michael Hurtt and producer Bruce Watson.
6. WILD CARD: Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Goblin Alert, Goner Records. What can I say? My formative years in New Orleans in the late 90's were spent dancing all night to Q & P at house parties. This one has another layer of personal connection to me; it was recorded in my hometown. Fun, weird and wild, just like it should be.
Keep an eye out for new releases in 2021 from Cedric Burnside (Single Lock Records), Corey Ledet (Nouveau Electric Records), and Ghalia Volt (Ruf Records)!!!!
Jennifer Brady, host of The Midnight Cap, Saturdays MIDNIGHT - 3am
Here are a few of my favorite releases from 2020 in no specific order.
2020 delivered songs to soothe, groove and motivate. There were so many singles released in response to incidents that made this year incredibly unforgettable. Support the artists who gave us the soundtrack and helped us through the past 12 months.
Ani Difranco, single - Do or Die. New Orleans' own Ani Difranco encouraged people to get out and vote, especially now in these unprecedented times.
Lilli Lewis featuring Kirk Joseph & his Backyard Groove, Erica Falls, James Andrews, Glen David Andrews, Roland Guerin, Megan Brunious, Corey J the Rapper single - Mask Up! "Pull that mask up homie, don’t breathe on me."
Bessie Jones - Get in Union - includes a cappellas and spirituals that are so good. All proceeds from the sales benefit NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Little Freddie King - Jaw Jackin' Blues - 80 years old and New Orleans' own Little Freddie is still rockin'!
Cha Wa with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux - Visible Means of Support (No Justice, No Peace)
79rs Gang - Expect the Unexpected - Listen to the Mardi Gras Indians tell their stories.
Stevie Wonder "Can't Put it in the Hands of Fate." The track features Busta Rhymes, Rapsody and backing vocals from 5 of his children.
Michael Longfield, host of Wednesday edition of the Traditional Jazz Show, Thursdays, 9 - 11am
We were lucky the albums that came out this year were light years better than everything else that happened this year, thank goodness!
Atmosphere New Orleans, Nightcrawlers
Is There a Chance for Me?, New Orleans Jazz Vipers
Dr. Michael White Live, Dr. Michael White
New Standards, Tim Laughlin
Quarantine Album: Unreleased B Sides, Tuba Skinny
Live From My Living Room, Glen David Andrews
And these two came out last year but are still in my go-to list:
The Blue Book of Storyville, Don Vappie and Jazz Creole
A Well Tempered Boutté, John Boutté
Breaux Bridges, host of Wednesday edition of the Morning Set, 6 - 9am
While the pandemic prevented musicians from giving many live performances in 2020, it didn’t stop the musicians from releasing many fine recordings. Before listing my favorite recordings, I want to call attention to a special series of live shows that were recorded at Sidebar NOLA in New Orleans and made available for downloading through that club’s Web site, www.sidebarnola.com, and from bandcamp, www.bandcamp.com. Those recordings, The Sidebar Sessions, are:
Vol. 1: The Extended Trio vs. Brad Walker
Vol. 2: Johnny Vidacovich + Mahmoud Chouki
Vol. 3: Helen Gillet + Jason Marsalis + Rick Trolsen
Vol. 4: Will Bernard + James Singleton + Justin Peake
Vol. 5: Quinn Sternberg Quartet with Sam Taylor, Chris Alford, & Brad Webb
Vol. 6: Cindy Scott + Brian Seeger
Vol. 7: Dan Oestreicher + Jonathan Freilich + Kevin Scott
Vol. 8: Cassie Watson Francillon + Martin Krusche
Vol. 9: Phil DeGruy + Mike Dillon
Vol. 10: Gordon Grdina + Mike Gamble
Vol. 11: Instant Opus, feat. Joe Dyson, Jr., Oscar Rossignoli, Jacob Stanley, Quinn Sternberg
And now, on with the show!
Aaron Parks – Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man
Adam Kolker – Lost
Adam Nussbaum – Lead Belly Reimagined
Al Di Meola – Across the Universe
Ambrose Akinmusire – on the tender spot of every calloused moment
Artemis – Artemis
Bill Frisell – Valentine
Blue Note artists – Blue Note Re:Imagined
Bobby Watson & New Horizon – Keepin’ It Real
Brad Mehldau – Suite: April 2020
Brad Walker – The Dockside Sessions
Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, & Steve Swallow – Life Goes On
Charles Lloyd – 8: Kindred Spirits Live from The Lobero
Christian Sands – Be Water
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Axiom
Erik Jekabson Sextet III – One Note at a Time
Esperanza Spaulding & Fred Hersch – Live at the Village Vanguard - Rough Mix EP: A Benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America
Gerald Clayton – Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard
Gilfema – 3
GoGo Penguin – GoGo Penguin
Immanuel Wilkins – Omega
Jeff Parker – Suite for Max Brown
Jimmy Green – While Looking Up
John Scofield, Steve Swallow, & Bill Stewart – Swallow Tales
Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, & Brian Blade -- RoundAgain
Keith Jarrett – Budapest Concert
Kenny Barron/Dave Holland Trio feat. Johnathan Blake – Without Deception
Kurt Knuffke – Brightness Live in Amsterdam
Kurt Rosenwinkel & Bandit 65 – Searching the Continuum
Leni Stern – 4
Liberty Ellman – Last Desert
Lynne Arriale Trio – Chimes of Freedom
Maria Schneider Orchestra – Data Lords
Massimo Biolcati – Incontre
Mike Dillon – Rosewood
Monika Herzig – Eternal Dance
Nir Felder – II
Orrin Evans & The Captain Black Big Band – The Intangible In Between
Pat Metheny – From This Place
Ron Miles – Rainbow Sign
Shabaka & The Ancestors – We Are Sent Here by History
Ted Poor – You Already Know
The Nels Cline Singers – Share the Wealth
Thelonious Monk – Palo Alto
Thomas Marriott – Trumpet Ship
Throttle Elevator Music (feat. Kamasi Washington) – Emergency Exit
Tim Ray – Excursions and Adventures
Troy Roberts – Stuff I Heard
Wolfgang Muthspiel, Scott Colley, & Brian Blade – Angular Blues
Carrie Booher, Digital Content Editior and substitute show host
Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King, Ellis Marsalis, and Jon Cleary The New Orleans Collection. Newvelle Records does it right. This beautiful collection is stripped down and brilliantly executed, displaying these four seminal artists’ skill in its purest form.
79rs Gang Expect the Unexpected
BeauSoleil Evangeline Waltz
Bon Bon Vivant Dancing in Darkness
Goldman Thibodeaux & the Lawtell Playboys La Danse a St. Ann’s
Leyla McCalla Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes
Lost Bayou Ramblers On Va Continuer
Michot’s Melody Makers Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn
Reverend John Wilkins Trouble
Sam Doores Sam Doores
Smoking Time Jazz Club Contrapuntal Stomp and Mean Tones & High Notes
Sweet Crude Officiel/Artificiel
Tank & the Bangas Friend Goals EP
Allan "Alski" Laskey, host of The Rhythm Room, Fridays, 10p - MIDNIGHT
Despite everything a great year for music. If you like what you hear please purchase directly from the musicians.
47SOUL “Semitics” Palestinian hip hop combined with middle eastern riddims.
79'rs Gang “Expect The Unexpected” A giant leap forward for Mardi Gras Indian music.
Antibalas “Fu Chronicles” Pioneers of the second wave of afro beat back with another high quality release.
Bahama Soul Club “Bohemia After Dawn” Jazzy dance music featuring some great samples of Billy Holiday and John Lee Hooker.
Bill Frisell “Harmony” and The Haden Triplets “The Family Songbook” Guitarist continuing the americana /jazz hybrid that he has been doing with Charles LLoyd. Vocals by Petra Haden who along with her siblings released “The Family Songbook” consisting of songs taught to their grandfather by The Carter Family, backed by Mr. Frisell.
Black Light Collective “Black Light Collective” Spiritual Jazz out of Detroit.
Bootsy Collins “The Power of the One” Bootsy is back funky as ever.
Don Bryant “You Make Me Feel” Soul master still going strong.
Durand Jones & The Indications ”American Love Call”. Chicago band with a 1970’s Philly soul vibe.
Izo FitzRoy “How The Mighty Fall” Americana/soul from British songstress.
Kaleta & Super Yamba Band “Mèdaho” Brooklyn based afro beat band with a fresh sound.
Keleketla! “Keleketla!” Great afro pop.
London Afrobeat Collective “Humans”. Branching out from afro beat with a wide range of sounds.
Mourning [A] BLKstar “The Cycle” Spiritual jazz and neo soul from this Cleveland outfit.
Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience “Cradle of Humanity” Legendary saxophonist with Ethiopian soul jazz and rap.
Onipa / Wiyaala ”We No Be Machine” Mixture of African guitar music and electronica.
Quantic & His Combo Bárbaro “Tradition In Transition” This producer is continuing to explore Columbian music along with the great Combo Barbaro.
Rev. John Wilkins “Trouble” A fitting farewell of gospel, soul and blues from the late Reverend.
Ruthie Foster “Live at the Paramount” Ruthie backed by a big band in a live performance.
Sault “Black Is and Rise” Mysterious British soul band with strong political lyrics. Two releases this year and five in the last two years!
Shemekia Copeland “Uncivil War” Roots ,soul and blues from this artist who refuses to be pigeonholed.
Son Rompe Pera “Batuco”. Futuristic cumbia from this marimba led Mexican band.
The Archives “Carry Me Home: A Reggae Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson”
The Chicks “Gaslighter” Formerely (Dixie) Chicks are back with a musically and varied set. Great lyrics as well.
The Mavericks “En Español” Vocalist Raul Malo has never sounded better than on this set of Cuban and Mexican tunes done in a tex-mex style.
The Sorcerers “In Search of the Lost City of the Monkey God” Instrumental group with Ethio-jazz as a starting point with a good helping of funk.
Vaudou Game Feat. Roger Damawuzan “Otodi” Electronica African band gets funky.
Willie Nelson First Rose of Spring Hasn’t lost a step. Back with a great batch of tunes.
Boudin Man, co-host of Kitchen Sink with A.J. Rodrigue and A.A., Wednesdays, 10p - MIDNIGHT
Quintron & Miss PussyCat "Goblin Alert" Don’t miss the chance to see these two! 20 years from now you will be thanking me!!
Quintron "Erotomania Quintron at the Chamberlin"
Michot’s Melody Makers "Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn"
Soul Creole (45) a.) Trois Rangs (Three Rings) b.) Trois Rangs dub
L.E.S. Douze (2. Le String Noise) Recordings from Louis Michot’s residency at The Stone in NYC’s Lower East Side
Lost Bayou Ramblers "Asteur"
Goldman Thibodeaux & The Lawtell Playboys "La Danse A St. Anns"
Daiquiri Queens "Dauquiri Queens"
Keith Frank & The Soileau Zydeco Band "Live from Mamou Volume 1") digital release only
R. Scully "New Confusion"
Static Static "The Future As Dark"
Lakou Mizik "HaitiaNola"
79’rs Gang "Expect the Unexpected"
Colin Lake "Forces of Nature"
Lucinda Williams "Good Souls Better Angels"
Bob Dylan "Rough and Rowdy Ways"
Pretenders "Hate For Sale"
Boudin Man was unable to do his list of favorites in 2019. Here are a few that deserves mentioning!
Malevitus "Malevitus" Check these folks out! New Orleans Supergroup featuring Tiana "M.C. Sweet Tea", Rob Cambre, Marcus Bronson, and Carlo Nuccio
Leyla McCalla "Capitali$t Blues"
Preservation Hall Jazz Band "A Tuba to Cuba"
Preservation Hall Jazz Band "That’s It!"
Ol' Man River, host of the Monday edition of The Morning Set, 6 - 9am
In no particular order:
Harry Smith - B Sides Anthology of American Folk Music
Dockside Sessions- Brad Walker
Rosewood - Mike Dillon
Charles Lloyd 8 - Kindred Spirits
Christian McBride - The Movement Revisited
Michot Melody Makers - Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn
Expect the Unexpected - 79ers Gang
Ron Miles - Rainbow Sign
Throttle Elevator Music - Emergency Exit
Irma Thomas, Ellis Marsalis, Little Freddie King, Jon Cleary - The New Orleans Collection
Lakou Mizik - Haiti NOLA
Michael Cleveland-Tall Fiddler
Billy Strings - Home
Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin Grass
Leigh Harris - Waking up in Dreamland
The Magnificent 7 - Live at Tipitinas
Cyrus Nabipoor - Live at the Marigny Opera House
Johnny Vidacovich - ‘bout Time
Shawn Williams - The Fear of Living/The Fear of Loving
Maceo Parker - Soul Food
The Write Brothers - Into the Sky
Slugger - Eclipse
Dave Easley - Easley Rider
Delfayo Marsalis & Uptown Jazz Orchestra - Jazz Party
Putamayo New Orleans Mambo - Various Artists
(Single) World Keeps Turning - Sam Price & the True Believers
Murf Reeves, WWOZ Music Director and host of the Monday edition of The New Orleans Music Show, 11am - 2pm
This is in no particular order. In spite of all that we had to face in 2020, the musicians of New Orleans and beyond made so much great music to listen to and experience. So much happened in New Orleans, the country and the world and while humanity experienced some intense and necessary growing pains, the music was here to help whenever anyone needed it.
79rs Gang - Expect The Unexpected, Sinking City Records
New Orleans Indians came together in new ways, on this ground breaking peek into the future of New Orleans. Sinking City Records releases have been celebrations of the past as they keep one step ahead of the future.
Alex McMurray - The Lucky Ones, Self Release
Alex McMurray - Road Songs
Not content with one album in 2020, Alex McMurray released two albums. Both are great mirrors of the city as only Alex can see her.
Bobby Rush - Rawer than Raw, Deep Rush Records
Bobby Rush and Little Freddie King are two musicians still living the music they make. Rawer Than Raw is Rush's tribute to the songs and players who influenced him, and it is Rush who is providing most of the music and the power with this stripped down recording.
Brad Walker - The Dockside Sessions, Self Release
A beautiful recording that gives the listener a real sonic image of an artist creating a body of work that responds by recreating itself as it is performed. Walker takes the bold step of including two tracks that do not include himself. rather letting the music take the forefront, regardless of the composer.
Chris Lee Band -Protest Songs and Party Songs
New Orleans rock and roll that felt the need to say something. As America's political climate turned into a storm, artists were compelled to comment on what they were seeing and feeling. This album does that but with a great balance of some fun rock n roll songs.
Colin Lake - Forces of Nature, Splice Records
Colin Lake has a sound he has been growing and cultivating for many years now. About two or three years ago he decided to grow in a different way, by setting sail over the ocean, and is still sailing today. But, he has still found time to make a great album that is filled with hope and happiness, while taking a look inward.
Cyrus Nabipoor - Live at The Marigny Opera House, Self Release
Debut as a leader for trumpeter Cyrus Nabipoor. A beautiful record that is filled with great musical stories. I have been blown away by the quality and quantity of jazz music being made in this city right now. Please support the artists however you can.
Dave Easley - Easley Rider, Self Release
Pedal steel player Dave Easley pops up all over the New Orleans music spectrum. This psychedelic folk album has some messages in the lyrics and Easley's sound is something I have enjoyed more and more as I hear it.
Deltaphonic - The Funk, The Soul, and The Holy Groove
Deltaphonic have a dirty New Orleans rock and roll sound all their own. Each record has an increased focus on the songwriting, yet still maintaining their edge. Deltaphonic can also surprise you with a great slower tempo song like Starlit.
Don Vappie and Jazz Creole - The Bluebook of Storyville, Lejazzetal
An amazing album that feels like a story. A walk through New Orleans in the 18th or early 19th century.
Dr. Michael White - Live, Basin Street Records
A beautiful live recording that celebrates the passion and knowledge Dr. Michael White has for traditional New Orleans jazz.
Fantasy Non Fiction - Fantasy Non Fiction, Self Release
The debut album from Fantasy Non Fiction and a quick, simple pop record that talks about feelings that are anything but simple. The talent in the band is unmistakable. Rose Cangelosi on drums and vocals, Molly Reeves and Nathan Zydbel on guitar, and Nathan Albright on bass.
Glen David Andrews - Live From My Living Room, Self Release
This was one of the first albums I listened to after the pandemic began, and Treme Hideaway made me feel, everything is gonna be alright. "See Down in New Orleans we do what we want, while the rest of ya'll do what ya can!"
Greg Speck - Songs for Accordion, Bass and Percussion, GSRecords
A great collection of songs with really unique instrumentation. The right amount of humor and some serious skills on the accordion. I would listen to Speck when I worked at the farmers markets and I had never heard Weather Report on the accordion. Yes!!
Johnny Vidacovich - Bout Time, Self Release
Drummer and poet Johnny V is one huge part of the heartbeat of the city. Just the way he sees and hears New Orleans is reason enough to check out any of his work. This came out earlier this year, but I did not get into it until just a few months ago.
Killer Whale - Tastes Like Yesterday, Devil In The Woods
My favorite record of 2020. I have been following Thomas Johnson and his songwriting and how he hears the world gives me a sense of psychedelic calm, just like I'm floating down the river.
Leigh Harris - Waking Up In Dreamland, Deeva Records
This is the last recording Leigh did, back in 2014. Harris's voice is an unmistakable sound of the tapestry of New Orleans from the 70's and 80's, whether it was with the Percolators or on her own, Harris owned the songs she sang.
Little Freddie King - Jaw Jackin Blues, WadeWrightRecords
Still making the music, A living legend right in our backyards. This album is a remix album of sorts, combining LFK with some raw bluesy electronic treatments.
Logan Ledger - Logan Ledger, Rounder
I was blown away when I heard this album. A beautiful songwriter with the spirit of Roy Orbison coming through in the way Ledger sings. Most of the albums on this list are from New Orleans, but I have included a few others and this is one of them.
Maceo Parker - Soul Food: Cooking With Maceo, The Funk Garage
Maceo came to New Orleans to make this record and called up a whole bunch of New Orleans musicians, and WWOZ's DJ Soul Sister.
Michael Doucet with Lacher Prise - Lacher Prise, Compass
Beausoleil's Michael Doucet's solo album has a younger, energetic sound. The band he gathered for this recording is several of Louisiana's music makers really putting their stamp on the songs, including Sarah Quintana,Chris French, Chad Viator, and Jim Kolacek.
Michot's Melody Makers - Cosmic Cajuns From Saturn
Louis Michot's project when he is not busy with The Lost Bayou Ramblers. Michot and cohorts explore ancient creole rhythms with droning guitars and electronic treatments taking the songs to places new to all of us.
Mike Dillon - Rosewood, Royal Potato Family
Mike Dillon has come out with something very different than his previous releases. This has a sense of calm, and beauty that is usually hidden behind percussive power and tempo. The punk feel has relaxed just a teeny bit.
Nation of Gumbolia - File, Self Release
Another New Orleans indian album bridging the past with the future. N of G features Joe Lastie, from Preservation Hall fame on the drums and the music is Indian, spiced with R&B, soul and some good old New Orleans funk.
New Orleans Jazz Vipers - Is There A Chance For Me, Self Release
New Orleans Jazz Vipers have been rock solid on the traditional jazz scene. A scene that is so vibrant in the city. Whether it is newer bands keeping the songs alive, or the rich legacy that has led to this moment. WWOZ does a great job of making sure the traditional jazz of New Orleans is alive and healthy.
New Orleans Nightcrawlers - Atmosphere, Self Release
Grammy nominated, Atmosphere is such a proper title. The Atmosphere of the city is one where music is a part of the daily breeze, whether it is rainy or sunny. The Nightcrawlers don't get out very often but when they do, The music is full, rich and dancing is not far away.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat - Goblin Alert, Goner Records
A duo of music, art, New Orleans, and the slightly weird. Quintron and Miss Pussycat have been entertaining New Orleans for many years and the way Quintron hears the city is so unique and stirring. Part scientist, Quintron builds many of his instruments so the soundls are wholly from his mind.
R. Scully - New Confusion, Houma Records
A Bywater musician through and through. In between his band projects, (Morning 40 and Rough Seven) Scully would write songs. The pandemic gave Scully time to develop some recording skills and create this lo-fi record of bywater introspection on the state of affairs as it affects the neighborhood.
Resistance Revival Chorus, This Joy, Righteous Babe Records
A collection of female producers, musicians, artists, activists, actresses, and more all coming together to raise awareness of the problems African-American women and men face in today's world. The group initially got together at rallies and events, but as they tightened up, Ani Difranco's label, Righteous Babe Records finally got a proper recording. It is worth it!
Sam Doores - Sam Doores, New West Records
Sam Doores has been writing songs that have that country feel, where time isn't all that important. Things will get done when they get done. The music is in no rush, just sit back and listen, and maybe learn a thing or two about feeling something.
Shake'em Up Jazz Band - The Boy in The Boat, Self Release
A traditional jazz band that is made up of all women, not really that traditional, except the love and feel for the songs. All the women have strong connections to the songs, many of the women playing in multiple bands.
Slugger - Eclipse
A Groovy fusion project with members of Tank and the Bangas, Brass A Holics, Funky Meters and Naughty Professor
Sonny Landreth - Black Top Run, Mascot
Sonny Landreth puts out consistent music that always has something new and tasty to hear on the guitar.
Sweet Crude - Officiel//Artificiel, Verve Forecast
Sweet Crude have been working many years to create their sound. A dynamic blend of percussive pop music that is futuristic yet still holds the french traditions close by, to keep those flavors alive, with some new sonic accessories.
Write Brothers - Into The Sky, Self Release
The second release from the quartet of songwriters: Jim McCormick, Alex McMurray, Paul Sanchez and the late Spencer Bohren. The writing round robin continues as the song is featured, and we are lucky to hear the songwriting process with each track.
These are some of the singles that came out in 2020. In uncertain times, maybe making music is the only thing some of these artists are certain of. I know when the pandemic first struck, it was these singles that came out in days of Covid, that reminded me to keep going, because they musicians showed no sign of slowing.
Ani Difranco - Do or Die
Big Sam's Funky Nation - No More Shakes
Derrick Schezbie - The Ghost of Buddy Bolden, Clubhouse Records
Dumpstaphunk - Where Do We Go From Here, Justice 2020
Lilli Lewis - Mask Up
Corona warning with folks from Louisiana Red Hot Records
New Orleans Groovemasters - Get Back
Shannon Powell, Herlin Riley and Jason Marsalis. Three of NOLA's drumming royalty reminding everyone to give some space.
Roland Guerin - 28 Days
Roland Guerin's bass skills are always in demand, but his 2019 Grass Roots and the singles he has released in 2020 show a deeper avenue of Roland's playing. This track is celebrating the idea that wearing a mask for 28days (two full cycles) will help reduce the covid spread.
Sam Price and True Believers - World Keeps On Turning, Self Release
Sam is the bass player for Otra, Honey Island Swamp Band and fronts the True Believers. A musician who is always teaching people the glass is half full, and with a command of the laid back groove that can dirty if need be.
Shamarr Allen - Quarantine and Chill
Another one of the first songs to appear after the pandemic started. Another musician that champions the city whether it is through the horn or the time he donated to helping folks in the city. Check out his Trumpet for Guns program.
Spike and Dianimal - Day Drinkin', Louisiana Mail
One of the reasons I love working at WWOZ. Artists bring their music by, (well I run downstairs and get it.) Always a treat to hear something new, out of the blue that makes me smile.
Tank and the Bangas - What The World Needs Now
When this song came out, TATB were kind enough to let us play it first. The video brought tears to my eyes.
Newvelle Records - The New Orleans Collection
Ellis Marsalis, Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary, and Little Freddie King. A complete package for a New Orleans listening experience. Every aspect of a record was taken into consideration for this collection, guiding the listener right to the core; the songs.
Nouveau Electric Records - Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers started this label in 2018, but the pandemic gave Michot and opportunity to release several releases exploring the roots of creole music as well as taking classic or lost creole rhythms and applying 21st century technology for a re-imagining of historical music with new fresh sounds.
Anthology of American Folk Music the B sides - Smithsonian Folkways compilation.
The original American Folk Music comp. came out in 1952 and started the bluegrass and folk revival which led to so much. This year the B-sides were released in another compilation following the vision of Harry Smith.
Sidebar Sessions NOLA - Sidebar NOLA
The Sidebar NOLA is an intimate club championing improvisational music in its many forms. With the pandemic shutting down clubs, The Sidebar chose to go into their archives and release several performances from the last year. Jeff Albert, and Brad Walker chose the performances and edited them into album formats that are available on Bandcamp.
I hope this list helps you find your way through the music that is out there waiting for you to experience. Please think about buying some vinyl or CD's from your local record store, (Louisiana Music Factory, Euclid Records, Domino, Peaches, here in New Orleans.) Buying music or merchandise helps keep the musicians going so we can get closer to hanging out together listening to live music. In the meantime, keep on checking out the Online Wire, and keep it locked on WWOZ 90.7 FM!
Missy Bowen, host of the Wednesday edition of The New Orleans Music Show, 11am - 2pm
From the Dominatrix:
This Covid year has been so strange - a giant shake of our musical cosmic blanket. It was so important to have artists put out new material; it meant that the world was not in complete disarray, that there was still music and musicians making wonderful new sounds. Here are a fwew of my favorites:
Into the Sky-The Write Brothers
A bittersweet release from Paul Sanchez, Jim McCormick, Alex McMurray, and the late Spencer Bohren, produced by Spencer's son Andre with a deft and loving touch. Spencer was a force and I miss him like crazy - hell, we all do - since he died of cancer in the summer of 2019. This record represents some fine writing by four of the best, and tracks the human journey of life. My favorite tune: "It Gets Late Early," reflects not only the larger life shifts we go through as we grow older, but also the very specific life style of the small town in Minnesota where I spend summers (and, in this pandemic year, into the fall).
The New Orleans Johnnys- Outta Ya Mind - fun party album.
The New Orleans Nightcrawlers -Atmosphere - in a class by itself, and, rightly, a 2021 Grammy nominee. "Fiasco on Frenchmen" is spot on.
Alex McMurray - Lucky One AND Road Songs - I've lived with Lucky One most of the year; Road Songs just came out. Both express McMurray's incredible range as a musician and as a songwriter.
John Gros - Central City The material isn't as deep or deeply funky as the hit River's on Fire, but it's got a John Prine cover ("Please Don't Bury Me") and some fun party tunes; my favorite is "Yeah Yeah Yeah."
Glen David Andrews - Live from My Living Room - esp. the funky "Treme Hideaway."
New music from traditional jazzers was strong this year. Highlights include:
Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales - Shake the Rum
Honorary New Orleanian Butch Thompson & the Southside Aces - How Long Blues - Classic Butch, classic trad jazz piano.
Dr. Michael White - Live
Tuba Skinny - Some Kinda Shake
Tim Laughlin - New Standards - Impeccably produced and performed.
Slangston Hughes, co-host of Draw Fo with Slangston Hughes & Thelonious Kryptonite, Thursdays, MIDNIGHT - 2am
Here's my list of favorite albums from this year:
Benny The Butcher - "Burden of Proof"
Black Thought - Streams of Thought Vol. 3
Sa-Roc - The Sharecropper's Daughter
Oddisee - "Odd Cure"
Royce da 5'9" - The Allegory
Dua Saleh - ROSETTA
Dueling Experts - "Dueling Experts"
Spillage Village - Spilligion
LG - Living + Growing
Conway the Machine - From A King To A God
Tank and the Bangas - Friend Goals
Brandy - b7
Sault - "Untitled (Rise)"
Open Mike Eagle - Anime, Trauma And Divocrce
Ivy Sole - Southpaw
Freddie Gibbs x The Alchemist - Alfredo
Lupe Fiasco - Home
Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper & 9th Wonder - Dinner Party
Charles Burchell, host of the Friday edition of Jazz from the French Market, 4 - 7pm
Here's my list of 'Best of 2020'
1. Joey Alexander-Warna
2. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/Wynton Marsalis-The Music Of Wayne Shorter
3. Meghan Stewart-Yesterdays
4. Eric Alexander-Eric Alexander With Strings
5. Christian McBride Big Band-For Jimmy
6. Delfeayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orchestra-Jazz Party
7. Warren Wolf-Reincarnation
8. Joe Farnsworth-Time To Swing
9. Lynne Arriale-Chimes Of Freedom
10. Jimmy Greene-While Looking Up
Cole Williams, host of the Tuesday edition of The New Orleans Music Show, 11am - 2pm
All the songs on my list are message music. These albums spotlight the diaspora of New Orleans music through culture, innovation, tradition, poetry and spirit. I found myself drawn to albums like « Live From My Living Room » at the beginning of the lockdown and finding normalcy. Sweet Crude and New Orleans Nightcrawlers do beautiful jobs of allowing their modern styles to be affected by tradition.
The 79rs Gangs’ new album « Expect The Unexpected » does a fantastic job of telling the history and stories of black masking Indian culture as it relates to today’s Mardi Gras culture and everything in between, layered over beats you can dance to in the Big Easy and the Big Apple. Sula Spirit, Leyla Mccalla and Marilyn Barbarin show how diverse New Orleans vocalists are and the power of a woman’s voice.
My list is only a snapshot of the diverse playlist of music that the crescent city gave the world, and these albums truly made experiencing a global pandemic a lot more funky!
79rs Gang - Expect The Unexpected
Future Cowboys - Life On Mars
Soul Rebels - Poetry In Motion
Sula Spirit - A Journey Within
Caesar Brothers - Funk Box Right Now
Glenn David Andrews Band - Live From My Living Room
Brother Tyrone - He Stopped Loving Her Today
New Orleans Night Crawlers - Gentilly Groove
Sweet Crude - Officiel/Articificielle
Bamboula 2000 - Cuba To Congo Square
The New Soulfinders featuring Marilyn Barbarin and Marc Stone
Leyla Mccalla - Song For A Dark Girl
Groove masters - Get Back
David Kunian, host of the The Freaknologist Lunatique Show, Tuesdays, 10pm - MIDNIGHT
Irma Thomas – “Our Day Will Come.”
The Happy Talk Band – “Other Than Everything, Everything’s Great.” - My covid jam!
Debbie Davis/Josh Paxton – “Other than Everything, Everything’s Great.” – My covid jam!
Irreversible Entanglements – Who Sent You
Reverend John Wilkins – Trouble
Nels Cline Singers – Share the Wealth
Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters – “Shameika says I’ve got potential”
79ers Gang – Expect the Unexpected
Michot’s Melody Makers – Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn
Drive By Truckers – The Unraveling
Run The Jewels – RTJ4 – “Look at all those slave masters posing on your dollar! (That’s right).”
X – Alphabet Land
Alex McMurray – Road Songs/Lonely Ones
Jimi Hendrix – Live in Maui
Thelonious Monk – Palo Alto
The Nightcrawlers – Atmospheres – “Big Bottom drive me out of my mind.”
Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band – Boy in the Boat
Sun Ra Arkestra directed by Marshall Allen – Swirling
Sidebar Sessions – Brad Walked Meets the Extended Trio
Dr. Michael White Liberty Jazz Band – Live
Charlie Halloran – Shake The Rum
Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah – Axiom
Nicholas Payton/Cliff Hines/Sasha Maskowski - Quarantining With Nick
Shabaka and the Ancestors – We Are Sent Here By History
Margo Price – That’s How Rumors Get Started