During the pandemic year of 2020 with its lockdowns and working from home, some people compensated by baking bread, others with home fitness, still others binged all their favorite shows on streaming services.
I listened to a lot of music. By "a lot" I mean 107 new (to me) albums. So many that over the course of the year I lost track of what I had ordered, in what format (digital or CD), and whether I had received it or not. It was only after cleaning up the backlog of tunes over the past couple of weeks that I settled on 107 as an accurate count.
It's hard to identify just a handful of favorites from a list that long. So you'll have to indulge me for being lengthy in terms of the list and brief in terms of the descriptions.
PANAMERICA by Stick Men with David Cross
The first new album I bought in 2020 made the list: the 5-CD PANAMERICA by Stick Men featuring David Cross (violin). Recorded throughout a South American tour, the 5 CDs of PANAMERICA are themed as Improvs (Disc 1), Suites (Disc 2), one full live show (Discs 3 and 4), and Soundscapes (Disc 5).
If you're not familiar with Stick Men they are Tony Levin (bass), Markus Reuter (guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (drums). To become familiar with the band, PANAMERICA is a great place to start because it gives you a taste of everything they do: the subtle application of power, sweeping melody, expressive rigor.
PANAMERICA and other Stick Men albums are available on Bandcamp where you can preview even more of their work.
Music from the Early 21st Century by Previte, Saft, and Cline
Bobby Previte (drums), Jamie Saft (Hammond organ), and Nels Cline (guitar) recorded this classic, improvisational organ trio live on tour in late 2019. The results are a spectacular springboard of classic forms into future possibilities.
Music from the Early 21st Century is available from RareNoise Records.
RUMBLE by Lorenzo Feliciati
RUMBLE is available on Bandcamp.