NPR Music

The 2020 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Jan 14, 2021

Below are the results of NPR Music's 8th Annual Jazz Critics Poll (my 15th, going back to the poll's beginnings in the Village Voice). These are the jazz albums that lit up a dark, unsettling year. Maria Schneider's Data Lords was the critics choice — no surprise, though relative unknown Sara Serpa's victory in the Vocal category in a year when both Kurt Elling and Gregory Porter released new albums was.

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Updated 12:45 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden may not have big crowds at his coronavirus-limited inauguration, but he won't be lacking for star power.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday that pop star Lady Gaga will sing the National Anthem and Jennifer Lopez will perform a musical number at the Capitol ceremony next week.

Playboy.

Glamour.

O.

Teen Vogue.

All these magazines have something in common.

They're no longer in print.

While these — and many other — publications have shifted to digital only in recent years, there's a print magazine bucking the trends and still going strong: Thrasher magazine. Created by skateboarders for skateboarders, Thrasher celebrates its 40th anniversary this month.

Thistle & Shamrock: New Year Sounds

Jan 14, 2021

Having finally left 2020 behind, get 2021 off to a good musical start with some brilliant fresh sounds. Fiona Ritchie has selected an hour's worth of great music from Celtic roots for you to discover including The Chair, John Doyle and cellist Ofra Harnoy.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. From Monday, Jan. 11, through Thursday, Jan. 14, we'll be streaming new performances at 8 p.m. ET on NPR Music's YouTube channel and NPR.org.

In the 2019 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, five of the top 10 new releases were recordings led or co-led by women artists — a startling 50%. In fact, it is the largest number of projects led by women in the top 10 since the annual poll began 14 years ago, surpassing 2018, when women comprised a third of those rankings.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. From Monday, Jan. 11, through Thursday, Jan. 14, we'll be streaming new performances at 8 p.m. ET on NPR Music's YouTube channel and NPR.org.

For members of Luminous Voices, a professional choir ensemble in Alberta, Canada, rehearsing and performing safely during the pandemic has meant getting into their cars, driving to an empty parking lot and singing with each other's voices broadcast through their car radios.

This "car choir" solution is one that college music professor David Newman — an accomplished baritone himself in Virginia — came up with so that ensembles could sing and "be" together.

In 2021, I'm looking forward to, fingers crossed, live music. I really miss the roar of a symphony orchestra in concert or a soaring soprano on the opera stage. But artists are still making albums, even in lockdown, like British composer Max Richter. His upcoming album is a follow-up to last year's Voices. This new one is Voices, Part 2 which will be released in April.

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