Attarian's Dozen: Twelve Superb Releases That Made 2021 Tolerable


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The year 2021 started full of hope yet it did not live up to its promises. Musically, however, it saw the release of several outstanding recordings. Below are a dozen that helped kept me sane and grounded throughout the year.

Featured are the two mammoth and stimulating boxsets from saxophonist and improviser par excellence Ivo Perelman and ingenious composer and bassist William Parker, the late organ giant Dr. Lonnie Smith's swan song, and drummer Gustavo Cortiñas's musical exploration of Eduardo Galeano's "Open Veins of Latin America." In addition, from the United Kingdom, Sons of Kemet's provocative and timely album made the list as well as saxophonist Jon Raskin's socially conscious collaboration with Flatland Quartet. Others include innovative bandleader and saxophonist Anna Webber's masterpiece, ingenious composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's celebration of Chicago and saxophonist Kenny Garrett's exploration of musical roots. Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and guitarist Mary Halvorson's intimate and adventurous duet and two very personal works by saxophonist Maria Grand and vocalist Jen Shyu round up the list.

Anna Webber
Pi Recordings

Ivo Perelman
Brass and Ivory Tales
Fundacja Slucha

Sons of Kemet
Black to the Future

Dr. Lonnie Smith
Blue Note

Sylvie Courvoisier & Mary Halvorson
Searching for the Disappeared Hour

Gustavo Cortiñas
Desafio Candente

Wadada Leo Smith
The Chicago Symphonies

Kenny Garrett
Songs From The Ancestors
Mack Avenue

William Parker
Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World
AUM Fidelity

The Flatlands Collective
Songs From the Urban Forest
Gold Lion

Maria Grand

Jen Shyu
Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses
Pi Recording

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