Jack Bowers: Top 15 Albums of 2021


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In spite of the Covid pandemic (and sometimes because of it!), 2021 was a splendid year for big-band albums, with eleven receiving 4 1/2-star reviews and one (Out on the Coast by the David Angel Big Band) earning five stars. The dominant dozen are listed here alongside top-rated smaller-group albums by Cory Weeds, Gerry Gibbs and Graham Dechter. One of the albums, Open World, by Chad Lefkowitz-Brown's Global Jazz Orchestra, was "virtually" recorded by musicians from seventeen countries, reaffirming that big bands can overcome almost any obstacles. We look forward to more of the same in 2022

Len Pierro Jazz Orchestra
The Third Quarter
Walking Path Records

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
Bernstein Reimagined
MCG Jazz

Dan Bonsanti
Cartoon Bebop
Self Produced

David Angel Big Band
Out on the Coast
Basset Hound Music

Cory Weeds
O Sole Mio!
Cellar Records

The Saskatchewan All Star Big Band
Saskatchewan Suite
Chronograph Records

Mark Masters
Masters & Baron Meet Blanton & Webster
Capri Records

Mike LeDonne
It's All Your Fault
Savant Records

Bob Mintzer / WDR Big Band Cologne
MCG Jazz

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios
Songs from My Father
Whaling City Sound

Andy Farber Big Band
Early Blue Evening

Graham Dechter
Major Influence
Capri Records

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Global Jazz Orchestra
Open World
Self Produced

Jim Knapp Orchestra
It's Not Business, It's Personal
Origin Records

Rodger Fox Big Band
Plays New Zealand
TBone Records

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