Brazil By Music — “Fly Cruzeiro”


Time to board a DC3 and fly into the brilliant blue of a Brazilian sky. Gaze out the window, take another sip of your caipirinha and just be. This is the soundtrack for that flight across Brazil on Cruzeiro Airlines. Recorded by Marcos Valle and Azymuth in a tiny studio in 1972, this album was commissioned by the director of Cruzeiro Airlines, who happened to also be Valle’s father. Copies of the record were handed out as souvenirs to passengers. Lindo maravilhoso! -Derek Smith

The Beyons — “The Legendary Beyons”

“The B is for Black, the E is for Essence, the Y is for Y’all, and the O is for On-Time. The NS is for Nasty, Natural So-called Soul!!” That’s how the North Portland soul sensation would be announced by their choreographer and MC back in the day. Thankfully, all of us now get to enjoy some of the sweetest soul music ever put to wax anywhere. These four songs recorded in 1977 contain perfect harmonies wielded in the name of pure love with dynamic grooves provided by Dan Brewster & The Soul-Masters. They should have been as big as The Delfonics. Seriously. -Derek Smith

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers — “Just Coolin’”

You have to wonder just how deep down that vault at Blue Note Records reaches. How could a session from March 1959 featuring Lee Morgan on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor, Bobby Timmons on piano, Jymie Merritt on bass and Blakey on drums just be hitting record stores in 2020? Forget about why. Just listen to the album. Featuring three originals by Mobley, one by Timmons in addition to two covers, the music on “Just Coolin’” absolutely cooks. Four months later this same Messengers lineup would electrify the crowd at the Newport Jazz Festival. -Derek Smith

Various Artists — “Kearney Barton: Architect of the Northwest Sound”

Let’s talk about the debt all vintage music lovers owe to reissue labels like the amazing Light In The Attic Records. Let’s talk about the service that especially LITA does by constantly unearthing and commending hardworking artists who never received their just desserts in their lifetime and giving the world an opportunity to be blown away by them, even shocked that history would take the course of forgetting them. There’s no better example than this collection of work by Kearney Barton, a producer whose fifty-plus years of recording work in the Seattle area ranged from Quincy Jones to The Ventures. Especially well-represented in this compilation are his years capturing the booming Seattle soul scene of the ’60s and ’70s. You won’t skip a single track. -Isabel Zacharias

Martin Denny — “Exotic Moog”

Portland’s own Jackpot Records continues to celebrate Record Store Day by reissuing lost classics on colored vinyl. Martin Denny’s “Exotic Moog” gets the royal treatment with the first reissue since its initial release in 1969. Denny, the Father of exotica, brings his deep musicality to the early synthesizer, creating a tapestry of sound that easily eclipses the general campiness of most Moog albums. This has always been one of his hippest and hardest albums to find. -Derek Smith

Thelonious Monk — “Palo Alto (Live at Palo Alto High School, 10/27/68)”

Anyone interested in the audio from an auditorium concert booked by a high schooler and recorded by a janitor 52 years ago? If it’s Monk, then yes. The fact that this rogue gig Monk took because he owed his label money is one the most special, inspired, developed live jazz recordings to be unearthed in recent years is an astounding testament to his genius. The transportive clarity of the audio itself (you’re instantly there in the auditorium), with that cadenza-like piano wandering that can only be described as Monkish, destine this little release to become a classic. -Isabel Zacharias

Dee Dee Bridgewater — “Afro Blue”

Finally, this holy grail record from Dee Dee Bridgewater’s illustrious career has been reissued. Recorded in Tokyo in 1974 with a stellar lineup of U.S. and Japanese jazz players including pianist Roland Hanna and drummer Motohiko Hino, the record was only released in Japan until now. Featuring the 23-year-old Bridgewater blazing a gorgeous trail through such famous tunes as “People Make The World Go Round,” “Love From The Sun” and the title track, this music will put your blues to bed. -Derek Smith

Jaman — “Sweet Heritage”

Originally released in 1974 and saddled with a stock landscape photo for its cover, there is nothing stock about the quality of the playing on Jaman’s “Sweet Heritage.” Beginning with the exultant jazz gospel of the title cut, Jaman makes it quickly known to all jazz heads that he is a phenomenal pianist and an outstanding composer. It might have been his only studio recording, but it’s an instant classic. -Derek Smith

Beverly Glenn-Copeland — “Transmissions: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland”

Beginning as a jazz-folk troubadour in the 1970s and culminating with his 1986 release of the new age synth masterpiece, “Keyboard Fantasies,” Beverly Glenn-Copeland has gone where the music has taken him. For most of his life, the audience did not follow. Fortunately, his fortunes have changed over the last few years and this new compilation offers a look at the dazzling array of sounds he has made. After so many years of obscurity, let us hope this compilation introduces the transgender icon and pioneer of electronic soundscapes to a new generation of listeners. -Derek Smith

Read our list of favorite 2020 jazz albums here, and list of favorite singles of the year here.