2020 Year Enders, Music

Year Ender: Forbes Graham

The great Boston trumpet & composer player breaks down his favorites from that year we're already trying to forget.


Cenk Ergün (performed by the JACK Quartet)
Sonare and Celare contrast with each other quite well. Sonare is a collection of rhythmic and sonic blasts while Celare is a masterfully paced contemplative piece of music. The JACK Quartet perform both with high intensity and dedication. Beautiful.

Leila Bordreuil – Headflush
Leila Bordreuil’s Headflush conjures claustrophobia inducing enclosures while feeling limitless. The NYC based cellist has created an atmospheric album that is far from monotone. It sounds cold, but it doesn’t feel cold. I think she is underrated and I loved this album.

Jesse Kenas Collins – GO
Jesse Kenas Collins approaches the creation of soundworks as a craftsman. GO is a resonant, hiss filled album that has a standoffish vulnerability to it. The creative, repurposed use of flugelhorn, oud, mandolin, and other instruments is inspiring.

Federico Musso and Jessica Ackerley – Nervios calavera en roja cinta en una noche en bruma gualda
Social media is good for something. It brought this duo together. Somehow this album feels literally perfect. As a listener and a performer, it reminds me of when you play with someone new for the first time but despite that, everything goes right. Both guitarists use their instruments like voices and bring them into a cross continent conversation of slaps, blips, slides, licks, and tones. Bravo.

LÓPEZ 4TET – Diptych
Brandon López leads a quartet that plays improvised music that brings the heaviness. He is joined by Gerald Cleaver, Steve Baczkowski, and Cecilia López. Each musician brings a unique contribution to this baccanalian assembly. Diptych is an EP that will satisfy your need for sonic aggression while engaging your intellect.

André Gonçalves – Instrumentals
Instrumentals is a somewhat enigmatic album. When I listen to it, my first categorical impression is New Age. It takes me back to playing chess with my stepfather while listening to Jean-Luc Ponty. But there’s also additional collections of sounds existing in these compositions that evoke installations or soundwalks.

Wet Ink Ensemble – Glossolalia/Lines on Black
Lines on Black – On/Off literally blows my mind. Like, I apologize for being so cliche, but I almost can’t believe music this good exists. Both Glossolaila and Lines of Black showcase the work of two of America’s greatest contemporary composers. This album is an electroacoustic delight.

Luiz Henrique Yudo – Chamber Works (performed by Apartment House)
Luiz Henrique Yudo’s work is heavily influenced by his work as a painter. A Quartet for Francois Morellet really does transport me to a kind of dimensionality in which time functions slightly different and harmony is filled with tension and release at the exact same time.

Clifton Joey Guidry III – Darkness is a Myth
In Darkness is a Myth, Clifton Joey Guidry III has created an album that utilizes pathos to touch the heart. The composer and bassoonist combines field recordings, electronics, and their masterful bassoon playing in a way that truly moved me. I feel honored to be invited in to listen.

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