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A Preview Of New Music To Start Off 2021

NOEL KING, HOST:

A new year means new music, and the NPR Music team is sharing some of the albums they are most excited about.

SURAYA MOHAMED, BYLINE: Hi, my name is Suraya Mohamed. I'm a producer with NPR Music. And I'm really excited about an album called "El Arte Del Bolero" that's coming out this Friday by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon and pianist Luis Perdomo.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL ZENON AND LUIS PERDOMO'S "JUGUETE")

MOHAMED: Zenon is from Puerto Rico and is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, and Luis Perdomo is originally from Venezuela, and he moved to New York City in the early '90s. Back in September, the two recorded a concert at The Jazz Gallery in New York City. And it was livestreamed in November. After they listened back to the set, they realized that the recording was something really special and that it had to be shared. This music was recorded all in one take, and you can really hear the synergy between these two jazz greats. They know each other so well, and you can hear that they've been collaborators for 20 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL ZENON AND LUIS PERDOMO'S "JUGUETE")

MOHAMED: The song we're hearing right now is called "Juguete," and it's a classic tune written by the legendary Bobby Capo. This whole album includes some great Latin American standards. Both artists have heard the songs on this album hundreds of times, songs that they heard growing up with their parents and grandparents. And now they love these songs, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL ZENON AND LUIS PERDOMO'S "JUGUETE")

MOHAMED: Another record I'm really excited about is by Paris-based pianist and composer Benoit Delbecq. He's going to release "The Weight Of Light" on February 12.

(SOUNDBITE OF BENOIT DELBECQ'S "ANAMORPHOSES")

MOHAMED: The header on Delbecq's website reads undocile jazz beats and more. Perhaps the most prominent characteristic of his music is the textured sound he makes with his prepared piano, changing its tone using dried wood and erasers and any other materials he can find and insert between the strings to alter the sound. In this tune, "Anamorphoses," you can hear how the sound of the piano has been altered. And all the sounds that you hear, the buzzing, the knocking, it's all from the piano. It's all Delbecq all by himself.

(SOUNDBITE OF BENOIT DELBECQ'S "ANAMORPHOSES")

MOHAMED: It's very spontaneous, and it invites listeners to engage their own emotional responses to this music.

(SOUNDBITE OF BENOIT DELBECQ'S "ANAMORPHOSES")

KING: That was NPR music producer Suraya Mohamed with the album she's looking forward to in 2021 - Benoit Delbecq's "The Weight Of Light" and Miguel Zenon and Luis Perdomo with "El Arte Del Bolero." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.