The People of 2020

40 composers co-write and record a concept album on the events of 2020 in a 14-day span.

Released on June 19, 2020

Available on all major streaming services

40 composers from the NYC music community and around the globe, seeking a way to deeply speak about the times, collaborated to write and record an album called “The People of 2020” over a 14-day period (a ‘quarantine length’ from 3/29/20 – 4/12/20).  Each musician had a 24-hour window to write and record their own part and pass it to the next musician.  The album’s songs and moods are based on the ‘social curve’ of 2020, entitled “The Climb,” “Flattening,” and “Slide Out.

For Your Consideration for Nomination in the 63rd GRAMMY Awards®:

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

Best Instrumental Composition – The Climb

Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella – Flattening

Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals – Slide Out

Our lives have all been transformed.  In so many ways.  No question.  

As musicians, we document the times in our own way.  We use sound to express ideas, culture… and experiences.  But in a way, the events of this year have been so unreal, that it’s become almost too obvious or even easy to achieve the goals that artists usually toil upon to ultimately transmit to society.  Case in point: perhaps a simple springtime photograph of the streets of Manhattan is all that is required to catalog enough meaningful sentiment right now.  Looking back, maybe we will feel a bit differently.  Nonetheless, life itself has become the surreal.  

This project – The People of 2020 – ends its story with something jazzy, modern-classical, cinematic, rockish, worldly, hip-hop, 2020-funky and soulful, which conjures feelings of exhilaration, tension, desperation, perseverance, vigilance, hope, fatigue, playfulness, honesty, and reality.  Like everyone else, musicians haven’t been forced to work with such a great degree of physical separation before, and this music uniquely reflects that.  But this album is really an attempt to fully embody and document the 2020 experience as whole, at least as we currently understand it.  Let me explain.

Many musicians have been feeling the need for something to pour themselves into, something that deeply tells the story of what is happening now.

Some collaborators and I at Pinch Recording in NYC began talking about writing music in quarantine, by passing our parts from person to person.  That was already a great idea within itself, but there was a hunger to do something more.  Was a simple collaboration enough?  Maybe not enough to do justice to such an unprecedented, rapid global shift in everyones’ lives.  

“What if we made this project 14-days long… to represent the ‘quarantine length?’… and each musician had 24 hours to write and record their part, one after another?”  

A quick social media post to gauge interest from other musicians resulted into 100+ immediate responses from players in NYC and around the globe, with their own remote studios, at home and eager to collaborate.  These were some of the world’s best, with Grammys on their shelves and resumes that speak for themselves (collaborators of Stevie Wonder, Sting, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Roots, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, and others).  

Seeing these responses pour in inspired an emotional impetus, a kind of mission.  There had to be a way to bring more of the musicians together during this time and do something special together.

“What if we ran 3 songs separately and there were 40 musicians, all recording and composing together in those 14 days?  What if the 3 songs were based on the experiences of this ‘Social Curve of 2020 ‘The Climb,’ ‘Flattening,’ and ‘Slide Out?'”

What if the band was called “The People of 2020?”  

So we went for it.  The writing and recording kicked off on March 29, 2020, to run for 14 days.  80% of the funds raised would be equally split between all the musicians and engineers, and 10% would go to the Grammy MusiCares fund to support the greater musician community.

What resulted, was music that couldn’t have been predicted.  

Whether coming from horns, strings, world percussion, voices, keyboards, or anything else, each day a new and unique musical part arrived that changed the overall complexion and trajectory of the songs, further enriching the story that was being told.  The concepts for each song were broadly outlined from the start, aimed at interpreting the experiences and the emotional journey of society overall and ourselves personally alongside the three phases of the curve (as entitled “The Climb,” “Flattening,” and “Slide Out).”  

‘The People of 2020’ became a way for the musicians to express art not just about these times, but through these times.  One of the creators caught coronavirus during the project and seriously struggled through it.  Another musician almost skipped his turn – but didn’t – because his father was fighting the virus in a New York City hospital during his turn to compose.  And so on.  We set out to weave our collective stories through this music, but the all-encompassing reality made that happen without trying at all.  The heart of such experiences became entrenched into the sound.

The goal of most music projects is to create quality work that stands on its own by the end, and this project is no exception.  The unique feeling of eclecticism in the record is something I think could only arrive through this many composers – 40 – in this many locations – 40 – in addition to dedicated mixing and mastering engineers – all in quarantine with strict, symbolic project deadlines.  It was an amazing test of group collaboration, an example of surrender to circumstance, and a re-shaping of the literal boundaries of creativity.  It is unlike anything we’ve participated in before.

I hope this album inspires you, speaks to you, and lives through you as much as it did for us in creating it.

– Adam Ahuja, Infinity Gritty

“The People of 2020 have the most unique quarantine record.”
-Independent Clauses

As featured in Bandcamp’s ‘New & Notable,’ Jazz FM, more.

“The People of 2020” is written by 40 musicians collectively from NYC and around the globe.  Between 3/29/20 and 4/12/20 (14-day ‘quarantine timeline’), each composer had 24 hours write and record their part, and pass a rough mix of the song’s current progress to the next musician.  This process ran simultaneously for all 3 songs and is conceptually based on the events (‘the social curve’) of 2020.

Artist & Album Name: The People of 2020

Produced by: Adam Ahuja (Infinity Gritty)

Mixed by: E Scott Lindner (Pinch Recording)

Mastered by: Kevin Blackler (Blackler Mastering)

Cover Art by: Adam & Shaun Ahuja

The People of 2020 Press:

– Independent Clauses: “A lot of people put out quarantine songs… but The People of 2020 have the most unique quarantine record.” https://independentclauses.com/under-the-reefs-orchestra-the-people-of-2020-tengger/

– Featured on Bandcamp’s July “New and Notable” front page section: https://www.bandcamp.com

– Jazz FM premiered “Slide Out” on the Full Circle program by Ruth Fisher: https://www.mixcloud.com/RuthieNotesandTones/full-circle-on-jazzfm-31-may-2020/

– Goldmine Magazine review: https://www.goldminemag.com/filled-with-sound/filled-with-sound-of-mike-daly-the-planets-chapell-the-coasters-and-others

– Jazz Revelations Best Albums/EPs of June: https://www.jazzrevelations.com/post/june-2020-roundup

– Sonic Soul Reviews: http://www.sonicsoulreviews.com/2020/07/04/4-4-the-weekend-mit-bahama-soul-club-tom-moulton-tall-black-guy-the-people-of-2020/?fbclid=IwAR3u8rI_C9qQVJ8QNQpdPsfQ4_mIlA810kVZIKFcrvM4saz4AkaT2kklb50

– All About Jazz “One Man’s Jazz” Episode by Maurice Hogue: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/camila-nebbia-jeff-cosgrove-and-vijay-anderson

– Green Arrow Radio feature on the Winged Rescue Programhttp://greenarrowradio.com/2020/06/11/winged-rescue/

– Earthquaker Devices article by Brian Donohoe shout-outs out the project: https://www.earthquakerdevices.com/blog-posts/were-all-bedroom-producers-now?fbclid=IwAR3TffmwtKAZXS95azc3XBVt_wQn-o9VpayD1_9IOnjVYd97FSQh567BkMo

The Composers / Musicians

“The Climb”

Day 1 – Pablo Eluchans (Chile/NYC) – drums

Day 2 – Adam Ahuja (NYC/PA) – keys

Day 3 – Carlos Mena (Ecuador/NYC) – bass

Day 4 – Agustin Uriburu (Argentina/NYC)cello

Day 5 – Benni von Gutzeit (Germany/NYC) – viola

Day 6 – Tomoko Omura (Japan/NYC) – violin

Day 7 – Chris Stoeger (Munich) – percussion

Day 8 – Gavi Grodsky (NYC) – guitar

Day 9 – Andrew Gould (NYC) – alto sax

Day 10 – Mike LaBombard (Philadelphia) – tenor sax 

Day 11 – Nadav Nirenberg (NYC) – trombone

Day 12 – Matt Cappy (Philadelphia) – trumpet

Day 13 – Ratish Chadha (India/Dubai) – percussion

Day 14 – Raycee Jones (NYC) – vocals

“Flattening”

Day 1 – Kevin Soffera (PA) – drums

Day 2 – Jordan Rose (NYC) – drums

Day 3 – Justin Goldner (NYC) – bass

Day 4 – Aleksi Glick (NYC) – guitar

Day 5 – Tripp Dudley (NYC) – tabla

Day 6 – Adam Ahuja (NYC/PA) – keys

Day 7 – Johnny Butler (NYC) – soprano sax

Day 8 – Paul Jones (NYC) – tenor sax

Day 9 – Jimmy O’Connell (NYC) – trombone

Day 10 – John Lake (NYC) – trumpet

Day 11 – Will Hanza (NYC) – guitar/fx

Day 12 – Rachel Ombredane (Paris) – flute

Day 13 – Liz Fohl  (LA) – keys sound design

Day 14 – Joe Mixon (PA) – steel pan

“Slide Out”

Day 1 – Isaac Monts (CT) – drums

Day 2 – Johannes Felscher (Germany/NYC) – bass

Day 3 – Stef Avellaneda (Paris) – percussion

Day 4 – Eddie Moore (Kansas City) – rhodes

Day 5 – Jordan Peters (Montreal/NYC) – guitar

Day 6 – Jon Ramm (New Orleans) – trombone

Day 7 – Brian Donohoe (Austin) – tenor sax

Day 8 – Matt Carrillo (NYC) – tenor sax

Day 9 – Adam Ahuja (NYC/PA) – keys

Day 10 – Sean Richey (NYC) – guitar

Day 11 – Alex Asher (NYC) – trombone

Day 12 – Olivia Harris (NYC) – vocals

Day 13 – MH the Verb (Oakland) – emcee 

Day 14 – Álvaro Kapaz (São Paulo) – guitar


Excerpt from letter written to the composers on 3/29/20:

Hello All,

First of all, thank you so much for participating in this project.  It is ambitious from a creative standpoint, current as to the world’s situation, and it is an opportunity for us to document, in our own way, what is happening in the world right now through our art.  Things aren’t easy right now.  I’m happy that you are all involved, and giving your voice individually and collectively.  I’m excited about what we can create together.

We are writing this collaboratively.  These are new times, and call for new forms of creativity.  What you make is going to inspire and impact what the next person does, and influence what the song may require at that next point.  We are all making a song, one by one, and it is in our hands how that turns out.  For this to be awesome and musical, we will all play a part in making it that way.  We have to trust each other, as trust is instilled in each person.    

There is significant compositional responsibility placed on everyone.  We must think broadly, anticipate what others may do: think about where things can go, and let that influence our choices.  We should all give to this what it is that we feel we are called to express at this moment: we are using our voices to speak for these times.  We are all in this together.  

It’s up to all of us, working together.  Let’s do this…