Memory is a curious thing. Having a record of contemporaneous impressions is a good antidote to re-writing history and missing things out. Instant blogging doesn’t really allow for mature reflection and that can add something too. Looking back over the 2012 blogs and CD purchases a few things came back to me that had faded, but largely the things glowing in the memory remain the same. A relief then that not too many memory cells have disappeared this year at least
Watching was mainly local scene, festivals (this year Cheltenham, Bath and London) and a few touring names.
Standouts; Zoe Rahman at Bath Festival – sheer joyful exuberance; Chick Corea in London - ‘Hem of the Robe’ for sure, but dazzling, riveting stuff, Esperanza Spalding for a fabulous show in London, Lighthouse at the Cheltenham Festival – edge of the seat excitement. Closer to home, there’s so much fantastic music on the local scene but memories still glowing are Jake McMurchie’s two trios in an evening at the BeBop club early in the year , Greg Cordez’s Quintet same place later in the year, the Pushy doctors just about everywhere it seems but never lightly missed. That man Shepps again – Trio Librero in the Guildhall at the Bath festival – music that made me feel I was breathing cleaner air. Finally an oddity – Ambrose Akinmusire at the Colston Hall. Odd because the band visibly struggled a bit so were not on top form, but nevertheless had an aura I can still recall and it was my first live experience of Akinmusire – unforgettable
I think that was a top 9. Back to the curious-ness of memory. The glow in my recollections is associated with strong emotional and physical responses to music. It might be the feeling of drawing a deep lung full of fresh air and being flooded with sensation, quiet peaceful well-being – I can almost feel the blood flowing in my veins (I imagine!). It might be raw excitement, an adrenaline rush, hairs prickling on the neck or it might be simple grin inducing, foot tapping delight.
These same anticipated pleasures must be what makes some albums (yes I still play CDs!) stick in the machine as well as sheer laziness – or a perusal of iTunes counting function reveals some tracks have been played an inordinate number of times. I’ve often smiled at Peter Bacon’s ‘In the Speakers’ section – the ones that keep getting played in the kitchen! It’s not the kitchen in my house, but here’s a few of this year’s discoveries that just keep getting played.
Its not a best of 2012 really as some of these were not released this year, I just came across them this year.
Essence of Jarrett: Two albums – Sleepers (released this year) and Rio (released last year). Rio is solo – not usually my thing, but listening to this seems like distilled Keith Jarrett from country rock to supreme lyrical flights; Sleepers is the European Quartet, some of favourite Jarrett repertoire, an early jazz love – like breathing fresh air!
Essence of Bobo: Indicum released this year is pure Bobo Stenson trio – he keeps producing this loose, folky, jazzy, deeply grooving, endlessy melodic music and this album seems to sum it up.
Random discoveries – Tales of God’s Will (Terence Blanchard) released a few years ago now, but writing and playing with huge emotional force (I heard it over the speakers at the Ambrose Akinmusire gig and had to go find it!); James Farm (Joshua Redmond and a young- ish band) impulse buy, and love the variery and contemporary feel. Aaron Parks on piano on both this and the Blanchard album.. a theme to pursue?Dawn of Light (Tineka Postma) Dutch alto player. A fantastic ensemble who veer between playing quite free, into loose swing, hymnn like ballads and an almost out of place guest spot from Esperanza Spalding. I just keep playing it.
Local Delight: Four Sided Triangle (Kevin Figes) This was in the ‘grin inducing, foot tapping delight’ category with Mike Outram on guitar a real thrill. I just keep playing it.
iTunes count: The counter that tells no lies lies reveals that American Meccano from get the Blessing’s OCDC was one of my tracks of the year. I love this track iwth its huge sound – I gulp every time the hook / theme comes in after all the build up. Another was the opening track from an old Bobo Stenson album War Orphans. The track is Oleo du Mujer con Sombrero… great lungfuls of fresh air and quiet joy.
Another good year then. I’m hoping 2013 will provide as many treats.