I rather like the idea of the CDs that somehow always seem to find their way back into the CD player (pace Peter Bacon’s version of this thought). There are lot of ‘best of’ lists doing the rounds and my humble list is as random as my New Year’s Honours. Its determined by a weird mixture of my taste, what catches me at a particular moment, of course the inherent quality of the music itself and the randomness of what I happened to buy (mood and finances dependent) – so of course not all of it is this year’s vintage. The same applies to gigs and the test seems to be similar – which one’s keep coming back to me either in the memory or on the player. So here goes, not a long list (again, Pete Bacon’s festive 50 is impressive, what a lot of listening to get it down to 50!) one’s acquired this year that keep sneaking back onto the player, in no particular order:
- Hush, Niki Iles – I love Niki’s touch and melodic sense but most all the choice of tunes
- Turn Left at Monday, Barry Green & Dave Green – the first few notes of of the album always grab me, space and momentum all together and loads of swing;
- Flight Lines, Rachel Musson’s Skein – I love the ensemble sound of this album, the free but not free line they walk and Rachel’s alternately warm and rasping tenor sound;
- Bird Songs, Joe Lovano’s US Five – ahhhh, the feel. Tight but loose, masterful;
- The Impossible Gentleman – this always takes hours to play because i have to play Mike Walker’s Clockmaker five times whenever I put the album on.;
- Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza – ok, slow on the uptake but I just discovered this in 2011 and like the groove and jazz blend, ditto the next one;
- Lost and Found, Gretchen Parlato;
- The Heart Emerges Glistening, Ambrose Akinmusire. I just love the range of styles this music embraces, still unmistakably jazz and fantastic playing
In their different ways all these never fail to touch me, make me smile, tap my foot or all three, they’ll be jostling for position with some older favorites fro some time to come methinks.
Live music, there’s been plenty though other demands of life mean a bit less than some years (I didn’t really catch much in the way of festivals this year). Still, there are a few real standouts that still glow;
Big treats that lived up to their promise
- Joe Lovano and US Five at St. George’s Bristol
- Roy Haynes at Queen Elizabeth Hall – inspiring on so many levels, but mostly for fabulous swinging jazz
- Wynton Marsalis with his quintet at Ronnie’s
- Keith Jarrett at Royal Festival
Possibly one of the favourites – Impossible Gentleman at Colston Hall2 Bristol.
Most of my live listening has been local and its been often just as satisfying. Particluar mentions go to
- John Law with his OPT trio at the BeBop club
- Pushy Doctors, everywhere, loads and always better than the last time and huge fun.
- Alan Barnes – I’ve seen him in these parts two or three times this year and he’s dazzled and excited each time.
- Jazz House Trio for being unfailingly quality no matter who they’ve accompanied this year.
A short – ish list of the stuff that’s crossed my radar then, but its makes me think, in the words of Frank Sinatra, “it was a very good year”