It’s still January, so I can just about get away with thinking about all the jazz related stuff I enjoyed over the last year (can’t I?). I hope I don’t stop noticing and being amazed (and not a little overwhelmed) by how much new music, live music, wildly creative music there is around us. My listening is pretty strongly channeled into jazz related (whatever that is) zones and still its a fabulous all enveloping wave. Here’s what I noticed in my usual idiosyncratic swim through the last 12 months or so.
Pianists. I saw live some longstanding heroes and people who’ve long made me shake my head in wonder. Dave Kikoski was one. When was he last in UK? If it was recently I missed him. In full flight a sight to behold and I didn’t have to leave town to see him. He was smuggled in with Jonathan Kriesberg’s band at the Hen & Chicken (one of several Storrer coups last year). Also in Bristol, also smuggled in with another band (Martin Speake’s this time), Bobo Stenson, the Swedish maestro. An evening at Colston Hall’s Lantern to remember. I finally saw Enrico Pieranunzi, Italian maestro, astonishingly debuting at Ronnnie Scott’s in August . Julian Arguelles got my vote in the LondonJazz end of year accolades after the tumultuous gig with the FDR Big Band playing South African Jazz at Cheltenham, then the sublime quarte Tetra at the Vortex later in the year. They all fulfilled stratospheric expectation. Another highlight was the slightly more apparently left field, until you actually see them, double bass duo of Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer at St. George’s during Bristol’s (once again Jazz and Blues Festival). Here’s a little taste
There was plenty of recorded music to taste as well, that all enveloping wave was even more overwhelming. There’s a few that got stuck, catching me at a particular moment or just demanding to be listened to again. Early in year a typically divergent but compelling Charles Lloyd release I long to See You and around the same time, Sam Crockatt‘s Mells Bells (that one got my London Jazz end of year vote). Sam lives out west and there were a few releases from local (or near local bands) that really caught my ear. The prolific Kevin Figes released two albums, a quartet and and octet, and Andy Nowak‘s trio recording was a little beauty. Two from slightly further afield that really got lodged in the play list was the rocky grooves of Duski led by Cardiff bass man Aidan Thorne and (keeping a Cardiff connection, albeit a now former resident) Huw Williams’ Hon was an excitingly varied, scintillating album. But I’ll finish where I started, with a pianist. I’ve already waxed lyrical about the joy of re-visiting, via a re-release, the Erskine trio and its the piano of John Taylor that stays with me. A good note on which to look forward into 2017
Here’s to a happy, music filled New Year – even if I am a bit slow starting!