Wednesday 30 July 2014

A Top 10 for far

   It's been a pretty extraordinary year for jazz releases, as well as all those re-issues that you've either waited for or never knew existed before. This is the list as it stands at the end of July - and some of those included may have sneaked in from 2013 - but I really don't care - they've all featured on "The Edge of Jazz during 2014!

Jacob Young - "Forever Young" 

Really difficult to think that there will be a better balanced album this year. Both Marcin Wasilewski and Trygve Seim are superb in support, (and that's probably unfair to the rhythm section!) and it's turned out to be a "can listen at anytime" joy.

Bobby Hutcherson - "Enjoy the view"

Another album where the sum of the parts is as good as the soloists. Hutcherson is excellent, but then so is David Sanborn, whilst Joey DeFrancesco turns in a sublimely restrained performance. Don Was seems to have got the best out of all the performers.

Slowly Rolling Camera - " Slowly Rolling Camera"

This crept up on me, having come out in February, but not travelled into consciousness until June.  It has, in places a really ethereal sound, but often punches far harder than expected. Some luminary sides-persons on the album but stunningly good live.

Joshua Redman - "Trio's live"

Recorded in two venues it shows off Redman's astonishing ability to summon sustained brilliance from the trio format. Two different bass players but the same drummer throughout, and the audience, though present, are almost restrained (for a US based live recording!)

Andrew McCormack - "First Light"

Jazz pianists often appear to have very little new to say, but McCormack defies that with an almost completely self-written album (he sneaks a Thelonious Monk track in) which includes some memorable tunes - especially "Prospect Park"

Tim Garland - "Songs to the North Sky"

Really two albums, with "Lighthouse" being the non orchestrated one and " Songs to the North Sky"  having the Northern Sinfonia Strings. Just to be perverse I prefer the album where there's an awful lot of Garland's sax playing, though both are good - but contrasting.

Wolgang Muthspiel - "Driftwood"

If you like "sparse" this is it. With Larry Grenadier and Brian Blade completing the trio. Muthspiel (who at one time was in Patricia Barber's Band) is not a 'busy' guitarist, but this album is a great example of where ECM records are taking European jazz.

Led Bib - "The people in your neighbourhood"

Quite a lot of reviewers seem to have expected 'more of the same' but this album pushes forward the boundaries of what the band achieve. Compositional duties are shared across the whole group and there's an even greater 'looseness' in what they achieve.

Let Spin - "Let Spin"

An unexpected pleasure in that the roots of what the band do come from so many diverse directions and forms of music. All the members of the band come from diverse directions to have completed this their debut album. I eagerly anticipate the next one.

Guti - "Rompe Corazones"

I don't have the album - indeed I'm not sure that there is one, but this 'Album Sampler' came from a record-plugger with the briefest of cursory notes. He's Argentinian, the main instrument is piano and the ambience is mainly laid back. It's great. Watch this space.

The only question left remaining is how many of these will make the year-end list? Have I missed something that in the months to come I shall be playing constantly?