Thursday 30 April 2015

2015 continues to rush by at a frantic pace. There's so much activity at the moment that I'm finding it difficult to keep up-to-date with the website, listen to all the glorious music that 2015 has brought about and plan for the summer ahead. At the time of writing after two glorious weeks in mid-April the weather seems to have decided to return to its normal late April/early May mixture of sunny showery days and cold nights...but hey! that's not why you're here! Five albums to mention as being early contenders for my Top 10 albums of 2015; they are in no particular order;

"Slow Eastbound Train" by Daniel Herskedal.

Never really thought of the tuba as a jazz instrument, but Daniel Herskedal does away with any preconceptions from Track One. Accompanied by Piano and percussion, with contributions from "The Trondheim Soloists" he lays out a fascinating sound that contains lots of layers, and apart from a Mussorgsky tune, are all his own compositions. This is certainly not an album to leap about to, but it does contain some of the best jazz that I've heard in 2015.

"Skyline" by Tom Green Septet.

Tom was a guest on the Edge of Jazz, just before this album was released and the interview can be found on my mixcloud page As he admits he was lucky to be able to hold together such a talented crew for the album launch tour, but the result is a great example of great compositional skills and wonderful arrangements. Unusually I've played every track on the Edge of Jazz and have revisited "Sticks and Stones" not only on that show, but also on my monthly "Exeter Talking" Show.  If I just said "listen" would that be enough to convince you how good it is?

"Rhodes ahead Volume 2" by Marc Cary.

Somewhere along the way I seemed to have missed Volume 1, although around 2011 I did have a Marc Cary Trio album, which was, as the name suggests, a three piece. This is much more adventurous, with brass, percussion including Djembe and Cary himself pushing out material not only playing the name checked Rhodes, but also a Hammond B3 and some other synthesised sounds. The result is a rolling, unfolding wall of sound that explores all sorts of traditions. Recommended track if you have any doubt about the is recommendation is "Spices and Mystics".

"Symbiosis" by Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio. 

Lots of trios seem to be the excuse for the leader to boss the whole album and subjugate other members to a real sidesman role. What I've liked about Rollins is his willingness not only to allow space for the others to explore their own territory, but his ability to fit in, often unobtrusively, with what's going on. That is not to say that Rollins plays any sort of subservient role, and his playing is, as always,dynamic and adventurous. Big up for Ross Stanley, but credit to Dennis Rollins for another staggeringly good album.

"Insiders outsiders" by Emily Saunders.

Who'd have thought that after "Cotton Skies" the next album would be such a diverse and wonderful sounding amble through a range of totally unexpected styles, both vocal and musical. I spoke to Emily about the album on the show, and her interview is also at but the best thing that I can advise, if you haven't heard the album yet is to pick out just one track and play it loudly whilst sitting down and imbibing a drink of your choice. She's subsequently intimated that she's busy writing material again, and I hope to catch up with her when she visits Devon later in the year.

These are by no means the only albums that I've listened to and liked, but they are five that stand out as being likely to stand the test of time (whatever that is!) I haven't time at the moment to write about what I'm looking forward to during the coming months, but I'll be back soon with talk of the "Love Supreme" Festival, and nearer to home a couple of local clubs that deserve support, as well as straying slightly off -piste to talk about The Branscombe Festival, The Respect Festival here in Exeter, and the Sidmouth Fringe.