Monday 14 October 2019

As we approach the mid point in October my thoughts inevitably turn to my top ten albums of the year. It's been a remarkable year for releases (yet again!) and I'm glad that the title of the show is 'The Edge of Jazz' because there are certainly some recordings that stretch the limits of what other might call jazz that are undoubtedly going to be contenders for the list. There's no doubt about;

Quentin Collins Sextet: 'Road Warrior'.

...being a jazz album! The album is all that was promised at their gig at Ashburton (although the band had a different line-up there). Leo Richardson (see below) is excellent on Tenor Sax, and Jean Toussaint sits in on a couple of the tracks. Composition duties are split between Collins and Tom Harrison, with one 'standard to round off the set. The playing is excellent throughout as is the recording standard. Bound to be there, or thereabouts come the listings.

Jazzmeia Horn: 'Love and Liberation'

Following on from last years effort ' A Social Call'  this album has a variety of styles and there are a variety of compositional credits from Hubert Laws and George Duke to Jazzmeia herself and Jimmy Van Heusen. Backing is from a lusty quintet, augmented with other instruments on some tracks, and vocally she really stretches herself across a range of different styles. Still an exciting prospect.

Abdullah Ibrahim: 'The Balance'

Back in a southern Africa groove after an excursion to Marseille this is Ibrahim (aka Dollar brand) in exciting form with backing from Ekaya. It all seems so effortless, though it obviously isn't. He defies his 80+ years by producing joyful and emotional township type music. His piano playing skills remain undiminished and this is a cracking album.

Leo Richardson: 'Move'

Saw Leo at the Quentin Collins gig (see above) and he told me he had a new album out. Maybe it was because I was on holiday, but I missed this when it first came out in July. It's an excellent follow up to 'The Chase'. It's hard blowing throughout, and the band is tight with Rick Simpson on piano doing an terrific job. There's a guest appearance from Alex Garnett on one track. The album is on Ubuntu (if you have difficulty in locating it you can buy it from his website).

Nguyen Le: 'Overseas'

Well, new to me, but evidently not to French audiences. Nguyen le is French Vietnamese and this is his fourth album for ACT and is based on the premise that he's looking for " the Vietnamese soul through the prism of jazz". Essentially he's a guitarist, but uses effects and pedal as well as being supported by a range of other instrumentalists all of whom appear to be of Vietnamese origins. It's almost impossible to describe the fusion that is played, but it's wonderfully expressive with a range of moods and textures. I've played it a lot.

Carmen Souza: 'The Silver Messengers'

Based around the Horace Silver songbook, Carmen is also from the Cape Verde Island, where Silver was born. It's a quartet album with guests and takes Silver's material and moulds it into something unique and expressive. She's already recorded extensively (mainly in Portuguese) but this album is well worth hunting down because the material may be Horace Silver but the performances are all her own.

Nerija: 'Blume'.

Other than the wonderful KoKoRoko very few of the emergent British/London Jazz scene artists have produced material on disc that approaches the work that they perform live, I think Nerija are the exception, and though some might consider this a tad horn heavy the range of artists and their instruments and backgrounds shine through. It;s a considerable improvement on their initial EP and indicates that as a band they are progressing along a very unique pathway.

Obviously there a lot more under consideration for the final top ten, and we have yet to have the onslaught of material launched for the 'Christmas market' (groan!), but I reckon at least half of these will be there, or thereabouts when I start making my choices in early December.