Monday 22 November 2021

 It's coming up that time of the year where I start to think about compiling my Top 10 albums of the year. This year I may have to alter the format. Yes, there are 10 albums that currently fulfil the loosely based criteria that I use each year (strange that my Top 10 seldom co-incides with anybody elses!). However, as well as those new releases it's also been a rather splendid year for re-releases, or releases of material that has either never, or seldom befoe been in the public domain.

   One example will suffice. 

Nina Smone: The Montreux Years.

Recent Nina Simone re-releases have often (in my opinion) beeen rather sub-standard example of what she was about. The album "Fodder on my wings" has always felt rather laboured, as if compiled from material that happened to have remained unreleased fom her less productive periods of work, or one of her periods of crisis.This had come out previously on the French 'Carrere' label, and had not improved with age, particularly as notes for it were sketchy and incomplete.
It therefore came as a huge and delightful suprise to find a double album of material I'd mostly never heard before, played at her consumate best, and with one performance albeit edited) almost in its entirity.
So should I include it in a Top 10 best of the year? As I've got at least 15 albums that are vying for a space in the Top 10 I've decided that year I'm going to add a new category - "Significant re-releases' which as this is the first year will comprise of three albums which will get chosen from the current list of seven.
 In previous years I made the mistake of starting to comile the Top ten at the start of December, but a couple of years running that premise has been shattered by having late releases that disturb my carefully manicured lists. This year I've set aside a date and a time to lock myself into my study and produce the Top 10 and the Top 3 re-releases in one sitting. As ever (and mentioned elsewhere in this short blog) I doubt that my lists will have much to do with the choice of other critics, but it's also fascinating (to me at any rate) to see where there is some overlap.
  Finally, I ought to mention that I have contemplated a short section in 'the awards' for albums that I've dug out of the crates to play, and recognised how good they are. As examples, this year I'd be including albums by Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner and Eddie Harris. Jazz always seems to have something to give!