The final contenders!
Just before I choose the Top 10 choice of albums for 2023 here are a few more (six to be exact) that are likely to be in contention for the (un)coveted slot in the Edge of Jazz end of year awards.
Alfredo Rodriguez: Coral Way
A listener suggested that I might like this, and I do. It's vaguely based around music from the Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic. Played with gusto by a basic unit of 6 players it's a mixture of vocal and instrumental outings, mainly in native tongues that somehow defies further description. Rodriguez is a piano player, and feature prominently, but it's a real group effort, and almost family like in its intensity. It's on Mack Avenue Records whose rleases this year have been consistently good.
Jonathan Suazo: Ricano
Same sort of provenance as the above, but different! A much wider sweep of musicians, with a lot of Costa Rican perccussion and a not-easy-to categorise set of tunes. Suazo is a sax player and from the Dominican U.S. diaspora. However, the album features a wide range of styles, including not only instrumental tracks, bit chants and incantations as well as vocals. It's a wonderful pot-pourri of styles, cleverly put together, and hopefully the precursor of another album in the same styles.
Bebel Gilberto: Joao
Some self written material and some familiar (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil Newton Mendoga) sungs to simple accompanyment of mainly guitar based backing. Uncluttered, well produced with vocals mixed well forward this is the antidote to some of the heavily orchestrated album that have been released this year. Her singing is (sorry!) ethereal and it's the sort of album you can sit down and play through and then play again.
Joey Alexander: Continuance
An Indonesian wonder kid. He's only 20 and this is (at least) his seventh album. I played the previous one 'Origin' for most of last year, and this, with the same trio and the added trumpet of Theo Croker is, as the name sggestes, more of the same, though it has two 'cover versions - the first 'Great is thy faithfulness' is a traditional one, but there's a wonderful trio version of 'I can't make you love me' which I alwys associate with Bonnie Raitt, but this is an equal. It leads me to wonder 'what next?'.
Rob Luft: Dahab days
Luft has appeared on several albums during the course of this year, but few have the simplicity of this one. With a basic quartet behind him , and with added contributions from people like Byron Wallen , Alice Zawadski and Steve Buckley, it reflects a time and a place. It suggests isolation, together with reflection and a sense of place. So far I've made it sound like a hippy dream, but it's far from that and seems like another direction from which he can launch the next project.
Veronica Swift: Veronica Swift
Looking at what I wrote above about the Bebel Gilberto album this could so easily have fallen into the 'heavily orchestrated' that I mention - but it doesn't. It's almost as if, after two previous albums for Mack Avenue she told them " I have abuch of songs that I want ro record my way". The repetoire is wide, at times suprising and throughout utterly joyous (almost despite the content of some of the songs).
Listen to her version of 'Do nothing 'til you hear from me' and she makes it her own. My other two favourites are 'Closer' and'Severed heads' but you ought to check out what she does to Antonio Carlos Jobim, and brian May. Highly recommended.
So all I have to do now is consider which I choose for the final list. It'll appear before mid December!