Thursday, January 22, 2015

2014 Round Up

This is not a "best of" and it's far from a comprehensive overview of my listening over the past 12 months - just a taste of albums I enjoyed that were new to me during 2014 (I've not focussed on new releases). Aside from the 2014 releases being first, things are in no particular order.

Connie CrothersConcert In Paris (New Artists)

Perhaps I biased, but you'll find Connie's albums on any favourite's list of mine. Recorded in October 2011 (not long after I returned to NZ following a period studying with her) and released in August during Connie's residency at The Stone - another highlight from 2014. I'm always left wondering, "how does she do it?"
SlowfoxThe Wood (JazzwerkstattRoot 70 with Strings: Riomar (Nwog)
As with Crothers, I'm a big Hayden Chisholm fan. The Wood got plenty of spins this year and I hope this trio record more in the future. There are a few videos of concerts from them floating around YouTube too. I may be a little cheeky including the Root 70 album here as I got it in 2013 but listened to it more in 2014.

Lennie Tristano: Chicago, April 1951 (Uptown)

Two discs of previously unreleased live recordings, tells you this is essential for anyone interested in Tristano, Konitz and Marsh et al.. The sound quality is pretty descent and the music is excellent. Lets hope for more releases from the Tristano vaults. For whatever reason, this one didn't quite get the same media attention as the Guiffre release.

The Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4: New York Concerts (Elemental Music)
Another important historical release of previously unissued concert recordings, filling a gap during the post-Free Fall years that went unrecorded. Giuffre (on tenor and clarinet) along with trio (b/d) and quartet (p/b/d), fascinating listening and excellent notes too.

Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet: Callicoon Sessions (New Artists) A Million Shimmering Fish (New Artists)
Kazzire's lush piano shines across both of these quite different releases.  The latter features Kazzrie's piano and the poetry of Mark Weber - mostly piano responding to the spoken word (as opposed to the piano accompanying the spoken words). The Quartet has just released a new album which I am yet to hear.

Lester Young: Lady Be Good (unreleased alternate take)

From the collection of George Avakian comes an alternate take from the 1936 "Jones-Smith Inc." session. I hope someone dives in to the collection and discovers more gems such as this. The find of the year?

Paul Bley: Homage To Carla (Owl)

I do enjoy hearing Bley play Bley and this solo disc was on heavy rotation for a while (along with a few other Paul Bley albums). I'll be keeping an eye out for his trio disc on Steeplechase that tackles Carla's songs. In general, I still feel Paul Bley is under appreciated by the jazz community.

Various: West Coast Soundings (EWR)

I got this from Frank Gratkowski after his gig at Constellation (which was excellent). This is two discs of compositions that I guess fall into the the "new music" category. There's a lot of minimalism and drones. My interest was sparked when Frank mentioned there were times during the recording that he felt every note he played was too loud - I think he did pretty well. This was a nice accompaniment as I worked on school stuff.

Steve Lacy: Spirit of Mingus (Freelance) Steve Lacy & Evan Parker: Chirps (FMP)

As usual I listened to my fair share of Lacy this year. It was great hearing the master play a full set of Mingus tunes and how could I resist the Lacy/Parker duo (Parkers debt to Lacy is evident).

Paul Plimley & Lislie Ellis: Kaleidoscopes (HatArt)

This was a surprise disc that I picked up purely because this duo (who I was unfamiliar with) was playing the music of Ornette Coleman. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and recommend it to anyone interested in Coleman's music.

Lol Coxhill: Ear of Beholder (Esoteric) Milwaukee 2002 (Emanem) Alone and Together (Emanem)

There has been a steady stream of Coxhill on throughout the year. His personal approach to the soprano has drawn me in - there's a vulnerability and a rambling quality that appeals to be - a very distinctive player. The opening (included here) and closing tracks on Behearer hit my funny bone.

Ran Blake: Plays Solo Piano (ESP) Free Standards (Fresh Sound)

The fidelity of the solo disc is far from ideal but that didn't stop me from enjoying the music. On the duo disc I found that the original compositions written by the producer didn't grab my attention the way the standard tunes (solo & duo) did.

Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (Harmolodic/Verve)

Around the middle of the year I revisited some album's of Ornette's I hadn't listened to for some time. Along the way I picked up this one which I hadn't heard. The disc splits Prime Time and a reunion of the original quartet and it's worthwhile checking out the two groups takes on the same songs.

Art Tatum: Exactly Like You
This comes from a mid-1940s live recording (sorry but I've misplaced the full info!). Lewis Porter played this to us in class early last year. Check out striking chorus of single note lines.

John SurmanFragments (ECMThimar (ECM) A Biography Of The Rev. Absalom Dawe (ECM)
Stranger Than Fiction (EMC)

I haven't listened to much John Surman over the years. For me, he's a player that has slipped through the cracks so this year I made bit of an effort to listen to some of his work. I focused on his soprano work but he is strong on baritone sax and bass clarinet too. It was enough for me to want some more.

Norman Winstone: Somewhere Called Home (ECM)

I went to the Jazz Record Mart on New Year's eve hoping to find Jay Clayton's Sound Songs. They didn't have it and I was in the mood for some vocals so on a whim I picked this up - a nice mellow way to take out 2014.

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