I had a great teacher once who said ‘you are what you eat, you are what you listen to.’ Even when I am too tired or lazy to do anything else, I listen to music, often ravenously. Here’s a short list of what I’ve been listening to this year. It’s not a Best of 2012, but rather a Best of Pat Boyle’s 2012. Some albums are classics, and some are destined to be classics. Head to your local record store or iTunes and give them as gifts to yourself, or if you must, to someone else.
In no particular order of awesomeness:
Murley, Bickert & Wallace – Test of Time (2012)
Mike Murley (tenor sax); Ed Bickert (guitar); Steve Wallace (bass)
This album was recorded in 1999 and stayed in Barry Elmes basement for over a decade. In that sense, unearthing this album is like finding buried treasure. Ed Bickert has since retired, but he was at the release in Toronto which I also attended. This is some of my most favourite music ever. The solos sound like beautifully effortless compositions, and the time-feel of everyone can be considered a textbook for any aspiring jazz musician. Their last album went on to win the Juno for Best Jazz Recording and I strongly suspect this one will as well.
Dave Young/Terry Promane Octet (2012)
Dave Young (bass); Terry Promane (trombone); Mike Murley (tenor); Vern Dorge (alto); Perry White (bari); Kevin Turcotte (trumpet);
Gary Williamson (piano); Terry Clarke (drums)
Terry was one of my teachers at the University of Toronto. He has a some of the fastest diagnostic ears of anyone I know. Terry is able to get the best out of any group he is leading, either student or professional. He and Dave share arranging and compositional duties on this extremely engaging outing. The record leaps out of my speakers, it is truly music that is alive and urgent. I don’t think there is a better example on record of Kevin Turcotte’s trumpet playing to date. He is on fire. The arrangements are simply some of the best for octet you’ll hear anywhere played by the heaviest players on the Canadian scene. If there is a Canadian jazz sound, a sound that is unique yet connected to the tradition laid down by Rob McConnell, a certain flexible approach to the beat, balls-to-the-wall solos, then this is very representative of it.
John Hiatt – Bring the Family (1987)
This may be my dream band. Hiatt’s songs, recorded so loosely with Ry Cooder (guitar), Nick Lowe (bass), and the esteemed Jim Keltner (drums). Loose is not at all intended to be a dirty word here. This is the good kind of loose, where four geniuses are put in a situation where all they need to be is themselves and deal with each others contributions. The guitar solo on Lipstick Sunset, whether or not it was improvised, is as beautiful as anything by Bach or Chopin.
Tatiana Parra (voice) & Andrea Beeuswaert (piano) – Aqui (2007)
Jim Vivian hipped me to this record in the summer and it’s impossible to describe. No auto tune here folks, just a perfectly limber voice singing incredibly challenging but gorgeous music. Some of the melodies go to extremely unexpected places, leaving me with a persistent feeling of wanting to hear more. This is music that makes me want to get to know the people that made it.
Best of the season to you…I’ll make some more suggestions between fits of booze and Charlie Brown.