Sunday, 30 December 2007

CDs of the year...2005

As we prepare to enter 2008, it makes sense that I take a look back at my CDs of the year from 2005. Anybody who knows me almost certainly thinks that I'm behind the times, and if the amount of Japanese free-jazz-funk from the '70s that I've been downloading lately is any guide, I could be anything up to 35 years in arrears.

Every year the magazine asks the team of writers to name and justify the best music they've heard during the year. In my case it gets harder as time goes by because I listen to less and less new stuff. My selections are taken from a very small pool of music, and almost always I miss something obvious that should have been included.

It got even harder the year that our late editor Richard Cook decided we'd only be allowed to pick one re-issue, but I fully understand why he did it. My selection of Greg Osby above William Parker even plays into that agenda, to a large extent.

The Osby disc still sounds great, but with hindsight I play both the Andersen and Parker albums far more often. Parker is up at the top practically every year, and I suppose my push on Osby was motivated by a desire to drag readers out of nostalgia mode and take a fresh look at the heroes of today. The Orrin Evans disc is probably there for sentimental reasons, as 2005 was the year I lost my father.

When all's said and done, I think I can still live with my choices...

1: GREG OSBY/Channel Three (Blue Note)
2: WAYNE SHORTER/Beyond The Sound Barrier (Verve)
3: WILLIAM PARKER/Luc’s Lantern (Thirsty Ear)
4: JIM PAYNE/Energie (High Note)
5: CHARLES LLOYD/Jumping The Creek (ECM)
6: WALLACE RONEY/Mystikal (High Note)
7: GRACHAN MONCUR III/Exploration (Capri)
8: TOMMY SMITH/Forbidden Fruit (Spartacus)
10: ORRIN EVANS/Easy Now (Criss Cross)

THE JAZZ CRUSADERS/The Festival Album (Pacific Jazz)

Last year I complained about how hard it was to find ten new releases to put into my list, bemoaning the restriction of just five re-issues by way of contrast. What a difference a year makes. Re-issues may have been cut to just one choice, but the top ten new releases could have been filled two or three times over with any number of high quality offerings.

This is the way it should be, if jazz has any kind of serious future. It’s fitting that Greg Osby, a man who in so many ways represents that future, should reign supreme. Wayne Shorter was only a whisker behind, and William Parker’s beautiful Luc’s Lantern could so easily have been the one in any lesser year. I include the Orrin Evans disc both on merit, and, because on a personal note I lost my father, the man who first introduced me to jazz, earlier this year. This is Evans’ musical coming to terms with that same tragedy in his own life, and there’s no mistaking the feeling.

Whilst the flow of essential re-issues shows no sign of reversing, the winner chose itself by virtue of the number of times it’s been played and enjoyed. Now, time to buy that nice new Jazz Crusaders Mosaic box-set before it sells out...

Fred Grand

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