Friday, 30 December 2011

My favourite albums of 2011

After watching loads of countdown and "2011" programmes on telly this christmas time, I fancied writing a blog with the same sort of concept. So here it is, these are some of the albums that jumped out at me the last few months. I've tried doing each month where a certain album touched me, but unfortunately there are some albums missing, not that I hadn't been listening to cool new stuff, but not much in those months really turned my ear on like the albums listed here.

Steve Lehman Octet - Travail, Transformation and Flow
I saw this band at the Vortex in Dalston in January, my main reason for going was to see Drew Gress live, but the band blew me away and I don't think I've ever really heard writing like Lehman's before. Straight after that I bought the album, a lot of incredible tracks and compositional things going on.

Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
This is Gruff's third album, his records keep getting better and better. The difference with this album is that all the songs are in english, not like the previous record where there would be some welsh songs thrown in. This is well worth a listen, a lot of nice catchy tunes and a lot of things going on sonically.

Kit Downes - Quiet Tiger

This is Kit's follow up to the mercury nominated "Golden". This album is much darker and a lot more open musically. The trio is augmented by the addition of cello and saxophone on some tracks. Calum Gourlay's bass sound on this album is incredible and features his playing a lot more than the previous album. This record represents the band's live performance incredibly, check it out, keep british jazz alive!

Endangered Blood

FUCK! This has probably become one of my favourite albums of all time. It's Chris Speed's band, with him on tenor saxophone, Oscar Noriega on alto saxophone, Trevor Dunn on bass and Jim Black on drums. I'm so glad I found this album, Trevor Dunn is one of the main reason why I started playing double bass and so great to hear him on this album, great sound, feel and most of all great improvising. The vibe of the band is incredible, everyone gels so well, the tunes are fairly simple in terms of structure, but the improv by everyone is unreal. This is a great document of Chris Speed and Jim Black's musical relationship which has been going since they were 15. I think everyone should buy this album, it's available on itunes and on Chris's record label, skirl records.

Wu Tang Clan - Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)
Classic rap album. I hadn't checked any rap out properly, so a friend of mine told me to get this, it's genius, great MC-ing and amazing flow.

Sonny Rollins - Way Out West
Over the summer just after I had moved to my new place, I found an independent record shop around the corner and found this there. I had been checking out a lot of west coast stuff at that point and this is by far the best. It's a trio with Sonny, Ray Brown on bass and Shelley Manne on drums. Amazing feel on the album, listening to Ray Brown is like education, fills up the sonic space beautifully and still keeps his amazing feel going.

Jim Black Trio - Somatic
This album's genius, the most 'jazz' I've heard Jim play drums ever. The trio consists of Elias Stemeseder on piano and Thomas Morgan on bass. I had met Elias in a summer school in Austria in the summer of 2008, at the time he was only 17, but sounded deadly, he's only 20 now and sounds even better, so much depth to what he plays. The tunes on this are incredible and the way these guys play together is really special. I hope they tour the in the UK soon, would love to see them live.

New Zion Trio - Fight Against Babylon
I only got this album through the post yesterday, but I've fallen in love with it already. The band is Jamie Saft on piano and rhodes, Larry Grenadier on bass and Craig Santiago on drums. Essentially this is a piano trio which plays live dub, very well. Craig Santiago's pocket is so deep, and Larry Grenadier's bass sound suits this music so well, it's amazing to hear a massive bass legend play the same groove for 7 minutes straight. This album is available through Jamie Saft's record label, veal records, I think everyone should buy this album, it's sonically genius.

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