hard to believe that another year has passed – a strange one personally – with good things and bad ones … like any other, more or less.

The good ones first – our move to Madrid 8 months ago has been a blessing – the quality of life in this city is incredible and in comparison to London one can live reasonably well and much cheaper and better. Spending more time with my wife is absolutely amazing and I enjoy every second of it. Family and friends are close by and making life more interesting and fun. My daughter turning 18 and her doing well in her studies. And finally slowly getting our business going … slowly! All in all – things are looking pretty good.

The negative ones – the passing of artists I worked with and people close by, first of all my wife’s grandmother, a true character and wonderful lady. Health problems of not to be named friends and people close to us. Paying lots of money to my ex-wife according to a judge who was clearly overwhelmed with the simplicity of the case … discussions with the Inland Revenue … the slowness of the way our business is developing.

The music business is not getting better either – the bigger ones are going to be bigger (Universal signing everyone and buying EMI) and in the niche markets the trend to the independents continues – see the success of small labels at the Grammy nominations, which might not be a bad thing anyway.

There has been a lot of great music this year – on records and live and I want to share a few of my 2011 highlights with you:

Best Jazz Records of 2011

Sonny cover

Just listen to ‘Sonnymoon for Two’ when Ornette Coleman joins Sonny and the two start ‘talking’ … A rare musical moment and worth the album alone, but the rest is pretty amazing as well and shows, that for Sonny age is not an issue – he still has lots to say!! The two Grammy nominations are well deserved and I sincerely hope he gets them both!!

Gerald Clayton – Bond:The Paris Sessions

Julian Lage – Gladwell

James Carter Organ Trio – at the crossroads

Miguel Zenon – Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook

Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo – Songs of Myth and Melancholy

Michel Camilo – Man A Mano

Nils Petter Molvaer – Baboon Moon

Wesseltoft / Schwarz – Duo

Pablo Martin – El Caminero

Josemi Carmona – Las pequenas cosas

Charles Lloyd / Maria Farantouri – Athens Concert

Keith Jarrett – Rio

Giovanna Pessi / Susanna Wallumrod – If grief could wait

Christian Muthspiel’s Yodel Group – huljo

This are my top 15 records in terms of jazz for this year – there are many more great records, but not all can make the list, others I heard about, but haven’t heard them yet – something to do next year.

Live Top 12 of 2011

Kurt Elling – Madrid Jazz Festival

He is simply the best male vocalist around today – and live always incredible – even so on this gig he had to change pianist just the day before and it just gave the performance another edge, but the quality of the band and his show was simply beyond.

Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela, feat. Josemi Carmona – Barcelona Jazz Festival

Javier Limon – Mujeres de Agua – North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam (especially Eleftheria Arvanitaki and La Shica)

Sergio Mendes – North Sea Jazz Festival

Kristin Asbjornsen – San Sebastian Jazzaldia

Jose James – Jazz Vitoria-Gasteiz

a tribute to Tommy LiPuma – feat. among others Randy Crawford, Diana Krall, George Benson, Dr. John, Leon Russell, David Sanborn, Joe Sample … – Montreux Jazz Festival


(Trombone Shorty, Joe Sample, Dave Sanborn and Dr John)

Jazzland Sessions – featuring Bugge Wesseltoft, Hakon Kornstad, Ola Kvernberg, Mari&Stein, Knut Reiersrud and special guest Josemi Carmona – Nasjonal Jazzscene Oslo

John Scofield – San Sebastian Jazzaldia

Michel Camilo ‘Mano A Mano’ – Jazz Vitoria-Gasteiz

Pablo Martin – Madrid Jazz Festival

Hiromi – San Sebastian Jazzaldia

and many more gigs in smaller clubs, like the James Carter Organ Trio at the New Morning in Paris, or festivals. But these are the outstanding ones as far as I can recall right now.

… and for 2012 – some of the music will be great and as I have heard a few already – check out the following releases coming in the first quarter of next year:

Charlie Haden and Hank Jones – Come Sunday – recorded just 3 months before Hank’s passing, this beauty of an album will finally be released

Bugge Wesseltoft – Songs – his first fully acoustic solo piano album of jazz standards – you’ll be in for a treat. Sensational!!


Hakon Kornstad – symphonies in my head – solo sax and loop station master piece. When you think he can’t get better, he will prove you wrong ….!

Wishing you all a swinging New Year!!

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