2014 – a look back

As the end of 2014 is coming closer, it is time to look back and select some of the highlights of the year in musical terms:

CDs

Of course top of any list I would have to compile would be the records I have been putting out on the OKeh label, as I sign artists and work with them on their recordings because I believe that these artists are special and have something to add to the vast archive of recorded jazz music. In 2014 I released the following recordings:

Jeff Ballard Time’s Tales

Nir Felder Golden Age

James Brandon Lewis Divine Travels

Magos & Limon Dawn

Theo Croker AfroPhysicist

Sonny Rollins Road Shows, Vol. 3

Somi The Lagos Music Salon

Sergio Mendes Magic          Grammy Nominee 2015 !

MSMW Juice

Bill Frisell Guitar in the Space Age

Branford Marsalis In My Solitude – Live at Grace Cathedral

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From all the other great music I heard during the year, the following CDs, in no particular order, stood out:

Bugge Wesseltoft OK World   Jazzland Rec.

Wesseltoft Schwarz Berglund Trialogue   Jazzland Rec.

Ola Kvernberg The Mechanical Fair   Jazzland Rec.

Towner Muthspiel Grygorian Travel Guide   ECM

Jarrett / Haden Last Dance   ECM

Ketil Bjornstad Sunrise   ECM

Chick Corea Portraits   Concord

Jason Moran All Rise   Blue Note

Lars Danielsson Liberetto II   ACT

GoGo Penguin v2.0   Gondwana Records

Silvia Perez Cruz Granada   Universal

Jamie Cullum Interlude   Universal

Paco de Lucia Cancion Andaluza   Universal

Kenny Barron / Dave Holland The Art of Conversation   Impulse/Universal

bushman’s revenge thou shalt boogie!   Rune Grammofon

The Bad Plus The Rite of Spring   Sony Masterworks

Leonard Cohen Popular Problems   Columbia

Antonio Serrano Mahalo   Mahalo Produciones

Niccolo Faraci It came to broadcast the Yucatan   Auand Records

Pablo Martin Caminero O.F.N.I.   Bost

Gretchen Parlato Live in New York   Oblique

Airelle Bresson / Nelson Veras prelude   naïve

J.D. Allen Bloom   Savant

Ron Miles Circle   enja

And so many more, I enjoyed, but can’t mention for space reasons ….

Gigs

The outstanding performer for me this year has been Branford Marsalis – his concert with the quartet in Barcelona was simply something else and then the solo concert in the Kulturkirche Hamburg, proved that he is one of the most innovative improvisers with a great melodic sense.

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The other shows that really got me on an emotional level and did draw me deep into the music performed were:

The OKeh Night at Winter Jazz in New York in January with performances by James Brandon Lewis (whose November show in Madrid was another highlight of the year), Theo Croker, Jeff Ballard with Lionel Loueke and Miguel Zenon, Somi (who as well performed a great show later in the year in Paris), Nir Felder and Craig Handy. A pleasure to watch these young musicians show that they deserve to be recorded and promoted around the globe.

North Sea Jazz Festival – with outstanding performances by Dave Holland’s Prism, Nir Felder, John Scofield’s Uberjam Band and Sachal Vasandani. A festival full of great music – 3 exhausting days, but heaven for a true jazzman.

Madrid Jazz Festival – a series of great concerts in a relatively small venue – with a fantastic atmosphere when the show is good – and Dee Dee Bridewater featuring The Croker’s DVRK FUNK as a backing band was just incredible – powerful support for the greatest jazz singer of our time from her protégée Theo and his band. Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood performed music from their album Juice and did groove as there was no tomorrow …and the James Brandon Lewis Trio delivered a night of free flowing melodic improvisation on the highest level.

Twice I saw this year Pablo Martin Caminero performing his new album O.F.N.I. – Flamenco/Jazz as good as it gets, live and on record.

The Brad Mehldau Trio at the Teatro Lara in Madrid – still one of the tightest and best jazz combos around.

Jef Neve solo at the jazzahead in Bremen – impressive jazz compositions based in European classical music. Sensational.

Madeleine Peyroux at Ronnie Scott’s – just her on acoustic guitar with bass and electric guitar – the format her voice gets the best support and she seem to enjoy the most. Sublime.

Michel Camilo solo at the Blue Note in New York performing music from his Latin Grammy Award winning album What’s UP? A true master.

Ola Kvernberg with his trio and special guests Pablo Martin, Josemi Carmona, Enriquito and Bandolero at the Off The La Latina club in Madrid – musical exchange between North and South – powerful !

And there have been many more great nights at festival like the one in Vitoria-Gasteiz or concerts in various places in Europe. Too many to mention them all, but some are mentioned in the earlier blogs, for the interested reader.

In 2014 unfortunately the world of music lost too many great musicians, a vacuum that will be difficult to fill. I was lucky enough to have known and have worked with some of them and I will carry the memories of these great artists with me forever. I pay my respects to Paco de Lucia, Charlie Haden, Joe Sample and Idris Muhammad. R.I.P.

As we are speaking or better writing about all things music, I want to recommend a book as well: Stuart Nicholson Jazz and Culture in a Global Age. An eye and ear opening analysis of the international jazz development. Captivating.

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