Musically 2018 has been a very interesting and rewarding year: the OKeh releases received great reviews around the globe and quite a few international awards or nominations and there have been so many great new records and concerts, that, as every year, it is really difficult to select an individual top ten, which only represents a small part of what I listened to, which again is only a very small part of what was released or performed this year. Nevertheless, here are my top lists for 2018:
Bill Frisell & John Surman – these two legends have been set at # 1 not only for their outstanding duo concert at North Sea Jazz, but as well for the individual shows I did see/hear this year – Frisell solo in Barcelona and the John Surman Trio in Madrid!
Nels Cline & Julian Lage – together and the Julian Lage Trio shows I was able to attend put these two guitar heroes at # 2
Hudson / John Scofield – Hudson in Rotterdam and Scofield’s Combo 66 in Madrid … fireworks and deep music
Rohey / Gurls – two groups featuring singer Rohey Taalah, three outstanding performances in New York, Rotterdam and Oslo (Gurls)
Shabaka Hutchings – whether with The Comet is Coming (New York) or with Sons Of Kemet (Rotterdam) sax player Hutchings is a powerhouse and a creative force#
Jose James – his Bill Whithers tribute Live in NYC … touching and honest
Arve Henriksen & Duo Medieval – captivating concert by Henriksen and vocalists Anna Maria Friman and Linn Andrea Fuglseth at Bran Castle
Nils Petter Molvaer – whether as a trio or as a quartet, the Nils Petter Molvaer group always delivers
Utel Lemper – a sensational show in Alicante by one of the best singers of our days
Michel Camilo – a powerful and outstanding solo show in every aspect as part of the Madrid International jazz Festival
Wayne Shorter / Emanon – everything about this release is special: the compositions, the live performance and the packaging. An instant classic!
Michael Leonhart Orchestra / The Painted Lady Suite – all you want to hear on a big band album .. a masterful MLO debut
Ketil Bjornstad & Anneli Drecker / A Suite Of Poems – Music by Bjornstad and poems by Lars Saabye Christensen – performed by Ketil on piano and Anneli Drecker on vocals .. the loneliness of travelling expressed ..
Wolfgang Muthspiel / Where the river goes – Austrian composer and guitarist with a stellar line up bewitching his audience with beautiful melodies
Kat Edmonson/ Old Fashioned Gal – a unique voice and some wonderful compositions .. Kat Edmonson at her best
Tord Gustavsen Trio / The Other Side – classy return to the trio format by the soulful Gustavsen
Madeleine Peyroux / Anthem – one of her best recordings so far – great song writing and unique delivery
Piotr Schmidt / Tribute to Tomasz Stanko – a wonderful bow to the Polish master and Schmidt’s other 2018 release ‘Saxesful’ is worth checking out as well
Paolo Vinaccia / Dommedag ifølge Paulus / Mystery Man – drummer Vinaccia released with Dommedag a CD/DVD package of touching beauty and a message of love .. Mystery Man is a 6 CD set of his career highlights … European drummer legend!
Dhafer Youssef / Sounds of Mirrors – featuring Zakir Hussain, Hüsnü Şenlendirici and Eivind Aarseth and Dhafers captivating voice and oud. Spiritual and deep music.
But in many other ways 2018 has been a tough year: the continuing global move to the political right is frightening and makes it more and more important that we make our liberal voices heard. And we lost to many beloved family members, friends and artists from the jazz world this year: Uli Scherer, a wonderful human being and composer/pianist, with whom I had the honour to work; Roy Hargrove, the trumpet player who bridged the tradition with the now; Randy Weston, Sonny Fortune, Hamiett Bluiett, Erich Kleinschuster, Tomasz Stanko, Jon Hiseman, Cecil Taylor and Mikhail Alperin to name just a few and the ones that I heard, met or worked with – may they Rest In Peace!
2018 saw a lot of great albums coming from the label (see image below)
and we will in 2019 continue to hopefully deliver quality recordings with global appeal. We have ready for early 2019 releases a new Branford Marsalis Quartet and a Theo Croker album that is NOW in Motion, as well as Nils Petter Molvaer with orchestra, to be recorded in January. Watch this space!!!!