Everyone does lists in December to sum up the year. Why should I be any different? The main purpose here is to keep tab on my musical tastes over time. Will they change in twelve months?
Here then, my top 10 albums for 2011, (in the order the cover photos uploaded!) :-
La Bande di Sandro - Sandro Donati (2011).
I made this 8 track "album" myself, by recording off ABC radio and downloading free tracks from the band's myspace site. Based in Melbourne, they play Italian folk songs with cajun, trad jazz, swing, etc, influences thrown in. Typical Aussie "world" music.
Slava and Leonard Grigoryan - Impressions (2007)
An ABC album of Debussy, etc, arranged for two guitars by their dad, Eduard. Virtuoso performances make exciting listening.
Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker - The Best of Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (1991)
This is a compilation from recordings made in 1952-57 when Chet Baker was a regular with the quartet. Great collaborations as well as solo performances by the trumpet and sax.
Martin Simpson - Sad or High Kicking (1985)
I know I'm a late bloomer, but I'd never heard of Martin Simpson, the British folk singer/songwriter, until listening to the radio this year. He's a good instrumentalist. This album has taken my fancy - I particularly like "Shawnee Town".
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Rodrigo and Gabriela (2006)
This is a duo of Mexican guitarists, in some ways reminiscent of Los Indios Tabajaras, but much more "spanish acoustic". The album has versions of Jimmy Page's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion"!
Gary Sheartson - Australian Broadside (1965)
I discovered this year that Shearston's collection have all been re-released on CD. My LP copies of his first four albums were long ago stuffed so I was pleased to be able to order them. This is probably my favourite - all original Australian songs, including Dorothy Hewitt's "Weevils in the Flour" and Denis Kevans' "The Roar of the Crowd".
Dutch Swing College Band - Jazz at the Seaport (1956)
I bought this LP in about 1964 and it's long gone. After several years of intermittently "googling" it with no success, I found that this year someone had made a CD of it, and I ordered it from Holland. It's amazing that after so long not hearing it, I remember every note of Jan Morks' clarinet on "Three Little Words" and the piano/soprano sax duet of Joop Schrier and Dim Kesber on "Where's My Heaven?".
Jeff Buckley - Grace (1994)
Although I've got one Tim Buckley album and I'd heard Jeff's version of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, I didn't appreciate Jeff Buckley until this year when I saw him on video in a European concert and realised his vocal gymnastics are as amazing as his dad's.
Lanie Lane - To the Horses (2011)
This was brought to my attention through the theme music to "Crownies" on ABC TV. It's growing on me - I like "What Do I Do?", "Heartbeat" and the title track. There's a decent dose of surf guitar throughout. Who's to say how well the album and vocal style will age? Time will tell.
Nick Hayward Quartet - 1234 (2010)
A large proportion of new jazz doesn't appeal to me (done already?) but this is an exception. Nick Hayward is a bass player based (hah) in Melbourne. The album was produced by Mal Stanley in the ABC studios. I heard the track "Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain", which runs for 11 minutes, on PBS radio, and bought the album online on the strength of it. Guitar, piano, bass and drums fit together well in unrehearsed, one-take recordings. Good ensemble and solos.
Geoff Achison - Acho Solo (2007)
We've seen Geoff Achison live twice, once with some of the Souldiggers and once solo. I prefer him acoustic and solo, so had to have this album which was recorded in a loungeroom on the Mornington Peninsula, I believe. I bought the album from his American website in American dollars, but it came with a Frankston South postmark! I like the voice and the great guitar.
That's it for this year's list. Astute observers will note there are eleven albums. As with any lists, you make your own rules!