Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My Best Music of 2012

   Here's my favourite new (for me) albums for 2012.  It doesn't necessarily reflect what I'm most listening to because I always love to listen to old favourites- new is not always best.  However it shows what I've been enthusiastic about in the last twelve months.  There are notable albums I've got this year that didn't make the cut, from new classical guitarists like Miloš Karadaglić to old jazz icons like clarinettist Johnny Dodds or bluesmen like Jerry "Boogie" McCain who died this year.

   The WOMAD festival in Adelaide in March had a lot of influence.  I did some research, downloaded music off the internet and knew what I wanted to see when we got there.  Generally, I wasn't disappointed and there were some great surprises!

   Anyway, here's ten albums that I'm happy to listen to any day of the week, in no particular order:- 

1.  Glenn Gould -  Goldberg Variations (1955)
The 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations made the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould instantly famous.  His 1981 re-recording (a year before he died) is also of interest but doesn't have the daring of the original.  This record goes for 38 minutes; the 1981 version when he was older and wiser goes for 55 minutes ( I love them both).

2.  Nana Mouskouri - Athina (1984). 
I loved her TV shows when accompanied by the Athenians with their harmonies and Greek musicianship featuring guitar and bouzouki.  However, her recordings were commercial crap until I discovered this album which reflects her roots and the Greek musicianship.  Folk songs such as "Yalo Yalo" make the album.

3.  Diabate and Sissoko - New Ancient Strings (1997) 
The Malian fathers of Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko recorded Ancient Strings in 1970, so this is a tribute by the kora player Diabate and his accompanist.  I think I got this album from Ian in NSW - thanks, it's very laid back.

4.  Jinja Safari - Locked by Land (2012). 
They were supposed to bring out a new album this year but this is a compilation of the EPs (which I had) and some bonus tracks.  Anyway, we saw them live at Womadelaide - teenage magnets with an electric performance, and great musicians.

5.  Dobet Gnahore - Home Made (2012). 
I bought an album (Djekpa La You) of this African performer after seeing her live at Womadelaide but was disappointed by the overproduction compared to the tracks I'd previously collected off the internet.  These had only her voice and guitar accompanied by female backing vocals and percussion.  I compiled the seven tracks into this "album".

6.  Shivkumar Sharma And Hariprasad Chaurasia -Rasdhara (1999).  We were very impressed and privileged to see Shivkumar Sharma at Womadelaide playing his satoor (like the hammered dulcimer).
I found this record where he is accompanied by the famed flute player - it's a great combination!  These two played together in 1967 (Call of the Valley) but this shows their experience.

7.  Anda Union - The Wind Horse (2011).  I bought this album after watching the Mongolian acoustic group's set twice (or was it three times?) at Womadelaide.  The combination of throat singing, stringed instruments and pure exuberance was exhilarating to say the least.  They effortlessly captured the rhythm and feel of horses in the Mongolian landscape.

8.  Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972).  I also have his first album Five Leaves Left (1969) but the 1972 effort shows better songwriting and features only voice and guitar which is more poignant.  I'd never heard of Drake until recently but think this is me in the bedroom (so do others apparently!).

9.  Le Trio Joubran - Asfar (2011).  I already had their 2005 album Randana but after seeing them at Womadelaide got this and love the simple subtlety.  My initial thought at their concert was that they were doing "party tricks" for the westerners but this is probably too harsh.  It's hard to fault the record.

10. Keith Jarrett - The Koln Concert (1975).  I'm amazed to find that I've only this year discovered the best-selling solo jazz album ever and the best-selling piano album.  For this I thank ABC Classic FM who played a track earlier in the year.  I particularly love the first track which runs for 26 minutes and draws the listener into the whole experience.  I'll leave it to others to conjecture whether he made it up as he went along (just kidding)!
I resisted the temptation to include more than 10 albums!

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