Tuesday, 3 December 2013

2013 Top Ten Albums

 Here are my top ten music albums for this year, selected from ones that have been added to the collection in the last twelve months.

The range seems to be more limited.  No new standout blues or pop music, only two from the 21st century.  I've obviously had a hankering for jazz and instrumental music featuring ensembles or solo virtuosi.

Some are suggesting that mp3 and iTune sales of "singles" will be the death of the LP album, but I don't think so.  For one thing, it's possible to cherry-pick and design your own album.  I did that this year by selecting non-vocal tracks from three Joseph Tawadros albums and compiling an album that features the skill and variety of his oud playing, and I think it is very successful.

A good LP album is greater than the sum of its parts—it has a central purpose and other intangibles such as balance and mood. The Paul Kelly album here makes the list because I assigned a retrospective purpose to it, to showcase his song-writing in 1985 just when his career took off.

Anyway, let's get down to it…

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 1. Itzhak Perlman
Paganini 24 Caprices for Solo Violin  1972

The Israeli violinist plays what to me is cerebral music, washes over and into the brain with not a note to be missed.

 2.  Jacques Loussier Trio
Ravel's Bolero  1999

After playing with Bach, Loussier turned his attention to this sublime rendition.  Surely it was written for piano?  The last half hour of the album is taken up with Loussier's Nympheas suite with its seven short movements and this sits well with the Ravel.

3. Margret Roadknight
Fringe Benefits  1993

We went to visit Margret Roadknight in Lakes Entrance to buy a couple of albums, including this one which features guest musicians and some of my favourite songs like My Brown Yarra and Market Mosaic.

4. Motion Trio
Pictures From The Street  2004

Polish acoustic accordion trio whose music ranges from classical composers to their own contemporary works with Balkan gypsy influences.  An exciting album with great variety.

5.  Sabicas
Flamenco Virtuoso,  1961

I've been pining for the flicking fingers of flamenco to replace some records I used to have, but they all seem to have orchestration or a drum kit these days.  Then I found this album by the Spanish Romani, Sabicas, strictly a guitar (or two) with hand claps and foot stomps, recorded when they knew how, and he'd been practising for forty years.

6. Yamandu Costa & Dominguinhos 
Yamandu + Dominguinhos  2007

Yamandu is a Brazilian guitarist and composer who plays 7-string acoustic guitar and here teams up with an accordion player, Dominguinhos, with some wonderful Brazilian rhythms.

7. Gerry Mulligan & Johnny Hodges 
Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges  1960

A happy robust album of 5 tracks by two sax players at the top of their game.  They knew how to get you to come back for more in those days— the album runs for 33 minutes, about Elvis length!

 8.  Paul Kelly 
Post  1985

I've always listened to Paul Kelly in "best-of" sets or compilations, and realised I didn't know any of his albums.  I got Post and Gossip, his first two solo albums (Coloured Girls), and they are much better to listen to than a wide-ranging compilation.  I prefer Post, the first of the two (and it contains Adelaide!).

9.  Georges Cziffra
  - Liszt 10 Hungarian Rhapsodies  2001 remaster, ?1972

Hungarian pianist plays Liszt, showing virtuosity of player and composer. Liszt was a great "bash artist" with panache!  I love solo piano and stuff without an orchestra gets votes.

 10.  Jimmy Giuffre 3 
 Jimmy Giuffre 3  1957

The oldest album, 11 tracks written mostly by Guiffre, who plays clarinet, tenor, baritone, with the rhythm section of guitar and bass. Guitar and reeds fit well together and the absence of drum kit helps make the album a pleasure.

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Shortlist included Carlos Del Junco, Castlecomer, Joseph Tawadros,  Band of Brothers, Talking Heads (!), Oh Mercy, Claude Hay, Zoe Keating, Arrebato Ensemble and Ray Price Quartet.

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