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273: The Necks, ‘Sex’

Jeff’s Top Ten from the last fortnight–surprises, non-surprises, and Rachael Price going ‘Ooh-ooh–ooh’.

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104: Charles Mingus, ‘Myself When I Am Real’/’Adagio Ma Non Troppo’

In 1963, irascible, obstreperous bassist Charles Mingus recorded a beautiful, intimate solo piano album. It included a remarkably beautiful and cohesive improvised piece, ‘Myself When I Am Real’. In 1973 he scored this improvisation with full orchestration as ‘Adagio Ma Non Troppo’ (“kind of slow”). Two beautiful works with a fascinating evolutionary link between them.

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096: Bill Evans (solo), ‘Easy To Love’

After bassist Scott LaFaro died, Bill Evans gave up music and focused on his voracious heroin habit. It was a bleak time. Six months later, Evans made an aborted attempt to record a solo album, a eulogy to LaFaro. The resulting four cuts are uneven, unfinished, unpolished. But they are a man’s soul speaking directly, without mediation, without technical obstacles: Evans, his pain, and the music: “I have always preferred playing without an audience.”

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081: Maria Schneider, ‘The Pretty Road’

Maria Schneider’s music has been called “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous.” It defies genre-categorization. In format, it’s standard Big Band, but the music exhibits a symphonic palette, broad and complex and rich and intriguing. Her compositions are often compared to those of Mahler and Copland. They’re ephemeral, transcendental and melodic, often simultaneously. Not impressionistic, but carefully thought out and planned and considered. Incorporating the vast, open, airy Minnesota landscape where she was raised. Thoroughly modern, thoroughly American, thoroughly personal. She’s even been called Nabokovian! A brainy romantic, passionate, an aural aviatrix.

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236: Jacob Collier, ‘Hideaway’

If you ever want to know what’s new in music, check out what Jacob Collier’s been doing for the previous couple of months.
Last night I had the rare privilege of seeing him perform in Tel Aviv.
People were saying “I’m going to be able to say to my children that I saw him when.”
I was saying, “This is not real. What I’m seeing and hearing can’t be real. It’s superhuman.”

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094: Brad Mehldau, ‘Martha, My Dear’ (“Live in Marciac”)

Brad Mehldau is young (big tattoo on his forearm), eclectic, handsome and shy and spiritual and articulate and spooky intelligent. Oh, yeah, and he plays with two different hands. I mean, they’re independent of each other, connected by chance to one torso. His left hand alone can play what most fine jazz pianists can do with both. Leaving his right hand to explore another alternative tonal world. So all you ‘I really don’t like too much jazz’ folks out there, do yourselves a favor – give Brad Mehldau a listen, anything at all – standards, Beatles, Radiohead, originals.

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091: Herbie Nichols, ‘House Party Starting’

Here comes the story of the most universally respected unknown jazz pianist from the 1950s. Herbie Nichols’ music is ambiguous, filled with warm dissonances and subtle rhythmic twists and harmonic turns. There’s a pervasive sharp intellect tempered with great warmth and a lot of resigned humor. His music, for all its complexity and intricacy, is really quite fun. You could even use it to start a house party.

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259: Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau: ‘Marcie’ (Joni Mitchell), ‘Don’t Think Twice’ (Dylan)

You don’t need Thile and Mehldau to justify the standing of Dylan or Mitchell. But their fresh new readings may still amplify and even enhance the originals.

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