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027: Lennie Tristano, ‘Wow’

An obscure club date by an obscure pianist and his band, forerunners of cool jazz.
Music for snobs, with some virtuosic playing that would make Paderewski blush.
Ice also burns.

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105: The Boswell Sisters, ‘Crazy People’

The Boswell Sisters had 20 hits in the early 1930s, and are arguably THE best vocal jazz group ever. Their 3-part harmonies are tighter than Aunt Bertha’s girdle, and their arrangements are constantly chock full of unexpected shifts in tempo, major/minor mode, key, and tone, flipping cheekily from dead serious to insouciant comic and back. They have a wicked and sometimes rather racy sense of humor. Their vocals are so hot they were often thought to be black. They scat with the best of them, and do knock-out imitations of instruments and nonsense sounds. A pleasure and an education, 80 years on.

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099: Luciana Souza, ‘Baião à Tempo’ (“An Answer to Your Silence”)

I get that not everyone needs to go hacking through impregnable jazz jungles or crawling across atonal minimalist deserts or getting lost in endless Nordic a cappella virgin forests. But believe me, Luciana Souza’s “An Answer to Your Silence” is vocal jazz of singular, innovative genius – groundbreaking, underappreciated, and regretfully unknown. It is THE most interesting CD I’ve heard in the last decade.

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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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