There have been so many wonderful releases this year but one album has consistently been in the lead and that is Maciek Pysz‘s Insight reviewed here. As Keats wrote, a thing of beauty is a joy forever, and Insight is very, very beautiful. Unusually, I have found that this album fits many personal moods, from happy to troubled and I have turned to it many times since its release in May. I saw this trio three times this year – at the intimate The Forge for the launch, at Ealing Jazz Festival in a breezy tent and at a busy/noisy Kings Place Festival. Each time the trio was sensitive to its environment and the audience, upping the tempo to catch attention (and hold it) , always dazzling in their virtuosity, communicating their joy of playing together. It’s probably the joy and pleasure they convey in music making that I love most of all. I am extremely pleased that my local jazz club Stratford Jazz is hosting Maciek next March.
Other albums have earned their place in my heart this year:
Claudio Filippini Trio: Facing North. A sublime piano trio, featuring a favourite drummer (Olavi Louhivuori – last year’s album of the year with Oddarrang), Palle Danielsson and Claudio on piano. Claudio writes how he found inspiration playing with two idols. He rose to the occasion and has produced some timeless tracks like his version of Adele’s Chasing Pavements.
Esp: Ambiguous Play. This is a guitar-led quintet from Norway. They have produced perfect late night music that fits all times of the day. The compositions are memorable, fun even. It was the first album I was asked to review and I feel great affection for it. It featured on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction over the summer. They gave a great set at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. I hope they go far in 2014.
Mats Eilersen Trio: Sails Set. I love this for its quietness, contemplativeness and peace, its sparcity and poetry.
And sneaking in at the last minute, Jon Lloyd Group: Vanishing Points. Rich and unexpectedly lyrical yet never paying homage to anyone else.