I am an avid jazz listener, CD buyer, blog and magazine reader, with a simple objective: to get more people to listen to jazz, and to be willing to listen to new artists that they otherwise might not ever hear. I play a couple of instruments for my own pleasure, the piano and the bass clarinet, have some understanding of the technical aspects of music and its history, but make no pretense that I am a critic in the professional sense of the word. I simply know what I like and what I don't like. I probably purchased in the neighborhood of 500 CDs this past year of both historical recordings as well as new recordings. And by the way, that is specifically CDs and not downloads -- I love the physical presence of the disc, the written materials, the list of players, etc. And I try to support my local music store, an independent seller with an encyclopedic knowledge of the music who is fighting the good fight in this era of downloads and spotify, etc.
I will try to use this blog to feature some of the many recordings that intrigued me this past year, or even earlier, particularly those that may not get much play here in the U.S. With the demise of the large labels and more and more small labels and self-published music, it has to be hard for artists to be recognized. By researching the blogs, reading the distributors catalogues at my local store, cruising cdbaby, and going to clubs, I have been able to purchase a lot of interesting CDs this past year by American players.
At the same time there is a plethora of music being creataed outside the U.S. that may never get here. Sure, a lot of European jazz comes to us from ECM, ACT, Pirouet, and other labels; but even more never reaches the U.S. market. And sure, many players do get recognition in the U.S., and come here and play; but many never are heard here. This past year, for example, I travelled to Iceland and found a very robust jazz scene there. Many readers may know of Sunna Gunnlaugs, but how about Agnar Magnusson, Arni Forchammer Quartet, or Gunnar Gunnarsson? Similarly, recent recordings of Brit Gwilym Simcock are beginning to pop up in the U.S. either solo or with the Impossible Gentlemen, but what about Kit Downes, Curios, and others? Tricotomy and The Necks, Australians by the way? I love Italian jazz, but labels like Philology, EGEA, or Auand area hard to find here, and costly in many cases to order from abroad. Some of the familar names like Rava, Piernunzi, Battaglia, or Bollani are know from their ECM recordings or Camjazz, but there are many others as well playing wonderful, lyrical music.
My tastes are fairly widespread, although I do shy away from electronics and, to me at least, the extremes of the avant garde. As this blog unfolds I am sure that my likes and dislikes will become evident. Remenber though, they represent my tastes, they do not represent actual jazz criticism/reviews. I leave that for the professionals. But eventually, I hope folks who read this will understand where I am coming rom, and if they understand that then maybe they will try some of the music.
I hope I can bring new discoveries to those who find this blog, and encourage some risk taking among those looking for interesting music. In the next few days I am going to add to the over-abundance of end of year lists and develop one of my own featuring those discs that really struck me during the past year. what the heck, that's as good a way as any to introduce myself.