As the blog is mainly a personal memory aid, I guess I’ll be able to tell what I enjoyed in 2010 by reading through the posts in some future which combines idle moments with self-centred curiosity, or maybe just calls for economies on going to hear live events.
Still, I’ll observe end of year tradition and have a go at singling out the highlights, as I did last year, so I also know what seemed to stand out when recollection was still reasonably clear.
The first thing I notice is that more of the really great gigs were in Bristol – thanks mainly to the consistently strong programme down at Ian Storror’s club at the Future Inn. It is just a nice place to go, and it is a delight to see the musicians enjoying a place where they are presented well and get treated decently, as well as to hear them in that atmospheric room. Long may it continue! The Cabot habit meant fewer visits to the Be-Bop club and, as it turned out, fewer trips to St George’s as well. The latter, though, already looks to me to have a stronger programme for next year so I think we’re going to be climbing the hill plenty of times in 2011 (definitely to Andy Sheppard next week, and already booked for Baba Maal, Ralph Towner, Joe Lovano and Paul Lewis… )
Anyhow, 2010. The top five gigs on our list (my companion’s tastes are reliably pretty similar now as we move further into our fourth decade of joint concert going…) would be Kit Downes trio in Brecon Cathedral, Eric Vloiemans’ set at Bath, the joyous Township Comets at the Vortex, Mitsuko Uchida’s recital at St George’s and the spellbinding June Tabor at the Old Vic. What about Future Inns? Well, most of the rest of a top dozen were heard there, including Jonathan Gee (Ian Storror’s own favourite gig, he says), Dave Lyttle, Christian Brewer, John Parricelli with Andy Sheppard, the critics’ favourites Phronesis and good old Don Weller. Back to St George’s for the last one, which would have to be Angela Hewitt’s wonderful evening with the Basel string players.
As ever, there were plenty of stand out moments at other gigs, but these were the complete sets which came together best. They add up to a pretty good year if perhaps not a great one. I don’t rate any of the jazz gigs as quite in the class that one remembers for years and years – as I remember gigs by (say) Ornette, Rollins, Lee Konitz, Danilo Perez, Wayne Shorter, Maria Schneider or Dave Holland. The only thing I heard in 2010 which approached that level was Charles Lloyd’s quartet at the Barbican, with Eric Harland and Jason Moran. Now that was an astonishing gig, but only heard on the radio. Would have been nice if the copy I’ve put on a CD was a souvenir of a concert we actually attended but there are always some that get away… Here’s to continuing the effort to stop that happening this year!