Looking back: 2017 highlights

Don’t seem to have done a post on best gigs last year, but 2017 has been such an odd one it feels important to set down that my favourite art form still provided some days of delight among the many when I was mainly feeling disgusted, or just mystified with what was happening.

In no particular order, I’m especially grateful to have heard:

At St GeorgesTrio Mediaeval with Arve Henriksen; Quercus; Ute Lemper (not to mention Kyung Wha Chung playing Bach and the Brodsky quartet, who don’t quite belong on this blog).

At the Fringe in Clifton – Mark Lewandowski’s Waller project; Art Themen and Dave Newton; John O’Gallagher with Percy Pursglove, Tony Orrell and Dan Moore.

At Cheltenham Jazz Festival – loads of things, but the ones that stand out looking back are Marius Neset’s ad hoc quartet and Chris Potter.

At the CubeMatana Roberts re-weaving Coin Coin chapter three.

At the BeBop clubJohn Law’s recreations, and Sam Crockatt’s trio.

At the CanteenLed Bib at their most wonderfully raucous for a characteristically noisy crowd.

At the Hen and ChickenTim Armacost trio.

At Widcombe Social Club (Bath) – The ICP Orchestra, with Han Bennink still stoking the fires.

At London Jazz FestivalOut of Land (Andreas Schaerer, Michael Wollny, Michel Parisien, Vincent Peirani; Fred Hersch; and Malija (also heard in Bristol).

At Bristol Jazz FestivalAndy Sheppard‘s splendid new score for Metropolis, and Jason Rebello playing solo.

Finally, I singled out the first Ambleside Days Festival in September as the best live experience of the year for LondonJazzNews‘s annual listing. It was the whole occasion that worked so well, but if I had to choose just one set – in the absence of the hoped for solo set from Dave Holland – it would be the trio encounter between Holland, Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker. Magical stuff from a veteran who, for me, remains without peer, and two new associates.

Deep thanks, as always, to all the players, and the promoters who set all these gigs up. As well as giving me such pleasure, you give me hope.

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