All this foolish beauty… 52 jazz tracks for 2021

This category is just me revisiting some recordings that meant a lot. It’s an idea I toyed with last year, then discarded. The way 2020 turned out, I kinda wished I’d gone ahead. I’d been musing on a critic’s old claim (can’t remember who) that a jazz listener might eventually refine their taste so all but 50 or so recordings can be discarded – the ones left being enough for a lifetime.

That was said years ago and the volume of recording since, plus the fact I retain my juvenile craving for novelty, mean there’s no way I could do this. Nor do I care about a top 50 of anything. Still, I seem to be of an age where looking back is as interesting as forward. And current paucity of live stuff does encourage revisiting old recordings. So I’m going to choose one track a week from the start of this year.

how we found music in olden times…

Each of them will stand for a recorded set (CD or LP from the old days) that I loved at first go, and still find rewarding. I’m going to try and steer clear of things already in top tens for their decade. They’ll be tracks that are still available somewhere (less point writing about things others can’t listen to) – bandcamp or, if need be, youtube or spotify. Yes, I know Spotify hate musicians, but these are already things I’ve bought – more than once in some cases – so I’m going to go there just for this stuff.

I’m also going for things that were new(ish) when I first listened, so they came to me without any critical priming. I’m not going to fascinate you with tales of how I was captivated by Kind of Blue, or A Love Supreme. There are books about them (good ones, too).

As usual, this is all to amuse me – to see how I explain to myself why a piece stays with me. It may or may not interest anyone else. In that spirit, I’ll break any of these rules as the fancy takes me.

Oh, and the title is a nod to a Billy Collins poem, for a touch of class. It’s a line from Nightclub: “… there is all this foolish beauty, borne beyond midnight, that has no desire to go home.” To me it says something about those moments when you know music has to end but just want to go on listening. The tracks I’m choosing may or may not give anyone else that feeling, but they once had that effect on me.

Not every track appears on Spotify, but here’s a cumulative playlist of the ones that are



  1. A most welcome return with a project that nicely captures the moment. You’ve been missed. So as I lie on my Covid 19 bed of pain I will get a vicarious pleasure from your journey and musing. (Yes last act of 2020 was to catch the virus from my Care Worker daughter).

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