I’ve spent a lot of time listening to music I love so it wasn’t too hard to unearth a year’s worth of recordings that seem enduringly rewarding. But 52 is enough to be going on with.
Still, there are others that meant something to me when I first heard them, and still do, and I’ll mention a few. Some didn’t make the cut because I was mostly trying to avoid repeating the same players, some I just didn’t get round too. And a few seemed essential but just aren’t accessible now.
Of those, the one I’m perhaps most wistful about is this one.
It would be great to see Stan Tracey and Mike Osborne’s 1970s duo from Bracknell, Tandem surface again. There is other great Osborne available now from Ogun records, and even a different live set from Tracey and Osborne on CD. But this still sounds to me like a more perfect performance, and not just because I heard the longer of these pieces live at the old Bracknell festival. It still seems to me a masterpiece. My vinyl is pretty worn, and I did rip it to audio files a while back to make sure I could still listen to it, but not sure offhand where I backed it up now…
It also reminds me how many of the jazz recordings I’ve loved the most have been duos. That might be a limitation on my capacity to process musical information, but I prefer to think it’s about the intimacy of the setting and the intensity of the conversation that can ensue. So in another year I might have included:
Duke Ellington and Ray Brown
Buddy Tate and Jay McShann
Anthony Braxton and Max Roach (or Muhal Richard Abrams)
Marion Brown and Mal Waldron
George Coleman and Tete Montoliu
Steve Coleman and Dave Holland
Sam Rivers and Dave Holland
Lee Konitz and Martial Solal
David Murray and James Newton
Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell
Marc Charig and Keith Tippett
Lol Coxhill and Dave Green
Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine
Stan Tracey and John Surman, or Keith Tippett, or Roy Babbington, or Louis Moholo
you get the idea…
Other areas neglected, British jazz-rock (Isotope, Nucleus, Harry Beckett’s bands, Major Surgery, Turning Point (not sure if all these would pass muster, but most would)
Lots of South African favourites I didn’t get round to – Zim Ngqawana, Moses Molelekwa, Brian Abrahams and District Six, Julian Bahula and Jazz Afrika, Zila…
And individual albums, songs, or ensembles:
Bill Laswell’s debut
James Blood Ulmer, Are You Glad to be in America?
Jim Pepper – Witchi-Tai-To
Billy Pierce with Roy Haynes and Hank Jones
The Art Ensemble of Chicago
Lester Bowie and Brass Fantasy
Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition
John Handy live at Monterey
Randy Weston, Sonny Sharrock, James Newton,
and so on…
I’m not going to search out links, but you might enjoy some of these too.
Alternatively, Spotify’s algorithm is pretty smart, so if you invoke the “52 tracks” playlist, and ask it to suggest more, the selection is usually pretty good. Quite a few times it has highlighted, unbidden, tracks I had been considering for inclusion in the weekly thing, which felt mildly spooky…
And if that doesn’t satisfy, there’s another Spotify playlist of tracks from ECM in the 70s – compiled by the label – which also has 52 tracks, so could be made to last a year if you take them at the same pace. They aren’t all in my personal hit list, but a remarkable proportion of them are.