Not quite Desert Island Discs

In response to the question - ‘heard anything good lately?', it's got me thinking about trying to compile a list. So here are 10 albums (in no particular order) that I love and have found myself returning to again and again:

Joni Mitchell: Travelogue. This 2002 album features orchestrated repertoire from across her career. The breathtaking arrangements introduced me to the music of Vince Mendoza - and that thread led me to the next recommendation...

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany. I love music that transcends traditional ‘genre' distinctions. Here Vince most convincingly weaves orchestral colours with jazz improvisers. It has a killer cast including John Taylor (Piano), Peter Erskin (drums) and Kenny Wheeler (trumpet).

Keith Jarrett: Facing You. I've been a fan of Keith Jarrett's since being introduced to ‘Changeless', which at the time extended my conception of the possibilities of jazz improvisation. There are many albums of his I could recommend but Facing You was his first on the ECM label and I think it's still one of his best.

Steely Dan: Two Against Nature. Steely Dan albums were in the house when I was growing up so there's something of their particular jazz-rock fusion in the blood. This album has all their great elements of impeccable production, interesting arrangements and sardonic lyrics. Chris Potter plays some great sax on this album ....

Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau: Metheny Mehldau I love their playing individually and I think this collaboration brings out some of the best in both of their musical personalities: a more lyrical side of Brad and a more immediate side of Pat. I saw them play live together - awesome!

James MacMillan: The Confession of Isobel Gowdie. Sometimes you hear sounds that expand your musical universe. This expansion seems to involve a kind of death of familiarities and preconceptions, which is both uncomfortable and exhilarating at the same time!

Abdullah Ibrahim: Mindif. I had a time at Music College where I suffered a kind of ‘musical saturation overload' and longed to hear something that was rootsy and unencumbered by western pontificating. I love this album's evocative grooves and colours  - it seems to transport you to the heart of Africa. 

Bothy Band: After Hours. This well represents an affinity I feel with Irish folk music. I love the lyricism, storytelling, the simplicity  - and the instrumental colours like the bodhrán, celtic Harp and uilleann  pipes - (the Scottish bagpipes however, still elude my sensibilities but that's veering onto another topic...)

Ella Fitzgerald: Gold (compilation) I've got to include some classic jazz vocals in this list and in my opinion, you can't get much better than Ella. Even on Mac the Knife, when she forgets the words, she still sounds fantastic and her musical authority and warmth of character shine through.

Bach: Cello Suites / 48 Preludes and Fugues. I hope it's not too cliché to include some Bach, but it seems to me that to immerse oneself in his music has something like the effect of cool draughts of water to a thirsty soul.


Now, having put just 10 down, I'm already having second thoughts! I haven't even mentioned......... Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vangaurd, Oscar Peterson: Night Train, Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life, Ron Kenoly: Lift Him Up!, Rickie Lee Jones: Rickie Lee Jones, John Tavener: The Protecting Veil, Radio Head: In Rainbows ... Oh and something by Miles Davis, John Taylor, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Mcoy Tyner, Mahalia Jackson ...but then maybe these are for a more comprehensive ‘Top 100' style list! Now that's got me thinking again...