It’s been an unexpected – well, couple of years now and although today’s climate is proving to be unstable, the one thing that’s remained consistent is great Jazz from artists past and present.
I have to admit, since starting with Jazz24 my palate for the genre with all of its styles have grown. From originals to standards, instruments from vibraphone, the saxophone, and flugelhorns – yes, FLUGELHORNS! Prior to joining Jazz24, I considered myself more of a casual listener, but now I feel like I really know to really “listen” to jazz, and that it’s not just music, it’s a lifestyle all its own.
With an open ear to artist familiar and new, I’ve been exposed to some great tunes, and would like to share some of my favorites with the you – the reader, the listener.
Here are my top 5 songs of 2021:
- Joe Chambers – Never let me go (Samba De Maracatu, Blue Note, February)
-Featuring Stephanie Jordan, her candlelight vocals immediately make your ears melt. Smooth bass playing from Steve Haines, mixed in with the then-rare but now commonly led instrument of Vibraphones, lead by drum maestro Joe Chambers, and you’ve got a nice recipe of 60’s noir film style jazz.
- Alexa Tarantino – Violet Sky….and Mindful Moments (Firefly, Posi-Tone, April)
-Yes, two songs! That’s how good the album is, but for list purposes, and since it is mine, I’m putting both songs on here! These are my go-to-tunes whenever I start my Jazz playlist. Alexa plays multiple instruments on this project, playing as Saxophonist (Violet Sky) then Clarinetist (Mindful Moments), she leads a great band of Benh Gillece on Vibraphones (there goes that instrument again) and Art Hirahara on Piano. On an album that’s playable any time of day, hour or season, these two tracks are a great place to start.
- Joey DeFrancesco – More Music (More Music, Mack Avenue, September)
– Simply put — A GROOVE! From his 39th album, DeFrancesco’s a name I’m just now discovering, and I’m glad I did. Another multi instrumentalist, and sometimes on the same song; wether he’s blaring on Trumpet or swayin’ on the Keyboards as he does so effortlessly on this tune, backed by some easy guitar playing from Lucas Brown, I’m asking for more music from Joey…
- Pasquale Grasso – All too soon (Plays Duke, Sony, September)
-Honestly, I can probably do a top 5 list of Jazz guitar: Jazz Guitar for Holidays, Jazz Guitar to sleep to, Jazz Guitar to keep you calm while playing video games. If there’s one form of genre I can listen to all day, you guessed it, it’s Jazz Guitar. French Guitarist Pasquale Grasso pays tribute to an all time great: Duke Ellington, but in the softness of acoustic guitar, with the tune, All too Soon. This was one of the first songs and album I added to my Jazz playlist.
- Theo Croker – Imperishable Star (BLK2LIFE || A FUTURE PAST, Sony, September)
-I don’t recall where I first heard Theo, but it certainly wasn’t on your typical Jazz radio, as his sound is rather ubiquitous, ranging from Jazz, Neo-Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop & R&B. That’s the beauty of Theo, especially as a Black musician, not allowing external but especially internally to be boxed into one particular sound. His music always has a since of triumph — a righteous conquering of sorts, and Imperishable Star is no different as he keeps it simple on this tune playing Trumpet. The album, however, is anything but simple — as Croker takes us on a cosmic journey through the sonic sounds of Blackness.
To the new year and beyond! One things for certain for 2022: more great Jazz music, and more top 5 lists on the internet. Happy Holidays.