MUSIC 2018 OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD

BREATHING THROUGH MY EARS

My listening continues to gravitate to classical recordings with heady mix of jazz and blues and rock.

Late string quartets by Shubert and Beethoven have my attention, as does Shubert’s Piano Sonata in G reaching for peace. Schubert and Beethoven’s late quartets were a revelation, thanks to Tom Allen and CBC. These require active listening, and are strange and wonderful and dark. Quartets Jimmy Bang appreciates.

Right now I’m listening to Bryan Ferry’s Dylanesque, a complete album of Dylan covers, which is turning out much better than I expected. Older records I’ve listened to a lot are by Bonnie Raitt, Leonard Cohen, and the Talking Heads/Brian Eno. I continue to listen to Ry Cooder and enjoyed the music on The Prodigal Son his latest release, the singing not so much, and the lyrics even less, but damn he can play that guitar. Sue Foley released Ice Queen, recorded down in Austin, Texas, which really is her best yet. The only one that comes close is Love Comin’ Down, produced by Colin Linden.

Jazz has dominated my downloads, as what I want to hear cannot be found in my records or CDs except for the classics like Kind of Blue, which I have in all formats. So recently added the calming strains of Brad Mehldau’s Trio/quartet (Their Blues and Ballads release is superb) sets, to the wildness of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor.

But always a return to Mingus, this year Blues & Roots on heavy rotation. I started a thing on hard bop, which remains unfinished. Not surprisingly it’s about the drums or drums and bass. Clifford Brown and Horace Silver with Max Roach or Art Blakely (whose work I thought I new) my big jazz discoveries. I mean I knew the drummers but had not heard about Silver or Brown.

I didn’t except to like the free form jazz, but have become accustomed to the dissonances and rhythmic shifts by listening to a lot of “new” music, which is still all 20th century for me. Listening to a lot of the Emerson, and Orford string quartets playing these later Shubert and Beethoven compositions. I am a fan of Alban Berg and the Alban Berg string quartet, and a lot of other composers of the “Second Viennese School” and Russians of the turn of the 20th century. I draw your attention to my favourite find in this area…Glenn Gould’s 1959 recordings of Berg, Schoenberg and Krenek.

2018 was also the year I discovered the James Ehnes recording of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, and Anne-Sophie Mutters recordings of 20th century music, especially Homage a Penderecki released in 2018, which I’m listening to now. Until next year.

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