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2020 Jazz influencers: 10

Influencers on jazz come in many shapes and forms. Against all odds in 2020 voices from jazz history still say, and need to, let freedom ring speaking to the present and all our futures. Mary Parks, pictured with Albert Ayler: ever higher, past, …

Published: 13 Nov 2020. Updated: 8 months.

Influencers on jazz come in many shapes and forms. Against all odds in 2020 voices from jazz history still say, and need to, let freedom ring speaking to the present and all our futures. Mary Parks, pictured with Albert Ayler: ever higher, past, present, AfroFuturism then… Moor Mother, a 'Circuit breaker'… Al or nothing at all, now. #BlackLivesMatter

1/ The playlist

Jazz Currents on Apple. Less of a laundry list than some.

2/ The stream

Smalls Live pioneered the way and continue to keep it real in the club.

3/ The awards

NEA Jazz Masters in America are the ultimate.

4/ The promoter

Paul Zauner. Small venues and festivals, label stuff too, from inside the band against all Covid odds.

5/ The writer

Ammar Kalia. A Derek Walcott quotation springs to mind: ''The truest writers are those who see language not as a linguistic process but as a living element.''

6/ The voice on the radio

Jumoké Fashola. Modulation, par excellence.

7/ The go-to educator

Hans Koller, who has made, in the brief space of a few years, Trinity Laban to be the place once again where jazz in London goes to college.

8/ The daftness

Reddit Jazz. Clips and quips, bizarre notions, brainstorms. You came for the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm ad you stayed to learn 'The Moment'.

9/ The audience

You. Hoping that the healing has begun, your being there online counts more than ever.

10/ The saxophone player.

Immanuel Wilkins. Happy days.

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Elina Duni, Rob Luft, Fred Thomas, Matthieu Michel, Lost Ships

Not an early morning record more a late night one, Lost Ships is accessible yet highly arty. Recorded at la Buissonne in the south of France a month before lockdown 'I'm A Fool To Want You' is the outlier but not the most successful track, more …

Published: 13 Nov 2020. Updated: 8 months.

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Not an early morning record more a late night one, Lost Ships is accessible yet highly arty. Recorded at la Buissonne in the south of France a month before lockdown 'I'm A Fool To Want You' is the outlier but not the most successful track, more convincing by far is 'Numb'. Fred Thomas on piano on the title track provides one of the best moments and is an ideal, introverted, accompanist. Matthieu Michel's role on flugel is not really that significant apart from providing a little interesting colour here and there, but underneath the vocal on 'Numb' it adds a certain ominous quality that helps make the track compelling. While not a horn player's record fundamentally the record is more about sublime harmonies mainly emanating from Rob Luft and Thomas and that persuasive voice. Duni's sound is reminiscent of Christine Tobin especially but not exclusively on 'Flying Kites' and 'Empty Street' and certainly in her eclecticism and command of varied repertoire that encompasses an Albanian folk side, referencing the country of Duni's birth, shares with Tobin an ability to put her own stamp on anything that she chooses to sing. The best, isn't it always, is kept to last and Duni's memorable take on Charles Aznavour's 'Hier encore' clearly suggests such a thought. On ECM.