Track of the day: Steve Beresford, Elastic Articles, Discus Music ***

Mercifully brief, mercifully given that repetition while necessary is often very dull when wrung out over 9 or 10 minues and even more so if an improviser is trying but failing to pluck inspiration from the lint of their lapels. There is nothing …

Published: 29 Dec 2022. Updated: 30 days.

Mercifully brief, mercifully given that repetition while necessary is often very dull when wrung out over 9 or 10 minues and even more so if an improviser is trying but failing to pluck inspiration from the lint of their lapels. There is nothing repetitive or lacking in inspiration here. The John Cage loving pianist and composer Steve Beresford would perhaps be the first to say he's not, as he would put it half self-mockingly, ''up'' to playing jazz. Of course he can and does play it but there be dragons. Because it is a peculiarly English thing that goes back to the fork in the road hewn out of breeze blocks in the 1970s that points, arrow right, to free-jazz and, left, at the crossroads where the braziers are lit and constantly stoked to ''total'' improvisation. Some see the two as different, some the same. To use adjectives when speaking of abstract music is bizarre but we all do it. And so 'Elastic Articles' is balladic, serene and glacial. Beresford does not roam far on the piano, the low detonations are the yin to the yang of the almost serialist sounding rows his right hand finds and that linger beautifully. From the various artists compilation ZZAJ - Jazz From The 23rd Century out now.

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Smaller audiences, a bookish year

Audiences have been fairly small at grassroots club level this year still not out of the Covid woods completely. When you think a typical jazz club has space for around 100 people, some are even smaller, and there are only 30-40 or fewer turning up …

Published: 29 Dec 2022. Updated: 30 days.

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Audiences have been fairly small at grassroots club level this year still not out of the Covid woods completely. When you think a typical jazz club has space for around 100 people, some are even smaller, and there are only 30-40 or fewer turning up day-to-day that's not a lot but not particularly unusual even in some of the most famous clubs out there. But it's good that some of London's top clubs have doubled down to spruce themselves up with the Pizza Express Jazz Club gaining a refurb and the Vortex improving the club's desk and sound. Let's hope the downstairs cafe there gets a new tenant to build the second space more for even more acts to get heard and that the club returns to 6 or 7 day opening, still a good way off.

It's been a better year for books. Usually there are so few worth reading. Philip Watson particularly carved the way ahead for a new breed of authors to model itself on with his Bill Frisell book Beautiful Dreamer.

Looking ahead there is a fine Sonny Rollins biography around the corner. And Brad Mehldau's extraordinary memoir coming in the spring Formation is a literary achievement the likes of which has not come along in many years.

On the artist front how do you quantify success? It's not about winning awards, selling as few or as many as a few thousand CDs in the first few months of release or even doing a morale boosting tour when there proves to be more bums on seats than raving beyond on the street.

Quantifying success surely is more about creating something either in the studio or on a live recording that connects on a real-life personal level whether the music sells or not and somehow is built to last. What is crucial is that it proves meaningful, life changingly so. Artists who create only to chime with some version of the past meaningless to their own experience or what they think is expected of them is more churn than monumental urn and can't reach anyone's inner life.

Finally, we may have waved goodbye to Sons of Kemet who finally broke up in 2022. But what they achieved burns on in our collective folk memories. That's, dear myth taker ready as ever to read the runes, what really counts.

In the house of lovers, the music never stops, the walls are made of songs and the floor dances - Rumi

Brad Mehldau, photo: press, released his Rush influenced Jacob's Ladder this year and whose Formation is to be published by Equinox in March