2013 Between My Ears

Old, New and WTF?

happy new year 1

It’s the end of 2013 and the “best of lists” are coming out of the woodwork. I know some people dislike lists but I’m not one of them. It’s fun to revisit the songs that made my year feel and sound good. I like reading other peoples lists because I may discover someone new to get my year started. These are the albums that I have reached for time and time again throughout the year both on the show and when I’m just kicking back at home. They are not ranked but in alpha order.
Enjoy and explore. You just may find something to pique your interest.

Booker T
Sound The Alarm

Booker T is back on the Stax record label with Sound the Alarm. It’s where he started his career but this is no nostalgia trip. He’s following back to back Grammy’s and the glow is still with him as well as the soul. Collaborating with contemporary soul/r & B artists keeps it fresh. I particularly like the song “66 Impala” http://www.bookert.com 

Cameron Wallis
Calling Dexter

Montreal sax player Cameron Wallis released his debut quartet CD Calling Dexter.  This is a time capsule of old school bebop.  It’s not made to be perfect but real, with no post production editing.  Authentic jazz at it’s best.  Think Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins etc.  You can’t go wrong with this album. http://youtu.be/Z9Q_LtkIFJI

Cecile McLorin Salvant
Woman Child

When I think of the old axiom “Your voice is your instrument” I think of Cecile McLorin Salvant and her album Woman Child.  The way she plays with words, timing, phrasing is reminiscent of Billie, or Ella.  Yes those are big stylish shoes, but Cecile has loads of style.     http://youtu.be/8kxDdkphgwQ

Christian McBride Trio
Out Here

I really enjoyed and still enjoy Out Here not only for the excellent musicianship (Christian Sands, piano) but for the joie de vivre that McBride brings to his music.  It’s infectious, both for his bandmates and those who listen. This album will bring you a little joy.      http://www.christianmcbride.com

Cory Weeds/Bill Coon Quartet
With Benefits

I’ve always liked the music that Cory Weeds puts out.  It’s solid, sticky, foundational – meat and potatoes stuff.  Bill Coon plays so effortlessly.  He just knows where to fill in, or when to sweep us away on a cloud of melody.  I found that everyone in this quartet (Lewis Nash – drums, Peter Washington – upright bass) are on the same page.  With Benefits is a nice mixture of originals and classics.  Broadway and Alma is a nod to the actual location of the Cellar Jazz Club which sadly will be closing it’s doors this year.      https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/with-benefits/id609042700

Curtis Nowasad
The Skeptic and the Cynic and Farewell 274

Technically The Skeptic and the Cynic was recorded in November  2012. Since I didn’t get my hands on it until the beginning of 2013 I’ve included it.  Curtis Nowasad’s music has captured me hook, line and sinker.  Could it have been that The Skeptic and the Cynic had some familiar songs on it?  Maybe, but if you listen to his own composition the Skeptic and the Cynic it’s apparent to me that he has a strong sense of where things should be in a soundscape. Farewell 274 is definitely from 2013, no splitting hairs here.  It’s  a compilation cd that celebrates the history of a venue in Winnipeg, MB.  The venue closed and Nowasad put together Farewell 274 featuring artists who played there.        http://www.curtisnowosad.com

Delbert and the Commotions
Let Me See Ya Dance

This is my feel good record.  I call it “Motown North” only because band leader Brian Asselin is from Ottawa and   Delbert Nelson – lead singer is from the birthplace of Motown – Detroit.  Both Brian and Delbert have Funk Brother pedigrees – (both having toured with the Legendary Funk Brothers).  The band is made up of the best of the best musicians in Ottawa and man are they tight!  Delbert Nelson has Motown in his veins and his voice, which is expressive and soulful.  Rebecca Noelle – vocals sure has a lot of punch too.  It’s got that Motown sound without sounding mouldy.  Great little album!     http://www.delbertandthecommotions.com

Fred Hersch/Julian Lage
Free Flying

I loved this duo album for it’s virtuosity.  Free Flying is exactly what it does.  Fred Hersch -piano, and Julian Lage – guitar have no borders in their musical travels.       http://youtu.be/ybs_GpWCQEM

Gregory Porter
Liquid Spirit

Gregory Porter – The big guy, with the big hat and the big voice.  He moves so effortlessly around jazz and r & B and soul music.  In fact I think this guy could sing anything and put the spirit into it – including the phone book.  You want to feel the spirit?  Put this album on the stereo.       http://www.gregoryporter.com

Kellylee Evans
I Remember When

Kellylee Evans should be a  household name.  I’ve been waiting for something from this superb Canadian vocalist ever since I heard her award winning album Nina.  It was worth the wait.  It seems there is no place she won’t go from Eminem’s Lose Yourself to Kanye West’s Amazing to If I Was Your Woman – Gladys Knight.  Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop it’s where she lives and it’s awesome.        http://www.kellyleeevans.com

Matt Dusk
My Funny Valentine – The Chet Baker Songbook

Matt Dusk – the “other” Canadian crooner.  I like him because I think he has an unhurried way of delivering a song and it sounds so intimate.  This album My Funny Valentine is a lover’s album.  I mean it’s Chet Baker ’nuff said.  You know when I was thinking  of crooners it came to me that we could actually have a Canadian “Rat Pack” so to speak.  Think about it, Matt Dusk, Denzal Sinclaire, Micheal Buble.  Since there was only one “Rat Pack” what would you call this group?       http://www.mattdusk.com

Ron Davis
Blue Modules

Blue Modules was another album that straddled the years having been released in December 2012 but I didn’t get my hands on it until 2013 so here it is. I enjoyed this album because of it’s familiarity of song, and also because Ron Davis doesn’t make them unrecognizable but stretches them in a very unique way.  Vive Las Vegas?  Yes it’s on there along with Voodoo Child and many others as well as original music.      http://www.rondavismusic.com

John Pippus
Howl At The Moon

My favourite non-jazz album from 2013 I’d say is Howl at the Moon  from Vancouver singer/songwriter John Pippus.  It’s not perfect but it’s real.  I love the go-for-broke authenticity of this album.   This just occurred to me – you know how I liked Curtis Nowasad’s compilation album featuring different artists that played at a certain venue in Winnipeg? Well wouldn’t it be fun to hear an album like that from a venue in BC?  John Pippus is the host and books the acts at Tree’s Coffee House in Vancouver.  John has got a great ear for talent….hmmmm… Maybe John is reading this…      http://youtu.be/_fmuYInk5DE

New for 2014

So far this year, the new album I’ve been listening to Next Year People by Vancouver guitarist David Blake.  This is a trio album so you can really hear what is going on.  One of the songs I particularly like is Not Your Lanai.  It’s a song about a trip to Hawaii where a selling feature of the establishment David was at was their Lanai.  However, he  couldn’t enjoy the lanai  because it had been taken over by gangsters!     http://www.davidblakejazz.com 

On My Radar
Vancouver trumpeter and singer Anita Eccleston is currently gathering funding for her CD and I’m curious what that will be when it’s done.   Also Vancouver jazz singer Jaclyn Guillou has a new disk coming and I’ve always been a fan of hers.  Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are coming out with a new CD pretty quick.  It’s called Give The People What They Want.  I’m looking forward to that.  Another I’m waiting on is a new CD by Dianne Reeves called Beautiful Life.  She’s a jazzy class act for sure.


I think I’m a pretty open minded individual when it comes to many things.  I listen to a lot of music, critically and just for the sheer joy of it.  Nothing pleases me more than to hear the creativity of my fellow human beings.  But I came across an album that leaves me saying WTF?    Italian Metal group Ephel Duath – Hemmed by Light Shaped by Darkness.   This album is said to be a Death Metal/Jazz/Post-Rock hybrid. Jazz and Death Metal??  I think they should add polka on to it as well. Having said all that I suppose Miles Davis broke a few barriers too right?   I can’t get behind leaf blowers and I can’t get behind this album.    http://youtu.be/uUXPmMdrShQ  

Tweet of the Year

“Would Allan Thicke and Billy Ray Cyrus please come pick up their children”    – Jan Arden