My albums of the year appear in today's Sunday Times. Don't be put off by the forbidding name of Las Ondas Marteles (a punning reference to the theremin-like instrument known as the ondes martenot). The disc hasn't had particularly wide distribution, but it's a magical record that I've dipping into almost every day for months on end. You'll find quirky background information on the Label Bleu site.

1 LAS ONDAS MARTELES: Y Después de Todo — Canciones de Miguel Angel Ruiz (Label Bleu) A genuine one-off: a hypnotic collection of songs by an obscure Cuban sculptor, as interpreted by the brothers Sebastien and Nicolas Martel, with a little help from their friends. Recorded with the minimum of fuss, a sprinkling of humour (à la Marc Ribot) and snippets of sound recordings from Havana, it all adds up to an intimate masterpiece. As beautiful and tuneful, in its eccentric way, as anything to come out of the Buena Vista Social Club.

2 PATRICIA BARBER: Live — A Fortnight in France (Blue Note) Diana Krall isn’t the only class piano-vocals act out there. Chicago’s Patricia Barber is captured on the road in all her edgy and neurotic glory. Neil Alger’s spare guitar conjures echoes of Bill Frisell.

3 BILL CHARLAP TRIO: Somewhere — Songs of Leonard Bernstein (Blue Note) The dapper New York pianist fires off heart-stopping covers of Cool, America and Some Other Time.

4 YOUSSOU N’DOUR: Egypt (Nonesuch) No question about the concert of the year: the Senegalese star’s majestic religious offering at the Barbican, in London, blended praise songs with the strings of the Cairo-based Fathy Salama Orchestra. The studio version is just as atmospheric.

5 TETE ALHINHO: Voz (World Connection) If you love the Cape Verde blues of Cesaria Evora, prepare to fall in love with these taut folk songs, with Alhinho’s poignant vocals embellished by the lightest of guitar accompaniments.

6 DAVID MURRAY & THE GWO-KA MASTERS: Gwotet (Justin Time) Loose and sometimes ragged, but never, ever dull, the American saxophonist goes into battle with streetwise African percussion players.

7 VARIOUS ARTISTS: Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Deluxe Edition (Hip-O Records) The original celebration of the Tamla era was enjoyable enough. With the bonus disc, you can hear immaculate backing tracks from the Motown vaults.

8 HUMPHREY LYTTELTON: Triple Exposure (Calligraph) A bunch of Brits in this effervescent reissue of the trumpeter’s journeys from trad to mainstream.

9 LILA DOWNS: Una Sangre/One Blood (Narada) Music from the Mexican-American hinterland, as sung by the charismatic Frida Kahlo lookalike.

10 DAVID REES-WILLIAMS TRIO: Time Scape (DePaean Records) The Canterbury-based pianist must be weary of hearing the comparisons with Jacques Loussier. His intelligent improvisations on Ravel, Bach and Purcell have a character all their own.
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2004/12/choice-listening-my-albums-of-year.html|||12/12/2004 02:41:00 pm|||||||||