Birmingham musicians have been busy in the studios this year as well as out and about in the clubs and other venues. And other international releases have had particular interest for Midland fans.
Here are 12 recommendations:
* Arild Andersen, Paolo Vinaccia, Tommy Smith: Live At Belleville (ECM)
This Norwegian-Italian-Scots trio played one of the gigs of the year at Lichfield and this is a fine live recording of the same material.
* Django Bates: Spring is Here (shall we dance?) (Lost Marble)
Another memorable gig, and again all the material that was heard at it, from the prof of jazz at Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory and his stoRMChaser band made up mostly of his students.
* Blink: (Loop Records)
Pianist and chief songwriter for this trio is Alcyona Mick, graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire. Now in London, she returned earlier this month to show how far she has developed.
* Sara Colman: Ready (Q-note)
Another Conservatoire grad, Sara made a wonderfully rounded album of original tunes and covers both jazz and rock.
* E.S.T.: Leucocyte (ACT)
Their last concert in Birmingham had been at Symphony Hall last year, but following the sudden death of pianist Esbjorn Svensson, this valedictory jam will have to be the keepsake.
* Bill Frisell: History, Mystery (Nonesuch)
The highlight of the 08 Cheltenham Jazz Festival was Bill and his band – a lot of what they played is here.
* Polar Bear: Polar Bear (Tin Angel)
The most enduringly interesting of this century’s indy jazzers continue to hone their sound.
* Zoe & Idris Rahman: Where Rivers Meet (Manushi)
We first heard this Bengali jazz last year, but the expanded Rahman band with added violin and singers returned to show how rich a new seam was there to mine.
* Julian Siegel Trio: Live at the Vortex (Basho)
For me this is the album of the year – Nottingham-born saxophonist Julian Siegel working with bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron.
* Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (ECM) A new venue attracted some big names this year – the Edge Centre in Much Wenlock played host to this superb Scandinavian band.
* Christine Tobin: Secret Life of a Girl (Babel)
The singer and composer toured on the back of this and captivated the Polish Club audience. If you have had enough of Hallelujah, try Christine’s lovely take on Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows.
* The Tomorrow Band: 2 To Get Set (Rehab Records)
Saxophonist Chris Bowden with the city’s dream bass and drums team of Neil Bullock and Ben Markland lets rip on some jazz classics including Freddie Freeloader and Red Baron.