There were so many great releases in 2013 that inspired me, provoked my conceptions about music and art, disturbed my peace of mind and mainly, enriched my life. This listpresented in no particular order and enhanced with video and Soundcloud clipsrepresents the tip of my listening iceberg.
Kitchen Orchestra with Alexander von Schlippenbach Kitchen Orchestra with Alexander von Schlippenbach
An exemplary collaboration between legendary German composer-pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and the Norwegian, Stavanger-based Kitchen Orchestra. Unique interpretation of the essence of jazz, contemporary music and free improvisation and what music can mean in the 21st century. Fredrik Ljungkvist
/ Yun Kan 10 Ten
Sadly, Swedish master reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist does not release solo albums as often as many would wish. But each album of his offers a set of imaginative compositions, full of surprising arrangements, arresting forms and challenging interplay, always rich with emotions and humor.
Joana SáElogio da Desordem (In Praise of Disorder)
One One of best new discoveries of this year. A highly original Portuguese composer-pianist who weave abstract musical textures, poetic texts and images into a mesmerizing work. Check also on this label another exceptional album of Sá with guitarist Luís José Martins, Almost a Song
, a collection of loose recipes that may be, and most likely may not, songs.
Fire! Orchestra Exit!
The most ambitious project of Swedish sax titan Mats Gustafsson
this year. A 25-piece massive orchestra with some of the finest improvisers from the Swedish scene. Do not miss other projects of the restless Gustafsson, among them The Thing
and the duets with Chicagoan reed brother Ken Vandermark
and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore
, Vi Är Alla Guds Slavar
Hera feat. Hamid Drake Seven Lines
The third release of Polish reed master Waclaw Zimpel
fascinating quartet, now augmented with four musicians including Chicagoan drummer Hamid Drake
. An arresting melting pot of Jewish Music, European and Indian folk music with psychedelic, hypnotic grooves. Vijay Iyer
& Mike Ladd Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project
The third collaboration of pianist Vijay Iyer
and vocalist-poet Mike Ladd
. A moving, sober and insightful meditation about some of the traumatic effects of wars. The vivid poetic images of veteran soldiers dreams, including ones by poets and ex-soldiers Maurice Decaul and Lynn Hill linger on and disturb the peace of mind. David Lang Death Speaks
American composer David Lang
profound and moving meditation on death that corresponds with Franz Schubert work, specifically the song "Death and the Maiden." Written for a chamber ensemble featuring My Brightest Diamond vocalist Shara Worden
. Gunhild Seim Story Water
Another excellent release from one of the finest composers of the Norwegian, Stavanger scene. Trumpeter Gunhild Seim blends dream-like, cinematic texts and nuanced musical textures comprised of experimental sounds, modern jazz, progressive and even metal rock into a highly original and expressive work. Tetsu Saitoh Strings & The Moon
A beautiful presentation of one the creative and still underrated double bass players, Japanese Tetsu Saitoh. This triptych box feature Saitoh in a free-improvised trio trio with vocalist Lauren Newton
and koto player Kazue Sawai
and with his double bass quintet Ensemble Gen311 that performs his brilliant and most original composition.
Sten Standell Music Inside The Language
Thoughtful, often provocative, investigation on the essence of music making, the basic organization of the elements of musical language and the responsibility of the musician-artist to communicate his art. This 3-discs set feature brilliant improvisations with double bassist Nina de Heney
and vocalist Sofia Jernberg
. Honorable mention
The creative Scandinavian women-composers who presented this year suggestive, alternative and often sensual songs that in an enlightened and compassionate world would have become this year's biggest hits. Most notable are Swedish Mariam The Believer (aka Mariam Wallentin from the duo Wildbirds and Peacedrums
and Fire! Orchestra with her solo debut Blood Donation
(Repeat Until Death) and Danish Jomi Massage
(aka Signe Høirup Wille-Jørgensen), another great discovery of this year, with her solo album Primitives
(The Being Music) and Frk. Jacobsen (aka Anja Jacobsen
) on her debut solo EP (Eget Værelse). Each of these impressive ladies, each in her own special way, presented highly original work that featured poetic, dream-state lyrics, nuanced musical textures, often with infectious melodies, all with captivating musical intensity.
Best performances of 2013
The trio of British sax genius John Butcher, innovative electric harp player Rhodri Davies and Israeli hyper-pianist Maya Duneitz sculpt weird, otherworldly sonic textures at Levontin 7 club in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Mickey Hart 3-hours psychedelic journey, rich with Grateful Dead classic songs at Mount Scopus amphitheater in Jerusalem, Israel.
Polish reed master Mikolaj Trzaska moving duet with veteran Israeli clarinetist Harold Rubin at the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv.
Slava Ganelin's Priority Trio with German master drummer Klaus Kugel in an exceptional intense and powerful set in the JazzGlobus festival in Jerusalem.
The Norwegian progressive metal band Enslaved drowned a dedicated audience of metal-heads in Tel Aviv with its massive sonic onslaught and proved that even tough vikings can improvise and have sense of humor.