Guess even 3 weeks in I’m kind of still processing this year just gone. Years are an arbitrary measure of time and with lockdowns rumbling on feels a bit like this year has just rolled off the last. But the end of a year does give the opportunity to look back. So here’s my run down of 2020, first with a bunch of tunes I’ve picked up over the year
Mix is HERE
Rune Lindbaek – San Augustin
Common Saints – Summer Sun
Discodor – Spring in Rome
Jpye & Leonidas feat. Elle – Oui Non
Alan Hawkshaw – Saturn’s Rings
Tom Of England – Song of the Sex Monk
Emma Jean Thackray – Ley Lines
Zoe Modiga – The Healer
Yvonne Archer – Checking Out The Way I Feel
Emma Jean Thackray – Movementt
Ben Tankard – Eden Celebration
The Steele Family feat. Little Sharon – Show His Lov
James Moore – I Thank You Master
Famous Ward Sisters – I’m Getting Stronger
Azwon – Paradise Island
King Sporty – Safari (Lexx Mix)
Velvet Season & The Hearts of Gold – Having Fun
Sunny Gayle – I Wanna Know
Chuck Mangione – Land of Make Believe
Twennynine – Fancy Dancer
Asher & Zaf – Boss Groove
The Vision feat. Andreya Triana – Heaven (Danny Krivit Edit)
Parbleu – Dance Cette Zik
Rosa – Sera A Posillipo
Tunblack – Caraiba (Stefano Ritteri VErsion Spaziale)
Joe Sembene – Weur Di Dane
Penya – Yale
Arp Frique – Minima Bem Li
Ali Kuru – Luna
Dukes of Chutney = Love with a few Hares
Dan Kye – Rainbow Road
David Arch – Afro Culture
Obiecany Raj – Stachy DJ Dub Wersja
Brazil – Tyoj Svijet
Guiseppe Leonardi – Acid Flower
Jitwan – Back to my Place
Virtual Roots – Sonar (Virtual Version) (Ygal Ohalon Low Gravity Edit)
Jose Marquez – La Negra Lorenza
Paula Tape – Panamerica
Park Hye Jin – Like this
Sometime Songs – BorderlineRune Lindbaek – San AugustinCommon Saints – Summer SunDiscodor – Spring in RomeJpye & Leonidas feat. Elle – Oui NonAlan Hawkshaw – Saturn’s RingsTom Of England – Song of the Sex MonkEmma Jean Thackray – Ley LinesZoe Modiga – The HealerYvonne Archer – Checking Out The Way I FeelEmma Jean Thackray – MovementtBen Tankard – Eden CelebrationThe Steele Family feat. Little Sharon – Show
Click HERE for a bit of a deeper look
Now for the awards….
Gig – Moses Boyd @ Band on the Wall (Manchester).
Slim pickings this year for obvious reasons but Moses absolutely blew me away at this one. Drumming par excellence, dancey, jazzy, funky amazing stuff at a brilliant venue. Just hope it survives. Honourable mention to my neighbours for an impromptu Christmas gig on my street.
Artist – Emma Jean Thackray
Two entries in the mix of the year from Emma. One a reissue admittedly but still amazing range of styles and rhythms. Another ‘jazz’ artist making waves. Such a good year for that genre especially the UK scene.
Album – Dukes of Chutney – Hazel
Another lockdown hero, Tim Sweeney’s BiS label doesn’t put out volume but what it does release is always top quality and The Dukes nailed it for me this year. Mixtures of K&D tripped out beats, head nodding halcyon pastoral acoustic stuff and all the bits in between it really hit the spot and hung together as a proper album. Few others to mention in dispatches, not many on record but Tom of England and Rune Lindbaek got a purchase. Streamingwise Jay Electronica, Beatrice Dillon, Double Geography, SAULT, SPAZA, Kelley Stolz, Keleketla! And numerous others made it past the track skip test.
Single – The Vision feat. Andreya Triana – Heaven
Just a great track, home or club (if they ever return) uplifting, joyous and above all soulful. Many others – see above but this one I keep putting on.
Compilation – New Horizons (Afrosynth)
I love a compilation mainly due to my time poor (read as lazy) life situation but this year had many amazing collections. My pick is the South African jazz comp, New Horizons. Afrosynth have been quietly knocking out some great jazz and the bits around it but this is full of amazing music from spiritual meditations to soulful vocal stuff. Really beautiful and full of (new to me) treasure. Special mentions to the following: Rhythm Section – Shouts, Mr Bongo – Record Club Vol.4, Bruton Brutoff, Leng/Claremont 56’s retrospectives and Jura Soundsystem – Transmission 2. Oh and those Gospel comps on Honest Jon’s….
DJ – Gilles Peterson
Maybe an obvious choice, but pushing 30 odd years in the game and still in the cutting edge. His lockdown selections from the brownswood basement were a joy and Worldwide Radio never fails to give something interesting and unusual. Special mentions too for pandemic busting home sessions from Francois Kevorkian, Colleen Murphy and Mr Ross Allen.
Label – Rhythm Section
Already called out the Shouts comp, but Dan Kye’s album and 12s across the styles make Bradley Zero’s label my number one. That said On The Corner ran them very close with the absolute classic already that is Door to the Cosmos along with stuff from Penya.
Podcast – A History of Ideas
Off the musical track for pod of the year. Amazing insight and engaging delivery of heavyweight topics by David Runciman. Food for the brain when Netflix can be a distraction worth ignoring. Honours also for Guardian Football Weekly, Adam Buxton & Test Pressing, especially the Lockdown playlists.
Shop – Piccadilly Records
What have I missed most this year? The Friday duck in to collect the tunes of the week. Seems. World away at the moment but the folks at Piccadilly are still here. Click and collect isn’t the same but if it helps them survive. We continue.
Radio – NTS
Some string contenders, internet is a big place but for pure range and passion for the music NTS are where it’s at for me.
So what next? 2021 has just kind of happened. Very easy to skip on without the hard stop that a new year usually gives you. Even if you don’t make it out anywhere. Will the vaccines work? If so for how long and even with it will things ever go back? How can they. Around first lockdown time there was much talk of how this could be a new beginning, more time with family through home working and big social change. Now it just feels like survival. But things have to change. We will be living with this virus for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s like flu and you just get your jab each year or something deeper and more affecting that means we can never go back only time will tell. But whatever comes we just keep going and whatever we can do we make the best of. Music isn’t everything but it keeps going and keeps hope alive. So whatever comes, look after each other and maybe one day we can stand together in a dark room and dance. But in the meantime make the most of what we do have. Enjoy!