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10 Seconds: Christine Tobin

I watched some dude stealing a Christine Tobin Yell of the Gazelle CD in Mole Jazz one time. He paid serious money for a Lucky Thompson record, left, then came back an hour later to pocket the CD. True story. I sort of wanted to shake his hand.

1. Andy Bey - Dark Shadows (4'46" - 4'56")


Andy Bey

- Shades of Bey (1998)

"For me, Andy Bey is the greatest living jazz singer. His voice embodies a deep sense of humanity, in the same profound way that Billie’s does. Some singers come across as great actors. Andy Bey comes across as 100% musician. There is a stripped down honesty in his sound that comes directly from the heart. It’s not presented or shrouded in any kind of bravado. There are many hues and colours in his tone and an elasticity in his voice that enables him to glide effortlessly from baritone to falsetto, giving him the freedom to improvise and express himself fully in the moment. Nothing is ever forced and everything is soulful. I also love his piano playing and accompaniment. You can hear the history of the music in his sound.

I love this clip because of his phrasing over the syncopated snare of Victor Lewis. This whole album ’Shades of Bey’ is phenomenal."

2. Billie Holiday - Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer (1'03" - 1'13")


Billie Holiday - Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer/ Now Or Never 10" (1949)

"I love this because it shows Billie killin' it with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra. She’s raunchy, playful and her phrasing is swingin’ so hard in her subtle, easy style. The song, ‘Gimme a Pigfoot’ is normally associated with Bessie Smith, but Billie’s way of singing it is so completely different, you can see why she was called ‘Lady’. Also, so many of her recordings were with small ensembles or duos with piano, so it’s great to hear her in full command, having fun with a big band, showing a joyful side of her artistry which defies the stereotype of her as the ’tragic', melancholy jazz singer. This is Billie, sassy and sublime."

3. Roland Kirk - I Talk with the Spirits (0'26" - 0'36")


Roland Kirk -

I Talk with the Spirits (1965)

“This conjures up the magic that is Rahsaan Roland Kirk. It’s a beautifully composed incantation to summon up the spirits. The pentatonic phrase, played in unison by the African flute, vibes and high pitched voice (with occasional vibrato) in call and response with the double bass, creates a shimmering sound that is ethereal and luminous."

4. Witold Lutosławski, Mstislav Rostropovich, Orchestra de Paris

- Cello Concerto (10'34" - 10'44")


Lutosławski, Rostropovich -

Cello Concertos (1975)

"There's a thrilling exuberance to this music and it's the perfect vehicle for the virtuosic playing of Rostropovich. When I first discovered this piece, I heard sounds from the cello that I’d never come across before. The cello takes centre stage, from the very start and builds into a bold, frenetic dialog with the brass and rest of the orchestra, which includes the fairydust of the celeste and many other wonderful textures. At times it sounds like a battle between the cello and orchestra. Brilliant, intense writing, but with lots of space and a huge harmonic and sonic palette."

5. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - United (Alt Take) (5'30" - 5'40")


Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Roots And Herbs (unreleased version from 1961 session)

"A great example of Art Blakey talking to us through the drum set. There’s a razor sharp quality to his articulation and sound, which instantly lets you know that you’re listening to a master. I love this tune, which is by one of my all time favourite musicians Wayne Shorter, and the poly-rhythmic approach taken by the whole band to the performance, makes it feel as if the music can go in all directions at once. A convergence of patterns, woven together by an earthiness and joy, which really does have the power to unite."

6. Miriam Makeba - Umhome (0'21" - 0'31")


Miriam Makeba

- Miriam Makeba (1960)

"Miriam Makeba has an exquisitely rich and refined voice. On this track in particular and throughout this entire first album, her impeccable vocal technique never overwhelms the raw emotional quality which is intense. I really love the acoustic sound and feel to this recording."

7. Olivier Messiaen - Regard du Père (0'00" - 0'10")


Olivier Messiaen

- Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus (composed 1944)

"I chose this because it has such grace, poise and carefully paced serenity. The piece builds and unfolds into a blissful, quiet and understated ecstasy. It’s a profound kind of devotional music and the repetition has both a hypnotic and meditative quality that brings the listener on a journey inward but ultimately upwards and makes the spirit soar."

8. Skip James - Hard Times Killing Floor Blues (0'59" - 1'09")


Skip James

- American Folk & Blues Festival, Cologne (1967)

"This is one of my favourite Skip James songs and it shows his unique, otherworldly, high pitched voice and extraordinary finger picking guitar style. His elegant voice is both strong and gentle, a quietly powerful spirit."

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