Jazzwise, May 2020

Take 5

Ian selects the five albums he can't live without

1. Rickie Lee Jones by Rickie Lee Jones (1979)

I first heard this, her debut, pouring out of a record shop on Kingsway, on my way to college one sunny spring morning in 1980. Her voice and very painterly lyric-specific songs (Coolsville, Easy Money, Last Chance Texaco) played by Gadd, Vic Feldman, Jeff Porcaro, Red Callender etc remain unique.

2. Alone by Bill Evans (1968)

His first solo studio set, I bought my first vinyl copy from Ray's, as a student at Kings. Every listen seems different to me. The rolling sense of inner pulse, the magical Bachian patterns, and that ridiculously beautiful 14 minute Never Let Me Go. I was lucky to see his last London show at Ronnies.

3. Baltimore by Nina Simone (1978)

The album Nina didn't want to do. Recorded in Brussels by Creed Taylor, her vocals were done in an hour. Everything Must Change floored me – Simone obviously drove the track from the piano, strings added on later. Achingly, painfully beautiful. Ironically her most raw vocal, with the lushest, most produced studio sound.

4. Quartet For The End Of Time (Olivier Messiaen) by Anna Bylsma & Vera Beths (1980)

Unnerving listening, it's a chamber setting – but the focus is on cello and piano, for me, one of the finest textural relationships. First performed in 1941 in a concentration camp, it truly feels (religious imagery included) like music of our time at its most vicious and ecstatic.

5. Billy No Mates by Liane Carroll

Anything she does in a studio is just great, but her first solo album is a personal favourite. Just that searingly truthful voice, all truth, nothing faked, nothing phoney. Ace, bluesy playing. One take recordings, probably. I remember her bursting into the old downstairs bar at Ronnies with her first copy, excited and laughing. In our funny old world, nobody gets even close to this authenticity. Life enhancing, real music.