Best of 2013: Jazz & World
‘World music’ is such a nebulous term. Broadly speaking it means music that doesn’t come from - or sound like it comes from - the UK or the US (although, as you can see on our playlist, folkers such as Americans Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer can also sneak in there). Like jazz, World music has all kinds of beard-stroking connotations, with the added pitfall that, while you could be listening to Papua New Guinea’s equivalent of Nirvana or Billie Holliday, it’s also possible you’re listening to their very own Kenny G or Leona Lewis. So it’s best to ignore the trimmings, put such matters aside and enjoy whatever touches you.
This year Mali was in the news due to violent civil strife dividing the country but, by way of a rich creative counterpoint, it continued to make its mighty musical presence felt with passionate new albums from Rokia Traore and Bassekou Kouyate. Fela Kuti’s heirs Seun and Femi continued to follow in his footsteps, protesting Africa’s plight in song, with Femi’s unambiguous 'No Work No Job No Money' particularly hitting home. Elsewhere on our playlist it’s all about the global party with Balkan brass kingpins Boban Marcović and his son Marco, particularly getting in the spirit of things. The playlist turns, halfway through, from world to jazz during a Latin sequence where the Gipsy Kings raucous flamenco and Pink Martini’s easy-listening kitsch lead us into Chucho Valdes Latino jazz.
Pop continued to dip a toe in jazz in 2013 with the likes of Laura Mvula and Alicia Keys but it also worked the other way was Robert Glasper, Jose James and Gregory Porter particularly showed crossover spirit, and singers such as Matana Roberts and Cecile McLorin Salvant provided delicious late night vibes. Jazz was the first ground-breaking pop of the recorded music era and, naturally, it continues to push at the boundaries, with the more experimental likes of Kit Downes still mining the vanguard.
Listen to our best of Jazz & World playlist now