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2022: the best bits

This was a year in which an overriding professional commitment prevented me from getting to many gigs before the autumn or seeing more than a handful of movies and exhibitions. I attended no theatre or dance performances and read no new poetry or contemporary fiction, although I did listen to a lot of CDs. But one thing I won’t forget. In the summer there were those three unreal days when the temperature in London hovered just shy of 40 degrees. A week or so later I ventured into the park a few minutes from where I live. It looked like a savannah, but a first sprinkling of rain had brought birds of many kinds to peck beneath the straw-coloured grass for emerging invertebrates. As I walked through the flocks, I picked up a feather. It may have belonged to a gull. I thought then, and I think now, that in addition to being as beautiful as anything imaginable, it’s a reminder to maintain some perspective on the state of this man-made world.


1 Steve Lehman and Sélébéyone: Xaybu — The Unseen (Pi)

2 Samora Pinderhughes: Grief (Stretch Music)

3 Gabriels: Angels & Queens (Parlophone)

4 Tom Skinner: Voices of Bishara (Brownswood)

5 Son Little: Like Neptune (Anti-)

6 Liun + The Science Fiction Orchestra: Lily of the Nile (Heartcore)

7 Mavis Staples/Levon Helm: Carry Me Home (Anti-)

8 Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note)

9. Weyes Blood: And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow (Sub Pop)

10 The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention (XL)

11 Wolfert Brederode: Ruins and Remains (ECM)

12 Mary Halvorson: Amaryllis/Belladonna (Nonesuch)

13 Cécile McLorin Salvant: Ghost Song (nonesuch)

14 Geir Sundstøl: The Studio Intim Sessions Vol 1 (Hubro)

15 The Weather Station: How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars (Fat Possum)

16 Charles Lloyd: Chapel (Blue Note)

17 Olie Brice Trio/Octet: Fire Hills (West Hill)

18 Dai Fujikura/Jan Bang: The Bow Maker (Punkt Editions)

19 Binker Golding: Dream Like a Dogwood Wild Boy (Gearbox)

20 Moor Mother: Jazz Codes (Anti-)

21 Jasper Høiby’s Planet B: What It Means To Be Human (Edition)

22 Bonnie Raitt: Just Like That (Redwing)

23 Barre Phillips/György Kurtág Jr: Face à face (ECM)

24 Miguel Zenón: Música de las Américas (Miel Music)

25 The Henrys: Shrug (bandcamp)

26 Lisbeth Quartet: Release (Intakt)

27 Jon Balke: Hafla (ECM)

28 Sebastian Gahler: Two Moons (JazzSick)

29 Yasuhiro Kohno Trio +1: Song of Island (BBE)

30 Ingrid Laubrock/Andy Milne: Fragile (Intakt)


1 Cecil Taylor: Return Concert (Oblivion)

2 Dusty Springfield: Dusty Sings Soul (Ace)

3 Elton Dean Quartet: On Italian Roads (British Progressive Jazz)

4 Charles Mingus: The Lost Album from Ronnie Scott’s (Resonance)

5 Astor Piazzolla: The American Clavé Recordings (Nonesuch)

6 Mike Westbrook: London Bridge/Live in Zurich 1990 (Westbrook Jazz)

7 Lou Reed: Words & Music/May 1965 (Light in the Attic)

8 Centipede: Septober Energy (Esoteric)

9 Blue Notes for Mongezi (Ogun)

10 Clowns Exit Laughing: The Jimmy Webb Songbook (Ace)


1 Bob Dylan (Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, October)

2 Tom Skinner (Church of Sound, September)

3 Binker Golding (Purcell Room, November)

4 Roxy Music (O2, October)

5 AMM (Café Oto, July)

6 Van Der Graaf Generator (Palladium, February)

7 Westbrook Blake (St James’s Church, Piccadilly, November)

8 Mike Gibbs (Vortex, November)

9 Olie Brice (Café Oto, September)

10 John Cumming Memorial (Barbican, July)


1 Both Sides of the Blade (Avec amour et acharnement) (dir. Claire Denis)

2 Living (dir. Oliver Hermanus)

3 In the Court of the Crimson King (dir. Toby Amies)


1 Philip Watson: Beautiful Dreamer: Bill Frisell, the Guitarist Who Changed the Sound of American Music (Faber & Faber)

2 Richard Koloda: Holy Ghost: The Life and Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler (Jawbone)

3 Margaret Kennedy: Where Stands a Wingèd Sentry (Handheld Classics)

4 Jeremy Wilson: Beryl: In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete (Profile)

5 Robert Sellers: Marquee: The Story of the World’s Greatest Music Venue (Paradise Road)

6 Felix Hartlaub: Clouds over Paris (Pushkin Press)

7 Paul Hayward: England: The Biography 1872-2022 (Simon & Schuster)

8 David Belbin: Don’t Mention the Night (Five Leaves)

9 Patti Smith: A Book of Days (Bloomsbury)

10 Paul Gorman: Totally Wired: The Highs and Lows of the Music Press (Thames & Hudson)

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dammit! How did I miss Van Der Graaf in February? I had no idea… Interesting to know that they still deliver!

    December 20, 2022
    • Keith Knight #

      Sadly the subsequent Van Der Graaf European tour in May was called off midway through due to Peter Hammill being hospitalised with a life-threatening condition. He says he has recovered but is taking time to have ‘a bit of a pause, a bit of a think’.

      December 23, 2022
  2. Tim Adkin #

    Lots of good looking stuff there to investigate. A nice surprise to see a mention of Margaret Kennedy and her memoir. We’ve both just read her quite remarkable 1950 novel ‘The Feast’ and looking forward to reading more. Best wishes for the season and the New Year.

    December 20, 2022
    • Thank you, Tim. I’ve just finished The Constant Nymph and will now, on your recommendation, search for The Feast.

      December 22, 2022
  3. #

    You are a magnificent consumer – correction, devourer. You put most of us to shame!

    Thanks for the recommendations. Hope you’re healing up okay.

    Happy hols.


    Barney Hoskyns Editorial Director, Rock’s Backpages The Online Library of Music Journalism


    December 20, 2022
  4. gilles moehrle #

    Thanks so much for all your writing Richard Really appreciate you including Tom Skinner here too! All the best for the new year Gp


    December 20, 2022
  5. Trevor Buck #

    I’m loving your bluemoment posts, Richard. Beach Boys, Crimson etc, I thought I was the only person loving that stuff. And now I discover from your email that Levon and Mavis made music together with such big smiles on their faces. Priceless. Thanks so much. Trevor

    December 20, 2022
  6. Phil Vellender #

    And Summer of Soul?

    December 20, 2022
  7. James Bowman #

    I hope the “overriding professional commitment “ is an autobiography Richard. And a tie-in appearance on Desert Island Discs. Best wishes.

    December 21, 2022

    Many thanks for your recommendations throughout the year – and in particular for sharing your personal Friday juke-box recommendations on twitter during the period when you were unable to devote time to the blog; much appreciated. I am particularly grateful to you for pointing me in the direction of the Lisbeth Quartet’s ‘Release’ CD which I am pretty sure would otherwise have passed me by. Season’s Greetings and best wishes for 2023.

    December 21, 2022
  9. Thank you Richard for your most welcome posts throughout the year.

    Season Greetings and a positive creative New Year

    bill smith [Hornby Island – British Columbia – Canada]

    December 21, 2022
    • Shaukat Husain #

      Hi Bill,
      Nice to know you follow this blog. I wrote for Coda briefly in the 90s and used to own Sweet Thunder Records in Victoria. A Quixotic venture! Good health to you and season’s greetings.

      December 22, 2022
    • Thanks, Bill. All best to you, too.

      December 22, 2022
  10. Shaukat Husain #

    Hello Richard,
    Thank you for this list. The only recording I have heard is Immanuel Wilkins from your list of the new releases.I guess the church of jazz is much broader and the definition of jazz is expanding or fraying depending on one’s viewpoint . When I lived and worked in London in the 1970s and spent many a lunch time looking through the racks of my favourite record store, Mole Jazz, there was one bin which the owners described as ‘Improvised Music”. I would hazard a guess and say that most of your list of new releases would be found in the improvised music bin then. I guess these days the situation has reversed, straight ahead Jazz would be found in one bin. Times have moved on! This is an observation and not a criticism.

    December 22, 2022
    • Interesting point. Not quite true in the sense that Lehman, Pinderhughes would have been ‘jazz’ then. But it’s definitely worth thinking about. Sometimes I realise I’ve neglected to listen to enough straight-ahead stuff, which has a value that does not depreciate.

      December 22, 2022
  11. Paul Crowe #

    Thanks for all your considered contributions, Richard. Heal well and best wishes for 2023.

    December 24, 2022
  12. Dan #

    Thanks for the listing and have been listening to the top 30 but number 18 is not included. Could you let us know what album held that place? Thanks, Dan

    December 26, 2022
    • Thanks for spotting that. It was my misnumbering. Move 19-30 up one and add:

      30 Ingrid Laubrock/Andy Milne: Fragile (Intakt)

      December 27, 2022
  13. Ian Macpherson #

    Thank you for your list, much music there for me to discover and enjoy.
    A book of the year I highly recommend is Radio 3 presenter Kate Molleson’s Sound Within Sound. Kate has written portraits of twelve 20th century composers and their work she feels worthy of any canon, ranging from Walter Smetak to Emahoy Guebre, including Muhal Richard Abrams and the AACM, as well as Peggy Seeger’s mother, Ruth Crawford. She comments perceptively on who makes music and why, who listens to it, and who gets anointed as figureheads.
    A marvellously eclectic list , one with such evocatively detailed and vivid descriptions that I guarantee it will have you running to hear their work. I think you would enjoy it.

    December 27, 2022

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