The Special Music Of 2013

By Steve Chase

Here’s a list of music I really liked this past year. While not a classic “best of 2013 list,” it reflects music that I think made 2013 special—especially for anyone interested in going beyond the bounds of pop music. Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist I created to share the music with you:

Bob Dylan, Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10

This interesting collection contains obscure alternative takes and some rare live cuts from the Dylan catalog. Some nice music here, most rarely heard. I chose the Highway 61 Revisited cut for the playlist, recorded live at The Isle of Wight in 1969.

John Scofield, Überjam Deux

When I played a horn in a club’s house band in Connecticut in 1980, I looked forward to John Scofield coming in. Since then, Sco has been a fixture of the jam/jazz scene, playing with just about everyone, and always staying on the cutting edge. His latest album is the fantastic UberJam Deux. For the playlist I chose the groovy Endless Summer, which has gotten great airplay this year on SiriusXM’s JamOn Channel.

Chick Corea, The Vigil

Chick Corea continues to put out amazing music. This time it’s an European infused alternative to Return to Forever, with Tim Garland of Bill Bruford’s Earthworks band on soprano sax and guest appearances by Ravi Coltrane and other greats. The music is inspired, tight, acoustic and electric. Legacy made my playlist. With Stanley Clarke sitting in on bass, what could be better?

White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade

This quartet from Texas keeps their rock timely and raw, but they’ve matured well since their early trio days. Blend some blues with post-psychedelic sensitivity and Corsicana Lemonade is a keeper. The playlist includes the title track, best served loud.

Christian McBride, Out Here

Christian McBride is one of the busiest jazz bassists today. This cat has played with everyone, and has established himself as not only a great sideman, but also a fine bandleader. Out Here is just what the doctor ordered: some tight, traditional trio jazz where each player contributes solidly to what is one of the best jazz sets of the year. I picked one of my favorite jazz standards for the playlist, My Favorite Things.

Wayne Shorter, Without a Net

What can be said about Wayne that has not already been said? Wayne Shorter is the grand jazz elder who keeps getting better. The playlist features Flying Down To Rio, a cut that could have come from his seminal Native Dancer album from three decades ago.

Assorted Artists, Love for Levon

With the passing of Levon Helm, a fine tribute was published in 2013, Love for Levon, which features a long list of Levon’s musical friends and fans. My favorite track is Anna Lee, sung with great feeling by Bruce Hornsby.

Chucho Valdes and the Afro Cuban Messengers, Border-Free

Born in Cuba and raised listening to Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson, Chucho Valdes rips the keys up, and is one of my favorite pianists. His latest album is a collection of Latin-infused tunes that trend to the more traditional post bop flavor. The playlist features the tune Congadanza.

Umphrey’s McGee, 5/25/13 Live at Summer Camp

The Summer Camp Music Festival always brings out the best in Umphrey’s McGee. On that May evening they were joined by Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret horns, and combined, they smoke on Utopian Fir. The tune features a fine “Jimmy Stewart” and an interlude jam of Miles Davis’ It’s About That Time.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, WomanChild

A Thelonius Monk Jazz vocalist competition winner, Cecile McLorin Salvant gives us an exuberant set of songs that seem to channel the greats that came before her, almost. What we hear is a young woman who takes her influences like Billy Holiday or Betty Carter, and shapes and shakes them up to create her own, fresh sound. Throw in pianist Aaron Diehl and a fine backup band and you have an album you’ll play over and over. I put her interpretation of Hart and Roger’s song I Didn’t Know What Time It Was on the playlist.

Yvar Mikhashoff, Panorama of American Piano Music: From Antheil to Zappa, 1911 to 1991

This 4-disc collection of more than 60 compositions by 40 composers was released in December. Pianist Yvar Mikhashoff died 20 years ago, so this collection is a long time coming. The set is a remarkable menu of American piano pieces providing a rich musical landscape over an 80-year period of the twentieth century. Hypnotic, sublime, beautiful, and inspiring solo piano. I included a Copland piece on the playlist from Our Town.

North Mississippi All Stars, World Boogie Is Coming

The North Mississippi All Stars created their own genre that has maintained course for more than a decade. In their latest proclamation, World Boogie is Coming, they continue to plow fertile ground of north Delta Blues Rock, infused with their own seasoning of boogie and electric roots. This album is a monster. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ made my playlist, another cut to turn up loud.

Anders Osborne, Peace

Swedish born Osborne has been on the scene making his blues/soul/R&B/folk/rock since the late eighties. It has not been easy, his career buffeted by addiction and the impacts of living in NOLA during Katrina. His music gets better with age, and the critics are eating up his latest works. Peace sums things up, and I conclude my playlist with his title track.

Steve Chase lives in, and challenges the entire bandwidth capacity of with his ceaseless pursuit of music in, Unison, Va.