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Sunday, 26 January 2020


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Sinatra, especially when he worked with Nelson Riddle. I was lucky enough to see him in 1980. I wept with happiness.

Not forgetting David Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell in the ‘70s.

As composers and performers - Johnny Cash and Willy Dixon and Carl Perkins.

Favorite musician -- not band, not concert, not song, not album? Okay:

I love quite a few musicians in a few genres, but if I were stranded on a desert island with just one musician and his or her instrument, I'd go with Keith Jarrett.

I've attended Jarrett's sublime solo piano improvisation concerts probably ten or twelves times over the years at Carnegie Hall, and I'm very sad that he quit performing live a couple years ago -- there's no news out there about him, but I fear for his health.

I was born in 1966 and raised in the British Caribbean on a mixture of calypso, reggae, Brazil jazz, and British and American rock and pop. My dad was a Hi-Fi audiophile who exposed me to Gato Barbieri, Chuck Mangione, but also Pink Floyd. But in 1987, while a sophomore at university, I discovered the sound of U2, a band that in my opinion, ranks higher than any rock band in history.

Hi Mike-

I too love the Be Bop Period but I would pick Miles Davis (his whole career) as my favorite. Lately I have been very happy listening to Terence Blanchard.

Michael ellis

Thanks for the recommendations Mike. All of these albums are available on Spotify. I keep a Playlist called "Random Jazz Recommendatuons". It's mainly albums I've read about on TOP.

Mark Knopfler, both solo and Dire Straits.

I've been attuned to music my entire life. I remember sneaking up near the musicians in Cuba as a child of 3 and 4. I now gravitate to guitar-centric music because it is the most beautiful instrument of all! So the jazz of your aforementioned era - West Montgomery, Grant Green, Tal Farlow. The great blues guitarists from Robert Johnson to Buddy Guy and so on. The acoustic guitarists John Fahey, Molly Tuttle and the like.
All which led me to the classical guitar many years ago. The tone! So much beauty there that I now take lessons.

Shaye Cohn

Someone I've been listening to (again) is PJ Harvey, an incredibly distinctive voice who can go from sexy to self effacing, strident to soft spoken on a whim. An artist unafraid to explore what's important to her despite immediate commercial appeal. See: Send His Love To Me, Black Hearted Love, This Is Love...


That brings me back. When I was a teen I would listen to rock and roll music on WNEW AM radio out of New York city. Sometimes I would even listen into the night to the "Milkman's Matinee".

Not sure for how long, but today I would say John Prine. A couple of months ago I had never heard him.

Hard to make a small list here.

Monk, Coltrane, Max Roach, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Kurt Eichorn, Jennifer Higdon, Ivan Moravec, Jessica Williams, Carline Shaw, Talking Heads (🙂)

The various incarnations of the Pittsburgh Symphony have also been great over the years. Many favorite players there too.

All of the usual suspects in rock - U2, The Beatles, The Who, Van Morrison. A couple of types of music I don't connect with at all - Jazz (there are a few exception, not many though), and Opera.

A story for you I will probably mangle a little bit, from a William Goldman book, this was a friend of his. His friend was a composer, he had music running through his head from the time he woke up until he went to sleep, he couldn't really stop it. When he wanted to write a song, he just tapped into the music stream in his brain. Mostly it was good music, but the downside was that some days it was the most awful music you've ever heard.

Being born in 1955 you and I have similar touchstones music wise. I'm more rock than pop. In the '70's fusion jazz ala Chick Corea and Weather Report then Pat Metheny who I still listen to every Sunday with the newspaper. I have been a big jazz fan ever since, exploring all the different jazz with the late '50's and early 60's being the most fun(plus when looking for used records, the jazz records were always in great shape). I've had an affinity for radios from early childhood. Three different radios in my office alone. Nothing more engaging and relaxing for me than listening to jazz on my main stereo system.

a couple samples with many years in between.

Yes, I do.
David Fray and Zhu Xiao-Mei playing Bach. Both different and in their very own style, but both simply excellent.
And Nathalie Stutzmann with her beautyful voice and her own chamber orchestra Orfeo 55.

Mark Hollis.

When I first heard "Spirit Of Eden", 30 years ago, it changed my life; and that's not exaggerating. I didn't expect much when I bought the record (from a bargain offer, because it was a total and utter failure at the time); I just had bought it because of the pretty picture on the cover. I didn't even know what kind of music it was.

But then, when the needle hit the record and I heard the intro and the first, slowly developing chords of 'The Rainbow', these strange sounds that seemed to come from a far away, primordial place... there are no words... I had never heard anything like it before... and these wonderful worlds within themselves have been with me ever since.

The funny thing is... I still don't know what kind of music it is. There's no way categorizing "Spirit Of Eden" ("Post rock" or "prog rock" is plainly and simply wrong. This has more to do with Claud Debussy and Miles Davis than with anything happening in rock...)

I have lost my father and my mother in the last decade. When Mark passed away last year, it felt almost just as bad. Although Mark had retired from the music business for 20 years, I had always hoped that one day he would give the world some more beautiful music...

[Spirit of Eden was released under the band name Talk Talk. —Ed.]

It took me a minute of thinking to realize I do have a favorite musician. It's YouTube's showboat Aussie guitarist Tommy Emmanual. He often mixes and dices known pop songs and sometimes sounds like he is playing 2 guitars. Here he is with a another very talented young man I recently discovered. Up tempo bluegrass on this one.


I have perhaps too many favorite musicians across several genres (middle-brow syndrome?), but a delightful recent addition to that group is violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, a virtuoso with a refreshingly mischievous, fearless (yet nerdy) approach. I'd give the benefit of the doubt to any musician who insists on performing barefoot no matter the setting, but she brings it all musically, too--her chops are out of this world, she embraces risk, rejects "perfection", digs deep into the music and her self... She shines with modern composers like Ligeti, but reminds me that Beethoven in his time could be as off the wall, challenging, and fun.

Oh so many to choose from.

Depending on the day, mood I'm in, phase of the Moon...

The Who
Duke Ellington
Bix Beiderbecke
Haydn string quartets
Anonymous lute music
John Coltrane
I could list names for hours and not come close; there is a part of me that can sympathize with the conceit you mention of "all music" for outside of Opera (sorry, I prefer ballet for dramatic music) there is little I truly dislike.

I listen mostly to Jazz broadcast on KTRU which is the best station I know. The station is available worldwide on the internet in case you are interested.
My love of the music goes back 1964 when I was a lonely thirteen year old kid living thousands of miles away from America. The Jazz program on Armed Forces Radio sounded like home to me.

Yeah, the idea of a favorite musician is completely foreign to me. Would it be an organist, a violinist? A conductor, instead? A tenor, a baritone, a soprano? A keyboard player, a bass player, an electric guitarist?

Are Gilbert and Sullivan operettas better than Boiled In Lead's Celtadelic rock'n'reel? Or are Beethoven's late quartets in fact it?

Heck, I can't even settle whether Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span are better, and Steeleye started as a spin-off from Fairport.

By profession I am a university teacher, in a mathematics-oriented discipline. I treat my lectures as open-ended workshops, the main ideas and cases are carefully prepared in advance, but the actual unfolding of the lecture is improvised.

There was a period, some ten or twelve years ago, when I made sure that before each lecture I would have the time to listen to the first part of Keith Jarret's 1975 The Köln Concert. Perhaps I could do this an hour before the lecture session, or perhaps in the evening the day before.

Jarrett works with his audience and with his musical material, and part of his art is to make that work explicit. You can see how he picks up a potential theme, tries it out for a few bars, perhaps there are several attempts of giving it another twist and another twist, until finally he has found the right way of placing it and the true theme can emerge. The audience is ready too, since we have been allowed to follow him in all his preparations. The final version of the theme breaks through, often with some surprising final twist, and now the theme unfolds further --- sometimes for a minute or two, sometimes only for a brief moment.

I know it sounds horribly pretentious, but I always took Jarrett's concert style to be the model for my lectures: allow my students to see me grapple with an idea that is essential to the subject matter, try out various twists, and then let it loose and see how it unfolds in new, unexpected ways.

Nowadays I don't do those pre-lecture meditations any more, at least not very regularly. But deep down, the way I engage with my students has been shaped by those years of infusing my subject matter with the music of Keith Jarrett.

(Otherwise, music for me is mainly one composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.)

Your friend who quit his job because of the music they played would not like working at the Standin' On The Corner store in Winslow AZ. They play the Eagles song Take It Easy on continuous loop. I wonder what the insanity rate is among the workers there? https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/music/can-the-eagles-take-it-easy-save-winslow-arizona-8662386

Yes, two. Kate Bush, whom I got to see live. That was a dream come true, I honestly didn't believe I ever would. Secondly, Laibach, for their outrageous honesty and range.

When I was growing up in the 50s and early 60s, radio was pretty eclectic. Local stations played a lot of everything so I liked a selection of music--country, early rock, Motown/Memphis soul, popular vocalists of the day. I didn't hear any jazz or classical as a kid except for soundtracks to the old movies on TV. But I listened to the radio constantly when possible. Have you ever heard the Dave Alvin song "Plastic Silver Nine Volt Heart"? He must have written that about me in my pre-teen and later years. The radio really was my favorite toy.

I discovered jazz when I started college in 1966. At the time there were three musicians I loved--Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk. I still love listening to them. Brubeck's music never fails to hold my attention. No one played trumpet as pretty as Miles. And Monk just simply makes me happy.

Classical music came very late to my life. I didn't start listening to it until the early 1990s. And, like most things that really interest me, I delved into it with a passion. God knows how many CDs I bought during those years but I know I listened to a lot of opera, symphonic and instrumental styles. Eventually, my interest in classical music faded a bit but I still love it. I'm just not as obsessed with it as I was.

And, yes, I have a lot of favorite musicians. I still listen to Dylan, some Rolling Stones and the occasional Beatles album. It's nostalgia for me but I also still really enjoy them. I also enjoy discovering jazz musicians who are new to me--Kamasi Washington, as a recent example. Also female jazz vocalists who have been around for years but who aren't that popular here in the US such as Claire Martin and Laura Fygi. But undoubtedly my favorite jazz musician is my friend and neighbor Brian Blade. Brian is a sweet guy and my wife and I really love him and his wife Lurah. Brian is one of the most talented drummers around and listening and watching him play is thrilling. But Brian is my favorite because he records with so many different people in so many different styles and genres I'm constantly challenged by the music I hear from his work as a member of Wayne Shorter's Quartet and Chick Corea's Trio, his own Fellowship Band, his recordings with Joni Mitchell and the ethereal sound he helps create with Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel.

All-in-all, I guess I'm still listening to an eclectic mix like the radio used to play when I was a kid. While I don't like everything, I do like a pretty wide range of music.

Robert Fripp is a particular favorite of mine, and King Crimson, the rock band he is a part of and which has been around in various incarnations for 50 years. Robert Fripp is the main guitarist in the band, and really the force that drives it - disbanding when needed and reforming when the time is right. I have more King Crimson music, live and in studio, than any other band, and have been fortunate enough to see them live and in concert a number of times. I don't have enough time and space to really do justice to what the man does but suffice it to say that he would be my number one favorite musician. In a different vein, Al Jarreau was also one of my favorite musicians and I still love listening to his music. A shame he is no longer with us. And finally, not a musician, but my favorite classical composer is Gustav Mahler. I have many versions of his music in my collection, and thrill in listening to the Minnesota Orchestra perform his symphonies. Number 2 still give me goosebumps in the final movement.

Yes, but since I binge listen to jazz, hip hop, opera, or classical in about equal measures (and to a lesser extent pop and rock, which used to dominate my listening) I have favorite musicians and singers in all of these genres, and they are difficult to compare across. However, there is Andy Partridge, the slightly quirky pop genius master mind of UK pop group XTC, which is the greatest pop band ever in the history of recorded music to its fans, and arguable made the greatest classical English pop since The Beatles. There is also DJ Premier, one of the greatest hip hop turntablist/producers ever. The collage music he can create with beats, scratching skills and sampling is almost unparalleled. And there are so many more, for quite different reasons.

Interesting, I have strong feelings about most music but I would be very hard pressed to name one or two favorites. King Tubby and Brian Eno? Marion Brown and Stevie Wonder? J Dilla and Charles Mingus? John Hurt and Toots Hibbert?

Maybe in high school I had the Velvet Underground, the Grateful Dead, and Stereolab. But we also listened to Tribe, Wu-Tang, and all the other amazing stuff that was happening in the early 90s. Then for years I couldn't listen to the Dead... just rolled right out of my brain. Only recently can I listen again, but to rather specific songs and periods. No need to listen to the Velvets unless out of nostalgia, but my daughter does like Emperor Tomato Ketchup.

Just yesterday I happened upon a Pitchfork re-review of So by Peter Gabriel. Now, I turned 10 in the end of 1986, and listened to three (and a half) albums that came out right around then. So, Brothers in Arms, and Graceland. The half mention is to Born in the USA, as that was all the rage but felt second tier to me. Any time I hear any of the songs from any of those records I still recall the lyrics. Yet there's only one of them I can listen to anymore, and that's Graceland. But Graceland, wow, I still really enjoy that record. And So, even if you couldn't pay me to listen to it,

I was thinking of this as my daughter is just about that age now. Listening to music is so different than it was then, and I'm personally rather removed from whatever makes for pop music nowadays. Plus, who's my age and making these big pop records nowadays that actually sound interesting? Maybe I'll find out soon enough. Makes me think of a recent conversation with a friend who's ten years my senior. Her sister, eight years her senior, would play her the dead when the sister was a teenager. My daughter has a sister eight years her junior, and we mused on what my elder might play for my younger in seven or eight short years from now...

Brian Eno and Mark E Smith.

Part two of a long comment... Though I'm a generation younger I am 100% with you on having pop and rock touchstones but being very choosy within all of that, and less furiously passionate about it than those who are quite passionate about it.

But I'll pick fastidiously within jazz too, where I generally prefer 1959 through free and electric jazz to sometime a few years after my birth (death of Mingus or Lennie Tristano?). But, really, it's so hard to actually say that, because Billie Holiday and Lester Young die in '59 and Allan Holdsworth's Sand is 1987 and... gah! How can one even begin to choose???

And that's the thing I've come to... When I was young I really cared about what I liked, periods and categories and all that, and what other people liked too. Now I couldn't care less.

At the moment mine is Allan Holdsworth. A genius unrecognised by the popular music establishment. He followed no trends or fashions and produced music that was unique and not easy to get into but merited the effort of repeated listening.

PS. Still waiting for your museum selection!

Mike> "How about you—do you have a particular favorite musician or singer?"

Yes of course I do. But I won't name him (or her), because that would be pretty unfair to all others which I also like.

My parents heavily influenced the core of my musical experience. They listened to music constantly, when they weren't singing and harmonising with each other. Mostly, in my very early youth (also born in '57), it was Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, but also Hank Williams, Ernest 'Tennessee' Ford, Johnny Cash, Flat and Scruggs and eventually Gordon Lightfoot. They used to sing a lot of country and folk songs, presumably because they were easier for my father to play on his guitar.

As a school child I discovered the Beatles, then the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, eventually leading to Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. All this time I was also listening to Crosby Stills Nash, Dylan, Lightfoot, and the great folk songwriters of the 60s and 70s. All this while playing bass in my parent's traveling folk band, The Generation Bridge. (We lived in Ontario, but often played in your part of the world, Mike.)

In my late teens my brother put me on to Chic Correa, Al Jareau, Jean Luc Ponty, Earl Klugh and those 70s jazz musicians. But it was always the singer-songwriters that I admired the most: Lightfoot, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, James Taylor, Carole King, Tom Waits, Sting, Bruce Cockburn, Cat Stevens, Rickie Lee Jones, plus a host of Australian (been living here 48 years) artists no-one in your neck of the woods has probably heard of... this list just goes on and on.

I went on to write songs and record albums myself for 20 years or so, and even interrupted a perfectly excellent career as a programmer to lose money as a touring solo act for a couple of years, playing guitar and singing my own songs along with those of my favourite songwriters. This gave me a very different outlook on music and its industry, and in the end I had to admit defeat and gave up performing. Also, I am going deaf, so that doesn't help.

Three years ago, at the age of nearly 60, I decided to learn to play the piano - a nice loud instrument I can hear. It's been on my bucket list and I acquired a used baby grand as a gift. This lead me back to music and songwriters and performers, and I have been loving the chance to relearn the songs of my youth with a renewed vigour. Jazz is beyond me, but I have been enjoying murdering some great songs by Leon Russell and Rickie Lee Jones and others.

If, out of all of that, I had to pick a single favourite musician, it would be very difficult, not because I am not discriminating or have no taste, not because I enjoy a wide variety of musical styles, but simply because each of my favourite musicians/songwriters/performers brings something different, ticks different boxes, in my mind and my experience. Would it be someone from my formative years, someone who has had the greatest influence on my own songwriting, the most talented performer, the most prolific with the greatest body of work?

It is just impossible to choose a single one... unless it was someone who ticks all of those boxes. Hmm.

I guess it would have to be Bruce Cockburn... or Leon Russell... no, Tom Waits... or maybe Bob Dylan... oh wait, perhaps it's...

Favorite? considering that I too Am a jazz fan, I find that difficult. There are so many to choose from. Two favorites are Ross Tompkins, a sadly underrated pianist, his touch was lighter than Hank Jones. The other is Tenor sax master Pete Christlieb. No person alive swings harder than Pete.

Schmaltz? my father loved it, it made me want to puke.Maybe it's depression babies?

I would have to say Brian Eno based on on the diversity of what he does and also on how his thinking applies to other endeavors. I once started to make an Oblique Strategies deck for photography, but some of the items are kind of darkroom dependent.

Also born in the mid-50's. My favorite jazz musicians are Pat Martino, Horace Silver and John Coltrane.

This is interesting, because it made me realise that I don't. I was going to say that my favourite musician is Steve Howe (who spent most of his career playing with a band I'm embarrassed to still secretly and occasionally like). But he's not, he's my favourite guitarist: as a guitarist I think I am allowed to have a favourite guitarist as a special case. But overall musician: no. It's not that I 'like everything', which I don't: like you I probably would pick late 1950s to mid 1960s US jazz if I had to pick one thing. Rather it's that I can get so involved with someone that I'm not competent to judge and then move on to someone else. Six months ago I spent a lot of time listening to Miles Davis and his various sidemen and obviously he is pretty much god; two months ago I accidentally rediscovered what I think is the version of Richard Thompson's 'Don't tempt me' that I heard on the radio in about 1987, and which contains, quite clearly, the best guitar solo of all time; next week I will rediscover the Karajan / Berlin Philharmonic Mahler 5 and, well. There is no one answer: there's an answer this week.

But, OK, for one week only. Richard Thompson: the finest songwriter since Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix, it says here.

Probably my favorite would be the late Jon Lord. I have a thing for the Hammond B3 and his style.

I am in my mid-60's and I am totally immersed into Jazz music. I love Jazz Piano and vocals.

The 50's were a special time when: Ella, Lois, Miles, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, and Oscar Peterson were at their peak. And, Keith Jarret who came a bit later.

I always have time for Betty Carter, Diana Washington, Natalie Cole, Blossom Dearie and Lena Horne.

I was most fortunate to see: Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarret, Chick Corea, Lena Horne and Dave Brubeck play live. Sad that Oscar, Dave and Lena are no longer with us. And, I think that Keith has stopped touring as well.

Chick Corea still has his chops, saw him play before Christmas and it put me into a Happy mood.

I thought for a while that I would not find anyone to fill the void that was left by these legends of Jazz.

I was wrong.

Check out Hiromi on Piano and Cecile McLorin Salvant who has a most beautiful voice. Both are outstanding talents.

I have tickets to Hiromi's concert in April and I hope that Cecile will come back soon for a return performance.

I don't have a favorite musician any more than a favorite photographer, but I have favorite musicians! Quite a few of them (and quite a few favorite photographers ;) I don't like all music. There's far more music that I don't like than music that I do. But music is big and there's more that I do like than I can listen to regularly. Oddly, I can probably name favorite albums more readily than favorite musicians. Also, when I think of favorite movies, many of them are heavily influenced by the soundtrack.
I can't name a favorite musician - one that I "go to" more often than others. But my daughter has asked the hypothetical "what concert would you see if you could see anyone, dead or alive" and my answer is Harry Chapin, despite the fact that I don't listen to him very often.

I have to admit that jazz may as well be fingernails on a blackboard for all it does for me. I grew up with rock and still dig Springsteen, Dylan and Pink Floyd amongst others. As i have grown older however, my tastes have leaned to the more esoteric (for want of a better word). Considering that improvisation is de rigueur in classical Indian music then that can't be the reason jazz grates so much for me as I like the former and have seen some wonderful performances. Fusions of Middle Eastern and Celtic, Corsican vocals such as A Filetta, the Kronos Quartet, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and others all feature alongside the likes of Leonard Cohen, Sting, Tangerine Dream and the Moody Blues in my collection. So I definitely don't like everything (even from one artist) but one favourite? What I listen to depends too much upon the mood I'm in for just one.


Very very difficult to pick a single artist. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen all up there. John Coltrane and Miles Davis as well. But if I really have to pick one, perhaps Bill Evans will do.

I'm a big fan of jazz too. Hard to pick a favorite jazz player but if pressed I'd say Sonny Rollins, who I was lucky enough to see live at the Kennedy Center a few years ago. But my overall pick would be David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Have been listening to him since the 80s and his latest live show is phenomenal. After that it's Nick Cave and Niel Young. Quite an eclectic group, eh?

Bel canto opera, specially those featuring soprano Joan Sutherland or mezzo Marilyn Horne.
Instrumentalists? Andres Segovia and Miles Davis.
Most memorable concert performer? Louis Armstrong.

Appalachian old time fiddle music in general:




Easiest question ever. My wife, Susan Alcorn, playing her pedal steel guitar in the free jazz world. She has received several awards and write ups in the NY Times, NPR, and jazz periodicals on her live performances and released CDs and LPs. As a benefit I have taken an extensive number of photographs at sound checks and live performances of her and numerous jazz musicians.

It's impossible to say one, single favorite musician, but here are my contributions: Duane Allman, David Grisman, Bela Fleck, Larry Carlton, Chet Atkins, B.B. King.

Jazz: Anything with Gil Evans
Classical: Bruckner
Modern (post 2010): Jófríður Ákadóttir (JFDR, Samaris, Pascal Pinon.)

It might seem that these three are wildly different from each other but there are strong affinities between them in their music.

Taylor Swift is much better than you think she is, unless you're quite young and probably a girl.


Quincy Jones. Head and shoulders above any other composer/arranger/band leader IMHO.

I'm also very partial to Pat Metheny (early days only, ideally with Lyle Mays) and Mark Isham as an underrated composer/performer. Try Tibet!

I grew up listening to the records from a Readers' Digest "Beautiful Music That Will Live Forever" 12 disc album played on our mono radiogram in its wooden cabinet. It was nearly all classical music and it stuck with me until I was in my 20s and started serious listening on hi-fi I built myself.

The key to classical music for me was learning the chronology, learning where composers fitted into the time line so that their music made sense according to the periods. Now that I know a lot more, it makes even more sense and I can place a piece even from hearing just a few notes.

In my youth: Jethro Tull, Kate Bush, The Who.
Now: Herbert von Karajan, George Solti, David Zinman.

It's hard to decide on a single musician, but if I had to, it would be Al Jarreau.

Counting the CDs I bought during the recent years, it's Youn Sun Nah.

Apart from that, I have many musicians with whom I love to play myself on Wikiloops.

Ludwig van!

What a fabulous discussion of great musicians -- and composers, performers, bands, and memories. I could have added so many of those to my own list.

Thank you, Mattias, for Andy Partridge, who is indeed at some level a genius composer/performer/producer. Thank you, Steve B, for reminding me of Fripp. And Dave_lumb for Eno, who I almost picked as my number one choice.

In addition to my original vote for Keith Jarrett, I'm now thinking I might have even chosen Jerry Garcia, who was a relatively primitive guitarist with a gorgeous sense of melody.

As someone who's always enjoyed rock and metal... I'd probably have to say that Justin Broadrick is the musician whose work I've followed most ardently. From Godflesh, through Jesu and Council Estate Electronics, to his collaborations (The Blood of Heroes, the recordings with Sun Kil Moon), they've meant a lot through my life.

Mike's comment about people who love music just a bit more than average who tend to have more specific tastes and dislikes and just don't "like a bit of everything" resonates with me.

I grew up music-deprived as a child - my family didn't have a record player until I was 17 - so I didn't form my tastes early. In fact, I was well off the pace as a teenager when my school mates were all in to the likes of Queen, Yes, Floyd, Led Zep, Deep Purple etc, I was stuck with the strange mix of Shirley Bassey, Val Doonican and film sound tracks my mum listened to on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday mornings.

That all changed when I went to 6th Form and was hit by a deluge of late 1970s New Wave and Punk. Suddenly there was a musical style that resonated with me.

In my dotage I can no longer listen to that stuff, my ability to process loud, fast music has declined with age and I have switched to slower paced music with more space and air and a lower data rate (currently mostly alternative female singer-song writers with edginess).

However, I find I am trapped in this very narrow band of taste, disliking much of the work of even my favourite artists. I am desperately searching to expand that taste by trial and error. Spotify + the Google Chromecast device has allowed me to update my 1990s hair shirt audio gear to digital streaming for a pittance and opened my opportunities for new music.

Which brings me to a personal anecdote and my point...

In the early 1980s I introduced my then girlfriend's mother to the brave world of Simple Minds music. She listened dutifully and admitted it was OK but she declared she didn't think it would ever become something dear to her because the musical style lacked "a definite beat" - by which I assume she meant the Rock around the Clock style 50's rock and roll beat.

So, I am currently listening to Hank Jones (whom I'd never heard of) thanks to this blog post.

And what strikes me about it is: clever, intricate, very musically skilled, supple and subtle. But...it lacks a definite beat...

Now, I don't mean that really. It has quite a noticeable walking, shuffly kind of bass beat and that shssh...shsss.ssshh cymbals work from the drummer that jazz always seems to have. But for some reason I always find this vague, loose and ill-defined. It doesn't "groove" in the way that rock of all flavours does.

This brings me to my point finally. What is it about certain genres of music that leave some people rolling orgasmically on the floor in thrall while utterly turning others off. It is idly dismissed as "taste" but what does that really mean?

Is it what you heard when you were young (I dismiss that line in my case)? Is it what you've grown used to (I find that dubious, I grew up listening to a type of music that was all I heard and it left me fairly cold and uninterested in music but the first seconds of hearing early Blondie tracks instantly changed everything about music for me)?

Some people get snobbish about it and claim it's to do with musical virtuosity and complexity but that is nonsense for me: I could never stand Led Zep or Deep Purple and they were far more accomplished than the music that moved me).

It's a deep puzzler for me: why do some styles of music drive you insane, while others are manna.

Tis a mysterious thing, musical taste. This Hank Jones stuff is a pleasant enough background meander but quite cold and un-involving for me despite having many of the characteristics I'd say I was looking for in music. Why is that? Mike loves it, I don't but not for lack of trying.

I'd like an app into which I enter a list of say 20 tracks and which could then surf Spotify and identify all the music I would like based on the common musical features an algorithm can detect but I can't articulate. I'm fed up with services telling me what other people like who happen to share one track in common with me: I need something that deduces musical taste from the music itself not other's people's purchases...

I agree with the 1950's hard bop.

I'd pick Dizzy Gillespie, who could get more music from three notes than anyone else could from a whole song.

Also, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Oscar Peterson.

“Favorites” has an additional meaning lately. Streaming services allow for exposure to nearly every genre and artist all the way back to the beginning. I spend some portion of most days either listening to the “favorites” I’ve collected to my own list or hunting the vastness for new ones to add.

It feels incredible to stumble on and discover for the first time someone like Ella Fitzgerald or Chet Baker. These are names I’ve heard but never understood the buzz about them until I heard them first hand.

Too many to eliminate to get down to one or two permanently, but yesterday it was Ben Webster and Marvin Gaye.

Humankind's existence is made worthwhile (in my mind) because of the utter genius of Glenn Gould's performances of J.S. Bach. His 1981 recording of the Goldberg Variations is my desert island album.

It was Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream & Other Delights) for my Dad.

My most enduring piece of music is the Vince Guaraldi Trio soundtrack to the 1965 children’s TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’ve probably listened to that every Christmas since I was 5 years old but I wouldn’t say that Vince is my favorite musician.

I had just finished my first serious review/culling of my music library on the day of this post so I’ll have to go with the acoustic singer-songwriters, Jazz-Rock bands, and big Modal Jazz Musicians I’ve spent the most money on over the years. I really can’t pick just one.

Neil Young, Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Sade, Chicago, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Todd Rundgren’s solo work.

In the 21st century, back when I still collected CD’s and albums, I bought a lot of music by small bands on small labels but seldom bought a second album by the same artist. I found some great music over the years but one or two albums is not enough for favorite musician status.

Thanks for the heads up on Hank. I’m familiar with his work as a sideman on albums such as Cannonball’s Somethin Else, etc. but I’ve never really listened to his vast catalog.

'Tis Monday morning and i do have both a vocalist (in Jazz) that i very much like: Diana Krall, who i've been lucky enough to have seen and heard twice. I find i like her voice but prefer her piano playing as on her earlier albums. I once saw a Dylan video with her playing piano for him. And then there is Hiromi who is one of the more amazing jazz piano players these days. When i saw her, she become so invigorated with the music she was playing she'd stand up so she could move faster. And then there is ... that's enough for now.

Although I listen to music, I probably spend more time playing music. So, my perspective may be slightly different. When I listen to music, I seem to gravitate to female vocalists. Specifically, Linda Ronstadt; KD Lang; Barbara Streisand; and lately, Lady Gaga. And Emmylou Harris. I'm ten years older than you, Mike, but never really got into jazz; so some of the other great female voices of the early jazz movement aren't on my list.

The late Dave Guard, of Kingston Trio fame, wrote in the liner notes of a recording by some obscure folk group that included a female vocalist, that "a great voice like that makes me cry." Or something close to that. I have the same experience, especially with the above-named group of artists.

I couldn't possibly choose just one! As soon as I do that I think that it excludes so many others who deserve my respect. I've spent some time attempting to create a list of 8 pieces, emulating the BBC's long-running Desert Island Discs radio series but found it impossible to exclude a number of others.

Having played musical instruments since I was in single-digit years, my tastes cover a huge range - classical (mostly Baroque to late Romantic plus movie soundtracks), Jazz, Blues, Rock, Heavy Metal, British/Irish Folk and trad, World Music and even a selection of well crafted pop, with The Beatles firmly at the very pinnacle of that genre.

Despite being a guitar player and mesmerised by many guitarists' technique, I usually admire musicians more for feel than pure speed; B.B. King trumps Steve Vai while Don Felder and Joe Walsh playing together on Hotel California pleases me more than the fine guitar duelling of Thin Lizzy or Iron Maiden.

And, although I can appreciate an individual's unique skill, phrasing and sound palette, sometimes the whole - the performance of a group, ensemble or orchestra - is what creates magic.

But if I have to choose it would be guitarists: Larry Carlton, Martin Taylor & Brian May.

[and yes that's plural because no, I really *can't* pick just one. It was tough enough getting it down to three!]

Right now it's Rosalía. Not so much her pop megastar hits, but her Flamenco, featured on her first album Los Ángeles. From the fierce power of "De Plata" to the tragic depths of "La Hija de Juan Simón", she taps into the listener's deepest emotions by baring her own in that amazing enveloping voice.

You have great taste in singling out the period of the late '50s....so many classic jazz albums recorded during those years: Kinda Blue and Giant Steps are two that come to mind that have achieved landmark status. I can't disagree with you on your choice of Hank and Hawk. Both were very solid. As a saxophonist, I tend to group them by their primary instrument. In addition to Hawk, I also would add tenor players recording in that era such as Sonny Rollins Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, and John Coltrane. My two favorite bari players are Pepper Adams and Gerry Mulligan. I think Pepper did some of his best work on the Oliver Nelson recording Blues and the Abstract Truth. Too many alto players to mention. I rarely think in terms of "favorite" player. These artists have all made great statements in their music, and I feel that I can listen and accept them without worrying about whether I like them or not much less trying to decide which one is my favorite. I would always tell my students to leave the "like" question at the door. Don't even ask it. Open your ears and try to understand what the artist is trying to say. I would approach visual arts the same way. I can learn from so many photographers and painters. The ones that speak to me the most (or the clearest), I will try to internalize and allow their work to influence my own. Great post and as always much appreciated.

Picking a single favorite artist is difficult.
As a teenager in the early 60's, I would have said Eddie Cochran without hesitation.
Closely followed by Buddy Holly then Jerry Lee Lewis and early Elvis. So mainly late 50's music.
I went thru a period when it was nothing but Rory Gallagher, The Doors, CSN&Y and Little Feat.
In my car today, which is my main listening room, my CD player is holding 1x Buddy Holly, 2x very early Elvis, 1x Eddie Cochran, 1x Chuck Berry and 1x Mickey Jupp (brought with me from England).
I doubt most Americans have heard of Mickey Jupp but "Juppanese" rarely leaves the CD player. It is by far my most played CD.

Shostakovitch and Villa-Lobos

My favorite musician is saxophonist Roland Kirk, and I especially like the album "The Return of the 5,000 lb. Man". Roland was blind and in a surrealist act, chose a deaf man to be his record producer. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4RgOoHKw_s

Shame on you, Mike. That is a very elitist first paragraph. You often say that all opinions are equally valid. Yet apparently that is not true of musical taste. Are you suggesting that taste is in some way different from opinion? Your argument has a dark side too: prejudice. This isn’t like you at all!

Depends on the era for me.

Hard to pin down a favorite, would depend on my mood at any given time.

It's all rock and roll for me. Probably the reason I wear hearing aids.

I have strong sentiments for John Lennon, Tom Petty, and Prince, three others that we lost too soon.

Lionel Rogg, the organist, composer and teacher.

I have both heard him play and met him and he has been a major influence on my Bach playing from being a teenager.

A funny example of their dislikes are strong too.... Jack Black from High fidelity


[Yeah, that's like every used record store clerk ever. But they went the other way, too--once I was in a little shop where they were playing a Jeff Tweedy bootleg from a local solo appearance and when I said I liked it, the clerk went in back and burned me copies, for no charge...of BOTH the CDs from the concert!

I miss camera stores *and* record stores. --Mike]

Like you, Mike, I believe that hard bop era was an extremely unique point in music history, although I'd extend it a bit on either side to include earlier bebop and the start of avant garde jazz. Fave musician? Got to be Thelonious. So many others that I adore, but he goes to the desert island with me if I could only have one album. Lately, I've been listening to his pedal work---grab a disk and listen for it.

In rock and roll it's got to be Hendrix, although Janis gets close.

Thinking ... thinking ... thinking ... still thinking .. nah - too hard.

Lovely link to the Oscar Peterson piano master class. And to think that he was a TOP reader! Amazing.

As it happens, Gettyimages have a picture (from the Hulton archive) of Peterson with his Zeiss Ikon Contarex Bullseye:

Despite having a similar interest in music to yours, Mike, I have to confess I don't have a favourite musician.

For me it has always been about the music. Who makes it doesn't matter much to me, except as a mnemonic for where to look, for more music in a certain vein I might be interested in for the present.

Okay, I’ll play

I admit I was taken aback by the statement: “It's a middlebrow conceit to say "I like everything!" in a chipper voice, which to real music aficionados means that music isn't very important to that person”. Fortunately it was good to see in the comments that I am not alone in having an “important” relationship to music, but it is a bit eclectic as well encompassing various forms of Jazz, Pop and Rock from the 40’s on. So many of the artists mentioned ticked those boxes.

One that I haven’t seen mentioned and perhaps further solidifies my middlebrowness (?) is Jimmy Buffett, who’s music just makes me happy. Not an amazing musician but a very good songwriter and even better perhaps, a great bandleader who often mixes genere’s and including band members like Mac McAnally who is just amazing on his own.

I love guitar music, I am very fond of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton ( I named my only child after him ), Jeff Beck, Steve Howe, Robert Fripp , Jimi Hendrix, SRV, and most of the rock/blues players. I love jazz and I wish I started listening earlier. I am also a big fan of all the Bach music for one instrument. I can’t handle big symphony orchestras. I like his 6 suites for cello solo, his 4 suites for guitar, his Goldberg Variations, the sonatas and partitas for violin, his organ music, everything as long as is for one instrument only. Of course I go crazy with Glenn Gould.

I'm a few days late to these comments so I hope that they are still open. I was born in 1952--Mike is merely a junior boomer! =)
I am sitting here working on my computer listening to Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster thanks to Mike. I have always found his Jazz recommendations completely fit with my own preferences. I don't have a single "favorite musician". I might be able to do it by music type, my tastes are quite eclectic. However, I have learned that the one requirement I have, no matter which kind of music I may listen to, is that there be some semblance of melody present. The period that Mike likes in Jazz generally fits my requirements. However, I find that I just can't connect with music that sounds (to me) extremely chaotic and atonal. So, I like early Miles Davis and Coltrane, but once they moved on into their later phases I cannot connect with the music emotionally and it sounds like screeching to me. It's probably because I lack the proper intellectual understanding of how they got from point A to point B, but I do enough intellectual stuff in my life and music is not an area where I want to dwell primarily in my frontal lobes. I feel the same way about much of "contemporary" classical music--once it moves beyond a melodic structure that I can relate to (Berg is a good example) it loses me.

Lastly, I have never been able to relate to music used as "background music". I performed thousands of cardiac procedures and many doctors like to play music while they are operating, but, I usually asked the staff to turn the music off during the procedures. They would ask "Don't you like music?" and I would tell them that the opposite is true--I love music so much that I cannot concentrate both on operating on someone's heart and on the music. The music takes me in, and I needed to be totally focused on the human being on the table who had entrusted their life to me.

Ahmad Jamal is my Hank Jones. He is linked too often to his older works, especially Poinciana, and too much to the fact that Miles Davis once had said he was influenced by him. At 89 he is still playing. I keep buying his albums, just like the ones of Charles Lloyd (81) and Wayne Shorter (86).
Never miss an album from John Scofield, Joshua Redman and Robert Glasper either. And then there is the Jazz goldmine of the fifties and sixties. Sometimes for sale at ridiculous low prices, unless you need it on fresh vinyl.

My interest in music got a boost in the late sixties when Pop reached its heights like Jazz had done a decade before. Did spend a lot of time on it and they could wake me up in the middle of the night for the answering who was playing organ at Blonde on Blonde. Now my collection consists 25% Classical, 35% of Pop, Soul, Blues, R&B and World together and 40% is Jazz.
So you could say the last category is the most important.
But I always liked Joe Zawinul’s the point of view on music.
One day his band accidentally ran into the one of Cab Calloway at the airport. Cab did not know Joe, but when he saw the impressive pile of cases for instruments he asked him: “So, what kind of music do you play?”
Joe answered: “Good music!”

Yes to PJ Harvey! Also to many others...

Adding links to my Rosalía post. "De Plata" live

and "La Hija de Juan Simón"

Three acts that come to mind are Stephane Grappelli, gypsy jazz violinist 1908-1997, came to America from France to avoid the occupation in WWII, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, a quartet built around jazz banjo (!) ( particularly Howard Levy on Piano and Harmonica ), and Shawn Colvin.
David Graham

The Beatles.

Of course, they were and are so good that it’s almost a cliche to say it, but they changed my life. I got me a guitar, learned to play it by listening to their records, wrote an 11th grade term paper on “A Day in the Life”, grew my hair long, and know most of the lyrics by heart. While I always tended towards Lennon, lately I’ve become overwhelmed by the quantity of quality output from McCartney (while trying to ignore his fluff). Of course, he’s had the benefit of another 40 years or so to produce music.

It’s hard to a younger listener to imagine just how good and revolutionary they were at the time.

At the same time, there is so much music that deeply affects me when I listen to it. Miles. Neil Young. Paul Simon on Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints. “25 or 6 to 4”, especially the guitar solos. Led Zep and Hendrix and Clapton. The Who. Who can listen to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and not wish everyone would take it to heart?

I am about 4 years older than Mike. Started on Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. Then I discovered Cream and Eric Clapton. Now there is Miles Davis. Nothing exotic here. They were all very popular. Joni and Miles still have their own playlist on my phone.

You have similar music taste to writer Michael Connelly. His stories centered on Harry Bosch contain references to many of your favorite musicians.

Well for me it would have to be the late, great Mick Ronson, Bowie’s sideman/arranger/band leader on his early 70’s albums.

Listen to any of Bowie’s albums from the Man Who Sold The World through to Pinups to hear what an incredible player he was. He also composed and scored all of the orchestration. He is sadly underrated.

I like Kenny Rankin
His voice is wonderful, jazzy style. Sad, he died young (2009)
Also George Winston on piano
And Chet Atkins on guitar

Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

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