Right, so it was right around this time last year that I declared Jaga Jazzist's Live With Britten Sinfonia the best album of 2013; so sure was I that there'd not be an album as bold, uplifting, emotional, riveting. And though, it was far early to tell - and of course there were many albums that meant as much or more - that record still figured super high on my end of year list. And still stands out on its own - there wasn't another record like it; there wasn't anything even close to sounding like it, to taking its place.
I'm calling the best album of 2014 - the one that will most likely mean the most to me - a week earlier this year. It's Dan Weiss' Fourteen.
My introduction to Dan Weiss was via his YouTube clips where he shows that influence/inspiration can come from anywhere, translating the rhythms of an auctioneer to drum kit.
Since then I've heard Weiss play in a variety of contexts - but this new album, his fifth as a leader (he's in demand as a session player and sit-in guy) is his masterpiece.
It's impossible to think of it as a jazz album, but impossible to imagine this album happening without jazz, so many of the players involved schooled in improvisation, trained in jazz.
But the album moves through so many genres, as if Weiss and his 14-member ensemble (hence the album's name) have ironed out jazz to find in the folds all manner of things - snippets of prog-rock thinking, classical arrangements, the fusion of eastern musical influences.
It doesn't sound at all like the Jaga Jazzist album - but I got a similar power from it, as a listener. A feeling that there wouldn't be anything to top the audacity of this, if not the actual sound...
So far it's my album of the year. And I doubt I'll hear another album with this much in it - with so much happening, and yet so controlled, so thoughtful, so focussed, and with so many star-turns, every player involved is vital, every musician working here offers their best and is so obviously the best of the best.
The only way there might be something equally as powerful and spiritual as this would be if Dan Weiss were to release another record this year.
So check it out.
I'd love to know what you think.
And have you heard an album already this year that you're sure - already - will be the best of 2014, or so close to the very top of the list?
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