The eagled eyed amongst you will have noted we skipped June’s playlist. Probably because we had our head down in the active speaker reviews. Whatever, we’re back with a eclectic mix for July; find it by clicking these links for Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz.

1. “Lost & Lonesome” from Buffalo Nichols’ epynomous album. 

Firmly in the Keb Mo / Eric Bibb mould, this is from Buffalo Nichols’ first album (his second, The Fatalist, is released in Sept 23). The opening track finds Nichols in laid back mode, accompanying himself with some gentle guitar picking. Nicely recorded with an upfront but not in your face sound, it’s Americian Blues done really well. The rest of the album is equally strong.

2. “Wonderment” by Chastity Brown from Sing to the Walls 

The opening track on her 6th album from 2022, Wonderment is singer songwriter roots music centred around Brown’s wonderfully gravelly voice. The arrangement is perfectly crafted, the momentum building through the song; you won’t keep still. It’s nicely recorded too. This was my introduction to Chastity Brown and led me to explore her back catalogue. Oh the joys of streaming services.

3. “Danny Boy” by The Chieftains from Tears of Stone 

Not only the Chieftains but ‘Danny Boy’, the oldest of old stalwarts. And Diana Krall on vocals too. How to lose any audiophile street-cred in one fell swoop! Who cares when it sounds this good. The arrangement is sparse, the Chieftains as usual subservient to the music. And Krall’s voice is haunting. All of which combines to serve up a very different version of ‘Danny Boy’. One that just brought a lump to my throat as I stopped writing to listen to it again. Beautiful beautiful music.

4. “Call Sheet Blues” by Herbie Hancock from The Other Side of Round Midnight 

This album complements the film Round Midnight rather than being its Original Sound Track. With a cast of jazz luminaries including Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Short and others it all hangs together beautifully. This track is unique though, capturing the musicians as they gently jam in the studio between takes. The music is completely improvised, only captured because the recording engineer had the gumption to hit ‘record’. Thank goodness they did; sit back and enjoy musicians showing why they got to the top of their game.

5. “String Quartet No. 1” by The Endellion Quartet from Britten String Quartets 1-3

Changing tack we come to Britten’s string music, a more demanding listen. Recorded at Wyastone Concert Hall, the home of niche classical label Nimbus Records, the music is almost eerie, the strings reaching their upper limits. That it doesn’t tip over into a screechy dry sound is a credit to the engineers. The Endellion Quartet playing so vibrantly also helps. This is not music to relax to, Britten challenges the senses. Persevere though, it is rewarding.

6. “Doggerland” by Frode Haltli from Avant Folk II 

A gentleman is someone who can play the accordian but doesn’t” *

Add in a decidedly self indulgent mid section and this track won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It is immaculate playing though, very ECM-ish in places. Hardly a surprise as Haltli has recorded for the label (Yeraz, with saxophonist Trygve Seim). This release sees him with his own 10-piece ensemble Avant Folk, a name that indicates the style of music played. When they all come together things do get going in tradional folk fashion though. Wonderful stuff.

* surely that should read clarinet?