Over here, one of the commenters asked whether I had a vote in determining the Top 10 Canadian Albums of the Decade. I did, but elected not to use it. I’ve been listening to less jazz for the last — well, the last six or seven years, come to think of it. So I’m not sure I’m a great judge. And it seems to me, at decade’s end, that little of what I did hear sounded like it was meant for the ages. I’m tremendously fond of a lot of active Canadian jazz musicians — Richard Underhill, Christine Jensen, Robert Occhipinti, David Braid, Laila Biali, Brad Turner, Phil Dwyer, Molly Johnson, Jordan O’Connor, and I could go on and on — but nothing I heard seems to me to be as monumental in its field as, say, Arcade Fire’s Funeral was in (what I very loosely pigeonhole as) pop music.
But I’m surprised to see that one album I recall with enormous fondness actually did make it into this decade by a few weeks or months. Live at the Senator by Mike Murley, Ed Bickert and Steve Wallace, which appears to have been released in 2000, is just a titanic piece of work from all three men. Murley, of course, is the finest Canadian tenor saxophonist of his generation (i.e. roughly my generation). Before these sessions, he spent a year listening to nothing but Lester Young records, because he wasn’t satisfied with his ability to spin pure melody out the bell of his horn. After all that, he didn’t sound much like Lester Young, but he sure could spin some melody. Wallace is one of a truly bewildering number of wonderful Toronto bassists, and Bickert, of course, was a mighty, unassuming, unflappable guitarist, the kind of player the other two would automatically look up to and bring their best game for.This was one of his last recorded performances.
The set is almost all standards and ballads. There is nothing particularly innovative here. It’s all gorgeous. You can get it on iTunes too.