My 2023 listening highlights

Happy (anticipated) New Year!!

This is part of my 2023 retrospective experimenting with keeping a personal website insted of some AIshilling-corpo-bot-hellhole like Xitter. You can read about the general state of this website this year here:

This year I’ve listened to 81 new albums. A bit less than half of last year’s 195 number, in part due to bouts of poor mood (very much related to the jobless situation), and also not having an excuse to spin a record while doing some other menial job (most of this year’s albums where listened to while doing house chores). The new routine should change that.

I took 4 breaks, and in general they were longer than last year’s. I attended 3 live concerts - again, not many. I’d like to get more into the local scene, but I’m not even sure where to start. My favourite live show this year is a tie between Nubya García and Steve Coleman (thank god for the Cartagena Jazz Festival…).

As usual, I received some recommendations (about 6 or so?) from a couple friends - thank you very much for sending them! I enjoyed them all a lot.

What did I listen to?

The artist I listened more albums from was a tie between Ed Motta, Steely Dan, Tech N9ne and a couple others, all with 2 albums - overall, a balanced year but also one where I haven’t deep-dived into any artists carer.

As last year, here’s the 10 ten genres I’ve listened to, using the same script I used last year and Spotify’s classifications:

  1. hip hop
  2. indie jazz
  3. jazz
  4. uk contemporary jazz
  5. rap
  6. alternative hip hop
  7. east coast hip hop
  8. indie soul
  9. instrumental hip hop
  10. conscious hip hop

Very similar to last year’s results, and as unsurprising as then. Jazz and hip hop have been my jam this year. Shoutout to weird tags like slovenian indie (which, in this case, kind of makes sense!), atmospheric post-metal (two scoops, please) and tzadik (very much its own genre indeed).

Any recomendations?

Oh yes! 80 albums are still a lot.

Best albums released on 2023: Knower Forever (Knower, obviously) was great. Kamaal Williams’s Stings was cool but the first half not as interesting to me as I expected from it. Dinner party was good (I mean, the lineup is the stuff of dreams of modern jazz). Still, I have to give it to: Za! & la TransMegaCobla. I just love the concept and feeling of fun exploration it has.

Most surprising and unexpected: Fly or Die, from the late Jaimie Branch, was weird as fuck but very very good. The Canyon Observer was very fun to listen to, and includes an obscene number of violas. Zorn and Coleman are weird, but I was expected to be surprised, so does that count? Chassol was a last minute recommendation that I found super interesting as well!

Oldie but goldie: Ramsey Lewis was my big oldie jazz discovery this year.

This deserves more listens: Any artists in Digital Zandoli qualifies here. Black Flower has too little recognition considering they are great. Orquesta de las Nubes is the worst case though: according to my father, it’s “the only serious effort in Spanish in making palatable avant-garde music”, but apparently it had a scarce following even back in the day so it has almost faded into oblivion. Undeserved!

Favourite song: Plenty this year! I love half of The stroll: Madlib flips an ELO sample in a superb way, but I couldn’t care less about the rapping over it. Summer Maddness S.A. and Esperanza (Karriem Riggins) are amazing. Birth4000 (from an unlogged LP by Floating points) is a weird one for me because I ususally don’t go for electronic music, but this disco track slaps H-A-R-D. I also loop several times Lupe Fiasco’s Kick Push and The cool, and many of the Knower new album’s tracks.

I totally don’t remember listening to: I have at the very least a vague impression of all of them, but, despite how much I liked it back in the day, I had to go back to billy woods album to remember it. Totally my fault here, because indeed it’s amazing!


Happy to keep going! Though I need to find a new niche to get into, too often I run into a rut and stop listening to stuff just because nothing really appeals to me so much. Lot’s of repeating old music and consolidating tastes, kind of defeating the purpose: I feel I’ve mostly kept up with bands I already knew this year.

Goals for next year?

I suggested metal, Messiaen and Bartok last year. I’ve kiiind of gotten into them, but certainly not like I intended. So this year I’ll just try to find a new genre to get hooked on. Other than that I really should amp up my jazz standard repertoire, and that means listening to lots of variants of the same stuff.