*Subject to change at any instance…and due to any distraction.

Top lists (at least, the creation of the ones that withstand the true test of time) are tough.

As with everything in life, such lists are rather dependent upon the shift of moods/weather/social interactions/life circumstances…and I’m certain many other things that are hidden somewhere in the unconscious.  Although I am usually quite formulaic in my approach of organization of many things, I am instead choosing albums that cause a visceral response, nostalgic reference, calming effect, or continual appreciation for raw talent or musical and/or technical prowess.  Or some combination of all of those things.  I am doing so in order to defy/contrast Kara’s entry (or more likely because of laziness +/- inability to organize this time).

Without further ado, in no particular order, and with an additional listing of “first listens” off each album or, if I do not recall, at least some “favorite listens” off each album, please see the following:

portrait in jazz

Portrait in Jazz:  Bill Evans Trio

So I have to list Bill Evans first even though he was technically my second or maybe even third discovery and introduction to the world of jazz (see below).  For me, jazz piano has the ability to both highlight whatever mood I find myself in and change that mood in order to move along with my day, night, or anything in between.  Solo piano or piano with light percussionist accompaniment is a life favorite.  Virtually all albums by Bill Evans or Bill Evans Trio or any collaboration between Bill Evans and someone else are on my favorites list.  There are some lovely jazz standards on this album.

First Listen:  “Blue In Green.”

Favorite Listens:  “Autumn Leaves,” “When I Fall In Love,” “Someday My Prince Will Come.”


Details:  Frou Frou

Imogen Heap has my heart.  Mainly because she is out there being eccentric all on her own solo albums and because of that haunting voice of hers, but also for this lovely collaboration with Guy Sigsworth and the subsequent birth of Frou Frou.  I first found out about Frou Frou and Imogen Heap by way of the independent film Garden State, which also has an exceptional soundtrack that I had to fight against putting into this entry vs. making it “Janice’s Top Six.”  At that time, this was such a very new and very different sound from what I was used to, as I had not given much thought to the addition of electronica to my normal listening routine.  This album was my warm introduction into the world of electronic things.

First Listen:  “Let Go.”

Favorite Listens:  “Breathe In,” “Hear Me Out,” “Dumbing Down of Love.”


Girls and Boys:  Ingrid Michaelson

Oh, the angsty, independent, female acoustic singer/songwriter, hi-I-have-a-fantastic-voice-and-play-the-ukelele-and-guitar-and-piano-thanks.  Cue the “Why are all of your songs exactly what I am thinking or feeling at the time?” (senti)mentality of the time in which I discovered her.  The New York bit also helps.  And maybe that “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Theme Song cover.  There is a lot of empowerment here, and perhaps that is what I needed at the time.

First Listen:  “The Way I Am.”

Favorite Listens:  “Breakable,” “Starting Now,” “Far Away.”

bad self portraits

Bad Self Portraits:  Lake Street Dive

Every member of this quartet has serious talent.  Rachael Price — what a voice!  I just love the incorporation of brass and acoustic bass and appropriate grammar (preposition-object use).  Wonderful, wonderful lyricisms…and a bit of heartbreak.  Their sound is unparalleled and signals to an older time yet remains fresh.  Had the opportunity to see them live in concert; I was wowed, as expected.  My first introduction to them was a Jackson Five cover performed on a sidewalk, and I was immediately hooked.  Featured instrumental solos within songs are true treats.

First Listen:  “I Want You Back.”

Favorite Listens:  “Better Than,” “You Go Down Smooth,” “Just Ask.”


Kind of Blue:  Miles Davis

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know.  The quintessential album that everyone tries to list when they want to convince you they’re into jazz, right?  But there has to be some truth behind it.  This album was my first introduction to jazz; it signified a coming-of-age point in my life, and it calmed me in a rather prolonged period of hardship.  Soulful, sometimes mournful, with great collaborations.  I never grow tired of this album.

First Listen:  “Blue in Green.”

Favorite Listens:  The entire album.  Also “Flamenco Sketches.”  And all multiple takes [example].

And now, food.  I’ll try to hit all food groups.

Top 5 Foods of Current Interest

Fresh berries.  Come on…it’s summertime!  Equal opportunist — strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries…  I enjoy eating them plain, though they are obviously a nice garnish for things and a lovely addition to oatmeal.

Pie.  So many kinds.  Should you find yourself in the area, please visit Pie Junkie and support some local folks with a fantastic storefront.  Particular favorites there:  key lime (crushed macadamia nut crust), Kentucky Derby (think pecan pie + bourbon), apple crumble, Drunken Turtle, for starters. One of my favorite things is “Pi Time” — everyday from 6:00-7:00 p.m., a slice costs $3.14.

Breakfast burritos.  I am always in search of the latest and greatest.  Big Truck Tacos does a nice one, as does Kamp’s.  Favorite ingredients:  chorizo…and chorizo.  Musts:  scrambled eggs, cheddar or pepper jack cheese, potatoes.

Steak.  Kara and I have had some conversations about this one.  Favorite cuts:  ribeye, filet, tri-tip if done right.  And if it’s a good cut, not exactly necessary to have a fancy rub or sauce to accompany.  Favorite serving style:  medium rare.  Serve up as a “salad” alongside avocado (Stonehorse Cafe).  There is always the chicken-fried variety as well (Cheever’s Cafe).

Spinach.  There have been many occasions where I have been on the receiving end of poking fun as I have been known to eat this raw, straight out of the bag, and with no accompaniments.  Always a delicious foundation for a salad.  I also prefer it over lettuce on sandwiches, pretend I’m making omelettes healthy with it, and if desiring to boil/steam, mix it up with tomatoes, onions, and vinegar/vinaigrette of your choice, cooled in the refrigerator, for a refreshing summer dish.

Off to eat something since I have built up a small appetite…and to listen to one of these albums again.

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