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Baker's Dozen

Top Brass: Theon Cross' Baker's Dozen
Stewart Smith , October 4th, 2023 08:19

Ahead of a special performance at Kings Place’s Luminate festival later this month, London jazz outlier Theon Cross takes Stewart Smith through his 13 favourite records, from Stevie Wonder to Kano via Miles Davis and Lauryn Hill


Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key of Life

It’s undeniable. I'll tell you what, when I think of Songs In The Key Of Life, I think of my mum. In the same way with certain reggae things, I think of my dad, I'd say Songs In The Key of Life was one of those albums that my mum always loved. I remember, before I started getting into Stevie, when I was a kid, she'd always say how much she loves Stevie. And then in my late teens, I started getting more into soul music and checking out music from the 70s, and it's just one of those albums where it all connected for me. And my mum would go on about this album and when I finally heard it, I’d go ‘mum this is amazing!’ It’s got all the classic songs: ‘Sir Duke’, ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’, ‘Isn't She Lovely’. Probably my favourite is ‘Black Man’, the arrangement and what he's talking about, giving a nod to all the creators from different races. And yeah, it's just got that balance of the message but just soul as well. And obviously the musicianship is just out of this world. There’s a lot of juice. It’s timeless music and it taps into human emotion. It’s powerful. I think in the same way that my mum told me about it, I think if I have kids they’ll probably have the same thing. This record is going to last the ages.