1) Can’t You Hear Me Knocking - The Rolling Stones
This selection is not my ‘desert island discs’ but rather a selection of songs that are guaranteed to have me grooving in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. The Stones are arguably the greatest rock band of all time and this is one of their unsung deep cuts. I remember hearing it for the first time on a long international flight. I was rocking out in my seat.
2) Soubour – Songhoy Blues
Music has always triggered involuntary movement in me and I sit up and listen when something makes me move differently from usual. The band is from Mali and I’ve no idea what it's about, but the groove is irresistible and needs no translation.
3) Mobius Streak - Hiatus Kouyate
People who introduce you to new music are important. A few years ago I collaborated with musician and composer David Austin Grey to create Wolves Are People Too. Among the music recommendations I picked up from David and his band Hansu-Tori was the truly genre-defying Hiatus Kouyate. They haven’t been far from my ears since.
4) The Thrill is Gone – B.B. King
Everything about this record is perfect. It could be ten times longer and still be too short. No surprise that it won a Grammy.
5) Can’t Wait (Alternate Version) – Bob Dylan
I couldn’t do a list without a Dylan song. It’s tough to pick only one, but this one has a slow groove with every player in the band locked in perfectly. That cadence at four minutes is never going to get old for me. Dylan has a history of leaving some of the best takes off his albums and it’s hard to understand how this one didn’t make the cut.
6) Numbers 1-4 – Penguin Café Orchestra
There’s not a lot of ballet music on this list and I didn’t want to make it about me but this one does mean a lot to me. As a child I loved watching this ballet and it made me want to dance. I always wanted to dance the role of the Brazilian Woolley Monkey. This piece comes immediately after the Monkey’s solo at the end of the ballet when we take off our animal masks. It’s a powerful and poignant moment. I don’t know if David Bintley knew that it was my dream role, but in 2017 he cast me in it. It came at a really challenging time for me and I loved every moment of working on it and performing it.
7) You’re Goin’ Miss Your Candyman - Terry Callier
I first heard this song while working on a freelance choreographic project a few years ago when it came on shuffle on someone’s iPad during the warm-up one day. The bass part in the intro went right through me and I think it was the best warm-up I’ve ever done. I think I went on to be very creative that day.
8) Shards - Deva Mahal
Deva Mahal is the daughter of Blues legend Taj Mahal. She sang at the opening gala of the London Jazz Festival a couple of years ago. As she started singing I froze, as did the rest of the Royal Festival Hall. I promise there wasn’t a single cough from anywhere in the auditorium until the applause eventually died down after her performance.
9) Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream - Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal covering Bob Dylan. 2-4-1. You’re welcome.
10) A Way With Words – Robert Plant
They say don’t meet your heroes, but I’ve been lucky enough to meet Mr Plant on a couple of occasions – even sharing a mic with him on stage at one point (it’s a long story) and he is a real gent. Since conquering the world with Led Zeppelin he has remained creative and making arrestingly beautiful music like this.
11) Africa – Toto
This is a universal song. It’s Sunday afternoon, if you don’t enjoy this song you need to go and have a long think. Next time the G7 summit gets a bit tense they should crank this through the headphones of each of the heads of government and they should all have a jam. Boris on bongos, Macron on marimba, Merkel on the mic. It won’t achieve world peace, but we’d be a lot closer.