Dan McClenaghan's Best Releases of 2012
Pianist Hal Galper has been delving deeply into his rubato explorations of the standards, along with his own distinctive compositions, and each release is better than the last.
Marc Johnson / Eliane Elias
An extraordinarily beautiful set. Bassist Marc Johnson and his musical/marital partner, pianist Eliane Elias, joined by drummer Joey Baron and, on of five numbers, by saxophonist Joe Lovano, have created a classic.
Brad Mehldau Trio
Where Do You Start
Pianist Brad Mehldau, along with trio mates, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, released two great CDs this year, one of Mehldau originals and one of covers. Both could be included, but this, the trio's covers outing, grabbed me just a little harder.
Todd Bishop Group
Little Played Little Bird
Drummer Todd Bishop is an underground treasure. He doesn't boast the highest of profiles, but he has put out two consecutive great CDs for the Origin Records label: 2009's 69 Annee Erotique and now, this nod to alto saxophonist/free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman.
Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura
Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii haven't been as prolific this year, recording-wise, as they've been in years past, but they've produced a real gem in this duo set, a follow-up to sorts to their previous duo outing, Chun (Libra Records, 2008).
Kind of Blue Records
Mark Soskin is, perhaps, best known as saxophonist Sonny Rollins' pianist from 1978 to 1991. On this marvelous solo outing, he explores the music of Italian composer Nino Rota, the composer behind Federico Fellini's film soundtracks, as well as the music for Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 movie, The Godfather. Extraordinarily beautiful.
Live at the Blue Note
Half Note Records
Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, along with bassist Gary Peacock, drummer Joey Baron and guitarist Bill Frisell, delivers an hour of some of the most inspired spontaneity imaginable.
Gato Libre is trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's acoustic, European-hued quartet. Joined by keyboardist Satoko Fujiion accordion herealong with bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu and guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura, the sound is old world, with an often modern tint. An enchanting set.
Bobo Stenson Trio
Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, along with trio mates Anders Jormin (double bass) and Jon Fält, has created another stellar outing. This is one of today'sor any day'stop trios.
Songs of Earth
Jessica Williams keeps going deeper and deeper into her art of the piano. She shines on her solo outings, never more so than here.
Some More Love Songs
Pianist Marc Copland's trio outings are always mesmerizing affairs, and Some More Loves Songs is no exception.
Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1
This is soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome solo, sounding percussive and haunting, driving into enduring classics from pianist Duke Ellington and saxophonist John Coltrane.