Doug Collette's Best Releases of 2012
The Brad Mehldau Trio
The pianist's trio offers its perspective on the world around us by filtering it through its original music, the playing of which is equally intense from all three players.
The Brad Mehldau Trio
Where Do We Start
An album composed largely of covers, recorded during the same sessions as Ode, this might be termed a mere companion piece if it weren't so forceful itself.
Medeski, Martin & Wood
Free Magic #1
A testament to this threesome's seemingly endless creativity,(plus its' members' willingness to push themselves), this live album should rank as one of the best entries in its now 21 year-old discography.
Not Getting Behind is The New Getting Ahead
The seven-string guitarist is at his best here, offering inspired readings of his own deeply felt compositions in tandem with drummer Scott Amendola (only), a kindred spirit if there ever was one, in the joy of improvisation.
Royal Family Records
Its slyly ambiguous title is perfectly appropriate as these muscular funksters launch themselves to a higher level altogether, steadfastly loyal to the influences that clearly stand them in good stead even as they transcend them.
While loosely rooted in the jazz organ sound of the '50s, Soule Monde is hardly confined by that tradition, and its debut studio work, deliciously simple from start to finish, finds keyboardist Ray Paczkowski and percussionist Russ Lawton, as tightly locked as can be.
With all due apologies to saxophonist Chris Potter, who's clearly still configuring his instrumental partnership with the famed guitarist, but this is essential listening for the work of bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez alone.
Bela Fleck with The Marcus Roberts Trio
Beyond the Imaginary Divide
Its arch title an accurate reflection of this unusual collaboration, Fleck, Roberts and co. soar far beyond genre distinctions by way of self-penned compositions that overflow with the energy of free-spirited improvisation.
On this tribute to late drummer Tony Williams' groundbreaking fusion band Lifetime, guitarist Vernon Reid, keyboardist John Medeski, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana offer just enough time to catch a few quick breathes in the midst of an otherwise nonstop sonic assault in which power takes precedence over finesse (but just barely).
Chick Corea & Gary Burton
Vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Chick Corea complete each others' thoughts throughout this album, sounding as effortless and naturalarguably more sothan the seamless improvisations that earmarked their very first recorded project together forty years ago.