It's great to be able to pick and choose from an overflowing roster of great titles, then relive the pleasure of discovery from the past twelve months.
The Brad Mehldau
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 TrioWhere Do We StartNonesuch Records
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 & WoodFree Magic #1Indirecto
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. Charlie HunterNot Getting Behind is The New Getting AheadIndependent
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.
LettuceFlyRoyal 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.
Soule MondeSoule MondeCornmeal Records
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. Pat MethenyUnity BandNonesuch Records
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
TrioBeyond the Imaginary DivideRounder
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.
Spectrum RoadSpectrum RoadPalmetto Records
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 BurtonHot HouseConcord Records
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.