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Geno Thackara's Favorites of 2022

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As with most years, the list could have easily been twice as long (and that's still without getting into an especially rich trove of archival discoveries, particularly from Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Esbjorn Svensson and Ahmad Jamal). Still, these are the staples that have just resonated the most.

Fergus McCreadie Trio
Forest Floor
Edition Records

This young trio is becoming a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, both in their picturesque blend of jazz with Scottish folk and their electrifying sense of fun. A lighthearted musical trail hike always leading somewhere exciting.

Yosef Gutman Levitt
Upside Down Mountain
Self produced

The bassist's roots span different hemispheres literally and musically, but more importantly he weaves them into something pure from the heart.

Maciej Tubis
Komeda : Reflections
AudioCave

For someone who shows a relentless exuberance with his eponymous trio, Maciej Tubis sounds just as appealingly melodic when turning into more thoughtful territory. His first solo outing still lets a little grooving energy creep into the set, but otherwise keeps it largely haunting and sometimes stunning.

Klas Jervfors Turner
Odonata
Krokodill Records

The equivalent of an epic novel, this is an autobiographical collection packed with a wealth of different emotions and a musical palette just as wide.

Bruce Hornsby
'Flicted
Zappo Productions

His triptych from '19-'22 made for a wildly eclectic whirl with each piece going somewhere different (much like a microcosm of his entire career), and installment #3 ends up the most bright and colorful of the lot.

Sachal Vasandani with Romain Collin
Still Life
Edition Records

The piano/voice format is just about as simple as it gets, yet this remarkable partnership shows the limitlessness of its possibilities in both performance and song selection. They're consummately attuned to each other and to the essence of each varying piece in a set made for low lights and quiet times.

LRK Trio
Prayer
Self produced

Still a dazzling trio willing to mash genres and paint with non-acoustic tones, LRK's fifth release makes another natural evolutionary shift—a little lighter on the instrumental pyrotechnics and more conscious of space, with their own personality staying as recognizable as ever.

Jeff Denson / Romain Pilon / Brian Blade
Finding Light
Ridgeway Records

The form is largely based around simple grooving and jamming—on the surface, at least—while the larger point of the outing is the distinct dialogue made by three personalities happily hitting it off. The glow of friendship remains the key to this trio and the relief of their post-isolation reconnection gives it another extra layer of warmth.

Sam Reider
Petrichor
Slow & Steady

There's a sort of rustic back-to-nature feel running through this solo program. Reider plays with sounds from bop and chamber music to Gershwin, while his folk roots keep it homey even though it represents a travelogue always in motion.

Vega Trails
Tremors in the Static
Gondwana Records

It's unassuming and easy to miss, yet this short sax-and-bass duo set has a certain staying power because of its simplicity. The emphasis on space, both between the notes and in the recording itself (performed live in a church), makes for a pretty time-out that's easy to return to over and over.

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