Spending another year with you via the Last Call on Saturday nights has been a pleasure. Once again we have listened to a potpourri of compelling, adventuresome jazz artistry. Here are the highlights of 2012 as I see them based on their artistic merit:
Vijay Iyer Trio / Accelerando / ACT
One of the finest recordings of 2012, The Vijay Iyer Trio's Accelerando has been recognized throughout the jazz world as an exceptional effort from one of the most compelling pianists on today's jazz scene. A major milestone for the pianist has been the winning of multiple categories in the 2012 Downbeat Critics Poll. Critics have voted Vijay Iyer as Jazz Artist Of The Year, Top Pianist and Rising Star Composer. The Vijay Iyer Trio was also voted the best jazz group of the year, and Accelerando won top Jazz Album. Accelerando is certainly another artistic triumph for the pianist and his trio, which includes Stephen Crump on bass and Marcus Gillmore on drums. Together they create music fueled by Iyer's bold virtuosity, Crump's insistent bass and the jazz-rock accents of Gilmore's drums. Two relentless tracks, "Optimism" and "The Star of a Story", serve as defacto openers of the session and boldly state the trio's energy and creativity with unpredictable rhythms. A fresh reinterpretation of "Human Nature" follows with more delightful, unexpected melodic turns and twists. The sinister, intense "Little Pocket Size Demons", a Henry Threadgill composition, is given a bold treatment by the trio. Overall, a superb demonstration of Iyer's total command over the piano and ability to create compelling new music. Highly recommended.
For more information you may visit http://www.vijay-iyer.com/
Return To Forever / The Mothership Returns: This multidisc set (DVD included) presents the band at their very best on tour in 2011. If you have never seen them in person, this is the next best thing until you can catch them live. Return To Forever is the last of the great jazz-rock groups of the the 1970s to remain active and an evening with them can be an unforgettable experience.
Oscar Utterstrom / Departure: The most exciting debut in quite a while, Utterstrom is a Nashville based tromobonist whose adventuresome electric jazz will knock your socks off. One of the finest recordings of 2012.
Spectrum Road / Spectrum Road: A band that does a tribute to Tony Williams's Lifetime can't be that bad. When it includes one of the members of the original band, the music is raised to a level which is irresistable and does not quit in terms of energy. Highly recommended.
Koplant No/ Distants: From Iowa City, Iowa, this group of adventuresome musicians continues to chart a path through electronic jazz that is worth following.
Marcus Miller / Renaissance : The latest disc from legendary bassist and bandleader Marcus Miller. A potpourri of solid groove material with special guests, fans of the bassist will find much to enjoy on this new offering. For more information about the bassist and the aftermath of the recent bus crash, you may visit http://www.marcusmiller.com/
Hammer Klavier Trio / Rocket In The Pocket: An exciting new trio from Europe that plays its own unique brand of adventuresome jazz music.
Here are some other fine recordings that you may enjoy. Reviews of these noteworthy recordings are available at our Last Call webpage:
Rez Abbasi Trio / Continuous Beat / Enja
Living By Lanterns/ Old Myth, New Science / Cuneiform
The Bad Plus / Made Possible / E One Records
Rob Mazurek Pulsar Quartet / Stellar Pulsations / Delmark
Lionel Loueke / Heritage / Blue Note
Christian Scott / Christian Atunde Adjuah/ Concord
Dr Lonnie Smith / The Healer / Pilgrimage Productions
Brian Bromberg / Bromberg Plays Hendrix / Artistry Records
Steve Smith & Vital Information: Live! One Great Night / BFM
Pat Metheny/ Unity Band / Nonesuch Records
Shunzo Ohno / Home / Pulsebeats Records
Trombari / The Devil's Hopyard /Jazzmaniac
Citizen Rhythm / Of The People, For The People, By The People /StrongBrew
Jazz Soul Seven/ Impressions of Curtis Mayfield /BFM
Rhiannon / Spontaneous / RhiannonMusic
Wayne Escoffery / The Only Son Of One / Sunnyside
Joel Harrison / Holy Abyss/ Cuneiform Records
Esperanza Spalding / Radio Music Society / Heads Up
John Moulder Quintet / The Eleventh Hour / Origin
Frank Russell / Circle Without End / Sonic Portraits
Tyler Gilmore's Ninth and Lincoln with Cuong Vu / Static Line / Dazzle Recordings
Patrick Butler / Solar Sailing / butlerjazz.com
Tom Wetmore / Desired Effect / Crosstown Records