Last Call Best of 2012

Dec 8, 2012

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.   

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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

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 /

Tom Wetmore / Desired Effect / Crosstown Records