Tony Bennett / Bill Evans
The Complete Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Recordings
(Fantasy). The two albums that Tony Bennett made in the mid-1970s with pianist Bill Evans compose one of those planetary couplings that cry out to be heard. This reissue comes with a second disc of never-released outtakes.
The Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi & Lenny White, Jazz in the Garden (Heads Up). This trio session, led by Philly-born bassist Stanley Clarke, is a sonic high-flier. Clarke seems especially inspired by the young Japanese pianist Hiromi, whose playing comes at you like a cheetah at top speed.
Carla Bley, Carla's Christmas Carols (Watt Works/ECM). Composer and pianist Carla Bley, working with a brass quintet, enlivens the weak genre of holiday jazz by making one of the best such collections ever. There's no schlock at this inn.
Randy Brecker, The Music of Wlodek Pawlik, Nostalgic Journey: Tykocin Jazz Suite (Summit Records). Polish composer and jazz pianist Wlodek Pawlik helped the Philly-born Brecker Brothers trace the family's roots in eastern Poland. (Michael died in 2007.) Pawlik also wrote these nine pieces mixing crystalline piano and orchestral passages with some kicking jazz solos.
Jim Hall & Bill Frisell, Hemispheres (artistShare). Guitarists Bill Frisell and Jim Hall seem like vivid opposites. Hall sluices through chords like a downhill skier, while Frisell glories in the stasis of individual tones. But in duos and a quartet, each makes the other sound unexpected.
Keith Jarrett, Testament Paris/London (ECM). When his wife of 30 years left him, pianist Keith Jarrett played solo concerts in Paris and London, taking amazing leaps both emotional and musical.
Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano, Mostly Coltrane (ECM). Pianist Steve Kuhn, a veteran of John Coltrane's first quartet, comes to the master's songbook with soft gloves and candlelight. Much of the set is sweet without being fawning, mystical without being New Age.
Pat Metheny / Gary Burton, Quartet Live (Concord). Guitarist Pat Metheny got his start at 19 in vibraphonist Gary Burton's quartet, in the early 1970s. Here the pair reprise the lightning of that historic collaboration.
Dafnis Prieto, Si o Si Quartet: Live at Jazz Standard NYC (Dafnison Music). The Cuban-emigre drummer merges magnificent Afro-Cuban jazz DNA with a post-bop sophistication. The stylish result is rigorous, with an occasional mojito kick.