Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Taking Stock

With October upon us I suppose it's time to take a quick scan across the 2012 releases, with a view to getting some idea of how tough it will be to assemble a top 10 list. Some years, the cream just rises to the top, and there's not much of an issue with seeing a broad divide between the best and the rest. I get the feeling that this is not one of those years. Let's look!

Yup, my memory didn't fail me; I had earmarked seven great CDs prior to May, and I've definitely heard as many terrific things since then.

So, some early contenders: Obviously, that long-lost recording by Keith Jarrett's European quartet is high on the list, as is arranger Ryan Truesdell's exploration of equally obscure material by Gil Evans. Hard to overlook the recordings by Henry Threadgill's Zooid and Vijay Iyer's trio, and that Blue Note recording by Ravi Coltrane was full of great music.

Just recently, I was bowled over by a new live recording by the Japanese quartet Gato Libre, which I've reviewed for an upcoming issue of DownBeat, and I've loved what I've heard of Dave Douglas' new quintet, though I haven't heard the actual recording yet, just the video and a live NPR set. And then, there are a bunch of real dark horses; in fact, I can't recall a year when the contenders have included so many artists that I've never placed on a year-end poll before.

Some hard decisions ahead, but I'm looking forward to listening to it all again.

Addendum: The Dave Douglas arrived, and lived up to its promise. Oh, and then Joe Lovano had to go and release a new CD, too. But the real surprise in the past couple of weeks has been the live album by Nik Bärtsch's Ronin.

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