…and he’s got us feeling alright.
The Bad Plus: Made Possible
Every time the Bad Plus comes out with a new album, I say the same thing, but this may be my favorite album of theirs yet. While they’ve staked their claim as a piano trio that delves into deconstructed pop covers of the nth degree, their strength has always been in their original material and Made Possible is all those strengths on steroids: powerful, cerebral calisthenics, off-angle freeform, jaunty groovers and their patented gloriously slow build to emotional climax. If for some reason you’ve spent the last decade ignoring one of the best things going in any genre, this is as good a place as any to start.
Marco Benevento: TigerFace
I’m sure Marco needs no introduction to the readers of Hidden Track, but regardless, I feel obligated to inform you that Mr. Benevento has put out what is easily my favorite album of his since Invisible Baby. All of the familiar Benevento elements are here: organ, piano and beyond, electric and acoustic, layered in that way he does so well. But there is also a maturity and a comfort level and an overall relaxed vibe… just another guy taking a cudgel to the old piano-bass-drums thing smashing it to bits from the inside like it’s no big deal. Oh yeah, and the first two tracks feature Kalmia Traver from Rubblebucket and are as good as any pop song you’ll hear this year.
Brad Mehldau Trio: Where Do You Start/Ode
Not to be outdone by the other fantastic piano trio albums released this year, Brad Mehldau has put out not one, but two LP’s worthy of your awe. The trio is in fine form throughout, truly acting like one six-limbed creature, Mehldau’s hands on the piano seeming to dictate his rhythm section like few players can. Listening to these recordings, I’m often lamenting not having the visual to see exactly how this music is being made. The material is superb top to bottom, but if you’re looking for just a sample in familiar territory, you shouldn’t let your day end without listening to the trio’s cover of Hey Joe at least once… although repeated listens have provided me with just as many chills as the first.
Where Do You Start
P.S. As the end of the year approaches, I’ve still got plenty of recs to make. But I’m always interested in finding out about all the great music that I might have missed my (admittedly widely cast) net. If you’ve got some off-the-beaten-path recommendations, don’t horde ‘em – leave a comment or tweet me at @neddyo. Thanks!