ONE DOWN, ONE UP: LIVE AT THE HALF NOTE
Released for the first time since the original tapes from 1965 were discovered in a closet, these two CDs capture the definitive Coltrane band--McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones--at the height of its powers. The highlights include Coltrane's signature standard My Favorite Things and the 27-min. title track, which features Coltrane at his most febrile, burning through registers in a controlled fury. To listen to these sessions is to experience some of the shock and awe that Coltrane induced in audiences at the time. After witnessing one of Coltrane's gigs at the Half Note, Miles Davis asked, "What is that he's playing?" Trane still inspires wonder.
JAMES CARTER, CYRUS CHESTNUT, ALI JACKSON AND REGINALD VEAL
In the mid-1990s, the Stockton, Calif., band Pavement earned a devoted following for its brand of fuzzy, slacker rock. Among the group's admirers are these four young jazz luminaries, who join forces to cover eight Pavement songs. It's an unlikely enterprise, and not every arrangement works--the catchy hit Cut Your Hair is reinterpreted as a schmaltzy R&B ballad--but it's hard to resist music this fun. On songs like Here and Summer Babe, the rhythm section lays down pulsating grooves as saxman Carter uncovers the bluesy tunefulness buried beneath Pavement's trademark static. The result is one of the oddest--and, oddly, most delightful--tribute albums of the year.
Up-and-coming jazz pianists are hardly underrepresented in New York City, but few are generating as much buzz as Glasper, who has wowed local audiences with his improvisational creativity and technical skill. On Canvas, Glasper shows his chops as a composer, with nine original tunes that evoke the muscular lyricism of Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett while still feeling fresh. Glasper is at his best on the title track, playing off tenor saxophonist Mark Turner in a minor-key vamp that constantly shifts mood and meter but never loses touch with its simple, soulful melody.
BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO
DAY IS DONE
Pianist Mehldau is known for the eclecticism of his songbook, which ranges from Cole Porter to Radiohead. On Day Is Done, Mehldau mixes original compositions with homages to his pop heroes. From the album's first track, a propulsive version of Radiohead's Knives Out, to a plaintive reading of the theme from Alfie, to the laid-back swing of the Nat King Cole favorite No Moon at All, Mehldau expertly blends the abstract with the familiar, making even a tune as dated as Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover sound new again.
SHADES OF JADE