Tony Bennett Duets II: At age 85, Tony Bennett continues his lifelong love affair with the Great American Songbook. The album holds together beautifully, a wide variety of guest stars notwithstanding, including Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse in her final recording. To keep the listening experience cohesive, Bennett focuses on the art of the song and all-star songwriters such as Cole Porter and George & Ira Gershwin.
Pearl Jam Pearl Jam Twenty: As a companion to his documentary film of the same name, director Cameron Crowe chose all 29 songs on this 2-disc collection. All of them are rare or previously unreleased. Standouts include an early live version of “Alive” from a 1990 Seattle show, and “Better Man,” recorded last year in New York City. These and other tracks highlight the longevity and continued relevancy of this vibrant rock band.
The Jayhawks Mockingbird Time: The Jayhawks captured the essence of the folk-rock “Y’alternative” movement of the early 1990’s. This album, their first with all the original band members since 1995’s classic Tomorrow The Green Grass, features the same pitch-perfect harmonies that have long drawn fans far from their Minnesota base.
Miles Davis Quintet Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1: For many jazz fans, Miles Davis “second great quintet” represents a creative and improvisational peak in the trumpeter’s career. Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams joined the jazz master on these newly released live shows taped near the end of their four years together. Jazz impresario George Wein said of this output, “That group was not ahead of its time. They were the time.” Amen.