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Ten Gerald Clayton Essentials

by Seth Colter Walls

Ten Gerald Clayton Essentials

About this playlist

It's only April, and pianist Gerald Clayton has already made an impact on three 2013 albums so far. First, on drummer Terri Lyne Carrington's re-imagining of the classic album Money Jungle (cut by the trio of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach), Clayton had to play the role of Duke -- no easy task -- while also bringing something new to the table. He gets the theme of "Very Special" just right, and also shows evidence of his pulsing, R&B bona fides throughout the album.

Next up was more pop intelligence from Clayton on Cover Art, a smart crossover album from the newly formed NEXT Collective in which the group covered Pearl Jam's "Oceans," Little Dragon's "Twice," and Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild." And now comes the latest opus from Clayton: an album under his own name, Life Forum. The best tracks on it -- see "Mao Nas Massa" -- are built around the pianist's excellent trio. Listen to the appended playlist for a ride through the best of Clayton's adventurous yet accessible work in what's looking like a banner year.