Joni Mitchell - Hits and Misses (Reprise): This marvelous two-disc set says a lot about Mitchell's career: Her old songs were hits, but her newer ones weren't. This is the opportunity for old-time fans and newcomers to hear both sides of the musician's talent. Hits like "Big Yellow Taxi," and "Woodstock" still sound great. So-called misses like "Hejira" and "Nothing Can Be Done" show the breadth of Mitchell's artistry as her beautiful voice weaves hauntingly through these more complex songs. This set reminds us that just because a song isn't a hit doesn't mean it missed the mark.
Dexter Gordon - The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions (Blue Note): This excellent six-CD set is recorded by one of the world's foremost tenor saxophonists. Dexter Gordon was a Blue Note Records mainstay from 1961 to 1965. All his Blue Note recordings are packaged here with a booklet containing extensive liner notes and correspondence between Gordon and Blue Note executives. Gordon's full tones, his interpretation of ballads like "Love Locked Out" and "Where Are You" as well as his mighty swinging serve as models for today's players.
Louis Andriessen - De Materie (Nonesuch): Some sections of this four-part work fall into familiar modernist molds, but other portions are astonishing, from the opening flourish (one superloud chord belted out 144 times) to a toccata for hammers that adds a hard-hitting new instrument to the orchestra. Recalling its origins in a Robert Wilson theater production, the piece uses spoken words selected for their texture and their meaning, and draws on influences as varied as Piet Mondrian's boogie-woogie paintings and Marie Curie's undying love for her late husband. In all, a tour de force crackling with surprises. Reinbert de Leeuw conducts this two-CD set.