When Baron Toots Thielemans, the Belgian harmonica legend, guested on Gregoire Maret's self-titled debut, the sense was that Maret himself had been knighted. He'd already proven himself worthy on recordings with Pat Metheny and Jacky Terrasson, but until recently, the 37-year-old didn't have his own singular statement to drive the point home.
There's never just one theme running through the music of a given year, but through the first half of 2012, it's been hard to ignore the varieties of ecstasy referenced, performed and endorsed by the musicians behind many of our favorite songs.
The albums that made the first half of our year came at us from every direction (often, more than one at a time). We've collected our favorites into a handy little list that we're happy to share with you today.