Birds of Fire is pretty damn good. It’s not any of the players in particular but the fiery vibe of the group. Proto-prog-metal more than late-jazz.
Ponty on Hot Rats for sure. Afterward I can’t say his solo bands really kicked it. Zappa found a way to direct the abilities of his virtuosos that they needed him for.
Medeski Martin and Wood I dig the lounge grooves.
Scofield, nyeh. Could suck and doesn’t, but creatively kind of tepid, yeah?