Christopher Loudon

Christopher’s Contributions

Pollygibbons_span3

03/26/15    Albums

Many Faces of Love
Polly Gibbons

Polly Gibbons is hardly the first female vocalist to bend an album to the arc of a love affair, but her navigation of an infatuation-to-rebound storyline is among the smartest. Though new to American audiences, the 30-year-old Gibbons, whose dusky style...

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03/23/15    Albums

All the Cats Join In
Connie Evingson and the John Jorgenson Quintet

Throughout Connie Evingson’s recording career, spanning two decades and nine previous albums, she has tonally and stylistically maintained an uncanny similarity to Chris Connor. Now, suddenly, Evingson’s sound has grown plumper, richer and warmer. Such enticing...

Aliciaolatuja_span3

03/18/15    Albums

Timeless
Alicia Olatuja

If you happened to number among the million-strong crowd that filled the National Mall for President Obama’s January 2013 inauguration, then you’re already familiar with Manhattan School-trained mezzo-soprano Alicia Olatuja, whose brief performance with...

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03/13/15    Albums

New Beginnings
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington

Though jazz singing suffered a significant loss this past year with the death of Jimmy Scott, who knew that a richly gifted alternative has been waiting in the wings? Actually, San Franciscans have known for a while. Like Scott, Washington is small of stature...

Franckamsallemsings_span3

03/10/15    Albums

Sings, Vol. II
Franck Amsallem

Algerian-born, French-raised and Paris-based, Franck Amsallem spent close to three decades establishing himself as a fine pianist with a dense, bright style that suggests equal parts Keith Jarrett and Bill Charlap. Then, five years ago, he decided to follow...

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03/09/15    Albums

My Dance
Judi Silvano

Across a kaleidoscopic recording career that recently entered its third decade, vocalist Judi Silvano has worked with pianoless groups, all-female outfits, a vocal ensemble performing a cappella, and even crafted, with husband Joe Lovano, an album of music...

Roundnina_span3

03/05/15    Albums

Round Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone
Various Artists

A dozen years have passed since Nina Simone left us, yet it’s taken until now for a substantial tribute album to emerge. Making up for lost time, this 10-track import pays superlative homage to the singularly vibrant Simone in all her musical hues. Welcomingly...

Markjennett_span3

02/13/15    Albums

Everybody Says Don't
Mark Jennett

There are great jazz singers. There are great cabaret singers. Then there’s the coterie of uniquely gifted stylists who straddle the border comfortably, seamlessly blending keen jazz instincts with the storytelling élan that fuels cabaret. Ann Hampton Callaway...

Mollyjohnson_span3

02/07/15    Albums

Because of Billie
Molly Johnson

As Molly Johnson explains in the liner notes, when people note her similarity to Billie Holiday, she responds that, no, she’s not “like” Holiday but is “because of” her. Which is a stretch, considering that Johnson’s career began with a brief flirtation...

Allan_harris_fullsize_span3

02/01/15    Albums

Black Bar Jukebox
Allan Harris

The myriad fans who’ve fallen under the spell of Gregory Porter need to give Allan Harris a listen. Though Harris has a dozen previous albums to his credit, including fine tributes to Nat King Cole and Billy Strayhorn, he seems long overdue for Porter-sized...

Markmurphy_shadows_span3

01/23/15    Albums

Shadows
Mark Murphy

Throughout Mark Murphy’s remarkably multifaceted recording career, spanning seven decades, there have been only a couple of gaps, the longest stretching from 1991 to 1996. Now, from the tail end of that fallow period come these eight tracks, recorded in...

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01/19/15    Albums

Change Partners: Live at the Yardbird Suite
Champian Fulton

Savoring this tight, satisfying hour-long live session, it seems remarkable how briefly vocalist and pianist Champian Fulton had been acquainted with her accompanying trio. As Canadian saxophonist Cory Weeds explains in the liner notes, in 2013 he invited...

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01/18/15    Albums

I Give Up, I'm In Love
Marlene Verplanck

At age 81 Marlene VerPlanck remains as plucky as ever. Her voice is increasingly tremulous, her range foreshortened, but 23 albums into a career that started with the big bands of Charlie Spivak and Tommy Dorsey her verve and insight are undiminished. On...

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01/11/15    Albums

To Lady With love
Annie Ross

Though she did record one subsequent, posthumously released album, 1958’s Lady in Satin has long been considered Billie Holiday’s exit music. Its musical worth remains heatedly debated, one camp insisting it ranks among her best work, another decrying Holiday’s...

Cynthiafelton_saveyourlove_span3

01/09/15    Albums

Save Your Love For Me: Sings the Nancy Wilson Classics
Cynthia Felton

Tribute albums are a tricky business. What, one must invariably ask, is the intent? To replicate the sound of the honoree? To echo his or her style? Or just to cover a slate of associated songs? Intentionally or not, in this case it is the lattermost. Vocalist...

Openeroption1_span3

01/09/15    Features

Cyrille Aimée: No Sad Songs

A beautiful, jubilant, tireless, Gypsy-adoring, guitar-crazy singer

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About Christopher Loudon

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When the rest of the baby-boomers were wrapped up in the Beatles and the Stones, Christopher Loudon was discovering Sinatra, Fitzgerald and Bennett. Since 2003, Loudon has critiqued upwards of 700 vocal albums in these pages and shaped about a dozen profiles, including Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr., Roberta Gambarini, Jamie Cullum, Nancy Wilson, Curtis Stigers and Dianne Reeves.