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Janice Borla: Agents of Change

Bringing things full circle, the glorious (and ridiculously underappreciated) Janice Borla includes a sparkling rendition of Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away” on her dynamic new Agents of Change (Blujazz). Typical of Borla, a one-woman jazz tornado who heads her acclaimed summer Vocal Jazz Camp in Illinois, works alongside the biggest names in the business, tours constantly as both a performer and teacher and fills her few leftover moments crafting sensational lyrics, it is just one of eight breathtaking musical canvases assembled here, each a perceptively executed masterpiece. United with the five accompanists-trumpeter Art Davis, guitarist Fareed Haque, pianist Dan Haerle, bassist Bob Bowman, drummer Jack Mouse and vibraphonist Brad Stirtz-who so enriched 1996’s Lunar Octave, and adding saxophonist Rich Fudoli to the heady mix, Borla cuts a singularly wide path as she travels from the musky turbulence of Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” (enhanced with her own lyrics), through John Carisi’s shimmering “Israel,” past Jimmy Rowles’ and Norma Winstone’s mystical “The Peacocks” and on to the cacophonous tune-up (a spectacular sort of hard-edged jazz response to the brassy curves of “Seventy-Six Trombones”) that is Bob Kaufmann’s “Battle Report.” Genius. Pure genius.

Originally Published