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Ran Blake/Christine Correa: Streaming (Red Piano)

Third-stream guru Ran Blake, who, as pianist and composer, built upon his devotion to Ellington and Monk to shape a uniquely dynamic aesthetic, has frequently recorded with vocalists. His 1961 union with Jeanne Lee remains the widest celebrated, but his most enduring kinship has been with Bombay-born Christine Correa. They met nearly four decades ago, … Read More “Ran Blake/Christine Correa: Streaming (Red Piano)”

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Renee Rosnes & David Hajdu: Ice on the Hudson (SMK Jazz)

The pairing of an eminent jazz artist with an equally distinguished author isn’t unprecedented. Nine years ago, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro shaped several artful songs for pal Stacey Kent’s Breakfast on the Morning Tram. But pianist Renee Rosnes’ teaming with David Hajdu, one of the sharpest music and culture observers around, is deeper, filling … Read More “Renee Rosnes & David Hajdu: Ice on the Hudson (SMK Jazz)”

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Sachal Vasandani Celebrates the American Songbook

It’s been just over a decade since Sachal Vasandani emerged as one of the most compelling singer/songwriters in postmillennial jazz. To date, his own compositions have always figured prominently in his recordings. Now, for the exquisite Shadow Train, his fifth release as a leader, he focuses exclusively on jazz and pop standards; the album’s 10 … Read More “Sachal Vasandani Celebrates the American Songbook”

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Willie Nelson Pays Tribute to Frank Sinatra

The genesis of My Way, Willie Nelson’s terrific new 11-track salute to Frank Sinatra, can be traced to Las Vegas circa 1978 when, so the story goes, impresario Steve Wynn introduced Sinatra to Stardust, Nelson’s landmark collection of standards. Wynn told Nelson and, according to Nelson’s longtime Nashville producer Buddy Cannon, “that’s how the connection … Read More “Willie Nelson Pays Tribute to Frank Sinatra”

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Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star—The War Years 1940-1946 by Gary Giddins (Little, Brown)

Ask anyone to name the greatest entertainer of the 20th century and responses will likely range from Sinatra and Garland to Elvis and Aretha. Chances are Bing Crosby will rarely, if ever, be mentioned. At his height, Crosby was untouchable, the world’s first multimedia superstar; but after his death in 1977, age 74, his star … Read MoreBing Crosby: Swinging on a Star—The War Years 1940-1946 by Gary Giddins (Little, Brown)”

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Lorraine Feather: Math Camp (Relarion)

Released just after her 70th birthday, Math Camp continues the reign of vocalist and lyricist Lorraine Feather as one of the sharpest wordsmiths in jazz. Feather’s latest is another wellspring of cleverness that bounces between sweet, sardonic, poignant, and mirthful. Her talk-sing style remains bracing and her bandmates are as diverse as her playlist, with … Read More “Lorraine Feather: Math Camp (Relarion)”

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Mark Winkler & Cheryl Bentyne: Eastern Standard Time (Café Pacific)

Five years ago, Mark Winkler teamed with Manhattan Transfer’s Cheryl Bentyne to shape West Coast Cool, a terrific salute to the chill jazz vibe that poured forth from California in the late ’50s and early ’60s. They’ve now shifted their focus to the same era’s New York scene, with equally scintillating results. Manhattan’s then-hippest tunesmiths, … Read More “Mark Winkler & Cheryl Bentyne: Eastern Standard Time (Café Pacific)”

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Kandace Springs: Indigo (Blue Note)

There is a tremendous less-is-more majesty to vocalist and pianist Kandace Springs’ sophomore release, its 13 tracks rarely featuring more than four players, yet each incredibly atmospheric. Apart from drummer/percussionist Karriem Riggins, who produced or co-produced all but two of the cuts and plays on seven, there are no core bandmates. Instead, various configurations were … Read More “Kandace Springs: Indigo (Blue Note)”

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Steven Taetz: Drink You In (Flatcar/Fontana North)

Cabaret singers are typically great storytellers. Jazz singers tend to be more interpretively daring, more inclined to color outside the lines. When those two worlds collide, when narrative savvy and re-imaginative élan coalesce, magic often happens. Such is the case with Steven Taetz. Don’t let the Toronto-based singer’s baby face fool you. He can be … Read More “Steven Taetz: Drink You In (Flatcar/Fontana North)”

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Ann Hampton Callaway: Jazz Goes to the Movies (Shanachie)

Listening to Ann Hampton Callaway, who, at 60, sounds richer and more lustrous than ever, it’s hard not to be reminded of Jo Stafford. The same bell-like clarity, natural warmth, impeccable phrasing, and keen interpretive savvy shine through. The intended theme here is songs from the movies, and while only five of the 14 selections … Read More “Ann Hampton Callaway: Jazz Goes to the Movies (Shanachie)”

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Allegra Levy: Looking at the Moon (SteepleChase)

Albums crafted around moon-related tunes aren’t anything new. Mel Tormé delivered his terrific Swingin’ on the Moon in 1960. Six years later, Frank Sinatra shaped the more somber Moonlight Sinatra. While the concept may lack originality, vocalist Allegra Levy beautifully explores the lunar theme with this soft-hued assemblage. And, following Levy’s two previous releases, Lonely City and Cities … Read More “Allegra Levy: Looking at the Moon (SteepleChase)”

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Arianna Neikrug: Changes (Concord)

When vocalist Arianna Neikrug won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2015, her prize included a contract with Concord Records. Three years on, her debut album has at long last been released, heralding the arrival of a major new talent. The 25-year-old, a native Angeleno who recently relocated to New York, sounds remarkably … Read More “Arianna Neikrug: Changes (Concord)”

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Rita Reys: Collected: Europe’s First Lady of Jazz (Universal)

Although she was one of Europe’s preeminent jazz vocalists throughout the latter half of the 20th century, with a discography that includes more than 30 albums, Rita Reys remains largely unfamiliar to American listeners. This comprehensive, three-disc, 65-track compilation provides a solid, career-spanning introduction. The Rotterdam-born Reys, who died in 2013 at age 88, began … Read More “Rita Reys: Collected: Europe’s First Lady of Jazz (Universal)”

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Erik Leuthäuser: Wünschen (MPS)

Vocalist Erik Leuthäuser, born outside Dresden, was just 19 when he recorded his 2015 debut album, In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee, an impressive collection of jazz standards performed in English and German. He has subsequently placed at or near the top of a spectrum of international vocal competitions. Wünschen (“Wishing”), his laudable sophomore release, is … Read More “Erik Leuthäuser: Wünschen (MPS)”

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Amy Cervini: No One Ever Tells You (Anzic)

Busy recording and touring with her Duchess trio-mates Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou, Amy Cervini has let four years pass since her last solo session. She more than makes up for lost time with the mightily satisfying No One Ever Tells You, her most impressive album to date. Most of Cervini’s previous release, 2014’s Jazz … Read More “Amy Cervini: No One Ever Tells You (Anzic)”

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Roseanna Vitro: Tell Me the Truth (Skyline)

For her 14th album, singer Roseanna Vitro, now 67, travels back to her southern roots: the blues, country, soul, gospel, jazz, and rock that shaped her musical upbringing in Hot Springs, Ark. But Tell Me the Truth is far more than a trip down memory lane, as Vitro leverages this 11-track heterogeneity to define her beliefs … Read More “Roseanna Vitro: Tell Me the Truth (Skyline)”

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Karrin Allyson: Some of That Sunshine (Kasrecords)

Even those casually familiar with vocalist and pianist Karrin Allyson’s 26-year recording career surely appreciate her tremendous versatility, exploring everything from French chansons to Brazilian jazz, from blues to pop, from Coltrane to Rodgers and Hammerstein with unerring panache. With Some of That Sunshine, Allyson unleashes her equally impressive dexterity as a songwriter. Sharing keyboard … Read More “Karrin Allyson: Some of That Sunshine (Kasrecords)”

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Madeleine Peyroux: Anthem (Verve)

Though vocalist Madeleine Peyroux’s name stands alone above the title, Anthem is a supreme example of ensemble work. Its core contributors—Peyroux, bassist (and producer) Larry Klein, drummer Brian MacLeod, guitarists Dean Parks and David Baerwald, pianist Patrick Warren, and organist Pete Kuzma—exercise equal influence and demonstrate equal finesse, abetted by stellar guests, including Luciana Souza and … Read More “Madeleine Peyroux: Anthem (Verve)”

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Freddy Cole: My Mood Is You (HighNote)

A bit of Cole family math: From the advent of the LP era in the early 1950s until his death in 1965, Nat delivered 34 albums (greatest-hits compilations and posthumous releases notwithstanding). At the time of Nat’s demise, kid brother Freddy, also a gifted pianist and vocalist, had released just one, the estimable Waiter, Ask … Read More “Freddy Cole: My Mood Is You (HighNote)”

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Swinger! A Jazz Girl’s Adventures from Hollywood to Harlem by Judy Carmichael

Bright, breezy, intelligent, assured: hallmark adjectives of Judy Carmichael’s celebrated dual careers as one of the foremost stride pianists of the past half-century and host of the long-running radio series, Jazz Inspired. Also apt descriptors for Carmichael’s recently published memoir, a delightful, circuitously episodic exploration of her life in and out of jazz. Carmichael claims … Read MoreSwinger! A Jazz Girl’s Adventures from Hollywood to Harlem by Judy Carmichael”

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Holly Cole: Holly (Shanachie)

Like San Francisco’s Paula West, Toronto-based Holly Cole ranks among the finest vocal-jazz stylists from whom we hear far too seldom. What once was steady output has dwindled to a trickle, with Holly only her third studio recording in a decade. Ah, but quality beats quantity, and Cole’s unique sound, at once sweet and salty, is … Read More “Holly Cole: Holly (Shanachie)”

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Bob Mintzer Big Band/New York Voices: Meeting of Minds (MCG)

Eleven years ago, the New York Voices hinted at the dynamism of a pairing with Bob Mintzer when they invited the bandleader/clarinetist to add a haunting solo to “Darn That Dream” on A Day Like This. Now that union reaches full bloom, the Voices blending sublimely with Mintzer’s 17-piece ensemble. It’s not their first outing … Read More “Bob Mintzer Big Band/New York Voices: Meeting of Minds (MCG)”

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The Manhattan Transfer: The Junction (BMG)

Across nearly five decades, the Manhattan Transfer has always been the most musically versatile of vocal groups, traveling from the retro artfulness of their early days to the pop-redefining sass of Tonin’, and from the acrobatics of Vocalese to stellar navigations of the Louis Armstrong and Chick Corea songbooks. This time around, necessity proved the … Read More “The Manhattan Transfer: The Junction (BMG)”

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François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo: Interplay (Dot Time)

Interplay: both the title track from this debut union of French-born bassist François Moutin and American vocalist Kavita Shah—a stunningly chameleonic take on the Bill Evans gem, shifting from sinister to ebullient to deeply satisfied—and an accurate, if understated, description of their stellar rapport. Bass and voice is a too-seldom explored duo combination, best practiced … Read More “François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo: Interplay (Dot Time)”

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Cyrille Aimée: Cyrille Aimée Live (Mack Avenue)

This hour-long session captured at Greenwich Village’s Le Poisson Rouge in August 2017 isn’t a first for vocalist Cyrille Aimée—she’s previously released live albums from Smalls and Birdland—but it is a last, her final date with long-time bandmates Dylan Shamat (bass), Dani Danor (drums) and dual guitarists Michael Valeanu and Adrien Moignard. As always, Aimeé’s … Read More “Cyrille Aimée: Cyrille Aimée Live (Mack Avenue)”

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Melody Gardot: Live in Europe (Decca)

The cover shows a woman, center stage, spotlit, back to the camera, nude save a guitar. The inference is obvious: This, her first live album, is Gardot laid bare. But Gardot has ranked among the most nakedly honest and emotionally vulnerable of singers, ever since her stellar debut with Worrisome Heart in 2008. Live in … Read More “Melody Gardot: Live in Europe (Decca)”

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Allan Harris: The Genius of Eddie Jefferson (Resilience)

In an accompanying press release, Allan Harris compares his deep dive into Eddie Jefferson’s groundbreaking oeuvre to “taking a master class at MIT.” No question that navigating the tricky, rapid-fire, street-smart wordplay of vocalese—an art form Jefferson is widely credited with creating and of which he remains the undisputed champ, even 39 years after his … Read More “Allan Harris: The Genius of Eddie Jefferson (Resilience)”

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Eliane Elias: Music from Man of La Mancha (Concord)

Among stage musicals of the 1960s, only Fiddler on the Roof and Hello, Dolly! achieved longer runs. In the decades since, it has had four successful Broadway revivals and remains a staple of stock and amateur troupes worldwide. Yet Man of La Mancha, dually based on the sagas of 16th-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes … Read More “Eliane Elias: Music from Man of La Mancha (Concord)”

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Steve Tyrell: A Song for You (EastWest)

Rare is the musician who starts out in a label’s front office as Steve Tyrell did, working in A&R, PR and production with the likes of Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles and B.J. Thomas, amid the Brill Building’s creative whirlwind. Which helps explain why the gravel-voiced singer has such a deep, genre-spanning … Read More “Steve Tyrell: A Song for You (EastWest)”

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