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David Linx: Rock My Boat

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Belgian vocalist David Linx is to jazz what Rufus Wainwright is to pop, a chameleonic avant-gardist of the first order. Though Linx has been recording since the mid-1980s, a survey of just his 2010 projects-the richly imaginative tribute Follow Jon Hendricks… If You Can, with Michele Hendricks and the French singer-songwriter André Minvielle; the clever quasi-travelogue Follow the Songlines, with Portuguese vocalist Maria João; and One Heart, Three Voices, a magnificent summit with Dutch vocalist Fay Claassen and pianist Diederik Wissels-is enough to illustrate his remarkable dexterity.

Throughout Rock My Boat, featuring Rhoda Scott on Hammond B3 and André Ceccarelli on drums, Linx’s adventurous eclecticism continues unabated. At various points, Linx suggests Kurt Elling channeling Jimmy Scott and Allen Ginsberg by way of Smokey Robinson, with shades of Hendricks and George Benson. Half of the dozen tracks are given over to a wide-ranging assortment of covers, extending from the hushed glory of Christian music pioneer Ralph Carmichael’s “A Quiet Place” and a bruised, bilingual exploration of Ivan Lins’ “Aos Nossos Filhos,” to a coolly swinging reading of Mose Allison’s “Foolkiller” and an arresting treatment of Miles Davis’ “Yesternow,” fitted to a Tejan Karefa poem, that suggests a lost, smoke-filled night at San Francisco’s City Lights bookstore.

The six originals are equally heterogeneous. There’s the rollicking Carnaby Street-esque title track, the sweet innocence of “Childhood,” the stealthily romantic “Where Rivers Join,” the joyful, fresh-from-Sunday-service closer, “On the Other Side,” and, most arresting, the swirling carnival of “Even Make It Up.”

Originally Published