CD Reviews

Tributes and Collaborations

Many current jazz albums are either collaborations or tributes, but the four vocal CDs reviewed this month fall into both categories. Judy Niemack and Dan Tepfer’s duet disc, Listening to You salutes Lee Konitz, while a bevy of top-name singers take part in The Passion of Charlie Parker. The New York band Swingadelic offers a sampler of Johnny Mercer songs, and Mark Winkler remembers his late husband on The Company I Keep. Thomas Cunniffe offers his thoughts on these recordings.

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Voices of Experience

The three veteran singers spotlighted in this month’s vocal CD reviews bring their wealth of personal and professional experiences to the music. Freddy Cole eclipses the shadow of his famous older brother Nat on the tribute album He Was the King; Barb Jungr offers a salve for the world with Shelter from the Storm, and the late Mark Murphy performs a stunning collection of Miles Davis standards on Live in Athens, Greece. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the discs.

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Vocal Potpourri

Vocalists from all over the globe highlight this month’s vocal CD reviews. Swiss vocalist Beat Kaestli offers a wide range of songs on his disc Live in Europe, Australian vocalist and pianist Sarah McKenzie draws from a rich set of vocal and instrumental influences on We Could Be Lovers and from here in the US, Kurt Elling joins Branford Marsalis for a brilliant collaboration on Upward Spiral. Thomas Cunniffe notes the highlights in his reviews.

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Tribute Albums with a Difference

In their celebrations of George Gershwin and Bill Evans, pianist Ted Rosenthal and bassist Martin Wind offer tribute albums that present the music in new and surprising ways. According to reviewer Thomas Cunniffe, the surprises start with the instrumentation and get better from there.

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With A New Voice

One of the greatest challenges for young jazz vocalists is how to stand out among the competition. In this month’s vocal CD reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines the music of Allegra Levy, whose first album is entirely comprised of original love songs written in the form of standards, and Lara Solnicki, whose second album features an eclectic playlist including pieces by Henry Purcell, Maurice Ravel, Jimmie Rowles, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell.

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Transformations

When arrangers set a piece by another composer, they can adapt it in several ways, In this month’s instrumental CD reviews, Thomas Cunniffe explores how Ben Markley, Mark Masters, Chris Washburne and Tina Raymond have adapted other composers works to create their own artistic statements.

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The Varied Sounds of Jazz

This month’s instrumental CD reviews collect a stunning tribute to Hank Mobley by fellow tenor man Eli Degibri, a quintet recording featuring trumpeter Brad Goode and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, and a lovely ballad-drenched album with trombonist Steve Turre. Thomas Cunniffe offers his thoughts on these three new releases.

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Vocal Diversity

The five vocalists featured in this month’s CD reviews offer something for everyone. Alyssa Allgood impresses with her sophomore disc, Exactly Like You, Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne celebrate 1959 in Greenwich Village on ‘Eastern Standard Time, Bob Dorough offers quirky takes on well-known songs on But for Now and Judy Niemack collaborates with Jim McNeely and the DR Big Band for a multi-faceted salute to New York. Thomas Cunniffe provides the details.

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Too Good to Leave Behind

Every month, the JHO mailbox is stuffed with more CDs that we can possibly review. In what has become as much of a holiday tradition, here are capsule reviews of worthy vocal and instrumental discs that we couldn’t bear to leave on the shelf. Featured artists include Jackie Allen, Randy Brecker, Sara Caswell, Sinne Eeg, Mark Guiliana, Sarah Jerrom, Lauren Kinhan, Dave Liebman, Chuck Owen, Roswell Rudd, Martial Solal, and Fay Victor.

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