The songs of the United States, France, Belgium, Mexico, and Brazil are featured in the discs covered in this issue’s CD Reviews. Stacey Kent’s latest disc focus on songs she has performed live, but had not yet recorded; Vanessa Perea mixes rare and familiar standards on her newest disc; Audrey Silver re-examines the score from “Oklahoma”; and Luciana Souza teams with Trio Corrente for an inspired sampling of the Brazilian songbook.b Thomas Cunniffe offers his reactions.
Mary Lou Williams’ “Zodiac Suite” was originally written for piano trio in 1945. Later that year, a version for trio, jazz soloists and chamber orchestra was premiered at New York’s Town Hall. While the trio version of “Zodiac” has been recorded on serveral occasions, two new CDs featuring the original orchestrations were just released–and within 6 weeks of each other! Thomas Cunniffe presents a side-by-side, and track-by-track comparison of the new versions by the Umlaut Chamber Orchestra, and Aaron Diehl with The Knights, using Williams’ Town Hall recording as the standard.
Ann Hampton Callaway, Nicky Schrire and Nicole Zuraitis all have a way with the pen. In addition to their other roles, they are all established composers, In this month’s Vocal CD Reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines the latest releases from these very talented ladies.
Jazz did not exist during the lifetime of French poet Charles Baudelaire, and it is doubtful that Arnold Schoenberg or Anton Webern had heard any form of jazz before writing their early vocal works. Yet the contemporary jazz composers Annie Booth and Jeff Lederer have drawn from the earlier artist’s work to create new suites. Thomas Cunniffe reviews new CDs of “Flowers of Evil” (Booth’s Baudelaire song-cycle) and “Schoenberg on the Beach” (Lederer’s settings of Schoenberg and Webern’s early vocal works).
While he hasn’t always taken the best care of his voice, at 89, Tony Bennett is still at the top of his game. His remarkable new Jerome Kern tribute disc, The Silver Lining (co-led with pianist Bill Charlap) is a virtual master class of fine interpretation and vocal finesse. In this feature review, Thomas Cunniffe describes the many wonders located on this disc.
The rich tonal colors and great flexibility of the big band format continues to inspire composers to this day. In this month’s instrumental CD reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines four bands located all over the world. Indiana’s Buselli/Wallarab Orchestra pays tribute to Gennett Records, Chuck Owen collaborates with the WDR Jazz Band of Cologne, Germany, Bobby Sanabria features three exceptional vocalists, and emerging composers Erica Seguine and Shon Baker present deeply personal originals on their debut CD.
One of the stated goals of all tribute albums is to enlighten listeners about a classic artist through the prism of a younger artist’s interpretation. In this CD review essay, Thomas Cunniffe examines four new tribute albums with a special focus on repertoire. Included in the survey are Cecilia Smith’s homage to Mary Lou Williams, Craig Davis’ salute to Dodo Marmarosa, Ann Hampton Callaway’s celebration of Peggy Lee, and Janiece Jaffe’s posthumous tribute to Joni Mitchell.
Female musicians continue to make inroads in the jazz world, and this collection of capsule reviews celebrate five new albums led by prominent jazz women. The supergroup Artemis presents their second album, violinist Sara Caswell offers a long-awaited CD of her music, Champian Fulton shines in a new live recording, Jo Lawry collaborates with Linda May Han Oh and Allison Miller for a daring recital, and Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke celebrate 20 years of music-making with a splendid duet album. Thomas Cunniffe offers his evaluations.
At the end of every year, Thomas Cunniffe attempts to review all of the noteworthy discs remaining on his review stack. Laura Anglade, Camille Bertault, Roberta Donnay, Aubrey Johnson, Manhattan Transfer, Paul Marinaro, Luciana Souza, and Nancy Harms are the featured vocalists in this collection of CD Reviews (see elsewhere on The Front Page for a collection of instrumental CD reviews).
At the end of every year, Thomas Cunniffe attempts to review all of the noteworthy discs remaining on his review stack. Franco Ambrosetti, Jane Ira Bloom, Terri Lyne Carrington, Al Foster, Tom Harrell, Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch, and Jason Yeager are the featured leaders in this collection of CD Reviews (see elsewhere on The Front Page for a collection of vocal CD reviews).
The word “Dedication” is a synonym for commitment, as well as the act of honoring others. The double meaning applies to the recordings, as many of the honorees are lauded for their sense of commitment. Thomas Cunniffe reviews four new CDs by Lynne Arriale, Eli Degibri, Fred Hersch, and Martin Wind.
The word “reflection” has two distinct meanings: the image seen in a mirror, and the act of remembering. This set of Vocal CD Reviews includes instances of both definitions. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the albums of Alex Baird, Dawn Derow, Carol Sloane, Melissa Stylianou, Tierney Sutton and Mark Winkler.
The tribute albums featured in this issue’s CD Reviews were created by artists living far away from the cultural centers of New York and Los Angeles. Jackie Allen and Hans Sturm salute musicians born in the Cornhusker State in “The Nebraska Project”, Anat Cohen and Marcello Goncalves explore the MPB songbook on “Reconvexo”, Cyrille Aimee, Adonis Rose and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra join forces to examine the cultural connections between New Orleans and France, and David Sanford’s big band pays homage to Dizzy Gillespie and Lester Bowie on “Prayer for Lester Bowie”. Thomas Cunniffe offers his reactions to these superb albums.