CD Reviews

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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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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Tierney Sutton Band: “American Road” (BFM Jazz 302062408)

Now in their 18th year as a cooperative unit, the Tierney Sutton Band has released a new CD, American Road, which captures the breadth of American music, from folk songs to opera. Ellen Johnson reviews this album, which has been nominated for two Grammy awards. .

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Tony Bennett/Bill Charlap: “The Silver Lining” (RPM/Columbia 14574)

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.

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Terri Lyne Carrington: “The Mosaic Project” (Concord 33016)

The Mosaic Project, Terri Lyne Carrington’s latest CD offers a variety of styles (some coexisting in the same track) performed by an all-star–and all-woman–ensemble. Thomas Cunniffe offers his impressions in this CD review.

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Tenors of our Time

Each of the three tenor saxophonists featured in this month’s instrumental CD reviews have found ways to redefine classic jazz traditions. Geof Bradfield develops the music of folk singers Leadbelly and Blind Willie Johnson, while Jon Irabagon challenges our concept of straight-ahead jazz, and Kirsten Edkins delves into Blue Note and cool grooves with a unique concept of rhythm. Thomas Cunniffe gives his opinions of these three discs.

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Terell Stafford: “This Side of Strayhorn” (MaxJazz 408)

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Teaching By Example

For this month’s vocal CD reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines the recordings of several singers who balance teaching and performing. The music of Janice Borla, Rebecca DuMaine, and the group Vertical Voices covers an impressive range of styles, and through their exceptional performances, they prove that they can practice what they teach.

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