Meet Rhenda Fearrington: Rhenda Fearrington is considered New York Soul in the Heart of Philly Jazz, which produces a warm and soulful presentation when singing from the Great American Songbook. When she's performing her original music, her authentic delivery is so engaging that even the largest venue becomes as intimate as her living room and each member of the audience feels she's speaking just to them! Originally from New York, she started singing in local bands throughout Queens, NY, when a bandleader named Reginald Budd" Ellison asked if she'd sing in his band, Jack's Bird." Year later, ...read more
If you want to hear the best Annie Ross, listen to King Pleasure Sings / Annie Ross Sings (Fantasy, 1952). If you want to hear the most empathic and honest Annie Ross, listen to To Lady with Love. Ross is in her early to mid-80s and her voice is not what it was in the 50s and '60s, but her passion, grace and intelligence surpasses all previous recordings. This is a late autumn--early winter voice, to be sure. This recording belongs with Lady Day's Lady In Satin, (Columbia, 1958), Johnny Cash's American Recordings IV: The Man Comes Around (American Recordings, ...read more
Cassandra Wilson Lincoln Center Out of Doors August 8, 2014 New York, NY Playing before an outdoor capacity audience, Cassandra Wilson performed a concert to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Blue Night 'till Dawn (Blue Note, 1993), featuring many of the musicians who originally performed on the studio version. Wilson kicked off a soulful rendition of You Don't Know What Love Is" with incredible subtlety, feeling every verse deeply while the musicians played with incredible feeling. The audience was mostly silent, something that almost never happens at ...read more
Wild is the Wind" opens with a graceful flugelhorn solo by Angeleisha Trumpetess" Rodgers, a welcome change of tack for a vocal-based album with the singularly-named Kosi only entering three minutes into the number. I Already Know" continues the slow ballad tempo of the opener, but with the added benefit of a magnetic hook line of the repeated angst-ridden title, at once moving and extremely effective. Brianna," a soulful ballad, is both musically and lyrically haunting. In Duke Ellington's The Star Crossed Lovers," Kosi demonstrates an ethereal quality with echoey wordless vocals and engaging guitar from Aron Marchak. ...read more
One night, six Norwegian artists--three of them together in a group for a decade. Such ideas can look great on paper, but turn out less than inspiring in reality. Fortunately, beyond the individual talents involved, there's been enough interconnectivity between singer Solveig Slettahjell, keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft, guitarist Knut Reiersrud and the members of In the Country--keyboardist Morten Qvenild, bassist Roger Arntzen and drummer Pål Hausken--that Norwegian Woods-Jazz at the Berlin Philharmonic II doesn't just work...it soars. Slettahjell--bringing a very personal vision to both her own music and her many interpretations of songwriters ranging from Cole Porter to Tom ...read more
54th Jazz à Juan Juan-les-Pins, Antibes France On the sunny Côte d'Azur, Juan-les-Pins offers a jazz festival every year by mixing all-stars bands, and daring to take risks in offering new artists not exclusively from the jazz sphere. Jazz à Juan (Jazz in Juan) is first of all a wonderful site, the timeless decor of the Gould pine grove a unique place with the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop. As Booker T. Jones said after his concert, It's quite difficult to stay focused on the music itself when you have such a beautiful view on ...read more
This is an album whose authenticity and directness of expression is matched only by its underlying artistic complexity and conceptual nuances. Kosi Gyebi Sorensen (Akosua Gyebi) is a New York-based singer and composer whose vocal persona on this album is that of a young woman of humble origins struggling with the trials of intimacy and love, the apotheosis of Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The Facebook pages of the singer herself, however, reveal a sophisticated, intellectually gifted African American woman who thinks deeply about such literature as Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy. Since she ...read more
Bay Area vocalist Laurie Antonioli has been performing and recording for more than 30 years. Early on she mixed paints with the likes of Joe Henderson, Mark Murphy and Pony Poindexter with whom she undertook an 8-month European junket in 1980, quickening her already impressive jazz chops. Antonioli's discography is a slim yet intense affair that is full of brilliant pathos and musicianship. She has had much time pass between releases resulting in a sonic career where her evolution as an artist is experienced in fits and starts. That was, until the release of American Dreams (Intrinsic Music, 2010) when ...read more
Stacy Kent The Changing Lights Warner Bros. Records 2013 Stacey Kent has had an impressive musical run: Breakfast on the Morning Tram (Blue Note, 2007, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award), Raconte- moi... (Blue Note, 2010), Dreamer In Concert (Blue Note, 2011) just being her previous three recordings of her ten releases as a leader. She is intelligent, polyglot and capable of performing in any genre or language. Her voice is one of soft evenness, it has a delicate density that extend over her impressive range. ...read more
Those of us who know better laughed, snickered, recently, when we read that Harlem-based vocalist extraordinaire Mansur Scott was a rising star." We will agree that he is definitely a star" because he always shines when he sings. His first album, Sometimes Forgotten Sometimes Remembered (Pao Records, 2010), was excellent and caught the attention of a great deal of music lovers. His latest recording, Great Voices Of Harlem (Pao Records) includes two other singers, Gregory Porter and Donald Smith, who shine, too. Porter, he of the velvety-heavily- church influenced chops, who is one of hottest acts ...read more
The concept of a jazz-informed program of Joni Mitchell tunes isn't exactly novel anymore. Herbie Hancock's high profile River: The Joni Letters (Verve, 2007) took home two Grammy Awards; vocalist Tierney Sutton got some well-deserved attention when she put her own spin on Mitchell's work with After Blue (BFM, 2013); somewhat under-the-radar releases from artists like David Lahm and Rachel Z have made something of an impact on a smaller scale; and numerous other albums that aren't necessarily built around Mitchell's work have been sprinkled with her songs. Joni Mitchell has become something of a lodestar for ...read more
Harlem has long been known as an incubator for talent, birthing and/or nurturing some of the all-time greats in music, literature, and art. Nearly a century separates the dawning of the famed Harlem Renaissance and the creation of this album, but Great Voices Of Harlem serves as undeniable proof that this large neighborhood at the north end of Manhattan still holds artistic treasures within its borders. Great Voices Of Harlem, in some respects, isn't just a nod to three great talents that were honed and developed in Harlem; it's a recorded microcosm of the vocal jazz scene ...read more
Andrea Balducci Bloom Schema 2012 Italian vocalist Andrea Balducci is so earnestly hip and so perfectly coiffed (he is a lawyer, after all) he is almost a metaphor: a talented metaphor. His debut recording, Bloom is equally hip and coiffed as the singer himself. With a keen ear for the edge of nostalgia, Balducci assembles a repertoire from 1960s American popular music. The heady brief Balducci prepares for us is one almost too slick to be real or serious, but he stops well before the edge of maudlin pathos. ...read more
love dot com is an album of standards and contemporary jazz/pop songs from Scottish vocalist Todd Gordon. It follows his 2012 release with the Royal Air Force Squadronaires, Helping the Heroes (Specific Jazz) but while that album featured a big band and a series of top-flight guest singers, love dot com is a much gentler affair. Some excellent, and unexpected, song choices can be found here. Karl Wallinger's She's The One," Jimmy Webb's Didn't We" and Roddy Frame's Somewhere In My Heart" are all beautiful, catchy, songs that sit comfortably with Gordon's approach. Gordon is an avowed Frank ...read more
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