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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elizabeth Shepherd: Signal

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Montreal-based singer Elizabeth Shepherd gently stirs jazz with an underground pop aesthetic in Signal. Similar to the fresh styles of contemporaries such as Esperanza Spalding and Gretchen Parlato, Shepherd's appeal is heard in her multifaceted gifts as a songwriter, musician, and composer; attributes which garnered her a Juno Award nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Album for her 2012 release Rewind (Linus Entertainment). Signal takes a soulful groove-centric stance with tight rhythmic hooks and beats that would fit comfortably in a club-like setting as some tracks segue into one another like a DJ set mix. The music is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kelley Suttenfield: Among The Stars

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Voice and nylon-string guitar. That's it. Nothing else to hear on this one, but nothing else is really needed. Vocalist Kelley Suttenfield's first album--Where Is Love (Rhombus Records, 2009)--was a well-crafted, full band affair that reimagined the works of everybody from Wes Montgomery ("West Coast Blues") to Caetano Veloso ("Coraçao Vagabundo") to The Platters ("Twilight Time"). On her sophomore date, she strips away the band, leaving only guitarist Tony Romano in the picture to help her explore music of the night and songs of love. Among The Stars offers quiet and absorbing takes on ...

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Take Five with Leslie Odom Jr.

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Meet Leslie Odom Jr.: Television, film, and Broadway star, Leslie Odom, Jr. Most recently terrified fans of the CBS drama Person of Interest as Peter Collier, the leader of a home grown terrorist cell. Other Television and Film work includes notable turns on House of Lies, Supernatural, Grey's Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU, SMASH, and the Tuskegee Airmen WWII action flick Red Tails for George Lucas. This winter Leslie will star alongside his friend Lin Manuel-Miranda in one of the most anticipated theater events of the season as “Aaron Burr" in Miranda's Hamilton at The Public Theater ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lissy Walker: Wonderland

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Alice had many adventures in Wonderland: they could be fun, they could be touching, but they were seldom musical. Lissy Walker's second album, Wonderland, also provides lots of adventures--some fun, some touching, all musical.A quick glance at the song titles--"Something Wonderful," “Where Or When," “Isn't It Romantic?"--put this album fairly and squarely into American Songbook territory. A quick glance at the instrumentation--lap steel guitar, 12-string guitar, mandolin--suggests that the territory is a bit further out west. But there's a trumpet, strings, a Hammond B3. And there are songs from Randy Newman ("I'll Be Home"), Harry Nilsson ("Remember") and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tierney Sutton: Paris Sessions

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Think you know every aspect of Tierney Sutton's artistic persona? Think again. Hearing the Paris Sessions is to hear Sutton anew. Sure, it's that same one-of-a-kind voice, but there's no Tierney Sutton Band here, incredibly novel arrangements aren't a priority on this one, and there's no grand umbrella theme to contend with. This is simply a captivating listen-by-candlelight album that strikes to the heart of Tierney Sutton. Paris Sessions is easily the most informal item in Sutton's discography, but the idea of informality shouldn't carry a negative connotation; quite the opposite, in fact. This is a work ...

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Take Five With Ana Velinova

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Meet Ana Velinova: Jazz vocalist and songwriter Ana Velinova has inspired audiences around the world with her wide range arstistic talents. With repertoire extending from Mozart and Stravinsky to Ellington, Dorsey and Jobim, Ana has shared the stage with many accomplished jazz artists including Bob Moses, Neil Swainson, Don Thompson, Brad Turner, Willard Dyson and Miles Black to name a few. A native of Sofia, Bulgaria, Ana has lived and performed in major US and Canadian cities. A highlight of Ana's Spring 2014 Season is the second release of her album The Thief and the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dee Alexander: Songs My Mother Loves

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The maternal influence on a musician should never be underestimated. There's a degree of love, guidance, nurturing and support that only a mother can provide, and plenty of jazz artists have taken the time to express their appreciation for this fact: violinist Regina Carter did so with the touching I'll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey (Verve, 2006), trumpeter Dave Douglas explored the hymns and folk songs that his mother had asked to be played at her funeral on Be Still (Greenleaf, 2012), and plenty of others haven't been shy about expressing their feelings about dear old mom in song ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Claire Martin: Time And Place

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Few vocalists are as elegant and eloquent as Claire Martin. She's been dubbed “The First Lady of British Jazz," but she doesn't simply belong to her own people; she's one of the crown jewels of the jazz world, contributing classy and intelligent music via her steady flow of albums on the Linn imprint. In the past, Martin has tried plenty of different things. She collaborated with pianist-composer Richard Rodney Bennett, tipped her cap to Shirley Horn, visited the Great American Songbook, connected with pianist Kenny Barron, and forged alliances with a variety of other musicians in various ...

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Take Five With Rhenda Fearrington

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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, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Annie Ross: To Lady with Love

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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, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Cassandra Wilson at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kosi: Pictures of Us

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“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. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Solveig Slettahjell: Various Artists: Norwegian Woods - Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic II

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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 ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Jazz à Juan 2014

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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 ...



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