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Marcos Valle and Stacey Kent at Birdland

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Another of Brazil's music luminaries from the sixties, Marcos Valle, came to Gotham on December 9, 2014 to team up with Stacey Kent and Jim Tomlinson and advance the Brazilian omnipresence here of late. Last month I wrote of the dramatic emergence of the Spokfrevo Orquestra at Lincoln Center and everywhere this month there are appearances by Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta, Duduka da Fonseca, Hendrik Meurkens and many other Brasilieros. And the jazz audiences I joined both at Lincoln Center and Birdland contained so many Brazilians that the usual English translations were predictably sporadic. The musical magic of our neighbor ...


Mary Ellen Desmond Quartet: 11th Annual Comfort and Joy Concert

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Mary Ellen Desmond Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany 11th Annual Comfort and Joy Concert Philadelphia, PA December 14, 2014 Mary Ellen Desmond's Comfort and Joy Concert commenced a decade ago as a shot in the dark, and now, after eleven years running and a CD to its name (Comfort and Joy, Frontrow Records, 2013) the annual event has become a jny: Philadelphia institution. It's addictive. Many jazz fans, including this reviewer, have undergone withdrawal symptoms when they had to miss a year! There's nothing quite like it ...


C. Michael Bailey's Best Recordings of 2014

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This year turned out to be a watershed of jazz and beyond vocals, instrumental jazz and important reissues. It was a year of music that further opened my eyes and ears to music I had not previously valued or considered. How short-sighted of me. Beat Kaestli Collage (B&B Productions) Bob Dorough Eulalia (Self Produced) Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz Genevieve & Ferdinand -Live (Sunnyside Records) Cindy Scott Historia (STEM Records) Uri Caine Ensemble Gershwin Rhapsody in ...


Kosi: Pictures of Us

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Following her solo debut, One More Cup of Coffee, New York singer Kosi surrounds herself with a full band, armed with a fresh set of originals (plus a couple of standards), ready to take on the world. Whereas that first album featured only guitar and voice, now we encounter trumpet, bass, drums, and tenor saxophone from musicians that understand exactly the mood she wants to create. Despite the larger roster, the overall feeling is open, free, and easy. That said, there's nothing free and easy about Kosi's delivery, which makes no excuses for its emotional gravidity. Singing from the chest ...


Changamire: Love

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With Love, Washington DC-based vocalist Changamiré follows up her self-produced 2001 debut Only Human with a new song cycle mainly co-written and produced with Lincoln Ross, who also contributes trombone to several tracks. Changamiré's songs suggest the compositional depth of Roberta Flack. But her voice is not quite so brooding, and sounds more rooted in the gospel foundation of singers such as Anita Baker. BUT it's even different from, a bit more exotic sounding around the edges than, Baker's straight-on gospel-soul--it almost sounds as if Eartha Kitt's “Catwoman" character decided to become a jazz singer. Out of the entire universe ...


Mike McKoy: Ludwig Manhattan’s Germaican Blues

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This is not a conventional jazz album because this is not just a jazz album. Ludwig Manhattan's Germaican Blues melds together the blues feeling with literature and a strong social philosophical idea: “Could you bloom, wherever you'd been planted?" Apparently, this audio-book experiment has been inspired by Mary Flannery O'Connor's writing The Life You Save May Be Your Own (Harcourt, 1955), a motivating premise that has guided his author to start a personal intimate trip to find himself through music. The attractive primal impression of this album has managed to gather together six great jazz musicians led by ...


Holiday 2014: A Cantus Christmas

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Elbowing their way into the male chorus arena from none other than the land of the Norwegian Bachelor Farmers--Minnesota--the nine-voice Cantus squarely challenges San Francisco's Chanticleer for the prize of best traditional Christmas choral release. A frequent performer and favorite of A Prairie Home Companion, Cantus has carved out their rightful place among choral groups. Considered here are the group's two finest Christmas offerings. Cantus All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 Cantus Records 2008 Was this a gradable contest, Cantus would achieve a 10-out-of-10 for sheer inventiveness ...

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