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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carmen Lundy: Code Noir

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Being a genuine jazz singer requires a dedicated focus on sincerity, enhanced individuality, and a commitment to honoring tradition. With Code Noir, songstress extraordinaire Carmen Lundy reveals herself as a gifted griotte, a female singer of praises, exploring the musical and emotional realms encompassing the African diaspora through the music of Black America. As a source of reference: Code Noir --Black Code--was enacted by the King of France, Louis XIV in 1685, to decree that is was illegal ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Masakowski Family: N.O. Escape

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The NOLA Masakowski's are a household name in the New Orleans area. Singer Sasha Masakowski has released several notable CDs including Sasha Masakowski & the Sidewalk Strutters Old Green River (Louisiana Music Factory, 2015); Hildegard (Self Produced, 2015); and Wishes (Hypersoul, 2011). Her father, the principle member here, multi-instrumentalist Steve Masakowski, is on faculty at the University of New Orleans, an educator under whom Katrina-refugee-now-Little-Rock-native Ted Ludwig studied. Bassist Martin Masakowski, Sasha's brother chips in with the one non-family member, ...

UNDER THE RADAR

The Politics of Dancing: Jazz and Protest, Part 1

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In 1964, Civil Rights workers, known as Freedom Riders, were increasingly becoming the victims of violent attacks from the Ku Klux Klan as they initiated a program to register black voters in the Deep South. As members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the advocates were franticly racing against time in an effort to send representatives to the 1964 Democratic National Convention to push the party agenda toward a Voter's Rights Act. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Bourne: Upbeat And Sweet

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"Upbeat And Sweet" is a pretty good summary of the feel of this collection of songs from mellow jazz vocalist Joe Bourne. But the subtitle is even more telling: “Jazz-infused classic rock & pop songs." None of these songs come from the canon of the Great American Songbook, and many of them seem downright unlikely choices for jazz treatment at first glance. Just to prove that point, the program begins with Steppenwolf's “Magic Carpet Ride." Within a few ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sara Bielanski: From the Heart

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Vocalist Sara Bielanski's debut album is heartfelt in the most descriptive sense possible for being inspired by the open-heart surgery that saved her life in 2011. Bielanski, who comes from a classical background yet has always nurtured a love for jazz standards, decided it was time to let that love shine in the studio, and the results are as affirming as their catalyst was close to being fatal.From the smoothly ushered first lines of “Night Lights," Bielanski's no-frills ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darden Purcell: Easy Living

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Working backwards, I discovered DC-area jazz vocalist and educator Darden Purcell with her second recording, Where the Blue Begins (Armored Records, 2016). It was an impressive recital with the nominal theme of twilight winding through its repertoire. While less thematically focused, Easy Living remains a well programmed set of eleven standards, “My Funny Valentine" thankfully not among them. Easy Living smacks of youthfully precocious invention, a collection of master musicians trying their individual talents out in creative ways. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darden Purcell: Where the Blue Begins

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Dr. Darden Purcell waited eight years to record Where the Blue Begins as a follow up to her debut recording Easy Living (Armored Records, 2009). The Dr. part? Yes, well Dr. Darden is the Director of Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice at George Mason University, and holds a doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz. Her bona fides aside, Darden, is as much a vocalist as an educator and each role feeds the other in a most convenient relationship. Easy Living is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marilyn Scott: Standard Blue

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Vocalist Marilyn Scott is not a new name in music. She has released 14 recording since the late 1980s, including the present Standard Blue. It is odd, then, that she has had so little coverage in these pages. George Harris wrote a revealing piece on her 2006 release, Handpicked (Prana Entertainment), but that is about it. A versatile artist, Scott has been able to exist, multidimensionally, across multiple genre, which has proven to be her charm. She does something very ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Trio Mediaeval & Arve Henriksen: Rímur

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Rímur is a collection of seventeen chants, hymns, folk songs and improvisations based on ancient Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish sources, brought into our contemporary way of sensing by singer/violinist Anna Maria Friman, singers Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Berit Opheim, and eminent trumpeter Arve Henriksen. The music of this album is a clear example of the deep-rooted migrational nature of our local existence. It is music of a remote past, marked by radically different life conditions. It is music ...


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