Sara Gazarek & Josh Nelson – Dream In The Blue

Since 2002, vocalist Sara Gazarek and pianist Josh Nelson have nurtured an uncommonly strong musical bond. It’s no mere happenstance that Nelson played as a band member on all four of Gazarek’s albums, and she, in turn, sang on two of Nelson’s own recording projects. But over the past 18 months, this Los Angeles-based pair has taken their collaboration to a new level, touring extensively as a duo and developing a diverse repertoire that showcases their combined artistic maturation. Gazarek and Nelson recorded their new album Dream in the Blue (funded exclusively through the crowd-sourcing website pledgemusic.com) as a tribute to their extraordinary partnership. “I remember feeling so incredibly comfortable with Josh that I held on tight and never looked back,” says Gazarek, recalling their very first gig in LA. “We’ve spent the last decade and more writing together, arranging, recording, making silly videos; essentially growing up together, personally and musically.” Nelson, in addition to citing his close rapport with Gazarek, sees Dream in the Blue as “a nice snapshot of our musical tastes in general — decidedly welcoming and accessible for a wide variety of audiences.” The intimate qualities of Dream in the Blue largely derive from the duo’s earnest reflection on their individual experiences and confront both light and dark aspects of the human condition. “I realized the fragility of the gift of love,” Gazarek says of recent life changes, “and the importance of vulnerability and gratitude in our most precious relationships. The songs took on a searching heaviness that I hadn’t explored before.” Nelson similarly identifies a shift in approach that situates their work into a more introspective space: “I feel like I came back to my traditional jazz roots on this album. My previous records have been more modern and theme oriented. I also hear a strong ‘West Coast’ sound on this album, a forward-thinking...

Cheryl Fisher w/John Toomey

For her sixth CD, Canadian vocalist Cheryl Fisher has recorded an album unique in both its repertoire and her approach. Purposefully chosen to be on the quieter side, Fisher puts a personal stamp on these beautiful, rarely heard songs, applying her musicianship and gift for vocal interpretation in celebration of love, or the mourning of love lost. Although they come from the era of the Great American Songbook, Fisher has given them a modern jazz treatment with the brilliant accompaniment of pianist/arranger John Toomey, the singular Portland guitarist John Stowell, the bass & drum team of Jeff Johnson & John Bishop, and acclaimed woodwind artist Eric Allison. “Concept albums aren’t what I usually do, but sometimes you just want to sit by the fireplace, have a glass of wine, put on an album and let it play right through, letting its mellow mood merge with your...

House of David By Lea Delaria

Ghostlight Records presents the innovative new album from Lea DeLaria, House of David: delaria + bowie = jazz, which boldly reexamines the work of music icon David Bowie. DeLaria is the television, stage and music star currently best known as “Carrie ‘Big Boo’ Black” in the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” The first major jazz reworking on Bowie’s beloved catalog, the album features tracks such as a smooth bossa nova interpretation of “Golden Years,” a trenchant “Life On Mars” and a roof-raising gospel take on “Modern Love.” “Bowie is not only a god of rock and arbitrator of style, but he’s THE defining singer songwriter of the latter part of the 20th century,” according to Lea. “From ‘Suffragette City’ to Labyrinth through Ziggy Stardust and The Hunger, his bold career choices and mind blowing artistic technique flies in the face of convention. He is quite simply a legend. David’s music lends itself perfectly to the language of Jazz. I hope he sees this album as the tribute to his genius that I mean it to be. LONG LIVE DAVID BOWIE.” Lea DeLaria boasts a  multi-faceted career as a comedian, actress and jazz musician. She holds the distinction of being the first openly gay comic on television in America which led to countless television and film roles portraying Police Lieutenants, PE Teachers and the Lesbian who inappropriately hits on straight women.  Selected TV credits include “Awkward,” “Clarence,” “Californication,” “The Oblongs,” “One Live to Live,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Will and Grace,” “Friends” and “Matlock.”  Selected film credits include: The First Wives Club, Dear Dumb Diary and Edge of Seventeen. She’s received Obie and Theater World Awards, and a Drama Desk nomination for her portrayal as ‘Hildy’ in the Public Theatre’s revival of On The Town, an Ovation nomination for The Boys From Syracuse, and has played both...

The Royal Bopster Project

The Royal Bopsters Project is a multi-generational vocal summit on which the talents of Amy London (soprano), Darmon Meader (tenor), Holli Ross (alto) and Dylan Pramuk (bass), unite to pay tribute to the art of setting lyrics to melodies originally written as instrumental compositions or improvisations. Their homage to vocalese is made even more exceptional with the contributions of the legendary singers who make guest appearances on the album: NEA Jazz Masters (and Grammy Award-winners) Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross; NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, Arkansas Hall of Famer and Jazz and Schoolhouse Rock mastermind Bob Dorough and six-time Grammy nominee Mark Murphy. With the Support Band, Steve Schmidt (piano) Roni Ben Hur (guitar) Sean Smith (bass) Steve Williams (drums), Steve Kroon (percussion). Timeless indeed when this level of craftsmanship is assembled Jazz Pop/Vocalese never sounded...

My Kinda Love by Tina May

Tina May has always followed her own star, often popping up in challenging or off-beat situations. The root of her talent, though, as Hep producer Alistair Robertson emphasises in his sleeve-note, lies in her jazz sensibility. May is a true jazz singer, at ease with jazz musicians and content to operate in a jazz context. All of this is reaffirmed here where she works mostly with an accomplished small group, the arrangements largely in the hands of a regular collaborator, the saxophonist and bandleader Frank Griffith, but with the added layering of a string quartet on four of the dozen tracks. Robertson sees this new album as a follow-on to Divas, also on Hep, the song choices far from routine with the added bonus of two original compositions by the veteran tenor-saxophonist Duncan Lamont. The title track is a relaxed hymn to love from 1929, Tina at one with the swinging background, Sammy Mayne’s alto prominent. In complete contrast, her reading of Lazy Afternoon, arranged by John Jannson, complete with its Satie-esque piano introduction, is languorous and heartfelt, the strings overlaid softly by the Griffith clarinet. Tina’s ability to move between vocal registers is notable here. Bassist Dave Green sets up Tina’s perky treatment of S’Posin’, this adorned by the welcome presence of trumpeter Janusz Carmello, Griffith spirited on clarinet ahead of John Pearce’s superb piano solo. There’s evidence throughout this absorbing album of careful forethought, each track given a distinctive setting, Tina’s honeyed sound and perfect intonation applied as effectively to up-tempo swingers as they are to its more thoughtful pieces, each set of lyrics given proper attention. Nothing muddled or over-stretched here. Good to hear composer Lamont’s tenor-saxophone on his mellow Where Were You In April and Frank’s impressive tenor on A Sunday Kind of Love, Tina ‘positively flirtatious’ on this one in Robertson’s words. The final song, I’m...

Black Bar Juke Box by Allan Harris

The myriad fans who’ve fallen under the spell of Gregory Porter need to give Allan Harris a listen. Though Harris has a dozen previous albums to his credit, including fine tributes to Nat King Cole and Billy Strayhorn, he seems long overdue for Porter-sized accolades. For Black Bar Jukebox, a sly collection of covers and originals, Harris borrows Porter producer Brian Bacchus, who draws forth many of the qualities that have propelled Porter to superstardom: the same laidback assurance and that enticing blend of Sammy Davis Jr. dynamism, Cole sophistication and George Benson jazz smarts. Eight of the 13 tracks are covers, extending from the plushness of “My Funny Valentine” and show-tune fizz of “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” to a masterfully soulful rendition of Bernie Taupin and Elton John’s “Take Me to the Pilot” and a moving midtempo treatment of John Mayer’s “Daughters” (the sole track featuring Harris’ distinguished guitar work). There’s also a double nod to Kenny Rankin, with a bossa-driven “Catfish” and the lovely, lilting “Haven’t We Met?,” plus a rendering of Eddie Jefferson’s “I Got the Blues” (based on “Lester Leaps In”). The four Harris originals are equally wide-ranging, beginning with the silken “Miami” (strongly reminiscent of “Where Flamingos Fly”) and misty “Can It Be This Is a Dream,” and progressing to the swinging optimism of “Love’s the Key” and the edge-of-breakup anthem “A Little Bit Scared.” By: Christopher Loudon for “Jazz...

« Older Entries Next Entries »