Dena DeRose – Ode To The Road

2020 release. Dena DeRose’s music is like a cool breeze; she’s wry, wise, impeccably musical, no-nonsense, and fun. After her three decades as a pianist-singer, DeRose’s voice and her fingers are on the most harmonious of terms. She’s not afraid of simplicity; DeRose has no time for hollow sentiment, nor does she feel a compulsion to outsmart the makers of the Great American Songbook. Her approach to jazz resides mainly in her swinging rhythm and pianistic phrasing. Her eleventh album as a leader takes it’s name from a breezy tune, full of hip changes, that was composed by Alan Broadbent. The lyrics, provided by the legendary Mark Murphy, resonated deeply with DeRose since when she’s not teaching at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, she’s frequently on tour. Appropriately enough she is joined by three other HighNote artists-singer Sheila Jordan, saxophonist Houston Person, and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt-all of whom have appeared with DeRose on her global travels. With her long-time rhythm section of Martin Wind and Matt Wilson DeRose delivers recording that celebrates the life of the jazz artist and the friendships they...

The Eddy – Soundtrack

The official soundtrack for Netflix’s Damien Chazelle-produced series The Eddy has been released. The Eddy continues Chazelle’s music-focused productions that started with Whiplash in 2014, followed by the 2016 Oscar-winning hit, La La Land. In a way, Chazelle focuses on his penchant for jazz more exclusively than ever in his new Netflix series, as the show follows a former musician running a failing jazz club in Paris. Unsurprisingly, the show’s soundtrack is loaded with original jazz cuts from Glen Ballard and Randy Kerber alongside key features from contemporary artists such as St Vincent and Jorja Smith. The original tracks are sung by actors Amandla Stenberg and Joanna Kulig, who also lead The Eddy’s house band. André Holland heads the cast as club owner Elliot Udo, whilst Stenberg plays his daughter who’s recently arrived in France from America. Mix in a best friend that owes money to gangsters—played by Tahar Rahim—and the unfortunate jazz musician has his hands...

Mark Winkler – I’m With You

Mark Winkler wanted another bite of the apple, and Bobby Troup’s zesty book of rhythm patter, swooning ballads, and novelty numbers provides plenty of creative nourishment. His second album devoted to the songs of the jazz-steeped pianist, songwriter, singer, and actor, I’m With You offers a welcome reminder of Troup’s sturdy book. Winkler’s 2003 album Sings Bobby Troup covered some of the same ground (the albums share four songs). Considering Troup’s voluminous oeuvre and the obscurity that has befallen several of his early hits, some of the repetition seems unnecessary, but each song on I’m With You gets a thoughtful arrangement that brings out its particular character. A prolific Los Angeles songwriter and singer with rhythmically assured phrasing and a warm, affable tone, Winkler effectively highlights the strengths of his fellow tunesmith. He also makes excellent use of an enviable cast of L.A. players. Whenever an instrumentalist stands out, a glance at the credits reveals why. Ah, that’s Rickey Woodard’s tasty tenor sax on Tamir Hendelman’s briskly swinging arrangement of Troup’s lovely “Please Belong to Me,” and Anthony Wilson’s lustrous guitar on his own chart of the swooning “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring.” Troup’s songs aren’t the deepest end of the jazz/pop repertoire, but they’re consistently refreshing, heartfelt, or just plain fun, like “Triskaidekaphobia,” an ode to the fear of the number 13, and the jivey tale of Goldilocks, “Three Bears.” Another standout is the duet rendition of “It Happened Once Before,” a ballad with clunky lyric and gorgeous melody rendered (and arranged) with sublime grace by pianist Jon Mayer, a neglected master who made his recording debut in 1957 with Jackie McLean. But the bulk of the album features a quartet led by pianist/arranger Rich Eames, and whether swinging on “Route 66” or navigating the novelty number “Snooty Little Cutie,” Winkler is in deft hands. (Andrew Gilbert – Jazz...

Lincoln Briney – Homeward Bound

I recently heard a song from this album and was totally knocked out.   The album, which was released in 2016, is a musical treasure filled with incredible arrangements of classic and lesser known Paul Simon compositions.  Here is James  Gavin’s review from 2016. Homeward Bound is Lincoln Briney’s third full-length studio recording. He chose the highly respected arranger and producer, Paul Langford. Simon’s songs are infused with a unique modern sensibility and close-flying vocal harmonies. In a 2015 interview, Art Garfunkel described singing as “the dance of rhythm—a light, controlled dance like a puppeteer with his fingers holding strings.” Every quality his definition implies—a gracefulness, a sure but delicate pulse, a standing out of the way of one’s own creation—is here on this album. Many listeners discovered Lincoln Briney through his work with Full Voice, an ethereal trio that appeared on Mark Murphy’s genre-crossing, Grammy-nominated 1997 album, Song for the Geese. Since then, this gentle giant (he’s six-foot-five) and his soft, confiding sound have left their mark on the exacting fields of studio, group, and jingle singing. Bobby McFerrin and Janis Siegel are two of his past collaborators. Lincoln himself is a musical introvert who has seldom craved the spotlight. He lives in the desert city of Yakima, Washington, a two-hour drive from Seattle. Studio work seems to make him happiest. “I love stacking my voice; I love nailing a line together,” he says. “I love to be part of production, part of arranging.” But Lincoln is the rare group and studio singer with a distinct solo character. His tone is cool yet pensive; his restraint holds a touch of mystery. His work has a floating, dreamlike quality. No wonder he adores bossa nova and employs it often. All this is close to the spirit of Simon & Garfunkel, two urban intellectuals whose music is wounded, searching, and almost...

Ian Shaw – What’s New

What’s New is the latest collaboration between two internationally renowned British jazz musicians – vocalist Ian Shaw and saxophonist/composer Iain Ballamy – and Jamie Safir, one of the finest young pianists of his generation.  “This recording is a return to how it all started – under the wise advice of Ronnie Scott, thirty years ago – and a discovery of the art of the great popular song,” explains Shaw.  “To be able to sing these songs with one of Ronnie’s favourite horn players, Iain Ballamy, who played with Cedar Walton and me exactly twenty years ago on my US release, In A New York Minute, was pure joy.  One of the pleasures of making jazz is how it transcends generation. Jamie Safir, the in-demand pianist of our day, here in the UK and in Europe, completes this convergent, thrilling and completely live album.” From the title song by Bob Haggart and Bernstein’s ‘Some Other Time’ to the Bacharach and David classics ‘Alfie’ and ‘You’ll Never Get To Heaven’, What’s New is a beautiful collection of songs celebrating love and hope, music that is rich in its portrayal of human connections.  Many of the songs featured were favourites of Ballamy’s father, who recently passed away, and the album is dedicated to his...

Jana Herzen – Nothing But Love

On ‘Nothing But Love’, Jana Herzen’s diverse, soulful and sophisticated collection of folk/pop/world/jazz originals, the singer-songwriter, and guitarist reaches new heights as a storyteller and composer. The wonderfully rich, mature, and complex song tapestry will be released on January 17, by the multi-GRAMMY® winning Motéma label. With its unexpected juxtapositions of isolation, loss, and melancholy, alongside eye winking fun, hopeful ‘turning the page’ and finding the courage to consider letting the sun back in, ‘Nothing But Love’ offers a complex portrait of a force that, in Herzen’s words, ‘makes the world go ‘round’. “This cycle of 12 songs –one of which I wrote on a napkin in an NYC jazz club as far back as the 1980’s– has long desired to see the light of day.” she explains. “Each song is inspired by a particular moment, place, or person in my life. Together, they tell a tale of love in many guises.” Herzen’s varied and colorful history infuses her writing. Raised by famed activist scientists Leonard and Leonore A. Herzenberg of Stanford University, her initial calling as a theater artist led her to London and then to New York City in the 1980s where she eventually became a founding member and dramaturge for the award-winning and influential MCC Theater. After ten years with MCC, she then traveled the world extensively, recorded her first album, Soup’s on Fire, and eventually founded her tastemaker Motéma label in 2003. Though she has primarily devoted her last sixteen years to leading Motéma, Herzen has never lost sight of her journey as a singer, composer, and instrumentalist. The influences of her deep immersion in diverse styles of music show up in the production and arrangements of ‘Nothing But Love’. The album’s soundscape benefits from the vibrancy and immediacy of being recorded ‘live in the studio’ by a group of seasoned jazz musicians with a...

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