Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released June 29, 2018 | Blue Note

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
No need to have the same musical tastes to appreciate each other’s cuisine... The proof of this truism can be found in this collaboration between a revered queen of alternative country and a respected old sage of modern jazz: Lucinda Williams and Charles Lloyd, a one-day couple supported by a five-star cast of musicians in which we find guitarist Bill Frisell, pedal steel master Greg Leisz, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland... Both Lloyd and Williams have previously lead a revolution in their respective fields. Here, the duo are celebrating a certain idea of America with an open-minded repertoire. A heterogeneous menu mixing jazz, blues, country and rock'n'roll, with Williams only singing on half of the ten tracks. Vanished Gardens offer up Jimi Hendrix (Angel) as well as Thelonious Monk (Monk's Mood) and Roberta Flack (Ballad of The Sad Young Men), though they also include some of their signature dishes (three by Charles Lloyd and four by Lucinda Williams). This is, above all, a refined and profound album; the work of two musicians who know how to digest well decades of music. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 6, 2018 | ODIN

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 20, 2017 | Abalone Productions

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 29, 2017 | Mack Avenue Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
One album after another, Cecile McLorin Salvant reminds us she’s anything but the stereotypical “jazz singer”. Revealed to the public in 2013 with her gorgeous WomanChild, she stepped it up a gear two years later with For One To Love, an even more masterful and complete record, on which her voice worked wonders. Born on August 28th, 1989 in Miami, Florida, she studied French law, baroque and vocal jazz in Aix-en-Provence before winning the Thelonious Monk International Competition in 2010 (at only 20, in front of a jury composed of Al Jarreau, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patti Austin, Dianne Reeves and Kurt Elling!). She went on to display impressive qualities as a composer as well with five original songs on her 2015 album. With Dreams And Dagger the French-American, who now lives in Harlem, is releasing a third album recorded live at Village Vanguard, the New York Mecca of jazz, and at the DiMenna Center, supported by her faithful trio (pianist Aaron Diehl, bass player Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers) and some guests on a few tracks, such as Quatuor Catalyst and pianist Sullivan Fortner. A real choice for the artist, who wishes she could only record live albums, the context in which her band’s sound is most faithfully presented. More classic in its form than her two previous works, Dreams And Dagger is proof of her fluency no matter the repertoire. For a classic like My Man’s Gone Now, for which thousands of versions already exist, she embarks with her voice on unique paths, to astounding effect! Furthermore, Cecile McLorin Salvant fully bonds with her trio, which isn’t just a simple stooge for her amazing voice, but an essential part of her musical world. Once again, she blazes an even deeper trail, far from the Billie/Sarah/Ella Holy Trinity, because as Wynton Marsalis put it: “You only get a singer like this once in a generation or two…”. © MD/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released May 19, 2017 | ACT Music

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
What better way of making a new record than surrounding yourself with new collaborators? That was the idea that Youn Sun Nah had for She Moves On. Four years after Lento, the Korean singer has taken on a close-knit group comprising John Zorn, Jamie Saft on the piano, the Hammond organ, the Fender Rhodes and the Wurlitzer (he also produced the record), and Brad Jones on the bass alongside drummer Dan Rieser, who worked with Norah Jones in Little Willies. But it is above all the presence of the guitarist Marc Ribot on five of these eleven tracks that draws attention. Surrounded by these four strong personalities, Youn Sun Nah explores a fairly varied repertoire that owes as much to rock as to folk, to rhythms as to lyrics, taking in covers of Joni Mitchell (The Dawntreader), Paul Simon (She Moves On), Lou Reed (Teach The Gifted Children), Jimi Hendrix (Drifting with a searing solo from Ribot) or the traditional Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair. Three original compositions, Traveller, Evening Star and Too Late, complete this album which is resolutely inspired by American music and which presents her impressive voice in a context which rightly recalls Norah Jones, or Melody Gardot. But Youn Sun Nah's vocal personality is strong enough that she never seems to be stepping on her illustrious sisters’ toes, and she offers, from the outset, a record that is all her own. © MD/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released March 31, 2017 | Vision Fugitive

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 16, 2016 | Resonance Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Jazz - Released June 24, 2016 | Le Triton

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 25, 2015 | RPM Records - Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Grammy Awards
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Vocal Jazz - Released June 1, 2015 | Decca (UMO)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
On 2012's The Absence, Melody Gardot made her first shift away from the jazz-tinged ballads that drew such heavy comparisons to Norah Jones and Madeleine Peyroux. Lushly orchestrated, it was chock-full of songs inspired by Brazilian, Latin, and French forms. On Currency of Man, Gardot takes on a rootsier sound, embracing West Coast soul, funk, gospel, and pop from the early '70s as the backdrop for these songs. It is not only different musically, but lyrically. This is a less "personal" record; its songs were deeply influenced by the people she encountered in L.A., many of them street denizens. She tells their stories and reflects on themes of social justice. It's wide angle. Produced by Larry Klein, the cast includes members of her band, crack session players -- guitarist Dean Parks, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Larry Goldings, the Waters Sisters, et al. -- and strings and horns. The title track is a funky blues with a rumbling bassline, dramatic strings (à la Motown) and fat horns. Gardot uses the lens of Sam Cooke to testify to the inevitability of change: "We all hopin’ for the day that the powers see abdication and run/Said it gonna come…." First single "Preacherman" is similar, employing a wrangling, smoldering blues that indicts racism in the 20st century by referring to the violent death of Emmett Till, a catalyst in the then-emergent Civil Rights movement. A driving B-3, saxophone, and menacing lead guitar ratchet up the tension to explosive. A gospel chorus mournfully affirms Gardot's vocal as a harmonica moans in the background. "Morning Sun" and closer "Once I Was Loved" are tender ballads that emerge from simple, hymn-like themes and quietly resonant with conviction. "Same to You" evokes the spirit of Dusty Springfield atop the punchy horns from her Memphis period, albeit with a West Coast sheen. The nylon-string guitar in "Don't Misunderstand" recalls Bill Withers' earthy funkiness. The song's a groover, but it's also a warning to a possessive lover. "Don't Talk" uses spooky polyrhythms (à la Tom Waits) as brooding, spacy slide guitars, B-3, and backing singers slice through forbidding blues under Gardot's voice. "If Ever I Recall Your Face" is jazzier, a 21st century take on the film noir ballad with glorious strings arranged by Clément Ducol that rise above a ghostly piano. "Bad News" simultaneously looks back at L.A.'s Central Avenue and burlesque scenes. It's a jazz-blues with a sauntering horn section, snaky electric guitar, and squawking saxophone solo. Vocally, Gardot is stronger than ever here, her instrument is bigger and fuller yet it retains that spectral smokiness that is her trademark. Currency of Man is a further step away from the lithe, winsome pop-jazz that garnered her notice initially, and it's a welcome one. ~ Thom Jurek
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 17, 2015 | Okeh

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 3, 2015 | Legacy Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
Perhaps the pairing of Cassandra Wilson and Billie Holiday carries a whiff of inevitability, but there's nothing predictable about Coming Forth by Day. Released to coincide with Holiday's centennial in 2015, Coming Forth by Day explicitly celebrates Lady Day by drawing upon standards she sang in addition to songs she wrote, but Wilson deliberately sidesteps the conventional by hiring Nick Launay as a producer. As a result of his work with Nick Cave, Launay mastered a certain brand of spooky Americana, something that comes in handy with the Holiday catalog, but Coming Forth by Day is never too thick with murk. It luxuriates in its atmosphere, sometimes sliding into a groove suggesting smooth '70s soul, often handsomely evoking a cinematic torch song -- moods that complement each other and suggest Holiday's work without replicating it. This is a neat trick: such flexibility suggests how adaptable Holiday's songbook is while underscoring the imagination behind Wilson's interpretations. Certainly, Launay deserves credit for his painterly production, but the success of Coming Forth by Day belongs entirely to Wilson, who proves that she's an heir to Holiday's throne by never once imitating her idol. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Vocal Jazz - Released March 22, 2013 | ACT Music

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS - Qobuzissime - The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 21, 2012 | ECM

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - Hi-Res Audio
Female singer plus piano trio equals jazz album, right? Wrong. Elina Duni's debut album is a tribute to her Albanian heritage, and while there are elements of jazz in the arrangements (and certainly in the instrumentation), there's little to nothing jazzy about her singing or about the songs. These are Balkan folk songs, some of them light in tone and content and others exploring and elucidating the deep cultural ruptures that have characterized the region's history for centuries: topics include exile, sheepherding, political resistance, romantic love, and labor. But unless you either speak Albanian or follow along with the translations in the liner notes, you'll have to divine these subtleties from the music itself -- and luckily, Duni is the kind of singer who can communicate an awful lot of subtlety with just a gentle change of dynamics or a shift in timbre. She sings with almost no vibrato and a minimum of ornamentation, her voice ringing out like a glass bell pitched in the alto range. Then there are the time signatures, which you may not notice unless you're trying to dance: "Kur Të Kujtosh," for example, seems to be written in 11/8. Although tempos vary somewhat and instrumental textures do as well, it's hard to identify highlights on this remarkable album -- all of the tracks share a similar feeling of haunting regret, and all of them are deeply beautiful. This is one of those very rare albums that doesn't insist on your undivided attention, but rewards it richly anyway. ~ Rick Anderson
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Vocal Jazz - Released November 5, 2010 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Yeah, Cassandra Wilson is a jazz singer, but she’s a 21st century jazz singer, mixing elements of jazz, pop, rock, Delta blues, and light funk into her performances, expanding what a jazz vocalist can be in a contemporary world with her horn player phrasing, smoky texture, and a voice that has matured into a haunting, sensual alto. She tackles some jazz standards, but she’s also adept at taking modern rock and old country-blues songs and finding a way to make them into new jazz standards, fully aware that she’s pushing boundaries in a genre that all too often plays it safe these days. Silver Pony is a delight, with a light, shimmering sound that makes each track feel like it’s part of a deliberate yet spontaneous fabric. Wilson and her band (Wilson on vocals and synthesizer, Marvin Sewell on electric guitar, Jonathan Batiste on piano, Reginald Veal on electric bass, Herlin Riley on drums, and Lekan Babalola on percussion; Ravi Coltrane adds saxophone on “Silver Moon” and John Legend adds vocals and piano on “Watch the Sunrise”) recorded live improvisations at European concerts in Warsaw, Seville, and Granada and brought them into the studio to expand and work on with producer John Fischbach, resulting in several new songs, and with a handful of carefully picked songs by writers as diverse as Charley Patton (“Saddle Up My Pony”), Stevie Wonder (“If It’s Magic”) and Paul McCartney (“Blackbird”), and with a couple of stone-cold jazz standards (Billie Holiday’s “Lover Come Back to Me” and the traditional “Went Down to St. James Infirmary”) to fill in the spaces, Wilson and her band have created a wonderful and almost seamless set of music that explores a lot of territory and yet still keeps its cohesiveness. ~ Steve Leggett
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Universal Music Group International

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Bassist extraordinaire Charlie Haden has always prized diversity in his music, whether reaching for the outer limits with Ornette Coleman a half-century ago, leading his own experimental Liberation Music Orchestra or, in 2008, celebrating his roots in what's now called Americana on Rambling Boy, a Grammy-nominated album that featured contributions from Elvis Costello, Béla Fleck, and others. As they mark their 25th year together, Haden's Quartet West -- not so much a side trip at this point as a comfy base to occasionally return to -- offers up Sophisticated Ladies, a collection split between collaborations with superstar female vocalists and rich instrumentals, nearly all of it heavily orchestrated. The set expands upon the concept Haden first explored in 1999 on The Art of the Song, which utilized vocalists Shirley Horn and Bill Henderson on various film songs and standards. This time, with tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist/arranger Alan Broadbent (both mainstays of the quartet), and drummer Rodney Green, Haden goes for a lush, all-embracing sound that suggests a warm, cozy mood that reflects a time -- which may or may not ever have existed -- when life was much less hectic. The recording largely pays tribute to the romantic balladry of the mid-20th century, and Haden's choices of both material and guest artists allow him to bring that concept to fruition gloriously. Diana Krall, leading the back-to-back "Goodbye" and "Wahoo," closes out the album: the first is a whispery take on the Gordon Jenkins number that served as Benny Goodman's theme song, and the latter an uptempo swinger written by Benny Harris. Norah Jones was a natural pick for a set that values classiness and sensuality, and her "Ill Wind," penned by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler and arranged by Haden, exudes a smoky nightclub ambience, Broadbent's piano lending a blues touch to Jones' soothing delivery. Cassandra Wilson is another inspired pick, and her interpretation of Johnny Mercer's "My Love and I," bathed in strings and elegance, is a highlight of the set. The album's other vocal performances -- by Melody Gardot, Renée Fleming, and Ruth Cameron -- are also memorable, but not to be overlooked are the non-vocal tracks. Hank Jones' bluesy "Angel Face" is simultaneously sweet and melancholy, while Steve Khun's fiery "Today I Am a Man" is the swingingest number here. And of course, Haden couldn't very well title his album Sophisticated Ladies without including Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," which matches Watts' bold saxophone licks to another luxuriant orchestration. Sophisticated Ladies does fall just short at times of mimicking a brand of saccharine faux-post-big-band jazz that flourished in the '50s and early '60s, but Haden and his team are too masterful to allow their tribute to lose its stylishness and, of course, its sophistication. ~ Jeff Tamarkin
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Vocal Jazz - Released March 22, 2010 | Naive

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Vocal Jazz - Released November 16, 2009 | Bonsaï Music

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Upon hearing “Everything Is Broken,” the opening track of Ben Sidran's Dylan Different, a collection of Bob Dylan covers that uncovers a near symbiotic connection to his source's material, one wonders what took him so long to record this. Sidran chose a dozen tunes from Dylan’s songbook and recorded them over four days in France, applying his requisite musicality, unaffected jazzman's cool, and streetwise yet elegant poetic imagination. There is a decidedly old-school feel to the manner in which this material is recorded that recalls his late-'70s sides. Sidran plays Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and acoustic piano as well as a Hammond B-3, and is accompanied by a killer backing band that includes trumpeter Michael Leonhart, drummer Alberto Malo, bassist Marcello Giuliani, saxophonist Bob Malach, guitarist Rodolphe Burger, and vocalist Amy Helm. His son Leo did the horn arrangements and played additional piano, B-3, and koto, and there are guests on backing vocals, including Georgie Fame, who duets on “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” and Jorge Drexler on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." What it all adds up to is a truly new presentation of Dylan’s work that seamlessly fits Sidran’s aesthetic without removing the authority of these songs from their historical context. Check the nocturnal funky groove on “Gotta Serve Somebody” or the bluesy dual pianos on “Tangled Up in Blue,” on which Sidran does his talk-singing accompanied by female backing vocalists on the chorus and a restrained horn section. He turns the tune into a slippery, finger-popping club number. Dylan’s slide guitar anthem “Highway 61 Revisited” is given a lithe Latin treatment with Burger’s guitar referencing the original even as the piano and rhythm section make it a funky-butt slow-boiling rhumba. The minor-key swing in “Ballad of a Thin Man” accents the tune's poetry while extrapolating harmonies in the minor-key arrangement. Given Sidran’s treatment of the lyric, if you didn't know better, you might think he wrote it. (The bass clarinet solo by Malach is a sweet touch, too.) He took the greatest liberties with “Maggie’s Farm,” which is not frenetic guitar-based blues-rock here, but a late-night, shimmering piece of beat jazz with an eerie arrangement that extends the reach of the tune’s cultural and economic critique into the heart of the new century. Sidran even has the stones to redo “Blowin’ in the Wind.” He makes it as disturbingly inquisitive and world-weary as the song itself must feel by now, but without losing a measure of its poignancy. Dylan Different reveals Sidran as being in full possession of his jazz and creative gifts but also his ones for interpretive song; by turns, with this fine album, he adds even more weight to the argument that Dylan is a writer of folk songs that transcend their eras of origin in relevancy. ~ Thom Jurek

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine