Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note

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Norah Jones' debut on Blue Note is a mellow, acoustic pop affair with soul and country overtones, immaculately produced by the great Arif Mardin. (It's pretty much an open secret that the 22-year-old vocalist and pianist is the daughter of Ravi Shankar.) Jones is not quite a jazz singer, but she is joined by some highly regarded jazz talent: guitarists Adam Levy, Adam Rogers, Tony Scherr, Bill Frisell, and Kevin Breit; drummers Brian Blade, Dan Rieser, and Kenny Wollesen; organist Sam Yahel; accordionist Rob Burger; and violinist Jenny Scheinman. Her regular guitarist and bassist, Jesse Harris and Lee Alexander, respectively, play on every track and also serve as the chief songwriters. Both have a gift for melody, simple yet elegant progressions, and evocative lyrics. (Harris made an intriguing guest appearance on Seamus Blake's Stranger Things Have Happened.) Jones, for her part, wrote the title track and the pretty but slightly restless "Nightingale." She also includes convincing readings of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart," J.D. Loudermilk's "Turn Me On," and Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You." There's a touch of Rickie Lee Jones in Jones' voice, a touch of Bonnie Raitt in the arrangements; her youth and her piano skills could lead one to call her an Alicia Keys for grown-ups. While the mood of this record stagnates after a few songs, it does give a strong indication of Jones' alluring talents. ~ David R. Adler
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Vocal Jazz - Released March 22, 2013 | ACT Music

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | GRP Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 28, 2012 | Decca (UMO)

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note

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Singer Cassandra Wilson, who has had a rather diverse career that has ranged from the free funk of M-Base to standards à la Betty Carter, has in recent times adopted a folk-oriented style a little reminiscent of Nina Simone. On New Moon Daughter her repertoire ranges from U2 to Son House, from Hoagy Carmichael to Hank Williams ("I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"); it is certainly the only album ever that contains both the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Strange Fruit." This CD is a surprise best-seller, for Wilson's voice actually sounds quite bored and emotionally detached. She deserves great credit for stretching herself, but one has to dig deep to find any warmth in her overly cool approach. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 27, 2013 | Bethlehem Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released February 4, 2014 | Prestige

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The 2006 Rudy Van Gelder remaster of MOSE ALLISON SINGS reminds listeners that Allison was churning out great songs and performances as far back as 1957 (and that he's been doing the same ever since). The artist's distinctive mixture of blues, jazz, dynamic piano playing, and witty songwriting plays loud and clear on this early offering. There are fewer Allison originals than one might prefer here; instead he takes on classic blues (Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son") and jazz (Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"). But the originals that are here (like "Young Man's Blues," which was covered by the Who) are worth the price of admission. The reissue adds four tracks and a revised running order, and highlights Van Gelder's flawless production.
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Impulse!

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Pianist/vocalist Diana Krall pays tribute to the Nat King Cole Trio on her Impulse! set. In general, the medium and up-tempo tunes work best, particularly such hot ditties as "I'm an Errand Girl for Rhythm," "Frim Fram Sauce," and "Hit That Jive Jack." Krall does not attempt to directly copy Cole much (either pianistically or vocally), although his influence is obviously felt on some of the songs. The slow ballads are actually as reminiscent of Shirley Horn as Cole, particularly the somber "I'm Through With Love" and "If I Had You." Guitarist Russell Malone gets some solo space on many of the songs and joins in on the group vocal of "Hit That Jive Jack," although it is surprising that he had no other opportunities to interact vocally with Krall; a duet could have been delightful. Bassist Paul Keller is fine in support, pianist Benny Green backs Krall's vocal on "If I Had You," and percussionist Steve Kroon is added on one song. Overall, this is a tasteful effort that succeeds. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 5, 2012 | Jazz Village

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1966 | Philips

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When Wild Is The Wind was released in 1966, Nina Simone’s name was already closely associated with engagement and struggle. It is therefore only logical that this album, which regroups several sessions recorded for Philips in 1964 and 1965, is marked with dissent and revolt. In her own specific style. Because the 33-year-old singer knew how to do everything, she blended various styles, from bombastic to more intimate, from jazz ballads to more up-tempo titles. Moreover she always approached her art form with a true sense of dramaturgy, driving it through her singular voice or her streamlined piano. She reached a climax with her song Four Women that pieced together the portraits of four Afro-American women. Four stereotypes to expose endemic racism and injustice. Wild Is The Wind is also proof that Nina Simone was above all genres. Not fully jazz, not really blues, not entirely folk, or soul, she created her own language that many have copied but never equalled… © MZ/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released February 2, 2014 | Jazz Village

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Philips

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Perhaps a bit more conscious of contemporary soul trends than her previous Philips albums, this is still very characteristic of her mid-'60s work in its eclectic mix of jazz, pop, soul, and some blues and gospel. Hal Mooney directs some large band arrangements for the material on this LP without submerging Simone's essential strengths. The more serious and introspective material is more memorable than the good-natured pop selections here. The highlights are her energetic vocal rendition of the Oscar Brown/Nat Adderley composition "Work Song" and her spiritual composition "Come Ye," on which Simone's inspirational vocals are backed by nothing other than minimal percussion. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine