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Contemporary Jazz - Released June 12, 2020 | Blue Note

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The three musicians of GoGo Penguin show up for work every day with a simple goal: To bend, twist, prod and occasionally mutilate repetitive musical patterns until they sprout unanticipated polyrhythmic variations. They're improvisers who are alive to whim and impulse as well as the hypnotic pull of recurring loops; one thrill of "Atomised," the jittery opening track of the UK band's 5th album, involves following a simple high-speed arpeggio as it fractures into shards and is reassembled. Like all great jazz trios, GoGo Penguin intuit, together, when to take the next turn and how hard to lean into it. But the three—pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner – are inspired by breakbeat and the surging vistas of Squarepusher and other electronic adventurers. The compositions are rooted in that machine language.The fundamental tension between jazz impulsiveness and electronic order animates everything GoGo Penguin has done since its 2012 debut. Pieces written for the 2019 film Ocean In a Drop arrived at a nicely settled sweet spot between those extremes, and that gets further development on this album – particularly on the buoyant "F Maj Pixie" and the placid, engagingly meditative "Don't Go." The patterns of these pieces, and others here, seem fairly straightforward at the start. But there's dimensionality at work: What begins as the racing recurring thought of a coder who's compulsive about keeping order on the grid might blossom into something beautifully free, singable, even romantic. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Blue Note

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Released in 1982, Godfrey Reggio’s documentary Koyaanisqatsi has become a cult classic partly thanks to its famous soundtrack by Philip Glass. Both the work and the composer have hugely influenced pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner, to the point that in 2015 the British trio devised their own score for Reggio’s film, which they performed exclusively on stage around the world. That project was the starting point for Ocean In A Drop: Music For Film, a five-track EP that draws from their live compositions for Koyaanisqatsi. At the start, Illingworth had no intention of recording this soundtrack. “People kept asking if we’d release the music as an album, but that didn’t feel right to us. The film has a great score already, but we really enjoyed the project and specifically writing music for film, so that provided the inspiration for Ocean In A Drop. Performing the soundtrack live is hugely demanding, both physically and mentally, and the recording was no different. We recorded the tracks together live like we have with our previous recordings, not overdubbing and layering individual parts together.” The influences from Philip Glass, which are already an integral part of GoGo Penguin’s DNA, are multiplied tenfold here, yet they never suffocate the improvisations or the lyrical and atmospheric melodies found throughout these five beautifully stirring tracks. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Blue Note

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53

Jazz - Released September 27, 2019 | Blue Note

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His fifteenth album is called 53! “Why 53? Simply because I wrote and recorded this music during my 53 rd year, and on this occasion I wanted to make a record that really reflected me. At the age of 53, a man begins to feel he has reached a form of maturity, he is at his peak, and so can look at life with hindsight and see things more clearly. With this record I wanted to give everything of myself, to take risks, while assuming my career, my artistic choices, my life … and my age!” Jacky Terrasson perfectly follows that roadmap on this 15th album as a leader in his 30-year career...Though this time around, the master of covers (“This way that I have to totally take over a piece by passing it through a formal and stylistic deconstruction process that renews how you see the piece. I have always loved indulging in this kind of transformation, it is like my signature in a way.”) opts for his own compositions. We find sixteen tracks that are deliberately shaped like songs and magnified by dense and precise arrangements. Capable of both pyrotechnic flamboyancy and delicate touches, the brilliant Terrasson fills his album with nods towards his idols. We find influences from Keith Jarrett in the aptly named Kiss Jannett for Me, and Ahmad Jamal on the opening of The Call. He also alternates between groovy sounds on the very pop-like This is Mine (after Charlie Chaplin’s theme Smile) and lyrical touches with the ballad La Part des anges. Jacky Terrasson even quotes Mozart on Lacrimosa with an excerpt from his Requiem. Such eclecticism!So as to highlight this kaleidoscopic richness even more, he offers up several rhythmic sections: Géraud Portal/Ali Jackson, Sylvain Romano/Gregory Hutchinson and Thomas Bramerie/Lukmil Perez. A diversity that gives concrete form to the different facets of his compositions. This could well be one of Jacky Terrasson’s greatest records... © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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53

Jazz - Released September 27, 2019 | Blue Note

His fifteenth album is called 53! “Why 53? Simply because I wrote and recorded this music during my 53 rd year, and on this occasion I wanted to make a record that really reflected me. At the age of 53, a man begins to feel he has reached a form of maturity, he is at his peak, and so can look at life with hindsight and see things more clearly. With this record I wanted to give everything of myself, to take risks, while assuming my career, my artistic choices, my life … and my age!” Jacky Terrasson perfectly follows that roadmap on this 15th album as a leader in his 30-year career...Though this time around, the master of covers (“This way that I have to totally take over a piece by passing it through a formal and stylistic deconstruction process that renews how you see the piece. I have always loved indulging in this kind of transformation, it is like my signature in a way.”) opts for his own compositions. We find sixteen tracks that are deliberately shaped like songs and magnified by dense and precise arrangements. Capable of both pyrotechnic flamboyancy and delicate touches, the brilliant Terrasson fills his album with nods towards his idols. We find influences from Keith Jarrett in the aptly named Kiss Jannett for Me, and Ahmad Jamal on the opening of The Call. He also alternates between groovy sounds on the very pop-like This is Mine (after Charlie Chaplin’s theme Smile) and lyrical touches with the ballad La Part des anges. Jacky Terrasson even quotes Mozart on Lacrimosa with an excerpt from his Requiem. Such eclecticism!So as to highlight this kaleidoscopic richness even more, he offers up several rhythmic sections: Géraud Portal/Ali Jackson, Sylvain Romano/Gregory Hutchinson and Thomas Bramerie/Lukmil Perez. A diversity that gives concrete form to the different facets of his compositions. This could well be one of Jacky Terrasson’s greatest records... © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released February 8, 2019 | Blue Note

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Blues - Released January 25, 2019 | Blue Note

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Her hoarse, unique voice is gripping from the start. A voice like a descendant of Nina Simone wrapped up in a coat sewn in New Orleans. Following in the footsteps of her illustrious elder, Sarah McCoy is like a fairground attraction. A soul diva with blond mane, inhabited by the most poisonous ghosts of jazz, blues, folk and rock'n' roll. A strong personality burdened by the torments of life. Like a second cousin of Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, Tom Waits or Janis Joplin, or even good old Dr. John... After singles and concerts where the intense McCoy revealed her raging side, her album Blood Siren, produced by Chilly Gonzales and Renaud Letang, is contrastingly calm. A calm facade of course. A rage that’s controlled on the outside but still very real on the inside. Sometimes, the American woman's playing has the naivety and sincerity of pieces played on a toy piano. Perhaps a way to highlight the childish despair of her songs. The Death Of A Blackbird, a superb instrumental that testifies to her classical training, reveals a certain solitude. The shamanic Devil's Prospects feels like a New Orleans voodoo tale, with all the stickiness of the night and flavors of gin woven in... Take your time to understand Blood Siren. Soak up its melodies and lyrics. This lady easily could have played her larger than life card. She could have belted down the microphone to attract onlookers. Sarah McCoy proves with this record that her art is deeper and will last longer than an evening spent at the circus... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Blues - Released January 25, 2019 | Blue Note

Her hoarse, unique voice is gripping from the start. A voice like a descendant of Nina Simone wrapped up in a coat sewn in New Orleans. Following in the footsteps of her illustrious elder, Sarah McCoy is like a fairground attraction. A soul diva with blond mane, inhabited by the most poisonous ghosts of jazz, blues, folk and rock'n' roll. A strong personality burdened by the torments of life. Like a second cousin of Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, Tom Waits or Janis Joplin, or even good old Dr. John... After singles and concerts where the intense McCoy revealed her raging side, her album Blood Siren, produced by Chilly Gonzales and Renaud Letang, is contrastingly calm. A calm facade of course. A rage that’s controlled on the outside but still very real on the inside. Sometimes, the American woman's playing has the naivety and sincerity of pieces played on a toy piano. Perhaps a way to highlight the childish despair of her songs. The Death Of A Blackbird, a superb instrumental that testifies to her classical training, reveals a certain solitude. The shamanic Devil's Prospects feels like a New Orleans voodoo tale, with all the stickiness of the night and flavors of gin woven in... Take your time to understand Blood Siren. Soak up its melodies and lyrics. This lady easily could have played her larger than life card. She could have belted down the microphone to attract onlookers. Sarah McCoy proves with this record that her art is deeper and will last longer than an evening spent at the circus... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released September 28, 2018 | Blue Note

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Tony Allen and Jeff Mills’ story began back in December 2016 in Paris, when they decided to share the New Morning’s stage in front of an audience that was completely dazzled by the encounter of these two giants of rhythm. While the Nigerian started his career as Fela Kuti’s drummer, the American – as few people know – also started out on drums before he began developing techno music with a few friends in Detroit. Collaborating on an album made perfect sense, Tony Allen being the one who first put the idea forward. After playing with Damon Albarn, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Moritz von Osward, he was delighted to find a partner who so masterfully handled the beat: “The difference is that Jeff can play with me, whereas the others cannot play with me. I can only play with them, but they cannot play with me.”On this album released by Blue Note, the pair collaborated with Jean-Philippe Dary, who has played with countless big names, including Phoenix, Papa Wemba, Peter Gabriel and Alpha Blondy, and whose keyboards provide a melodic framework (most often afrobeat/jazz-funk). The mix by François Kevorkian, a French legend of New York House music, highlights each of their parts, for example on the track On the Run, Tony Allen’s syncopation that breaks time apart on the left channel battles it out with Jeff Mills’ frenzied hi-hats on the right. A captivating duel between two highly talented individuals who listen to and respect one another, whilst never overdoing it just for show. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released September 28, 2018 | Blue Note

Tony Allen and Jeff Mills’ story began back in December 2016 in Paris, when they decided to share the New Morning’s stage in front of an audience that was completely dazzled by the encounter of these two giants of rhythm. While the Nigerian started his career as Fela Kuti’s drummer, the American – as few people know – also started out on drums before he began developing techno music with a few friends in Detroit. Collaborating on an album made perfect sense, Tony Allen being the one who first put the idea forward. After playing with Damon Albarn, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Moritz von Osward, he was delighted to find a partner who so masterfully handled the beat: “The difference is that Jeff can play with me, whereas the others cannot play with me. I can only play with them, but they cannot play with me.”On this album released by Blue Note, the pair collaborated with Jean-Philippe Dary, who has played with countless big names, including Phoenix, Papa Wemba, Peter Gabriel and Alpha Blondy, and whose keyboards provide a melodic framework (most often afrobeat/jazz-funk). The mix by François Kevorkian, a French legend of New York House music, highlights each of their parts, for example on the track On the Run, Tony Allen’s syncopation that breaks time apart on the left channel battles it out with Jeff Mills’ frenzied hi-hats on the right. A captivating duel between two highly talented individuals who listen to and respect one another, whilst never overdoing it just for show. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Gypsy Jazz - Released September 7, 2018 | Blue Note

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Vocal Jazz - Released June 29, 2018 | Blue Note

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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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Jazz - Released June 15, 2018 | Blue Note

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Keyboardist Robert Glasper purportedly came up with the concept for R+R=Now (which means reflect and respond now), his forward-looking jazz supergroup, while producing Nina Revisited, a companion album to the 2015 Nina Simone documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? While musically far afield of Simone's own literate, bluesy piano-and-vocal style of jazz, R+R=Now's debut album, 2018's Collagically Speaking, has a cinematic quality that speaks to Glasper's original impulse to make music inspired by Simone's artistically adventurous, socially and politically minded work. Joining Glasper are a handful of equally adventurous jazz iconoclasts, including trumpeter Christian Scott, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Justin Tyson, keyboardist Taylor McFerrin, and keyboardist and singer Terrace Martin. All of these musicians, not the least being Glasper, have their own distinctively cross-pollinated discographies that dip into jazz, R&B, hip-hop, electronica, film scores, and beyond. There are also several guest artists here, including vocalists Goapele and Omari Hardwick and DJ Jahi Sundance. Together, Glasper and his collaborators bring all of their varied experience to bear on Collagically Speaking, a far-reaching, organically realized set of tracks that feels surprisingly balanced, despite the genre-bending nature of the project and strong artistic personalities involved. Primarily, they craft ambient, groove-based soundscapes that allow for both melodic hooks and more probing, improvisational sections. Tracks like the languid "Awake to You" and half-lidded "By Design" have a sultry, cocoon-like ambience in which rippling synths rub up against Scott's breathy, muted trumpet, as Martin's soulful voice shimmers through alien vocoder haze. Elsewhere, they take a more kinetic approach, launching into the breakbeat-inflected modal jazz anthem "Resting Warrior" and the acidic fusion number "The Night in Question." Other cuts touch upon piano-accented contemporary jazz ("Colors in the Dark"), alt-rap ("Needed You Still"), and ambient new age ("Been on My Mind"). In keeping with Nina Simone's outspoken influence, there is also an undercurrent of social awareness on Collagically Speaking, including a motivational speech about success from actor Terry Crews on "The Night in Question" and a passionate and insightful feminist spoken word piece by standup comic Amanda Seales on "Her=Now." None of these more pointedly thought-provoking additions detract from the overall flow of the album, and instead add to the overarching vibe of open-minded creativity, love, and empowerment. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2018 | Blue Note

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There is a before and an after 1986 for Marcus Miller. That year, the bassist was 27 years old and composed and produced Miles Davis’ famous Tutu. Since then, the career of this four-string virtuoso has expanded with stunning albums for others (over 500!) and for himself (more than twenty), as well as multiple collaborations… Like often with Marcus Miller, the borders between jazz, funk, soul and blues are magnificently blurred. And it is once again the case with this Laid Black. After Afrodeezia, which he designed like a musical journey through his personal history, retracing the path of his ancestors, Laid Black falls within present time with a cocktail of all the urban sounds he loves: hip-hop, trap, soul, funk, R&B and, of course, jazz. In fact, this kind of 180° overview is the man’s trademark. Shuffling between various currents of African-American music. And even inserting a few clever references when he covers Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) popularised by Doris Day, but using Sly Stone’s arrangement from 1973 Fresh… For this 2018 opus, Marcus Miller has called upon a few sharp shooters such as Trombone Shorty, Kirk Whalum, Take Six, Jonathan Butler and the young Belgian soul sister Selah Sue. Groove galore and precise yet never sickening pyrotechnics are at the core of an album that only its author knows how to make. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2018 | Blue Note

There is a before and an after 1986 for Marcus Miller. That year, the bassist was 27 years old and composed and produced Miles Davis’ famous Tutu. Since then, the career of this four-string virtuoso has expanded with stunning albums for others (over 500!) and for himself (more than twenty), as well as multiple collaborations… Like often with Marcus Miller, the borders between jazz, funk, soul and blues are magnificently blurred. And it is once again the case with this Laid Black. After Afrodeezia, which he designed like a musical journey through his personal history, retracing the path of his ancestors, Laid Black falls within present time with a cocktail of all the urban sounds he loves: hip-hop, trap, soul, funk, R&B and, of course, jazz. In fact, this kind of 180° overview is the man’s trademark. Shuffling between various currents of African-American music. And even inserting a few clever references when he covers Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) popularised by Doris Day, but using Sly Stone’s arrangement from 1973 Fresh… For this 2018 opus, Marcus Miller has called upon a few sharp shooters such as Trombone Shorty, Kirk Whalum, Take Six, Jonathan Butler and the young Belgian soul sister Selah Sue. Groove galore and precise yet never sickening pyrotechnics are at the core of an album that only its author knows how to make. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 18, 2018 | Blue Note

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A good contact goes a long way. Don Was being the boss at Blue Note, he didn’t have to think long before signing Dave McMurray who had been his saxophonist in the band Was (Not Was)… Despite their bond and this new hierarchical link, the label’s president left his recruit completely free for this delightful Music Is Life. “I know Dave plays extremely well, Don Was explained. There’s no bullshit with him! He’s not the kind of musician who just drops his plans gratuitously to impress everyone. It’s only sincerity with him.” To construct his album’s repertoire, Dave McMurray decided to combine original compositions with a few well-chosen, at times surprising covers like George Clinton’s Atomic Dog, the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army and even Johnny Hallyday’s Que je t’aime! With bassist Ibrahim Jones and drummers Ron Otis and Jeff Canady on his sides, he mixes frontal and percussive jazz with corrosive soul and gritty blues music. His saxophone starts from the guts, and aims right back for them! A proper chameleon (he played with B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Hallyday, Gladys Knight, Albert King, Nancy Wilson, Bootsy Collins, Herbie Hancock, Geri Allen, Bob James and countless others), he manages to retain his own voice, no matter the partition he tackles. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 4, 2018 | Blue Note

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Following his sublime Book Of Intuition released in 2016 with bass player Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Johnathan Blake, Kenny Barron is expanding his trio with tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez. The elegance, intelligence, refinement and perfect swing of the pianist are well-known, and for his first entry with the label Blue Note, the artist from Philadelphia now based in New York finds additional inspiration in the ardour of his accomplices. For these Concentric Circles, Barron opted for a repertoire mainly centred around his own compositions, complemented by Caetano Veloso’s Aquele frevo axe, drummer Lenny White’s L's Bop, and Thelonious Monk’s Reflections. His quintet firmly bites into a hard-bop style, at times punctuated with Latino rhythms. More than anything, it’s the spontaneity of interventions and the fluidity of exchanges between the five men that make this album so enjoyable. None of them tried to reinvent the wheel, just make high-level jazz, without grandstanding or using frills. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 4, 2018 | Blue Note

Following his sublime Book Of Intuition released in 2016 with bass player Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Johnathan Blake, Kenny Barron is expanding his trio with tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez. The elegance, intelligence, refinement and perfect swing of the pianist are well-known, and for his first entry with the label Blue Note, the artist from Philadelphia now based in New York finds additional inspiration in the ardour of his accomplices. For these Concentric Circles, Barron opted for a repertoire mainly centred around his own compositions, complemented by Caetano Veloso’s Aquele frevo axe, drummer Lenny White’s L's Bop, and Thelonious Monk’s Reflections. His quintet firmly bites into a hard-bop style, at times punctuated with Latino rhythms. More than anything, it’s the spontaneity of interventions and the fluidity of exchanges between the five men that make this album so enjoyable. None of them tried to reinvent the wheel, just make high-level jazz, without grandstanding or using frills. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 27, 2017 | Blue Note

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It’s always good when the genius of an artist is rekindled. With this luxurious album, Gregory Porter puts his body and soul into the repertoire of one of his idols: Nat King Cole. A unique musician who slalomed between pure jazz and easy listening, a virtuosic pianist, an innovator with a great finesse, and, clearly, a fascinating singer/crooner equipped with a velvet voice, profound and romantic, recognizable by all, Nat King Cole is in good hands here! He has one of the most impressive soul’n’jazz voices of the past few years. Above all, Gregory Porter has a much richer and more complex soul to that of his peers, with all due respect! For Nat King Cole is a common theme in the life of the Californian forty-year-old who knows every nook and cranny of the Great Black Music. "He was one of a kind. He left such great music - such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool… I wrote this little song when I was five and put it on a tape and played it for my mother when she came home from work. She said ‘Boy you sound just like Nat King Cole’! I remember thinking how strange that name was, going through her records, and first seeing his image: this elegant, handsome, strong man sitting by the fire, looking like somebody’s daddy. Then I put the vinyl on the player and out of those speakers came that voice, that nurturing sound. It filled a void in me. My father wasn’t in my life; he wasn’t raising me; he wasn’t showing any interest in me. So Nat’s words, ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again’ - all of these life lessons and words of wisdom were like fatherly advice. They were coming out of the speakers like Nat was singing those words just to me. I would listen to his albums and imagine that Nat was my father." This love for Nat King Cole’s music pushed him to adopt the jazzman as a substitute father! Furthermore, after having played in the musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, Porter decided to take his relationship to Cole to the stage by writing Nat King Cole & Me, a largely autobiographical musical that showed for the first time in 2004. "In a certain way I tried to find my father. I wrote it after my father died. This spectacle, for which I composed most of the music, speaks about Nat King Cole. But mostly in the way in which I got closer to his music because of the absence of my father. It was like a kind of therapy that I prescribed to myself. Almost 800 people came to watch each night." With help from the arranger Vince Mendoza and with a group composed of the pianist Christian Sands, the bassist Reuben Rogers and the drummer Ulysses Owens, Gregory Porter will satisfy the needs of fans of the singer/pianist who died in 1965. © CM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2016 | Blue Note

Blue Note released the two-volume Blue Break Beats compilation in the early '90s. The music on Blue Break Beats dates from the late '60s and early '70s, when a large portion of Blue Note's soul-jazz artists began experimenting with funk and rock, creating dense electric fusions that concentrated on rhythm, not improvisation. None of this music has ever received much critical praise from jazz purists, but in the late '80s and early '90s, scores of hip-hop and dance DJs discovered these old records and began sampling the original tracks to use in new rap and dance songs. By the early '90s, this jazz-rap-funk fusion had become hip and profitable, which led Blue Note to assemble the Blue Break Beats compilations. All of the tracks on the two discs are from late '60s and early '70s albums, featuring multi-layered percussion, organs, and guitars. Every song on the two discs -- which are sold separately -- is hot, with a deep funky groove, and there are no dull spots on the albums. Though it's designed to appeal to fans of contemporary funk and rap, fans of rock-influenced soul-jazz will find Blue Break Beats a necessary purchase. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo