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Pop - Released October 10, 2013 | Catgang Productions

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World - Released August 12, 2013 | Accords Croisés

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 22, 2013 | ACT Music

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Rock - Released March 1, 2013 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Stax

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This musical hookup between these two experienced roots artists who have more in common than it seems at first glance, is a natural evolution for both. Ben Harper seemed like an old soul, even when he began his career, dipping into classic R&B, gospel, and blues but spinning them through his dark, folk-funk persona. His work with the Blind Boys of Alabama showed him to be welcomed by veteran artists who clearly felt he was a kindred spirit. Harpist/guitarist Charlie Musselwhite's extensive résumé typically moved him past the often limiting structure of the Chicago blues where he first made his presence felt, to Tex-Mex, Cuban, Americana, swamp rock, country, and even jazz. The two connected on a 1997 John Lee Hooker session and have worked together intermittently since, both live and in the studio. This outing, tellingly released on the Concord/Stax imprint, strips the sound down, occasionally to just acoustic guitar and harp as on the opening of "Don't Think Twice," and the closing deep Delta blues "All That Matters Now," reworked into "It Hurts Me Too." But the duo also plug in for tough, rugged blues and blues-rock as on the heart thumping "I'm in I'm Out and I'm Gone," a twist on David Bowie's "The Jene Genie" riff that itself was nabbed from the Chicago blues catalog. Even with Musselwhite's substantial involvement, this is Harper's show as he produces, sings every song, and seems to be leading the music's direction with the harmonica player urging him on and adding to the already deep groove. They dip into harder rocking territory for the charging "I Don't Believe a Word You Say" with Musselwhite pulling out his Little Walter influences with electrified blowing. The skeletal, ghostly, repeated riff of the deadly gunslinger "I Ride at Dawn" is a stark reminder of how less is more as Harper's slide enhances the dangerous elements reflected in the song's ominous lyrics. The six-minute title track -- the disc's longest cut -- is classic Harper, marrying a funky bassline with the declaration expressed in the song's title as Musselwhite takes a few licks from Paul Butterfield to edge the track into a laid-back red zone where the singer typically thrives. But the twosome have some fun, too, in particular on the spirited, easygoing, sexed-up blues "She Got Kick," one of the few instances where harmonica is not an integral component of the mix. Ultimately, Get Up! earns its titular exclamation point as a successful combination of two talented veterans feeding off each other's dusky, creative spirit. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

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Without a Net is Wayne Shorter's first Blue Note recording date since August 26, 1970, when he recorded Moto Grosso Feio and Odyssey of Iska. That's nearly 43 years. Shorter has pursued many paths since then, as a member of Weather Report, and as a bandleader. This quartet was assembled for a 2001 European tour and has been playing together ever since. It shows. The interplay Shorter shares with pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Pattitucci, and drummer Brian Blade is not merely intuitive, it is seamlessly empathic. All but one of these tunes were recorded during the group's 2011 tour. The lone exception is "Pegasus," recorded with the Imani Winds at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. There are six new tunes here; the quartet is credited with two of them. Shorter also revises some others, including set opener "Orbits" (the original was on Miles Davis' Miles Smiles) and "Plaza Real" (from Weather Report's Procession album). The only outlier, "Flying Down to Rio," is a version of the title tune from a 1933 film. Fireworks from this band can be heard everywhere. But the group aesthetic is especially noticeable in the penetrating romanticism of "Starry Night," where what appears restrained -- at least initially -- is actually quite exploratory and forceful. It's also apparent in the slow deliberation at play in the brooding "Myrrh." "Plaza Real" is a different animal here. Shorter's soprano soars and swoops through the melody, extending it at each turn as Pérez offers bright, pulsing chords to highlight the harmonic richness on display. Blade digs deep into his tom-toms, and finds an alternate polyrhythmic route that underscores the elegance and momentum in Shorter's lyric invention. The album's centerpiece is the 23-minute "Pegasus," which expands the band into a nonet. It is a tone poem that commences very slowly and deliberately. But its form gradually opens to allow for great expressions of individual and group freedom. Shorter's athletic soprano solo is breathtaking. The arrangement on "Flying Down to Rio" turns its catchy yet off-kilter melody into a group dialogue centered around a swirling series of complex harmonic statements. Pattitucci introduces "Zero Gravity to the 10th Power" with a funky vamp before layers of melody, harmonic extrapolation, and rhythmic interplay are added. By the time Shorter takes his tenor solo, we've heard everything from Latin grooves to modal assertions to classical motifs and some near explosions from Blade. While any new album from Shorter is an event at this juncture (he's nearly 80 yet in peak form here as composer and soloist), Without a Net is special even among the recordings made by this outstanding group. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Africa - Released December 29, 2012 | No Format!

Booklet Distinctions Sélection FIP - Coup de coeur de l'Académie Charles Cros - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
3 stars out of 5 -- "Sissoko seems content with the way the world is on this....Perfectly pitched for summer." © TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released November 12, 2012 | Warp Records

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Jazz - Released November 6, 2012 | Outnote Records

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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 23, 2012 | Outnote Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 6, 2012 | Rough Trade

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 4, 2012 | Gazul Records

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Cantatas (sacred) - Released April 17, 2012 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
It would be hard to conceive of more annoying graphic design that proffered on this release from the Zig Zag Territoires label, identified with a big "ZZT" (no, that's not an electric shock warning). There, however, the list of complaints pretty much ends. This little program of solo cantatas and organ works by countertenor Damien Guillon and his historical instrument group Le Banquet Céleste was beautifully recorded in a small Strasbourg church and it's an intimate gem. Front and center is Guillon's singing, which is sweet, nicely rounded in the high tones, and couched in an attitude of relaxed calm. Organist Maude Gratton offers a trio sonata and a sparkling rendition of the Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, which ends the program on a unique rousing note. The instrumentalists have a sensuous sound and are so well coordinated with Guillon that they seem like extensions of his singing. With the emphasis in recordings of Bach cantatas having long been on the grand conceptions of the charismatic figures who have undertaken complete Bach cycles, a small, unified, and beautifully executed recording like this one comes as a breath of fresh air, and it represents the French way with Bach at its best. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 13, 2012 | Unit Records

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Blues - Released February 21, 2012 | Dixiefrog

Distinctions Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
Eric Bibb's version of the blues is calm, wise, hushed, and elegant, as much or more about redemption as it is about despair, and above all, Bibb sees the blues as narrative, part of the story we all drift through. His best songs, often built on traditional patterns and rhythms, are wise and affirming, and they fall to the brighter and more hopeful side of the blues. There are several such gems on Deeper in the Well, including the opening track, a delightful piece of Louisiana shuffle funk called "Bayou Belle," the string band gospel bounce of "Dig a Little Deeper in the Well," a modal and relentlessly driving "Boll Weevil," "Sittin' in a Hotel Room," which is a wise and hopeful story of contentment, and the final track, a stunningly beautiful banjo version of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'." It all adds up to a beautifully redemptive album, one of Bibb's best. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 7, 2012 | Jazz Village

Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
Still going strong at the age of 81, legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's love letter to his favorite Broadway, Hollywood, and Great American Songbook classics, Blue Moon, is arguably one of his most accomplished efforts since his Chess/Impulse! heyday. The Pittsburgh virtuoso, once credited by Miles Davis as a major influence on his career, shows that age is no barrier to invention with six exquisite reworkings of postwar standards, from a romantic orchestral take on the title track to Otto Preminger's 1944 film Laura to a delicately whimsical interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Gypsy." Jamal's improvised cluster of chords remains as expressive and sprightly as ever, but it's when drummer Herlin Riley, who along with bassist Reginald Veal (Wynton Marsalis) and percussionist Manolo Badrena (Weather Report) form the backbone of the record, is allowed to let loose that they really spring to life, from the syncopated grooves of the epic 13-minute adaptation of A Life of Her Own's "Invitation," to the Latin rhythms on the title track and Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody'n You," to the surprisingly contemporary R&B beats of Golden Boy show tune "This Is the Life." The simmering lounge pop of "Autumn Rain," the delicate "Morning Mist," and the tender solo "I Remember Italy," a Debussy-esque number inspired by his many travels, all of which are original compositions, are equally majestic. But it's his interpretative skills that ensure Blue Moon will go down as one of Jamal's modern greats. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca (UMO)

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Sélection JAZZ NEWS - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
If Melody Gardot's 2009 sophomore effort, My One and Only Thrill, sustained the sultry, atmospheric vibe of her critically acclaimed 2006 debut, her 2012 follow-up, The Absence, is a bit of a creative departure for the vocalist. Apparently inspired by her world travels, and specifically by a trip that brought her to the desert around the city of Marrakech, the album moves her away from smoky, small-group jazz and into a bright, if still bedroom-eyed, rhythmically exotic sound. Produced by guitarist/composer Heitor Pereira, the album is a lush, somewhat orchestral album that finds Gardot delving into various Brazilian, Spanish, and African-influenced sounds -- including bits of samba, tango, bossa nova, and calypso -- that evince her global journey. However, rather than simply making a standards album, Gardot continues her all-original approach, offering up new literate and passionately delivered compositions that bring to mind the work of such similarly inclined artists as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paul Simon, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and others. Although there are a few name musicians who help add spice to Gardot's musical caravan here, including percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, drummer Peter Erskine, and bassist John Leftwich, primarily it is still Gardot's burnished and yearning vocal style that takes the helm on these tracks. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Although it isn't the revelation or surprising, extraordinary achievement that his 2010 record Praise & Blame was, Spirit in the Room is another solid, very welcome set of stripped-back interpretations from Tom Jones, produced once again by Ethan Johns, making those comparisons to Johnny Cash's late-period recordings with Rick Rubin all the more fitting. Know that the songbook has changed from classic (spirituals, blues, and traditional numbers) to more contemporary (Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, the Low Anthem, and others) and that Jones and Johns are both in top form and you've got the picture, along with that same frustration that no matter how fun "What's New Pussycat?" and "Sex Bomb" were, a couple more albums like this along the way would have been rich and rewarding. Jones joins the ranks of singers who have really "felt" Cohen's words in "Tower of Song," here in one of its most naked of performances, but as the dark carnival of Tom Waits' "Bad as Me" gives way to a frail, delicate, and lonely Richard Thompson song, it's obvious this one doesn't have that last one's purposeful layout, at least not until the fourth quarter. Exiting with the off-kilter and brittle "All Blues Hail Mary" (Joe Henry) and the spiritual/secular strangeness that's "Charlie Darwin" (Low Anthem) makes for a compelling suite, and while Spirit in the Room matches its predecessor on a track-by-track level, it's only in those last moments that the whole package seems as thematically sound and well designed. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Although it isn't the revelation or surprising, extraordinary achievement that his 2010 record Praise & Blame was, Spirit in the Room is another solid, very welcome set of stripped-back interpretations from Tom Jones, produced once again by Ethan Johns, making those comparisons to Johnny Cash's late-period recordings with Rick Rubin all the more fitting. Know that the songbook has changed from classic (spirituals, blues, and traditional numbers) to more contemporary (Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, the Low Anthem, and others) and that Jones and Johns are both in top form and you've got the picture, along with that same frustration that no matter how fun "What's New Pussycat?" and "Sex Bomb" were, a couple more albums like this along the way would have been rich and rewarding. Jones joins the ranks of singers who have really "felt" Cohen's words in "Tower of Song," here in one of its most naked of performances, but as the dark carnival of Tom Waits' "Bad as Me" gives way to a frail, delicate, and lonely Richard Thompson song, it's obvious this one doesn't have that last one's purposeful layout, at least not until the fourth quarter. Exiting with the off-kilter and brittle "All Blues Hail Mary" (Joe Henry) and the spiritual/secular strangeness that's "Charlie Darwin" (Low Anthem) makes for a compelling suite, and while Spirit in the Room matches its predecessor on a track-by-track level, it's only in those last moments that the whole package seems as thematically sound and well designed. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 21, 2011 | Noble & Brite

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow follows Director's Cut, a dramatically reworked collection of catalog material, by six months. This set is all new, her first such venture since 2005's Aerial. The are only seven songs here, but the album clocks in at an hour. Despite the length of the songs, and perhaps because of them, it is easily the most spacious, sparsely recorded offering in her catalog. Its most prominent sounds are Bush's voice, her acoustic piano, and Steve Gadd's gorgeous drumming -- though other instruments appear (as do some minimal classical orchestrations). With songs centered on winter, 50 Words for Snow engages the natural world and myth -- both Eastern and Western -- and fantasy. It is abstract, without being the least bit difficult to embrace. It commences with "Snowflake," with lead vocals handled by her son Bertie. Bush's piano, crystalline and shimmering in the lower middle register, establishes a harmonic pattern to carry the narrative: the journey of a snowflake from the heavens to a single human being's hand, and in its refrain (sung by Bush), the equal anticipation of the receiver. "Lake Tahoe" features choir singers Luke Roberts and Michael Wood in a Michael Nyman-esque arrangement, introducing Bush's slippery vocal as it relates the tale of a female who drowned in the icy lake and whose spirit now haunts it. Bush's piano and Gadd's kit are the only instruments. "Misty," the set's longest -- and strangest -- cut, is about a woman's very physical amorous tryst with, bizarrely, a snowman. Despite its unlikely premise, the grain of longing expressed in Bush's voice -- with bassist Danny Thompson underscoring it -- is convincing. Her jazz piano touches on Vince Guaraldi in its vamp. The subject is so possessed by the object of her desire, the morning's soaked but empty sheets propel her to a window ledge to seek her melted lover in the winter landscape. "Wild Man," introduced by the sounds of whipping winds, is one of two uptempo tracks here, an electronically pulse-driven, synth-swept paean to the Tibetan Kangchenjunga Demon, or "Yeti." Assisted by the voice of Andy Fairweather Low, its protagonist relates fragments of expedition legends and alleged encounters with the elusive creature. Her subject possesses the gift of wildness itself; she seeks to protect it from the death wish of a world which, through its ignorance, fears it. On "Snowed in at Wheeler Street," Bush is joined in duet by Elton John. Together they deliver a compelling tale of would-be lovers encountering one other in various (re)incarnations through time, only to miss connection at the moment of, or just previous to, contact. Tasteful, elastic electronics and Gadd's tom-toms add texture and drama to the frustration in the singers' voices, creating twinned senses: of urgency and frustration. The title track -- the other uptempo number -- is orchestrated by loops, guitars, basses, and organic rhythms that push the irrepressible Stephen Fry to narrate 50 words associated with snow in various languages, urgently prodded by Bush. Whether it works as a "song" is an open question. The album closes with "Among Angels," a skeletal ballad populated only by Bush's syncopated piano and voice. 50 Words for Snow is such a strange pop record, it's all but impossible to find peers. While it shares sheer ambition with Scott Walker's The Drift and PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, it sounds like neither; Bush's album is equally startling because its will toward the mysterious and elliptical is balanced by its beguiling accessibility. © Thom Jurek /TiVo