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Jazz - Released June 16, 2015 | Blue Note (BLU)

Hi-Res Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
Four months after winning his second Grammy Award in the R&B category for Black Radio 2, pianist Robert Glasper re-assembles the acoustic jazz trio that played on his first two Blue Note recordings. Bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid assist the pianist in a live audience recording from Capitol's famed Studio A. Covered is far from a return to an acoustic piano trio for Glasper. Instead, it's an acoustic approach to the directions he employed on his early Blue Note dates, and the R&B and hip-hop engagements on Black Radio. With the redo of "I Don't Even Care," Black Radio 2 commences with a nearly elliptical air, but Reid's skittering snare creates a dance rhythm while Archer's bassline plays the changes and tastefully fills Glasper's ever widening melodic circle. With post-bop flourishes, he nonetheless remains close to the harmonic center, uncovering its richness in the process. The rhythm section's intro to Radiohead's "Reckoner" is lithe and almost funky before Glasper uses the melody's limited palette as a circular, restrained, yet emotionally moving exploration of its possibilities. The album's centerpiece is the 13-minute "In Case You Forgot." It begins with a knotty, angular solo piano intro (check "Silly Rabbit" from 2007's In My Element), with single-note syncopations and mid-register arpeggios cascading around a four-note bassline with classical embellishments. When the rhythm section enters, they weave jazz standards and modern pop songs together -- from Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," among others -- with sharp, sudden cuts from Glasper before they all climb headlong into their own sprint. Scattered throughout the set is Glasper's sincere but wry dialogue with his audience. A considerable strength from the trio is their ability to translate the appeal of neo-soul ballads such as Musiq (Soulchild)'s "So Beautiful," Jhené Aiko's "The Worst," and Bilal's "Levels" as jazz, even equating them with standards. An example is "Stella by Starlight," whose canny arrangement simultaneously celebrates, decodes, and cracks open Bill Evans' lyricism atop triple-timed brushed snare -- think drum'n'bass -- and a bumping bassline. Harry Belafonte delivers an earnest, grainy, proud and poignant spoken word appearance on "Got Over." Set closer "I'm Dying of Thirst" offers a shadowy melody to a Latin-tinged tom-tom and bass groove as a children's chorus recites the names of African-Americans shot by police; it results in a statement of dignity and self-determination. Glasper's piano alternates between contemplative vamp and haunting elegy before it whispers to a finish. Covered may be a return to the acoustic piano trio, but cedes none of the ground gained by the Black Radio albums. This is Glasper refusing to be reined in by any format or artistic desire but his own. This set is welcoming, open, and warm: it invites fans of all of his musical pursuits along for the ride. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 5, 2015 | Okeh

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2015 | Decca (UMO)

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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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2015 | La Buissonne

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Soul - Released June 1, 2015 | godless-hotspot

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The second studio album Van Hunt has released on his Godless-Hotspot label, The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets. was conceived with crowdfunding assistance. Even with full understanding of the drastic changes in the music industry since the late '70s, it's mystifying that an artist of Hunt's caliber resorted to that method -- especially so when his career is compared to that of fellow Dayton, Ohio natives Sun. The Capitol label stuck with that elder funk band for seven albums that yielded a grand total of one Top 20 R&B hit. Hunt made only two albums for Capitol, collected a Grammy, was shifted to Blue Note, had the dynamite Popular kept from the public, and then went independent. Here, Hunt didn't get assistance merely from his listeners. While he once again performs a high percentage of the instrumentation, he adds a little fresh blood, including Meshell Ndegeocello associates Jebin Bruni (keyboards) and Chris Bruce (guitar). Divided into thematic halves -- lengthwise like sides of a 60-minute cassette -- this work is Hunt's slyest and subtlest yet. Not one cut comes close to the throttlings dealt on What Were You Hoping For? A greater quantity of the grooves slowly unfurl, and they all have a slightly scuzzier, more glutinous quality. The first half begins and ends with lyrical and sonic highlights: "Vega (stripes on)," a swamp-funk churner, and "She Stays with Me," a warped tale with Hunt's howling vocal over a filthy bassline, smacking percussion, and creep-show synthesizer. The filling, including the flirtatious "Teach Me a New Language" and frolicsome "...Puddin'," is just as satisfying. When the fun sets for the second half, Hunt starts with a disarming ballad of repentance, "Headroom," that fully displays his undervalued songwriting and vocal skills. Like the previous album's "Moving Targets," it sounds classic from the first listen. The other song that employs a string section, "A Woman Never Changes," is another knockout, with each pluck a sweet sting that echoes Hunt's aching exhilaration regarding a complex, demanding love interest. He's one of the rare artists who can lay claim to four (or five) albums that are all distinct from one another, all him, all high quality. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 26, 2015 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released May 25, 2015 | Sunnyside

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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 19, 2015 | Bonsaï Music

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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 18, 2015 | Gaya Music Production

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Jazz - Released May 11, 2015 | Promise Land

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Jazz - Released May 8, 2015 | ECM

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Jazz - Released May 4, 2015 | jazz&people

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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 27, 2015 | Sound Surveyor

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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 27, 2015 | Onjazz Records

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Africa - Released April 24, 2015 | Glitterbeat Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
"No matter how intricate his finger-work or deep his Griot knowledge, plugged-in Kouyaté retains an admirably grimy tone, meaning lute-player or no, he belongs within the very top ranks of contemporary proponents of electric African guitar..." © TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 17, 2015 | Okeh

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Jazz - Released April 17, 2015 | Deutsche Grammophon ECM

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Jazz - Released April 17, 2015 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Jazz - Released April 17, 2015 | Deutsche Grammophon ECM

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
When Tim Berne recorded with Snakeoil for ECM in 2012, it marked the debut of a new working band and his first studio album in a decade. With Oscar Noriega on clarinets, pianist Matt Mitchell, and drummer Ches Smith, Berne was able to extend the horizons in his compositions. While conversational intrigue, fiery improvisation, knotty counterpoint, and wildly varying dynamics had long been part of his aesthetic, they found a fluid yet immediate language on 2013's Shadow Man. That quartet has become a quintet with the addition of guitarist Ryan Ferreira on You've Been Watching Me (produced by David Torn). If you're thinking of this as a direct link to his Bloodcount group that added guitarist Marc Ducret, you're only partially right. Ferreira adds not just firepower, but a unique ability to explore texture and space. Four of the album's seven pieces are over ten minutes. Opener "Lost in Redding" commences with an avant-prog-like intro as harmonic cadences are woven together almost knot-like. Ferreira and his distortion boxes cut loose before restrained clarinet and saxophone skeins give way to a gorgeous Mitchell solo. There isn't anything "small" about "Small World in a Small Town." Over 18 minutes long, its first five-and-a-half are a duet between Berne and Mitchell that begins elliptically but gathers force and labyrinthine dimensions before the rest of the band enters. Ferreira's guitar is another lyric instrument in an expansive, contrapuntal study that opens on to a spacious yet at times sparse sonic vista. Noriega's clarinet solo is lovely before the band re-enters in a bluesy, steam-gathering waltz. "Embraceable Me" has a chamber ensemble's intimacy, albeit one where Smith's use of vibes is as poignant as it is illustrative, and it holds down its angular lyric line. It maintains that feel even when the dynamic increases with Noriega (on sax) and Ferreira adding cadenza-like extensions before dialoguing in jagged yet precise counterpoint and then shifting toward a thematic five-note pulse (Mitchell) as Ferreira, Noriega, and Berne add tonal color and breadth before introducing another complex harmonic line with the guitarist taking it out. Most of "Semi-Self Detached"'s ten-plus minutes is made up of long languorous spaces, ambient textures, and melodic suggestions that give way to a blistering free alto saxophone solo, cracking clattering drums, majestic piano, and precise, gear-like lyricism at its nadir. "False Impressions" features frenetic, unmistakably swinging conversations between Berne and Noriega in the tune's head (with hints of Julius Hemphill's influence). Mitchell places a percussive, tangled melodic frame as Smith adds dimension on vibes and Ferreira's distorted guitar lines soar atop. Even the long, shapeshifting, textural digression in the center is focused, smart, and full of surprises. You've Been Watching Me is the most structured record from Snakeoil as well as the most varied. The band's language has expanded with the addition of Ferreira, yet it's more intuitive -- where the space and complexity are different shades in the face of beauty. © Thom Jurek /TiVo