Albums

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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Abalone Productions

Distinctions Elu par Citizen Jazz - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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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
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2015 | La Buissonne

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

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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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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Jazz - Released May 26, 2015 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
A superstar jazz matchup, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman features maverick trio the Bad Plus joined by acclaimed jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. Recorded after the group's weeklong stint at New York's Blue Note jazz club in 2012, the album is an organic collaboration between Redman and Bad Plus members pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King. Largely known for their genre-bending compositional take on jazz, here the Bad Plus take a more improvisational, open-ended approach to group interplay. Conversely, Redman, an adroit, long-form improviser, finds new avenues of jazz expression within the context of this new group sound. This conversational approach is perhaps best represented on the ensemble's reworking of the Bad Plus songs "Dirty Blonde" and "Silence Is the Question." While both songs retain the core vibe of the original recordings (bombastic in the case of the first and poignant in the second), here Redman brings a vibrant electricity to the compositions, widening their scope with his woody, vocal-like saxophone tone. While hearing these Bad Plus songs re-envisioned is intriguing, the core appeal of the album rests largely in Redman and the trio's newly composed pieces, like the languidly atonal "Beauty Has It Hard" and the frenetically rambling "County Seat." These tracks, as well as the gorgeously fractured Thelonious Monk-influenced "The Mending" and the dizzy, circular, Dave Brubeck-sounding "Friend or Foe," are compelling recordings that sound as modern and immediate as they do steeped in the acoustic jazz tradition. Ultimately, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman sounds less like a collaboration between two separate entities and more like the assured work of a unified band. ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released May 25, 2015 | Sunnyside

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 19, 2015 | Bonsaï Music

Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 18, 2015 | Gaya Music Production

Hi-Res Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released May 11, 2015 | Promise Land

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released May 4, 2015 | jazz&people

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released May 8, 2015 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 27, 2015 | Onjazz Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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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..."
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Jazz - Released April 17, 2015 | Deutsche Grammophon ECM

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz

Jazz - Released April 10, 2015 | Okeh

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released April 10, 2015 | Okeh

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Jazz - Released April 24, 2014 | Gaya Music Production

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions TSF - Choc de Classica - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released April 6, 2015 | jazz&people

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 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