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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note

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What does a shrug sound like? On "Don't Know Why,” the opening track of her debut effort, Norah Jones suggests a few possibilities. The first time she sings the title phrase, she gives it a touch of indifference, the classic tossed-off movie-star shrug. Her tone shifts slightly when she hits the chorus, to convey twinges of sadness; here the casual phrasing could be an attempt to shake off a sharp memory. Later, she shrugs in a way that conveys resignation, possibly regret—she's replaying a scene, trying to understand what happened. Those shrugs and shadings, tools deployed by every jazz vocalist of the 1950s, are inescapable throughout Come Away With Me—in part because everything surrounding Jones' voice is so chill. There's room for her to emote, and room for gently cresting piano and organ chords. Unlike so many of her contemporaries, Jones knows instinctively how much (or how little!) singer the song needs. The secret of this record, which came out when Jones was 22, is its almost defiant approachability: It is calm, and open, and gentle, music for a lazy afternoon in a porch swing. As transfixing covers of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart” and Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You” make clear, Jones thinks about contours and shadows when she sings; her storytelling depends as much on the scene and the atmosphere as the narrative. And Jones applies the same understatement to the original songs here, which weave together elements of country, pop, jazz and torch balladry in inventive ways. It's one thing to render an old tune with modern cleverness, a skill Jones had honed as a solo pianist/singer before she was discovered. It's quite another to transform an original tune, like Jesse Harris' "Don't Know Why,” into something that sounds ageless and eternal, like a standard. Jones does that, over and over, using just shrugs and implications, rarely raising her voice much above a whisper. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 28, 2020 | Blue Note

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With his sixth album, Gregory Porter excels once again in perfectly blending jazz, soul, rhythm'n'blues, pop and gospel. In addition to being blessed with a voice of pure velvet (so cliché, but so true), the Californian, who knows Great Black Music inside out, is also a real wordsmith. In these troubled times, Gregory Porter's music refreshes and rejuvenates, like on "Revival Song," a sort of neo-gospel hymn that ignites the soul and frees the body. This sense of wellbeing can also be felt when Porter puts on his crooner hat on "If Love Is Overrated" or when he channels his inner Marvin Gaye and George Benson on "Faith In Love." Brilliantly produced by Troy Miller (Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum, Emili Sandé), All Rise propels the American singer towards greater global recognition, reaching audiences well outside the jazz sphere. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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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 16, 2020 | Blue Note

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Be it through soul, rap or electronic music, artists are always revisiting Blue Note’s repertoire, and Madlib’s brilliant Shades of Blue (2003) is but one example. It’s now the new British jazz scene’s turn to revisit the musical gems – famous or obscure – from this legendary label launched in 1939 by Francis Wolff and Alfred Lion. The aim of this project named Blue Note Re:imagined is to focus primarily on the label’s high-quality music and key musicians. Some of the most revisited artists are therefore Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson, and often their work is covered in a rather daring style. For example, Alfa Mist manages to imbue Eddie Henderson’s Galaxy with a rather sensual groove whilst preserving the avant-garde flair of the original version from 1975. The same goes for the Bristolian Ishmael, whose take on McCoy Tyner’s Search for Peace is truly captivating. As for the two sax stars of the moment, Shabaka Hutchings (Bobby Hutcherson's Prints Tie) and Nubya Garcia (Joe Henderson's A Shade of Jade), they both live up to their reputation for shaking things up.Of course, Blue Note Re:imagined doesn’t forget about the vocals. Poppy Ajudha (Watermelon Man by Hancock), Yazmin Lacey (I'll Never Stop Loving You by Dodo Greene), the Norwegian collective Fieh (Armageddon by Wayne Shorter), trumpet player and singer Emma-Jean Thackray (Speak No Evil / Night Dreamer, also by Shorter) and Jordan Rakei (Wind Parade by Donald Byrd), bring a lightness to the album and showcase real talent. But it’s Jorja Smith who takes first prize by covering the most unusual track on the album, Rose Rouge, the leading single from Frenchman St Germain’s album Tourist (2001), taking lyrics from I want you to get together by Marlena Shaw. All in all, it’s funny that what seems to have influenced these exciting young musicians most on Blue Note Re:imagined is still Herbie Hancock from his Headhunters era, an album that was released by Columbia records, not Blue Note… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note

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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 27, 2020 | Blue Note

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Locked down and unable to tour, GoGo Penguin made the most of the situation by developing their makeshift concert repertoire. This concert sees the virtuous Manchester trio play in a certain Abbey Road Studios. Four out of seven of the tracks from this short 30-minute Live From Studio 2, transmitted live online of the 29th of October 2020, come from their fifth album released in June 2020. This atypical situation rallies like never before pianist Chris Illingworth, drummer Rob Turner and bassist Nick Blacka. Like caged animals suddenly let free, the Mancunians deliver a powerful rendition of their famous concoction of contemporary jazz, electronic music and minimalism. From the first minutes of Totem which opens this EP, the rhythms throb more than we are used to as Illingworth’s fingers dart across the piano keys. “We didn’t want to play in an empty venue, somehow it just felt weird trying to create the energy of a concert in an empty room”, explains Blacka. “But we had recorded an EP in studio 2 back in 2015 and loved the space and somehow it just made sense to film a show here.” Chris Illingworth confirms this: “It’s a really special place and we wanted somewhere intimate that we would be excited to work in and where we could tap into that sense of excitement that you get from a live concert.” For Turner, t is more a question of sound. “When we perform, we’re always reacting to each other but also the crowd. The people and the energy in the space is as much a part of the performance as we are Studio Two is imbued with the ghosts of all the incredible music and musicians that have performed there. It has an atmosphere all of its own. You really feel the expanse of time, how much has happened before you and how much will continue to happen after you.” A great success through and through. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note

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Vocal Jazz - Released December 4, 2020 | Blue Note

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Jazz - Released December 1, 1962 | Blue Note

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note

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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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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note

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Jazz - Released February 8, 2019 | Blue Note

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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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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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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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Jazz - Released January 1, 1966 | Blue Note

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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 1, 1956 | Blue Note

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