Day Breaks (CD)

Norah Jones continues to grow as an artist on Day Breaks, working soul, gospel, and New Orleans influences into her usual silky jazz songs. The album features nine new originals and three covers of works by Neil Young, Horace Silver, and Duke Ellington. The singer, however, is at her best on lead single “Carry On,” a tender, earnest track which showcases her crystal clear vocal stylings. Blue Note label mates Wayne Shorter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Brian Blade make up part of Jones’ band on this one — a truly star-studded modern jazz outing.

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A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (CD)

Features pianist Vijay Iyer and the musician he has described as his “hero, friend and teacher,” trumpeter, Wadada Leo Smith. The centerpiece of the album is the spellbinding title suite, dedicated to Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990), the innovative Indian artist whose improvisatory imagery evokes abstracted rhythms.

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Music Of  Weather Report (CD)

The great Czech bassist returns once more to the music of Weather Report, the group he co-founded with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter in 1970. It’s the improvisational freedom of the early Weather Report that most interests Vitous, and he abides by their old rallying call “everyone solos and no one solos.”

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In Movement (CD)
Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison, in their ECM debuts, both respond magnificently to DeJohnette’s driving drumming, Ravi with superb solos, and Garrison with lean bass lines and imaginative looping electronics. Read more
In Concert (CD)

Solo classical guitar live concert. Forward-pushing playing, seemingly effortless melodic improvisation? Composition? It’s bewildering, and multiple listens reveal quite a bit going on in real time. Impressive.

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Andando El Tiempo (CD)

A return to the trio format, with intimate, profound and devastating results. It’s hard to tell where the line between composition and improvisation is sometimes, but it’s a scintillating ride. Bley sets up the structure, Sheppard and Swallow wind their way in and out of it.

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Beginning Of A Memory (CD)

Critics have been calling this “Matt Wilson’s Greatest Hits.” He assembled the musicians with whom he loves to play the music his late wife loved, and it’s a real celebration. Wilson is a jazz drummer, and as a writer his harmonic palette is simple, but as a performer he prefers a broad, freewheeling approach with a real sense of humor underlying it all.

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Luys i Luso (CD)

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan’s ECM debut is an extraordinary exploration of Armenian sacred music. Hamasyan has selected hymns and sharakans (Armenian liturgical songs), as well as chants by Grigor Narekatsi, Komitas, and more.

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Culcha Vulcha (CD)

Genre-busters for sure, the Grammy-winning outfit Snarky Puppy lands somewhere between an R&B-fueled garage band and a rangy jazz collective, but Culcha Vulcha presents a darker, moodier Puppy with elements of Rock along with flourishes of Bossa Nova, electric Blues, R&B, Funk, Soul, Jazz, and more. Cultural influences collide and merge to make a thoroughly American sound. The album title may refer to the Western world’s obsession with pop culture and insatiable rate of consumption, but one can’t overlook the post-modern appeal of mixing it all up for one big, never-ending Snarky meal.

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Sorrow: A Reimagining Of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony (CD)

Saxophonist Colin Stetson’s latest solo release features Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld and Liturgy’s Greg Fox on a rendition of avant-garde composer Henryk Gorecki’s Third Symphony that “draws heavily from the world of black metal, early electronic music, and from my own body of solo saxophone music,” according to Stetson. Slow and foreboding, yet full-bodied and alive, these renditions feature beautiful operatic vocals, notes that shift between atonal and euphonious, with swells of strings and stirring, rumbling percussion. It adds up to a singular, moving experience that should be undertaken by fans of neoclassical music and indie rock alike.

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