Jazz

Una Noche Con Rubén Blades (CD)

Salsa legend Ruben Blades joined Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2014 for a critically acclaimed series that crossed genres and blended swing standards with Blades' own Afro-Cuban numbers. Now the experience is available on CD, with highlights including the singer's “Pedro Navaja” and “El Cantante” as well as Cole Porter's “Begin the Beguine,” all arranged by the orchestra's bassist Carlos Henriques. On the single, “Ban Ban Quere,” the exciting combination of rhythms from these virtuoso players dances around Blades' flexible voice with an infectious live energy.

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The Window (CD)

Two time Grammy winner Cecile McLorin Salvant teams up with acclaimed New Orleans pianist Sullivan Fortner for her latest, The Window. McLorin Savant’s velvety voice is a natural fit for these moody romantic numbers and her impressive vocal range certainly comes out to play. Listening to the album is an intimate experience, like sitting in a smoky, underground jazz club listening to the duo play their hearts out — for an audience of one. But isn’t that love? Expect sophisticated renditions of classics by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stevie Wonder, Bernstein/Sondheim, as well as an original French language composition by the gifted Ms. McLorin Salvant.

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Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (CD)

As more and more miles of dusty tapes are exhumed from the vaults of long-deceased musical icons, claims of “lost albums” abound. Likewise, so do questions as to whether that material necessary denotes that merit. Both Directions At Once is an unearthed recording session from the ’63 John Coltrane Quartet. That’s the classic quartet for ya: McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. Love Supreme and Crescent-era Coltrane. The telepathic frequency those four operated on in their brief 3-year existence is unparalleled, and their transcendent playing advanced the tonal and melodic possibilities of jazz. Both Directions features, among others, a couple of untitled originals, and extended 12-bar blues-based vamp, and an early reworking of “Nature Boy.” As a lost album, one would place it as a natural bridge between 1962’s Coltrane and the aforementioned Crescent. Was the session that birthed Both Directions ultimately meant as its own complete artistic statement, or a coincidental treasure trove of extra material from the group that would go on to record jazz’s apex? The question is irrelevant; the proof is in the playing. These songs are statement enough.

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Summer Horns II: From A To Z (CD)

Dave Koz returns to his Summer Horns project with Summer Horns II: From A To Z, recreating classic songs that contain strong horn sections. Rejoined by alto saxophonist Gerald Albright and tenor saxophonist Richard Elliot, the album honors Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, KC and the Sunshine Band, Stevie Wonder, and many more. Transforming some tracks into medleys, and others into duets, adding South African flavors and even merging Billy Strayhorn's “Take The A Train” with Jay-Z's “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)," the musicians' delight in these tracks is as palpable as their talents.

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Diamond Cut (CD)

Tia Fuller has exhibited impending greatness since emerging on the international jazz scene more than a decade ago. Now, her artistic capacity has blossomed tremendously, resulting in Diamond Cut, which includes some of jazz’s brightest luminaries – bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, and bassist James Genus and drummer Bill Stewart.

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Heaven & Earth (CD)

Kamasi Washington’s star has risen exponentially since his 2015 breakthrough LP The Epic. Now with his latest, Heaven & Earth, Washington seems poised to take his place in the pantheon of jazz greats. This double album will take listeners on a journey, with cosmic effects, earthy, funky grooves, lush strings, and a powerful choir. Featuring contributions from Thundercat, Tony Austin, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Brandon Coleman, Cameron Graves, Terrace Martin, Miles Mosley, and Patrice Quinn. Essential listening.

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