Susan Andrea Warmington – Jazzmaican

In a world overloaded with female vocalists, there’s a need for what the marketers call differentiation, or “…the process of distinguishing a product or service from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market.”

Susan Andrea Warmington - JazzmaicanSusan Andrea Warmington – Jazzmaican
Released – June 30, 2014

It’s not likely you’ll mistake Susan Andrea Warmington for anyone else currently working. The Jamaican-born Houstonian debuts with a light and sassy set evocative of Blossom Dearie.

The set opens strong with “He’s A Tramp,” that Peggy Lee tune that’s been covered too many times – yet Ms. Warmington heats it up nicely. Ernest Ranglin – attributed by some as creating the rhythmic style that defined early ska recordings – sits in on another Peggy Lee classic, “I Don’t Know Enough About You,”

Susan Andrea WarmingtonA pair of ballads, including “How Could I Live,” a signature tune from the “Crown Prince of Reggae,” Dennis Brown, is also on the set list. But it’s the uptempo pieces that shine brightest for me – Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is the third gem from this short set.

Recorded in Jamaica with a variety of session players – including Maurice Gordon on Guitar and Desi Jones on Drums, well worth a fiver to add some Jamaican jazz to your collection.

I’ll look forward to what’s next.  This disc is highly recommended.

62nd LogoAdded to the playlist at 62nd Street – “He’s A Tramp,” along with “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’”


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Laurie Antonioli – Songs Of Shadow, Songs Of Light

Laurie Antonioli - Songs Of Shadow, Songs Of LightLaurie Antonioli – Songs Of Shadow,
Songs Of Light (Origin)
Released – August 19, 2014

Subtitled “The Music of Joni Mitchell,” right out of the box, you know it’s going to be a little bit of a tightrope act. It’s not like “The Music of Cole Porter,” or “Johnny Mercer;” songs that have been done a bazillion times, and no one (in my demographic, anyway) can remember exactly who did the original.

On these, there’s no doubt. Joni Mitchell did the original. And mostly (in my demographic, anyway), we remember how the originals sounded, and they sounded pretty damn good.

So, back to that out of the box experience: that little voice inside is saying, “Go ahead, Laurie Antonioli. Impress me with how you’ve messed with one of the greats.” It’s hard not to make the comparision. Ms. Mitchell’s lyrics were so written by her and for her; and that unique way she was able to trip through lyrics to make verses scan.

Truth is, Ms. Antonioli messes with Joni Mitchell in the very best way, mostly by sticking to the tunes that you’ve heard before, but weren’t played to death on the radio, at least not on top 40 radio. These are the ones that aren’t so burned in to the memory bank. With one big exception, only two tracks even “Bubbled Under” on Billboard’s “Hot 100″ for Ms. Mitchell: “California,” and “River,” both from 1971′s album, “Blue.”

And that one big exception is “Both Sides Now,” which was on 1969′s album, “Clouds.”  As familiar as it is – it didn’t chart for Ms. Mitchell, who wrote it – but it was a top-ten for Judy Collins, and covered countless times.

Laurie Antonioli“Each day, at the end of a session,” Ms. Antonioli says, pianist Matt Clark “…and I did one or two takes to see if we could get something…we wanted to find a different approach to it.”

What came out of that experimentation is a gem – a moving rendition that’s more powerful than the original – wistful, full of reminisces and maybe a little regret.

You can’t sing it that way if you’re a kid. “It’s where I started,” Ms. Antonioli says. “It’s both a personal and generational thing.”

It wouldn’t be polite to speculate on Ms. Antonioli’s generation.

But this generation approves. Highly recommended.

62nd LogoTracks added at radio – “Both Sides Now,” and the opener, “People’s Parties.”


While we’re on the subject of generations, I want to go back and revisit some earlier comments about Rachael Price and “Lake Street Dive.” They’ve been all over TV in recent months. I caught them on “Letterman,” but then went looking, and found them on “Ellen.”

I raved about them here, and then a couple of weeks ago, a work colleague caught them at Washington’s 930 Club. She says they were great, and couldn’t get over how many young fellas were standing around the stage, calling out Ms. Price’s name.

Wasn’t it Janis Joplin who complained about the dearth of male groupies?

I digress. The point is – that the following week, my pal Vic Doucette (We won’t speculate about his age, either – except to say he’s not a young fella) was raving about Ms. Price as she and the band visited the Detroit area.

Vic and Rachael PriceAnd Vic brought back the picture, taken by his pal, Maggie McCabe.

Any group that can motivate the young fellas to stand around the stage, calling out the lead
singer’s name, and also have fans from Mr. Doucette’s generation (one with gray hair) is going places.

‘Nuff said.

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Sherie Julianne – 10 Degrees South

Sherie Julianne - 10 Degrees SouthSherie Julianne – 10 Degrees South
(Azul do Mar)
Released – 29 July 2014

San Francisco vocalist Sherie Julianne matches with veteran pianist and arranger Marcos Silva for this handcrafted dozen Brazilian-flavored tunes.

“I wanted to find music that…speaks to my American roots,” she says, “while being immersed in Brazilian rhythms.”

The result sounds remarkably like that body of work that permeated American radio in the 1960s, that took the sometimes languid sounds of Brazil, and added a touch of drive.  The kind of music that made Sergio Mendes a very well-known name.

Ms. Julianne is possessed with a delivery true to those times – bright, yet sensual.  She handles the pace brilliantly – losing neither the intricacies of the language nor the rhythm in the uptempo set.

Sherie JulianneThis is a stunning debut effort.

Mr. Silva arranges and performs on keyboards; joined by Scott Thompson on bass, Jeff Buenz on guitar, sax and flute by Mary Fettig, and Phil Thompson on drums.

Bonus points for a disc package that is as stylish as the music.  So good they deservedly get liner credit – the FUEL Agency, of Oakland, California.

Very highly recommended.


62nd Logo Two tracks from this disc added at this week – in keeping with the 60s theme (we’ll call it the “Americanization of Bossa Nova”), I’m adding two of the English-language tunes.  Listen for the Michel Legrand classic “Watch What Happens,” along with that so famous Mendes/Bergmans collaboration – “The Look Of Love.”

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Matt Garrison – Patchwork

Matt Garrison - PatchworkMatt Garrison – Patchwork
(Stop Time Records)

Released – April, 2014

I keep hearing that jazz as a genre is dying. And yet – as the old radio liner said, the hits just keep on coming.

Saxophonist Matt Garrison has assembled something just short of a big band for his third recording, which features Melissa Morgan as the featured vocalist.

Good call.

Melissa MorganIt’s a solid set – I’ll admit being partial to the covers of Don McLean’s “Vincent,” and the Young Rascals’ “How Can I Be Sure,” only because of familiarity with them as vocals. Ms. Morgan’s silky, smoky, bluesy take pushes these tracks over the top for me.

Multiple listens teased out my other favorite, the original instrumental “First Flight,” which Mr. Garrison says kept him busy on his own first flight – “It pains me to say it, but my first ever plane ride came in 2012 when I flew to California to record on Melissa Morgan’s new album. On the flight, I had music paper with me, a pencil, an iPad, and a piano app, and I wrote this mid air on the way out to the west coast.”

A good crew, topped (for me, anyway) by the sassy Ms. Morgan – clearly at ease – doing what she does best. Yes, you’ll find traces of Dinah, or Nancy. But it’s not them.

It’s Ms. Morgan. These guys are all very, very good, but she’s what makes this very good disc – very great.

62nd LogoAdded to the playlist at 62ndStreet – “How Can I Be Sure,” along with “Vincent,” both featuring Ms. Morgan; and “First Flight,” the original instrumental.

Thsi disc is very highly recommended.

Mr. Garrison’s WebsiteFacebookYouTube

Ms. Morgan’s WebsiteFacebook - Twitter



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